“Maybe it's because women in L.A. are overly concerned with what they're eating, but when I opened my own dermatology practice, I started asking every patient to tell me about her diet. Over and over I heard variations on the same theme: "I know that my diet doesn't have an effect on my skin, but I seem to break out every time I eat [fill in the blank]." It didn't take long to notice some definite patterns and to realize I was on to something. Maybe food did affect the skin, despite what I had been taught in medical school?
The original version of the FEED YOUR FACE Diet was just a pile of papers held together with a binder clip. But before long, family, friends, and even my celebrity patients were clamoring for it. That’s because the results spoke for themselves: Skin looked smoother. Acne cleared. Rashes subsided. Even women who already had beautiful, blemish-free complexions swore that their skin looked more radiant than it had in years. Now you, too, can learn how to feed your face.”
—from the Introduction
FEED YOUR FACEJessica Wu EXCERPT from Chapter 9 Not long ago, during a routine checkup, one of my regular patients marveled at the fact that I basically wear fitted skirts and sky-high stilettos day in and day out. It’s not that she’s not into fashion—Maggie has a closet full of designer duds, and a truckload of Manolos and Jimmy Choos. She’s even hired a stylist to help her navigate the trendy boutiques of Beverly Hills—she just can’t pull an outfit together on her own. Her unorganized and overflowing closet had become overwhelming, so every day (and I do mean every day) she reaches for the exact same thing: jeans and a plain white tee. (Luckily, she lives in Malibu, a place so casual that people wear jeans even to church.) The thing is, I totally get Maggie’s predicament. Because the way she feels about her closet is the way I used to feel about my pantry. I’ve never been much of a cook (much to my mother’s disappointment), and 12-hour days at the office leave little time to prepare gourmet meals. Before, I’d do my grocery shopping at the end of a hectic workday, with a growling stomach and dwindling patience. I’d rush in, grab whatever was on sale, and get out as quickly as possible. And when I was really busy (like during awards show season, when I’m on every actress’s speed dial) the groceries would get shoved into the pantry according to the way they were bagged at the store—randomly. Food got lost in the back of the cupboard, I always managed to forget what I’d bought, and I’d end up reaching for my favorite (and sometimes least healthy) snacks—my old standbys, the jeans and T-shirts of my pantry. What I’ve learned is, when I do take the time to shop, when I can come home and put everything away properly, I end up eating better. No desperate handfuls of potato chips to satisfy a mid-day craving, no cold cereal for dinner because there’s just nothing else to eat. (I also discovered that if you plan your meals ahead of time, you can make the best use of what’s already in the pantry and waste less food—which means more money left over for shoes, or whatever you’d rather be shopping for!) The FEED YOUR FACE Diet is the culmination of everything we’ve talked about in the previous eight chapters—how to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, boost UV protection, fuel collagen production, heal acne, reduce inflammation, and soothe rashes—organized into a month-long plan that takes the fear and stress out of eating for healthier, more beautiful skin. Starting on page 263, you’ll find 28 days worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack suggestions. Every meal is easy-to-prepare and has been designed to provide a balance of antioxidants (to fight free radicals), protein (to fuel collagen production), omega-3s (to soothe inflammation), and lycopene (for UV protection). While the FEED YOUR FACE Diet will benefit all skin types, I’ve gone ahead and made some necessary adjustments for certain skin conditions in particular, like reminding you to avoid dairy if you’re pimple-prone, adding more soy if you’re worried about fine lines and wrinkles, or avoiding gluten if you suffer from stubborn rashes. The meal plan, however, is merely a way to put the FEED YOUR FACE philosophy into practice—it’s designed to take the guesswork out of deciding what to eat, not to tell you what you have to eat. (After all, you’ll eventually graduate to preparing your own face-friendly meals.) If you don’t like, say, tofu, swap it out for another lean protein, like chicken. Likewise, if you don’t care for broccoli, choose a different green veggie instead. And if you loved the Chocolate Smoothie (on page 269), feel free to make it your new go-to breakfast. Don’t be afraid to be flexible. Just make sure that you replace any foods you don’t like with other healthy proteins, whole grains, and vegetables. (So swap brown rice for quinoa or couscous, not white rice.) Otherwise you might not be getting enough calories, and you’ll wind up rummaging through your pantry at two in the morning. Never a good idea. And here’s the best part of the FEED YOUR FACE Diet (if I do say so myself): you don’t actually have to cook anything if you don’t feel like it, or if you just don’t have the time. Believe me, I’ve had nights where the idea of preparing dinner made me break into a cold sweat. That’s why the majority of these meals can also be assembled from the hot and cold bars at quality grocery stores, like Whole Foods. And the same principles apply if you’re picking up dinner, rather than fixing it yourself—if your grocery store is out of brown rice, or the salad looks wilted, choose a different whole grain or vegetable. For the days when even that’s too much work, I’ve also included the FEED YOUR FACE Restaurant Guide, a listing of the healthiest meals from twenty of the country’s most popular restaurants. (Besides, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your social life to maintain great skin.) While you can continue to use the meal ideas in the FEED YOUR FACE Diet long after the initial 28 days, at some point you’ll be ready to graduate to making your own meals. That’s why I’ve given you loads of help stocking your pantry, fridge, and spice rack—we’ll go over the ingredients you need to whip up the meals in the FEED YOUR FACE Meal Plan, but keep these essential items on hand and you’ll be able to create your own face-friendly dishes, too. I’ve also listed some of my favorite snacks and food brands (where-to-buy information for these, as well as all the products mentioned in FEED YOUR FACE, is located in the Resource Guide), as well as tips from some of my celebrity patients (so you’ll know what the stars really snack on when they’re killing time in their trailers). ************************************************************ Know What You’re Really Eating These days most women are relatively familiar with the ingredients in their skin care products; they know what to look for and what to avoid. We’re much less knowledgeable about the ingredients in our food, however, and we seem to have no idea how food will affect the skin. My question to you is: shouldn’t we know as much about what we put in our bodies as the stuff we smear on our faces? Seriously, most of us have absolutely no idea what or how much we’re actually eating. In fact, countless studies have shown that we’re all guilty of underestimating what and how much we eat on a regular basis; overweight people typically underreport their daily intake by as much as 30 to 40 percent, while people of average weight underreport by about 16 percent. One factor in this underreporting trend is our tendency to discount seemingly inconsequential food items (like a random handful of M&Ms or the creamy dressing on your mixed-greens salad) or to forget certain indulgences all together (like a stolen cookie from the break room at work, a mid-day latte, or a pre-dinner cocktail). We also eat for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with hunger or nutrition. We eat when we’re happy. We eat when we’re sad or stressed. We eat to celebrate and to commiserate. We ate when Denny died on Grey’s Anatomy (hello, Ben & Jerry’s). And we ate when Carrie and Big got together, again, for the umpteenth time. (Cosmos all around!) But mindless grazing and emotion-based eating can wreak havoc on more than just your waistline; the effects can show up on your face. Take control of what you put in your mouth by following these simple tips:Keep a Food DiaryIt’s important to write down everything you put in your mouth, at least for the first few weeks of the FEED YOUR FACE Diet. And spare me your whining, please—this doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Right after you eat, send yourself an email or a text message. Monitor your meals with your Blackberry or iPhone. Or, kick it old school and take notes in a pocket-sized notebook. Whatever your method, keeping track of what you’re eating is often the quickest way to identify the cause of an unexplained rash or sudden breakout—usually within two to three weeks, a pattern will emerge. But if you want healthy, better-looking skin for a lifetime, you’ll always need to be aware of the foods you eat. Look, I know writing down everything you eat might seem like a drag, but just think about how in-tune with your body you’ll become after just a few weeks. You’ll learn what makes you drowsy, what makes you bloated, and what makes you break out. Got a hot date coming up? How about an important presentation at work? Avoiding your particular clear skin saboteurs in the days leading up to any important event can help ensure that you won’t wake up to a big, honking zit or a sudden rash on the big day. There’s no right or wrong way to keep a food diary, but if you’re wondering what one looks like, I’ve included a page from the diary of Nikki Sixx, bass guitar player of the rock bands Mötley Crüe and Sixx: A.M. This is a guy who partied extremely hard for two full decades—he famously battled severe drug and alcohol addiction. But ten years ago he kicked all his bad habits, and now (at 52!), Nikki looks and feels better than ever. (And I hope I don’t kill his image here, but he’s also an absolute sweetheart.) Food Diary Patient: Nikki Sixx — Musician (Motley Crue, Sixx: A.M.), Reformed Bad BoyNotes from Nikki: These days, I go to bed before midnight, and I always wake up before 7 AM. I don’t drink, and I don’t do drugs. I also have tons of water throughout the day.
My food journal might be pretty boring for a rock star, but I’ve found what makes me feel the best and I pretty much stick with it. WEDNESDAYEARLY AM: 3 cups of coffee and a green appleLUNCH: Grilled salmon on a bed of steamed white rice, coffee SNACK: Protein shake and bananaAFTERNOON: Spinach salad with ranch dressing on the side, Diet cokeDINNER: Homemade Chicken soup THURSDAYEARLY AM: 3 cups of coffee and sliced fruitBREAKFAST: OatmealLUNCH: Steak and eggs and coffee at The Griddle Cafe on Sunset Blvd SNACK: Protein bar, banana, and grapesDINNER: Chinese chicken salad and a Coke at Wolfgang Pucks SNACK: Protein shake with almond milk
FRIDAYBREAKFAST: 4 cups of coffee, oatmeal with raisins, sliced banana, and a little almond milk LUNCH: 2 tacos and a Coke at a drive-thru Taco Bell SNACK: Protein bar and waterDINNER: Grilled chicken and coffee from Cosmos Grill in CalabasasSNACK: Frozen grapes (while watching a movie at home)
SATURDAYBREAKFAST: 2 cups of coffee and 3-egg-white omelet with mushrooms and tomatoes LUNCH: Clam chowder and a Diet Coke at Gladstone’s in Malibu SNACK: Protein bar and water with lemon LATE AFTERNOON: Chilean sea bass, mixed greens salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing, water, English breakfast teaLATE DINNER: BIG ASS STEAK at Ruth’s Chris in the Valley, creamed spinach, hot bread with butter, cheesecake, cappuccino
For the most part, Nikki eats a healthy, balanced diet and it shows—his skin is amazingly smooth, supple, and wrinkle-free. By spacing his meals and snacks out, he’s maintaining steady blood sugar, and by eating protein at every meal, he’s helping his skin maintain its collagen. So what could he do better? I’d suggest eating more brightly colored veggies (for an antioxidant boost). He could further cut refined grains from his diet by swapping white rice for brown. And he might consider snacking on berries rather than frozen grapes, since they’re lower in sugar. Nikki’s also a huge coffee drinker. I wouldn’t ask him to give it up (because I know he won’t), though he might want to alternate between coffee and green tea, which is packed with antioxidants and will help protect his skin from the Southern California sun.