Five of our favourite foods to help you eat pretty all year

In her new book, ex-beauty editor Jolene Hart shares the foods that will set your skin aglow.

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Man feeding woman a strawberry, Jan 13, p96
Photo, Chris Craymer/Trunk Archive.

Jolene Hart, a beauty and health coach (certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners) was plagued for years with poor skin and sluggishness. And while the former beauty editor had every product at her disposal, she continued to suffer from acne and an expanding waistline. Her intuition told her there had to be a link between our skin’s health and the foods we eat.

On her website she confesses, “The answer to my skin woes was not in the steady stream of new skin care products and beauty treatments that crossed my desk daily. None of these conventional beauty remedies improved the upset in my skin, which, as I learned later, reflected my poor diet and stressed-out lifestyle.”

In her new book, Eat Pretty, Jolene focuses on beauty from the inside out. Filled with seasonal recipes, food break downs and symptom-specific suggestions, this book is sure to make you glow. Read on to see how she approaches toxins, what she eats daily and see a few of our favourite beautifying foods.

Q: When, and how, did you become interested in holistic beauty through diet?
A: I’d always been interested in nutrition, but it wasn’t until I reached an incredibly desperate place with my skin, unable to heal persistent blemishes and eczema with prescriptions and products, that I went back to basics to look at the way my body was functioning and how I was feeding it. It took years of dealing with these skin conditions for me to make the food/beauty connection, since I had been told by countless experts that there was no link between diet and acne. But I always suspected that my skin issues were important signals from my body, and I’m glad I finally learned to listen to them.

Q: How has writing Eat Pretty changed the way you eat?
A: Most of the changes in the way I eat came well before Eat Pretty; they took place over several years, as I figured out exactly what I needed to add (and, equally as important, what I needed to eliminate) to heal my body and beauty. But while I researched the latest studies and consulted with experts across the fields of nutrition — hormone health, dermatology, sleep, ayurveda — I made even more changes, like adding lots of spices to my meals and eating a much more seasonally guided diet.

Q: Which foods do you advise people avoid?
A: In Eat Pretty, I talk about these foods in depth — I call them the Beauty Betrayers. On the list are foods like conventional dairy and meats (due to their acidic effect on the body and their added hormones), processed foods (because of their lack of nutrition, and their concentration of inflammatory ingredients) and refined sugar (a factor in blemishes, wrinkles, dry, lackluster skin and weight gain).

Q: You define holistic beauty as a harmony between mind and body. What can more women do to focus less on just the physical?
A: It’s not always easy to find that mind-body balance. It helps to appreciate just how much the way we think, act and feel on a day-to-day basis impacts our beauty. When you’re motivated to look and feel your best, for you and you alone, I think you place much greater value on those beauty intangibles.

Q: You state that nutrition has medicinal benefits. Can an immaculate diet replace medication? Have we become too reliant on pharmaceuticals, when the answer could be in our pantry?
A: I would never go so far as to say that eating a certain way could prevent all need for medication — after all, we don’t really even know what a ‘perfect’ diet is. What we do know is that it’s a little different for everyone, and that’s why I encourage everyone to listen to their bodies as they figure out what beauty foods support their bodies best. I think pharmaceuticals are valuable to treat many health conditions, but I also hope that we’ll always remember that our daily food choices are major factors in our health as well. The food we eat affects our bodies’ ability to function optimally and to stay healthy and beautiful.

Q: How much can nutrition alone impact our appearance despite setbacks like chemicals and pollution? 
A: The word ‘chemicals’ is one that a lot of people take issue with — chemicals aren’t inherently bad. But there are plenty of chemicals out there that are toxic to our bodies, and our diets play an important role in defending us from an overload of those toxins by supporting natural detox, elimination and free radical defense. Beyond that, the food we eat actually becomes our body on a molecular level by breaking down into the building blocks that fuel our bodies and repair our skin, hair and nails. This means we have an enormous amount of control over the way we look and feel with the food we choose to eat.

Q: How long will it take someone to see the benefits of an Eat Pretty diet?
A: The first changes — to your skin, your mood and your energy levels — can take place in just days. Noticeable changes — to your hair, nails and shifts in your weight — develop over weeks and months. If you pay attention to the way you feel after eating, I believe you’ll notice a difference almost immediately.

Here’s our five favourite beautifying foods from Eat Pretty:

1. Coconut
Beautifying compound: Potassium
Beauty benefit: Supports healthy electrolyte balance
Whether in oil, water or meat form, coconut’s ability to regulate electrolytes helps the heart deliver oxygenated blood to the body, setting skin aglow. Choose a young coconut (cylindrical shape with a pointed top) for a powerful beauty elixir.
Click here for more on the health benefits of coconut water.

2. Lemon
Beautifying compound: Bioflavanoids
Beauty benefit: Strengthens blood vessels
Thanks to lemons’ astringent, diuretic and laxative properties, they clean out the digestive tract, leaving you with a flat belly and increased energy. Their high bioflavanoid content also boosts lymph flow, preventing varicose veins.

3. Strawberries
Beautifying compound: Vitamin C
Beauty benefit: Boosts collagen production
Containing more vitamin C in a handful than a whole orange, strawberries are chock-full of antioxidants that contribute to younger-looking skin and a lightning-speed metabolism.
Click here for more on the many health benefits of strawberries.

4. Garlic
Beautifying compound: Allicin
Beauty benefit: Stops wrinkle formation
Thank garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties for its ability to quell acne and skin sensitivity and its antibacterial properties supporting healthy intestinal flora (this enables you to more efficiently absorb beautifying nutrients!).
See five more great reasons to eat garlic here.

5. Cacao
Beautifying compound: Catechins
Beauty benefit: Blocks wrinkle formation
Look for chocolate with a minimum cacao percentage of 70 to reap all the strong-nail, supple-skin and shiny hair benefits it has to offer. Dark and dairy-free versions also play a role in the skin’s UV ray protection.
Get more great reasons to eat chocolate here!