Harvard-trained dermatologist Jessica Wu, M.D., tends to the skin care needs of some of Hollywood’s most beautiful faces..
including Katherine Heigl, Roma Downey, Maria Bello, and Kimora Lee Simmons. Now, she’s used her expertise to write Feed Your Face: Younger, Smoother Skin and a Beautiful Body in 28 Delicious Days which is receiving amazing reviews from those interested in anti-aging. Here we discuss some of the key points in the book, and enjoy an interview with Jessica Wu.
The Feed Your Face Diet discusses: 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 meal plan that takes the fear and stress out of eating for healthier, more beautiful skin.
You will 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, Jessica Wu has gone ahead and made some necessary adjustments for certain skin conditions in particular, such as 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 such as chicken. Likewise, if you don't care for broccoli, choose a different green veggie instead. 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: You don't actually have to cook anything if you don't feel like it or if you just don't have the time. The majority of these meals can be assembled from the hot and cold bars at quality grocery stores, like Whole Foods. And if you're picking up dinner, rather than fixing it yourself, the same principles apply: 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, Jessica Wu has 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.
For smooth, clear skin and a healthy, sexy body, here's what you should Feed Your Face
Stocking Your PantryThe pantry is where you'll find the core ingredients of any healthy meal, but it's also the place where half-eaten boxes of stale cereal and mystery canned goods go to die. Start by cleaning yours out. Toss (or donate) all that processed, sugar- filled, nutrient- free junk (like Doritos, Oreos, and Hamburger Helper) and anything else that's been in there longer than you can remember. Then stock your pantry with these face-friendly staples:
Cooked and Canned Tomatoes Tomatoes are packed with the antioxidant lycopene (for extra UV protection). Sun- dried tomatoes are great in omelets or pasta, while jarred, low-sodium salsa gives baked chicken a kick. In fact, when Jessica is headed on vacation, the two most important things in her suitcase are a bathing suit and tomato paste. Three tablespoons every day at lunch— mixed into marinara sauce or on top of a pizza, not smeared on your face. Aim to incorporate tomatoes in at least one meal a day (it's surprisingly easy when you think about it), and you'll help protect your skin from sun spots, freckles, and premature wrinkling.
Whole grains, which are lower on the glycemic index than refined grains and contain loads of essential nutrients, are an important staple in any diet. Serve a small scoop of brown or wild rice (instead of white rice) alongside protein and veggies or try quinoa, a protein-packed grain that's similar to couscous. For a quick and easy breakfast, keep plenty of slow-cooking or rolled oats on hand (rather than instant oatmeal). Don't worry— despite their name, slowcooking oats can actually be prepared in a jiff ; Christine and Rob's brand oatmeal (so tasty that it repeatedly sells out at the uber- trendy restaurant inside Barneys New York) can be cooked in as little as five minutes. And when it comes to snacking, you can't beat whole-grain crackers and hummus. Jessica Wu especially likes Kashi Whole Grain TLC Original 7 Grain crackers (available in handy singleserving packs), Triscuit Low Sodium Whole Grain crackers (which have no added sugar), and Ryvita crackers, which are ridiculously crunchy and absolutely packed with fiber.
For sandwiches and wraps you can go with 100 percent whole-grain bread or check out sprouted grain bread. Unlike foods made with refined flour, sprouted grains are allowed to sprout (that is, germinate) before being turned into bread. Sprouted grain products— such as Ezekiel bread, available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and health food stores— are flourless (though not gluten-free), low-carb, low on the glycemic index, and available in a variety of forms, including hamburger buns, English muffi ns, and even pasta.
If you suffer from rashes (especially eczema or psoriasis), you'll want to avoid gluten, a protein found in such grains as wheat, barley, and rye, which may contribute to inflammation and aggravate itchy, flaky skin. You still need plenty of whole grains in your diet, however, so get to know the gluten free aisle in your grocery store. You'll find gluten-free bread, waffle and pancake mixes, granola, and cereal, as well as gluten-free soy sauce and salad dressings. Mary's Gone Crackers makes delicious whole-grain, wheat-free crackers with no added sugars—great for snacking or alongside soup or a salad at lunch. You should also aim to incorporate more naturally gluten-free grains in your diet such as corn, flax, brown rice, millet, and quinoa.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans are loaded with omega-3s, magnesium, vitamin E, and other nutrients, but they're also full of fiber so they'll keep you feeling fuller longer, which is one of the many reasons that nuts— paired with dried fruit for a burst of sweetness— are one of my favorite snacks. Nuts are high in fat, so you do want to limit yourself to a small handful. (If you're eating nuts with dried fruit, that's a small handful total, not a handful of each.) Natural nut butters make an equally excellent snack when spread on whole-grain or sprouted grain bread or alongside a piece of fruit, but stay away from Jif, Skippy, and other brands that contain added sugar, high- fructose corn syrup, salt, and other additives. Instead, try Justin's Almond or Peanut Nut Butters, or Adam's 100% Natural Unsalted Peanut Butter (creamy or crunchy), which is made entirely from peanuts and contains no added sugars, salt, or oil.
If you're concerned about the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, add Brazil nuts to your diet. They're one of the richest dietary sources of the antioxidant selenium (1 ounce, or about a handful of nuts, provides about 1000 percent of your Daily Value), which is essential to preventing the breakdown of collagen. (There is such a thing as too much selenium, though, so you don't want to overeat Brazil nuts.) You might also try soy nuts, which are roasted soybeans; they have a taste and texture similar to peanuts.
Seeds, including sunflower and flaxseeds, also provide a range of nutrients. Flaxseeds in particular (also known as linseeds) are an excellent source of omega- 3s, but they must be finely ground for your body to absorb the nutritional benefits. Use a coffee grinder to do the milling yourself. Sprinkle flaxseeds in smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt for an omega- 3 boost.
Interview with Jessica Wu
Question: The Feed Your Face diet is intended to help people have younger, smoother skin. Can those who follow the diet hope to lose a little weight along the way, too?
Jessica Wu: Absolutely! Feed Your Face is designed to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, clear acne, soothe rashes, and minimize the signs of sun damage — all while helping jump-start your metabolism and stabilize your blood sugar. If you follow my advice, you’ll also drop pounds and inches and generally feel better in your clothes and in your skin.
Question: Keeping up with the latest skin care products can be expensive, and so can looking for specific types of produce and secret food ingredients. Does the Feed Your Face diet include foods that are easy to find and affordable?
Jessica Wu: Yes! I’ll give you loads of help stocking your pantry, fridge, and spice rack with ingredients that are affordable and easily found at your local grocery store. I’ve also listed some of my favorite snacks and food brands as well as recommended dishes to order at some of the most popular restaurants. The best part of the Feed Your Face diet is that you don’t actually have to cook anything if you don’t feel like it, or if you just don’t have the time.
Question: Would you recommend this book for those with chronic skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis?
Jessica Wu: Yes! Most rashes have a component of inflammation, which makes your skin red, itchy, bumpy, or flaky. Following the Feed Your Face diet can alleviate your symptoms by helping to keep your blood sugar stable — which calms inflammation. I’ll also show you how to eat more foods that have natural anti-inflammatory potential, which can provide relief from your symptoms. If you’re under a doctor’s care, it’s still a good idea to follow the Feed Your Face principles; there’s a good chance it’ll help you get off your prescription medications sooner and help prevent the rash from coming back. Your skin — and your body — will be better off in the long run.
Question: At the end of a tiring day at the office or a night out, sometimes a slice of pizza is a popular option for a late dinner. Is the occasional splurge okay with this diet?
Jessica Wu: Actually, pizza can be a good choice for your skin. Just order thin crust (whole wheat if possible), go light on the cheese, and load it with the right kinds of protein and veggies that help fight wrinkles. Go ahead and splurge from time to time (my weakness is french fries!); just get back on the wagon with your next meal.
Question: You're the cofounder of the nonprofit organization BeautyShares, which is dedicated to building confidence and self-esteem in young women through after-school workshops on grooming, skin care, and healthy lifestyles. What's your advice for teen girls struggling with confidence?
Jessica Wu: I had bad skin and Coke-bottle glasses growing up, so I know what it’s like to have low self-confidence. While confidence comes from within, it helps tremendously if you look your best and feel healthy. And to do that, you have to take care of yourself from inside and out. This means being careful about what you eat (oatmeal instead of Twinkies for breakfast; turkey sandwich instead of Fritos for lunch). It also means taking care of your skin and staying fit and active so your body is healthy — and fits into your skinny jeans!
Question: What's your favorite go-to meal at the end of a long, busy day?
Jessica Wu: My favorite easy meal at the end of a busy day is turkey meatballs in marinara sauce (to fight sun damage) with green beans on the side (for thick healthy hair — I’m obsessed with my hair!) and a glass of red wine. And dark chocolate-covered almonds for dessert!
Question: So, how many skin-care products do I really need?
Jessica Wu: Two to three products— tops—should do the trick: a cleanser, sunscreen (typically in the form of a moisturizer with SPF), and a treatment of some kind in the evening, depending on your particular needs.
Over the years I've come to realize that skin care basics often confuse people the most. In fact, the majority of questions I receive from my online newsletter are about the simple stuff, such as the proper way to wash one's face or what to look for in a moisturizer. That's why I'll be sharing tips and tricks, as well as specific product recommendations, along the way.
Question: My dermatologist says wearing makeup can cause breakouts because it clogs the pores and doesn't let your skin "breathe." Is makeup really bad for my skin?
Jessica Wu: Good news, girls. Breakouts are typically caused by bacteria, hormonal fluctuations, and the foods you eat— not by Laura Mercier. In fact, some makeup can even be good for you. Certain cosmetics can provide SPF protection, which is great for those of us who sometimes forget to put on sunscreen. (You know who you are.) Wearing makeup may also remind you not to touch your face as often, cutting down on the transfer of germs from your hands. And as long as you're choosing the right makeup for your skin, it shouldn't make you break out. If you have oily skin, large pores, or acne- prone skin, look for a water- based makeup that is noncomedogenic. And if you're still breaking out, don't worry.
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