Last month I featured Jolene Hart’s wonderfully informative book, Eat Pretty, in which Ms. Hart reveals her own journey to healing and explains how nutrition can be our most powerful tool in the quest for radiant beauty at any age. I got such a great response from you all that I decided to track down Ms. Hart myself and snag an interview. I am so glad I did! I absolutely loved connecting with this soul sister of mine. Isn’t it just the most magical thing when you meet somebody and it’s like boom! you’ve just met, but you totally get one another? There is nothing else like it!
I just adore Jolene’s approach to beauty and completely relate to her health journey. I hope you do too. Enjoy!
You worked as a beauty editor for years while dealing with your own skin issues like eczema, rosacea and acne. How did you finally come to an inside out approach to healthy skin?
Honestly, the changes I made came from desperation, and a feeling that I had exercised every other option to heal my skin, without results. I wish I had more confidence in my early instincts that my diet and the state of my skin were closely connected, but for years I heeded the assurances of the many experts I consulted who discounted any link between diet and skin conditions. I really wanted the fastest and most effective route to healing my skin, and the idea of changing my diet to try to see a difference in my skin seemed unreliable, unscientific, and certainly more effort than taking a pill or applying a cream at that time in my life. But I was so, so wrong! When the prescription antibiotics, creams, lotions and gels didn’t work, when the mail-order acne products I was using didn’t resolve the problem fully, and when the over the counter products I was constantly experimenting with as a beauty editor failed me as well, I decided that I had to look more closely at my diet. The healing of my skin issues didn’t take place instantly, because I spent awhile experimenting with different foods and styles of eating. But the general move toward consuming whole, fresh, seasonal food quickly made me feel like I was on the right track. Over the course of that first year of experimenting with my diet, my skin made a major transformation.
You initially changed your diet to improve your skin, but what else happened to your over-all health when you began to eat differently?
This is something I don’t talk a lot about actually! My skin was my biggest focus, but in changing my diet, my moods and energy improved so much, and I reached a weight where I feel healthy, happy and nourished. Battling the scale was a daily thing for me, and such an enormous weight lifted from me when I stopped focusing on calories and truly learned to love food again, for all of the good things it was doing for my body. Just to be clear, I ate a plant-based diet for almost a decade before my skin issues even started— but I had no idea how to eat to support my skin! I thought eating vegetarian was eating healthy, but I didn’t know how to manage my blood sugar, create meals from whole, unprocessed foods, and support healthy digestion. Now that I’m a mom of a 19 month-old, I think all the time that I would be a cranky, exhausted mess if I were still eating and feeling the way I used to. I need my diet to nourish and fuel me through the day!
In your book, you refer to Beauty Betrayer Foods. What are some of the worst offenders?
Sugar is definitely a big one. It’s seriously aging and inflammatory in our bodies, wrinkle-promoting in our skin, it’s incredibly addictive, and it’s just packed everywhere in our diets. Beyond that, processed food really has very little to offer for our beauty, and we eat so much of it. Transitioning away from processed foods to fresh sources of nutrition for your body can truly take your skin and beauty to the next level.
For years, the general consensus was that fat was best avoided in a healthy diet, but how is some fat essential to an Eat Pretty way of eating?
It’s interesting that we’ve gone from obsessively avoiding fat to adding it into things like coffee and water (trends I’ve seen lately)— opposite ends of the spectrum. We’ve realized that cutting fat from our diets isn’t an easy route to losing excess fat from our bodies, and that we actually need healthy fats (some of my favorites are found in coconut oil, avocado, raw nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil, wild salmon, and sardines) to support our metabolism, absorb fat soluble beauty nutrients, manufacture hormones, and keep our cell membranes strong so that our skin is supple and moisturized. Fat also helps keep us satiated and our blood sugar stable so that we’re not constantly craving sweets and snacks, and feeling our energy spike and dip all day long.
What are your top three beauty food pantry staples?
Coconut oil. This fat is pure beauty fuel for the body! I love cooking and baking with it, melting it over freshly popped popcorn with nutritional yeast, adding it to smoothies and spreading it on gluten-free toast now and then.
Chickpeas. I always by them in BPA-free cans. I use these for homemade hummus, chopped into a mock chicken salad for lunch, roasted and spiced as a snack, and in all kinds of cold salads. They’re packed with zinc, protein and B6, so they’re amazing for healthy hair.
Hemp seeds. I love these tiny seeds as a beautifying source of protein, minerals and fats. They’re an ideal protein source in a morning smoothie, especially if you don’t like anything heavy at that hour, and I always sprinkle them on my son’s oatmeal and yogurts to boost their nutritional content. Even though I consider them ‘pantry foods,’ I store them in the fridge.
Will you be writing another book?
Yes, I have two follow-ups to Eat Pretty on the way for 2016! They’re both designed to help you take the philosophy behind Eat Pretty and turn it into a lifestyle that’s inspiring, motivating and beautifying inside & out. Stay tuned!
Thanks so much, Jolene! Can’t wait to read your new books and try out your beautifying recipes like this Banana Buckwheat Pancake! Yum!
(Photos provided by Jolene Hart)