What you eat and how you eat are important to maintaining good health and beautiful skin. One approach to reaching this goal is to make a list of foods that nurture the skin – from green tea to salmon to colorful vegetables and Greek yogurt. Or you may make a list of foods to avoid – sugar and refined carbohydrates. Limiting your self to only “good” foods and denying yourself any alternatives, may be too narrow of an approach to meet your wellness goals.
Before embarking on a wellness quest Elyse Wagner first wants to know what your beliefs are. She partners with clients to understand their personal goals and helps them achieve them. We talked to Elyse to get her take on how food and our beliefs about food can nurture or disrupt our path to wellness. She is a certified nutritionist and positive psychology professional. As a wellness coach, she incorporates both science and what she calls “body wisdom.“
YASOU: Where do you begin with a new client who wants to make healthier choices?
EW: People may say they want to lose weight or improve their skin. I ask ‘Why?’ to understand what it means to them. What is the motivating factor – is it health, beauty, wellness or something else?
YASOU: What role does food play in maintaining health, beauty, and wellness?
EW: “Food feeds us physically, emotionally and spiritually. It also contains little pieces of information for the body. Does this food contain vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates? High quality food honors the body.”
YASOU: Modern nutrition science is uncovering insights about what we eat and how we look. What do you think?
EW: Our cells are meant to multiply and rejuvenate. Telomeres are strands of DNA at the ends of each of our chromosomes. They make it possible for cells to divide. The longer your telomeres, the better indicator it is for aging well. Fried, processed food decreases the length of telomeres and can speed up aging. Studies show that foods high in vitamins and anti-oxidants are strongly related to longer telomeres. Exercise and stress reduction are also cited for rebuilding telomeres.
YASOU: What are the biggest barriers that you see people confronting when trying to reach their wellness goals?
EW: They usually come to me with a surface complaint such as losing weight or looking younger. They don’t yet have the skills, strategy or self-confidence to make the necessary decisions that lead to a meaningful, sustainable lifestyle change.
YASOU: It’s hard to change, isn’t it?
EW: It is. I try to help people establish a mindset around their own value system. For example, if they are environmentally aware organic food choices may work well because it’s a part of what they value. The same goes for what they put on their skin.
YASOU: Why do you dislike the word “diet” so much?
EW: Healthy food choices are a lifestyle whereas diets are short-term and not sustainable.
YASOU: Why do you refer to how you eat rather than just what you eat?
EW: The digestive and nervous systems react to our state of being. If we are stressed, certain hormones are released. The nervous system goes into fight or flight mode, temporarily suppressing appetite. But if the stress continues cortisol is released and that increases appetite. Stress also seems to affect food choices with those high in fat and sugar being preferred. When we are joyful and surrounded by friends or family while eating that stress effect is countered.
YASOU: How important is being true to one’s self when on a wellness path?
EW: It’s so important to live your own truth. Life brings a lot of wear and tear to our bodies and minds. We need to give ourselves permission to move forward. What do you like? What makes you feel good? It differs for every person.
Thank you Elyse Wagner, you certainly offered us a positive perspective on reaching wellness goals. You can learn more about Elyse at www.MyKitchenShrink.com.