Dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu explains how her diet improves your skin by eliminating blemishes and reducing wrinkles.
In the book, Wu shares celebrity skin secrets and reveals how a well-stocked pantry can actually promote better eating habits.
Read an excerpt from "The Feed Your Face Philosophy" below or click here to check out her website.
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 unor ga nized and overfl owing 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.) Th e 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 what ever 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 that when I do take the time to shop and can come home and put everything away properly, I end up eating better. No desperate handfuls of potato chips to satisfy a midday 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 what ever you'd rather be shopping for!)
Th e 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 infl ammation, and soothe rashes— organized into a month-long meal 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 benefi t all skin types, I've 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 fi ne lines and wrinkles, or avoiding gluten if you suff er 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. And if you love the chocolate smoothie (on page 269), feel free to make it your new go- to breakfast. Don't be afraid to be fl exible. 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 when the idea of preparing dinner made me break into a cold sweat. Th at's why 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 diff erent 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 sacrifi ce 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. Th at'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).
For smooth, clear skin and a healthy, sexy body, here's what you should Feed Your Face.
Stocking Your Pantry
The pantry is where you'll fi nd 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- fi lled, nutrient- free junk (like Doritos, Oreos, and Hamburger Helper) and anything else that's been in there longer than you can remember. Th en stock your pantry with these face- friendly staples:
Cooked and Canned Tomatoes Tomatoes are packed with the antioxidant lycopene (for extra UV protection), and I keep every variety in my pantry. Sun- dried tomatoes are great in omelets or pasta, while jarred, low- sodium salsa gives baked chicken a kick. (Desert Gardens Five Chilies Salsa and Pace Pico de Gallo have less sodium and sugar than many prepared salsas.) In fact, when I'm headed on vacation, the two most important things in my suitcase are a bathing suit and tomato paste. Th ree tablespoons every day at lunch— mixed into marinara sauce or on top of a pizza, not smeared on your face— helps protect against sunburn, so I come home to L.A. with a golden glow rather than looking like a lobster. 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.
CELEBRITY SKIN SECRETS—
Marina Sirtis's Kokkinisto
OK, I'll admit it. I am a total Star Trek nerd. So when I fi rst met Marina Sirtis (a.k.a. Deanna Troi), I kind of geeked out.
Born in London to Greek parents, Marina grew up eating a mostly Mediterranean diet and tons of tomatoes— which is probably why she looks 15 years younger than her actual age. She was kind enough to share her family's recipe for Kokkinisto, a traditional Greek dish made with tomatoes and meat. Try it!
Feed Your Face in Action
11/2 to 2 pounds leg of lamb or lamb shank
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup dry red wine
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 or 3 russet potatoes,
peeled and chopped
1/2 cup peas
2 cups spinach,
cleaned and dried
Kokkinisto is traditionally prepared with lamb (shoulder chops or cutlets), but you can substitute beef or chicken. Cut the meat into individual portions (larger than bite- size).
In a stockpot, sauté the onion in 2– 3 tablespoons of olive oil until tender. Add the remaining oil and brown the meat on both sides. Add wine and stir. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cover and let simmer until the meat begins to soften, 30– 45 minutes. (Add water as needed if the sauce begins to dry.) Add the remaining vegetables and simmer until the meat is tender and the sauce is reduced and thickened.
Serves 2– 3
Grains, Nuts, and Seeds
Whole grains, which are lower on the glycemic index than refi ned 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 fi sh 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 fi ve minutes. Th at's key— I know, because I don't have time to stir a pot of oatmeal for thirty minutes while I'm trying to get ready for work. And when it comes to snacking, you can't beat whole- grain crackers and hummus. I especially like 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 refi ned fl our, 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 fl ourless (though not gluten- free), low- carb, low on the glycemic index, and available in a variety of forms, including hamburger buns, En glish 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 glutenfree 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.) I'm also addicted to Yumnuts roasted cashews (the sea salt fl avor is my favorite). They have less sodium per serving than most candy bars and contain only three ingredients: dry- roasted cashews (no oil!), sea salt, and gum acacia (a natural tree resin for texture). Plus, they come in a resealable package you can toss right in your purse. 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. Th ey'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. (Th ere 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 fl axseeds, also provide a range of nutrients. Flaxseeds in par tic u lar (also known as linseeds) are an excellent source of omega- 3s, but they must be fi nely ground for your body to absorb the nutritional benefi ts. Buy it premilled or use a coff ee grinder to do the milling yourself. Sprinkle fl axseeds in smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt for an omega- 3 boost.
CELEBRITY SKIN SECRETS—
Christa Miller's Homemade
In between takes on the set of Cougartown, Christa Miller snacks on homemade trail mix. Combine pumpkin seeds, sunfl ower seeds, and pistachios with a splash of maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt. Roast at 300° for 20 minutes. Add dried cherries (with no added sugars).
Whole- Grain Pasta
Switching white pasta for whole wheat pasta doesn't have to aff ect your taste buds, but it will aff ect your blood sugar— for the better. Until recently whole- grain pastas were mostly grainy, gummy, and unappetizing. But these days, delicious good- quality whole wheat pastas are widely available. Don't be fooled by multigrain or fortifi ed varieties, however, which are just mixtures of refi ned grains with added vitamins and minerals. Whole- grain is still the best. Try Barilla whole- grain pasta, which contains whole wheat fl our to help with digestion and whole oats to stabilize blood sugar. I also like 365 Everyday Value Organic Whole Wheat Pasta (from Whole Foods), which is high in fi ber and protein. Remember that all pastas should be cooked al dente, or slightly fi rm— overcooked pasta breaks down more quickly in the body, causing your blood sugar to spike more rapidly. If you prepare your pasta the night before (for pasta salad, for example), be sure to rinse in cold water to stop the cooking pro cess; otherwise, the pasta will continue to cook even after you've placed it in the refrigerator. And remember that pairing your pasta with a protein (such as lean chicken) will curb blood sugar spikes even more.