My Morning and Evening Routine: Dana James, Food Coach and Functional Medicine Nutritionist
Dana James is the founder of Food Coach NYC and LA, a functional medicine nutrition practice that helps correct imbalances through nutrition intervention and psychological exploration. Translation? There’s a connection between what’s going on in your head and what goes on your plate. When that’s out of balance, wellness takes a hit. Enter Columbia University-educated Dana James as Food Coach with a capital F. Dana's goal: help people restore that balance so the food-body-mind relationship has the Happily-Ever-After it deserves. This triple-certified nutritionist (who, by the way, has her MS, CDN, CNS, BANT, and AADP - whew!) shares why meditation is crucial, and what products she swears by for a happier morning and evening routine.
We hear that your luxury is sleeping in! Are you a (natural) morning bird or night owl?
Both! But I LOVE sleeping in. There’s nothing more opulent than having nothing to do and just luxuriating in bed. Mmmm!
What are you most excited about right now?
My Mallorca retreat from June 30th - July 4th! I’m taking eight women to Valldemossa, Mallorca for a lifestyle retreat where we’ll be activating my four female archetypes to bring out our creative and playful selves. I actually curated this based on what I personally wanted in a retreat! For instance, we'll be eating amazing farm-to-table food, watching the sunset, swimming in aquamarine waters, staying in a pretty villa, engaging in inspiring conversations, feeling high from kundalini breath work and connecting with nature. I wanted to create an experience that was magnificent and memorable because of its beauty.
What intention do you live by?
Not one in particular right now but I’m always influenced by who I’m reading or listening to at the time. I’m a voracious reader and normally have five books going at the time. My most quoted woman is Marion Woodman. She is a Jungian analyst and her book, Addicted to Perfection rarely leaves my bedside table. It was written in 1980’s and the prose is so poetic that I reach for it when I need inspiration.
What is the most important life lesson you’ve learned from all your education and training?
Be humble because there is so much we don’t know about the human body.
We swear you are 42 going on 30. What are your secrets for youthfulness?
Ha ha! That’s great. I am. I can’t believe it myself! Oh gosh, so much goes into it. It’s layered but most importantly it’s consistent. I don’t jump from trend to trend - mostly because trends aren’t true. I’ve eaten consciously and clean for 15 years, but I also have a very relaxed attitude about food. I recently gained five pounds because I was eating sweets after every meal and rather then getting worked up about it, I just accepted it and followed one of my plans. The excess weight was gone in two weeks without restriction.
After food, it’s about connection with others, breath, meditation, being hopeful, and the products I use on my skin! I have a damn good facialist: I see Cara at Cap Beauty in New York City and Lena at Carasoin Day Spa in Los Angeles.
Fill in the blank: I (usually) eat: a smoothie for breakfast because it acts as a portal for extra nutrients.
I love the alchemy of making a smoothie. The base is two tablespoons of my Beauti-fuel plant protein, which is infused with nutrients to support the skin. Add one cup of hemp seed milk, one cup of mixed fresh fruit fruit, and adaptogenic herbs based on what I want to work on that day. One day it might be skin, the next day it might be stress reduction or bolstering the immune system. I play around and have fun with my smoothie.
What’s your current morning routine?
It depends on where I am. In New York City, my morning routine is super short because I’m up and out the door in 20 minutes.
But without fail, I use Bio ’N Ice red light on my face for collagen enhancement which takes about three minutes. It’s an underground secret by way of a Russian physicist who works in my office. He has no idea how to market it, but boy it works!
Between clients, I’ll do a ten minute meditation. In my New York office, we have a pyramid room (a room with a very large pyramid in it!) that enhances meditation. In this room, ten minutes feels like ten hours!
When I’m in Los Angeles and writing, my morning ritual is much more feminine and luxurious. I roll over, stretch and sensually get out of bed. I have a glass of water spiked with rose water and take two probiotics. Then, I jump on a mini trampoline for ten minutes to help invigorate my mind and body, which is then followed by a 20 minute kundalini breath series.
After that, I walk to The Butchers Daughter and pick up a macchiato. My man walks with me and we chat about the day. After that, I typically write for 90 minutes and all my social media and distractions are switched off. Then, I'll drink my smoothie and my day continues.
What’s your current evening routine?
Cleaning my face and reading a good book! My current love list of facial products are Il Fiore, Marie Veronique and True Botanicals. They all come out of San Francisco and understand California weather!
My skin is super dry during my travel and my skin cells are like greedy, thirsty beasts that suck up their serums like they are starving (which they probably are)! I’m a freak for radiance and if my skin looks luminousness from using a certain product, I’m loyal to it!
How and why is meditation important when establishing a morning and evening routine?
Consistent meditation decreases your emotional reactivity. I’m a person with lots of fire, so meditation gives me the clarity to see beyond an ego-centric reaction. From meditation, I can now de-personalize things very quickly. There’s nothing more captivating than a graceful woman who also has quick wit -- and meditation gives me that balance.
Do you have any evening food and drink rituals?
My rituals are so innate that I don’t think about them! But, if I've been drinking, I always take a B vitamin with a shot of aloe vera juice before bed because it disperses the hangover like nothing else! If I’m in New York City or Europe and am jet lagged, I take a supplement called Sleep Support which contains a combination of botanicals, magnesium, 5-HTP and melatonin. It works like a dream!
What’s your evening “unwind” song?
I’m a huge kundalini fan - and therefore kundalini music fan. Right now, my go-to evening song is White Sun and Erin Breech. Baths are also a ritual for me. My friends from Cap Beauty gave me In Fiore's Bois de Rose as a birthday present and I’ve been hooked! I use it before I get into the bath and I feel like a queen. It’s not cheap - but oh god, it feels good!
What do you read and listen to last thing before bed?
Definitely not emails! After 8:00 p.m. I turn my phone and computer off. My mind is very porous and I will absorb the last thing I watch, read or think about. I cannot watch dramas on television before bed because the darkness of it will unsettle my sleep. I will normally read a book before bed. Right now, I am researching shame and disordered eating for a paper I am writing, and so I have studies next to my bedside and a highlighter. These studies can be very soporific and before you know it, I’m asleep!
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