Dana James is a nutritional therapist, writer and founder of Food Coach NYC. She holds her Masters in Clinical Nutrition and is trained in nutrition biochemistry, functional medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy. Dana’s approach to wellness and health is more holistic as opposed to the barrage of quick-fix solutions we are bombarded with in today’s market.  Here, Dana talks wellness, the mind and body connection and what you can expect to see from her in the future.

What is your philosophy on wellness and health?

Celebrate life by adding more beauty, richness, joy and balance. Understand the why – why are you motivated to make a change and why are you not? Don’t try to control things too much, let life take you were you’re supposed to go. Savor the simple things in life and pursue happiness. Enjoy food, connection, movement and being present. Melt into life – it will bring you everything you desire.

When did your interest in nutrition begin and how did you channel that into a career?

I had terrible body image issues as a teenager. Food was a punishment tool not a way to nourish my body and brain. I would jump from one diet to the next thinking that the next one would make me skinny and happy. Of course it didn’t.  I thought that nutrition knowledge was the answer and that’s how I ended up in nutrition. Little did I know that food was only part of the picture and what I really needed was to fully accept all of me – body, voice and mind. I currently practice with a combination of nutrition and psychology. I trained in the United Kingdom and they called us nutritional therapists.  I think that’s a more accurate term.

What advice would you give to someone who feels they don’t have access to healthy living whether that be time constraints or lack of knowledge about nutrition?

We all have the same amount of time and it’s just how you prioritize it. If leading a healthy life is important to you, you’ll find a way to make it work. Think from a solution based perspective not a constraint perspective. Lack of nutritional knowledge is easy to correct – limit sugar, limit gluten and use plant-based foods as the foundation of the meal. Select protein choices that appeal to you – animal or vegan – the choice is yours.

What are some of the misconceptions people have about healthy living?

That healthy eating equals weight loss and you’ll have a rock’n body if all you do is eat right. Weight loss is a subset of healthy eating – you need to eat clean, eat small and eat the right combinations. A healthy mind is equally as important as a healthy diet and this tends to be forgotten. Fat is not only fat but stored toxins and stored negative emotions. You’ve got to clean out your diet and your limiting thoughts for true healthy living.

In a market saturated with  quick fix weight loss solutions, what are your thoughts about this culture?

It’s sad. These companies play into people’s fears and hopes. The next time you read one of these quick-fix programs, think of them as leaches sucking the hope and joy out of people. The only miracle solution is a change in mindset.

What are your go-to resources for balanced information about a healthy lifestyle?

Mind Body Green is great resource for wellness information. Well + Good NYC is an excellent resource for New York centric wellness.

What are your thoughts on the mind and body connection?

They are intricately linked. There is beautiful harmony between the mind and body. What we think influences our biochemistry and our biochemistry influences our mind. You can enter the circle at either point to bring about an elevated level of wellness. I start with the body and food as incorrect food can hijack our mind and make it more challenging to determine true emotional states.

Much cover is given to so-called superfoods.  Do you subscribe to the idea that some foods have more benefits than others?

It is an over-used word often associated with some exotic fruit or powder that has a $50 price tag or some multi-level marketing program attached to it. A true superfood is rare. My number one superfood is chia seed. It has 12 grams of fiber per 3 tablespoons (no other natural food has this level of fiber), the same amount of protein as an egg and the same amount of Omega-3 fats as a piece of wild salmon. That’s a superfood!

What projects can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m launching a six month coaching program on how to break through emotional eating and discover your true essence and beauty. I’m also in the midst of a book proposal and seeking an agent.

In the modeling industry where weight is a vital component of the job, how can a model lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way?

The first step is to reinterpret food. Food is a tool for a successful and long-lasting career; it’s not to be feared or over-indulged in. She should start her day with a green vegetable juice or eggs then have a plant-based meal for lunch and dinner with a small amount of protein and fat. Carbs and fruit need to be limited for weight loss. No gluten-containing food please. She should pack food for shoots rather than relying on energy bars and caffeine which will leave her depleted and lacking in vitality.

The biggest issue I see with models is not weight loss but a bloated belly from Candida or parasites picked up while traveling to various locations.  If they find that when they eat vegetables or fruit their stomach bloats, then it’s likely they have a microbe fermenting the food they are eating. These need to be eradicated so she can have a flatter stomach. Their energy levels will also increase and her skin will also look more radiant.

For more information visit Food Coach NYC