Dana Dinnawi Shares Her Best-Kept Health & Beauty Secrets
Ever since Dana Dinnawi—Health, Wellness & Lifestyle Coach—revealed to us some of her health and beauty secrets, we’ve been re-thinking most of our daily food habits. Most of us have been struggling to know whether we’re making the right decisions everyday. Read below as Dana discusses with us the link between what we eat and how our skin looks, weight-loss, and three rules she lives by.
Tell us a little about your background
I’m a holistic health coach. I earned my certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, which is the world’s largest nutrition school. I’ve been married for 23 years and have 3 kids—Malak, Nour, and Youssef. I graduated from AUC twice, once in 1995 with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication and then again in 2006 with a MA in English and Comparative Literature. I’m half Lebanese and half Egyptian.
We can’t help but notice your glowing skin, what’s your secret?
All-natural food and all-natural skin care!
Do you believe that our diet can affect how our skin looks? I have personally experienced the trauma of bad skin and how that can shake your confidence. I had acne since I was 13 and it just wouldn’t budge no matter what I tried, or what new medication my new dermatologist gave me or what new cream or procedure (and there were some very severe procedures) to get rid of the acne and to reduce the scarring.
It all worked but with very short-term results. Nothing was sustainable and nothing gave me back my confidence. I could NEVER leave the house without a heavy layer of foundation to cover my insecurity.
Right now I have a very different complexion—no more acne, no more trauma, no more daily foundation to go out, and much more confidence.
My skin improved dramatically after I changed what I ate, at age 40. But the real transformation happened when I also changed my commercial products and prioritized self care.
Skin issues are definitely not skin-deep. Skin is the largest organ in our body, and it reflects the condition inside our body. The best way to relieve skin problems is to fix the root cause so that they can be taken care of once and for all. And the root cause (as with all chronic conditions) lies in your gut. Our skin is also the largest detoxifying organ in the body. It is your first line of defense! The minute you ingest something of a chemical nature or an allergen or experience a stressful situation, your skin reacts by breaking out by trying to expel the toxins, whether those we consider real poisons or the ones emitted by our stress hormones. This is when your skin is telling you that you are out of balance, that you are doing things that are not serving you, that it is not the time to cover it all up with the fanciest concealers, but instead it is time to undergo a major clean-up.
If you who want that youthful, glowing skin that’s a reflection of the healthy you, of healthy intestines, of healthy and unclogged lymphatic system (your body’s garbage disposal system), you need to start with a cleanse and apply the following:
Remove or limit all sources of wheat, dairy, sugar, processed oils, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and soy. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, and sugar hastens the aging process.
Load up on anti-oxidant-rich foods: Antioxidant-rich foods have the capacity of seeking out and destroying free radicals, which are unstable molecules that make their way through the body, stealing from our healthy cells in an effort to become complete. While they are naturally occurring in the body to some extent, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also spawn free radicals.
What are some natural beauty products that you can’t live without?
Living Libations is the product line that saved my skin-and I will never give it up!
What’s your go-to healthy snack?
Any fresh fruit or a gluten-free chocolate dessert
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Pizza and burgers! But I never feel guilty about eating them. I enjoy them completely.
How do you deal with stress?
I journal daily as a form of release. If I’m at home and working, I take naps as a way to meditate. Very short 10 minute naps to completely detach. And once or twice a week I will go work outside of my home (I love the lobby at the 4 Seasons Nile Plaza-they make a delicious almond milk mocha) and I spend the whole day there working and brainstorming. Having a simple pattern-interrupt usually does the trick.
A lot of people suffer from binge-eating, do you have any advice for them?
When you crave a certain food, and continuously give in, it's not because you don't have willpower or you're doomed to be weak in the face of this food forever. Not at all.
It's simply because of an imbalance in your body or even a sensitivity to food that you just don't know about. Or because you have a deeper emotional concern you use that food to compensate for.
It's NOT because you're weak.
Some people don’t have enough time to prepare a proper breakfast in the morning, do you have something in mind that is quick and easy to prepare?
Smoothies are the easiest and most nutritious way to start the day. They are a complete, fully balanced meal that is very filing when made properly.
What’s the right way to detox?
The right way to detox is to use whole foods--fruits and veggies straight from nature. No funny pills or drinks. And working with a coach to guide you through the process is key.
What’s one thing you learned in the past few years that you wish you knew earlier?
That what I want for myself can never be wrong if it’s coming from a true place of authenticity. Basically, stay connected to my intuition.
What’s your advice to people that are trying to lose weight in a healthy way?
Be really patient and remember that it took you a really long time to get to where you are today. You can’t lose weight permanently using quick methods. And you can’t lose weight by looking at nutrition alone. You have to look at why you’re eating the way you’re eating. What are the physiological but also emotional factors driving you to overeat?
Can you share with us three rules that you live by?
1. Always follow my gut—always.
2. Never belittle my desires.
3. Food is medicine. If you don’t have your health, you have nothing else.
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