Introduce yourself to our readers! Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC, a registered dietitian, health coach, and writer with a passion for helping people streamline their wellness routine and establish a balanced relationship with food and fitness. Through my writing, consulting, public speaking, and counseling, I work with individuals, corporations, and the media to help make drama-free healthy living approachable and enjoyable. I have a book coming out in 2020 that’s based on the mind-body-spirit approach I take with my clients to help them reach their goals without losing their mind. I’m a big believer in little hacks that upgrade our day and help dial down the stress and anxiety that can hold us back from making progress.
How do you interpret self-care?
To me, self-care is all about supporting alignment of the mind, body, and spirit through practices that help us feel energized, focused, and grounded. I really believe that because we’re so different, it’s totally normal for one person’s self-care routine look very different someone else’s. It can be as simple or elaborate as feels authentic and helpful to you.
How do you do self-care?
Energy management is key for me. I know that in order to feel my best I need to fuel myself with healthy food that energized me and to do something active every day. I also make sure to hydrate and to be mindful not to overdo caffeine. A consistent sleep routine is also important, though that one is probably what I struggle with most. As someone who works for themselves, I’ve definitely struggled with burnout in the past and have to really keep myself in check when I notice myself starting to go down that rabbit hole. Scheduling in time for fun and connection with people who make me feel good is something I’ve really come to value as well.
What's your current skincare routine? Has it evolved? How and why?
I’m very pale so have always been very diligent about sunscreen, but got really serious about it when I was 26 and had a pre-cancerous mole removed from my chest. I still have a big scar there that looks way more badass than it is, but seriously, skin cancer is no joke. I’m that person at the rooftop party wearing the giant hat who brings a bottle of sunscreen to share with the group. The anti-aging benefits of protecting my skin is something I’ve come to appreciate in my 30s too! That said, I found that after turning 30, my skin became drier, and I had to be more intentional about moisturizing and using eye cream regularly. Finding a serum I love was a game-changer too. I’m currently in the process of incorporating more natural skincare products into my routine, like Biossance's deodorant and oil, and Beautycounter's lip balm and brightening oil.
Eczema is the skin problem I’ve been trying to get a handle on since I was a kid, though. I feel like I’ve tried every approach (dietary, topical, general hygiene like cool showers and gentle products, etc), but those dry NYC winters are killer. I’m always shy about showing my legs when the weather warms up because they’re covered in scars from scratching. Not cute, but true.
As a nutritionist, what advice can you give to our readers who want to know more about eating for their skin? What beneficial foods can they add to their diets?
Nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and healthy fats are your BFFs when it comes to skincare. That cliche “eat the rainbow” is a cliche for a reason—the pigments found in colorful fruits and vegetables like leafy greens, berries, beets, carrots, and winter squash also have powerful antioxidant properties. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant and plays a role in supporting healthy collagen production. Healthy fats are important for supporting stable hormone production (a big role in skin health) and help give us a beautiful glow and keep skin moisturized. Avocados and avocado oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and omega-3-rich fish like salmon and sardines are some of my top picks. I also always tell my clients to hydrate like it’s their side-hustle.
I know that dairy gets a bad reputation, but I find that for more people the bigger problems are added sugar and simple carbs like white flours that spike our blood sugar and insulin, triggering inflammation that can show up in our skin. You’re generally better off sticking to small servings of complex carbs (think whole grains and sweet potatoes vs white bread) in the context of balanced meals and snacks that also provide fat and protein to help promote slower breakdown of those carbs so you don’t get as sharp a glycemic response.
Maybe I’m dating myself, but there’s this part in the movie Wayne’s World where Garth says, “Benjamin is no one’s friend. If Benjamin were an ice cream flavor, he’d be Pralines and Dick”—that’s basically how I feel about added sugar.
With clients and consultations, you must be pretty busy helping others with their self-care. How do you balance career with taking care of yourself?
I’m a big believer in scheduling my self-care on my calendar. I put my own name on there as a reminder that I matter just as much as the other priorities on my list. I use an electronic calendar for scheduling meetings and appointments, and I have automatically set limits so there are blocks of time where I can tend to my own self-care and personal obligations. For example, I usually work out in the before noon, so I usually see 1:1 clients after lunch, when my head isn’t buzzing with to-do-list BS.
Even though I work from home most of the time, I still do meal-prep so I’m not cooking from scratch every time I eat. Having a fridge stocked with healthy stuff that’s easy to combine in delicious ways makes life so much easier.
As a solopreneur, connection with others is so important, so I make regular social and networking plans with people who inspire me and set regular coworking dates with people whose work energy vibes well with mine. Loneliness is a huge health problem for so many people, and without that baked-in facetime that an office job brings, it’s important to be intentional about it. I have so many amazing people in my life, but I didn’t connect with most of them by sitting on my ass at home scrolling through my phone. If you’re naturally shy like I am, I promise it gets easier the more you get out there!
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