“I EAT TO RAISE THE VITALITY AND THE LIFE FORCE IN MY BODY,” SAYS CINDY DIPRIMA, CO-FOUNDER OF THE CULT NATURAL BEAUTY MECCA CAP BEAUTY. “In non-new age terms, [that means] I eat to feel amazing! My approach is guided by an awareness of the densities of different foods, both in terms of how easily they digest and in terms of how many nutrients they deliver.” The fact that the clean beauty guru follows the principles of food-combining is no surprise. Take one look at the glowing mama and you want some of what she’s got. Luckily she took time out of her busy schedule to go deep and talk about this elusive lifestyle. Below, we caught up DiPrima to talk her person food-combining gurus, indulgences and clean beauty musts. (Make sure to RSVP to our food-combining event at CAP on January 31!)
First off, in your own words, what is food-combining?
Food combining is the practice of eating foods in combinations that favor optimal digestion. It’s most basic tenet is to not combine starches and proteins and it gets more nuanced from there. The lightest foods that pack the greatest nutrition are the basis of my diet. That means lots of juices and raw, living fruits and salads and lots of pickles and fermented vegetables too. I also follow the principles of food combining and a “light to heavy” pattern to each meal and to the day itself. This is at odds with the standard advice that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’ve found instead that juices or lighter meals during the day followed by a heavier dinner is a far better approach for me and gives my body the most time to digest my heaviest meal. Bonberi has a great guide to getting started. When friends ask about my diet I always send them here!
How has food-combining changed your life? Has it affected your body, skin, energy? If so, how?
I can honestly say, that since committing to food-combining and to “the life” as we call it, I’ve seen radical transformation. And I’ve seen it quickly. Most noticeably, I’ve lost weight and gotten smaller. But I’ve also seen my varicose veins diminish, my wrinkles lessen, my skin soften and my PMS virtually disappear. Sex is better. I have nicer muscle tone and I have more even energy throughout the day. I just feel more nimble, more agile and young. And that’s remarkable because I’m not!
Where did you originally learn about food-combining and who have been your teachers?
I first read about food-combining almost 25 years ago from the 1980s bestseller, Fit for Life, a book in the tradition of the Natural Cure movement and Natural Hygienics. I encountered it again a few years later through Gut Reaction by the Swedish nutritionist Gudrun Jonsson. In both cases I was intrigued and tested the waters but didn’t fully adopt the life. I just didn’t entirely relate to either book. The third time’s the charm and years later, in 2005, Natalia Rose released The Raw Food Detox Diet and this is when it all clicked. I was drawn to the book in a way I can’t entirely explain. I saw a recipe for her green juice in a magazine, immediately bought a juicer and a copy of the book and began practicing her approach. This is also where I first read about my (now) mentor, healer and colonic genius, Gil Jacobs. I was led astray for a few years, but was reintroduced to it all when Gil spoke at CAP Beauty. These ideas and this system of eating make so much sense to me on so fundamental a level. Since that evening I haven’t looked back. Natalia’s book is still a great resource. I also recommend finding a food combining chart online. Detoxinista has a good one and, as mentioned, I love the food combining guide on Bonberi. So much of this information is based on the much older (and more obtuse!) writings of Arnold Ehret and the (more accessible) work of Norman Walker and so for those who want to go deeper, read Ehret’s bible The Mucusless Diet Healing System or Walker’s Becoming Younger.
What was the hardest thing you had to change/give up? Do you still “fudge” from time to time? If so, what’s your splurge?
One of the first effects I noticed when I added colonics, was that my cravings for junk practically disappeared. I used to have a real sweet tooth and even when I was following a healthy eating plan I always wanted chocolate. It feels great to be free from the daily pull for sugar and of course its a lot easier to keep things healthy. I also think that because I’m eating lots of fruit and grounding starches like yams and sourdough toast, I’m really satisfied. That said, I do have my indulgences! My husband, Laurent, is a wine dealer and I love a gorgeous glass of wine. And espresso is one of my favorite things on earth. I’ve cut way down but I love it too much to stop it altogether. I also love Jackson’s Honest potato chips which are made with coconut oil. I “buy them for Laurent” but I’m known to share. I can’t go to LA without a trip to Kippy’s. Her vegan cinnamon ice cream topped with bee pollen is so so good. And my kids love to bake with me. We do vegan muffins or raw treats which we keep in the freezer for their lunches. If I really need something, I’ll reach for one of those.
What is your approach to navigating the holidays with dinners, parties, cocktail events etc?
Dinner parties can be tough. But I do find in most cases I can wing it and it works out. I combine as best as possible and simply don’t eat the foods I know don’t work for me. Sometimes I’ll have crudités or a raw salad before I go then I can pick and choose what else to have once I get there. Another great trick is to offer to bring something. I’ll bring a big tray of farmer’s market carrots and watermelon radishes and a jar of tapenade to have before dinner. I’m never the only one who appreciates it!
Do you incorporate any specific self-care into your regiment to compliment this lifestyle?
Absolutely! What don’t I do? One of the greatest benefits of food combining is that it encourages deep, cellular detoxification. But that means we must finish the process by ushering these toxins out of the body. I practice hot yoga several times a week and take saunas and epsom baths to sweat some more. And most importantly, I get regular colonics. The diet and colonics work hand in hand to heal and create flow in the body. I wouldn’t do one without the other and together they are beyond powerful. Of course I also get regular facials at CAP Beauty! The treatment is a deeply regenerative facial massage that purifies, lifts, tones and boosts circulation. And the products we use are all so rich in plant and mineral nutrients. It really creates flow. (And glow!) Some other quickie practices are dry brushing, rebounding and lots of headstands. Each of these are easy to fit into the day and are great for promoting lymphatic drainage. When I have more time, I love a great massage or reflexology. I’ve also become really interested in practices that help release emotional waste from the body. I’ve had some truly crazy treatments recently and to be honest am still processing the fallout! This frontier is the scariest to me but I’m getting braver.
Take us through a typical day in the life of drinks and meals.
I wake up around 6:30 am and usually drink a big glass of water with lemon. I have no idea if this is at all beneficial, but I like it. I also make a pot of organic coffee in our Chemex, not a health move, but it’s what I do! Some mornings I drink a small cup right away. Other mornings I wait a few hours to have some. And I always take it black. Sometime between 10 am and noon I have a big green juice. I make it at home or in the office and load in lots of ginger and lemon, some fruit like pineapple or a pear and both light and dark green vegetables. Herbs like cilantro, basil or parsley also make it delicious. Late morning I usually drink a big cup of hot water with apple cider vinegar. I also love Leaves and Flowers Wellness Blend Tea with turmeric, ginger, citrus peel and black pepper. Its crazy good and keeps me from reaching for more coffee!
Lunch happens around 2 or 3pm. Some days I have a big salad with greens, kraut or kimchi, avocado, dulse and loads of lemon juice. I’ve been experimenting with using less oil, but if I don’t have avocado I’ll add a little Wonder Valley, my favorite olive oil. Other days, instead of salad I’ll have a big plate of fruit. In the winter that means grapefruit which I love and crave. Or I skip lunch and just juice until dinnertime. If I’m too busy to make juice, I go to Juice Press. Most days before dinner, I do another juice. I get home from work around 6:30 or 7 and am usually pretty hungry. I want to spend as much time with the kids as possible so a juice takes the edge off the hunger and energizes me for our nightly reading, board games, yoga sessions and bedtime rituals. Once the kids are in bed, I focus on dinner for the grown-ups. My husband is super active, plus he’s Parisian, and so dinner happens really late. He went to culinary school and has worked in restaurants his whole life. But I’m the home cook. He’s also the son of a horse butcher(!), but now loves and craves my big veggie meals.
Dinner always starts with a really big green salad with shaved celery, fermented veggies and olives. I might follow that with some cooked vegetables like roasted carrots or a big pot of cooked greens with leeks (an amazing vehicle for hot sauce!) and then some sourdough toast. Laurent is pretty sensitive to gluten and so I mail order bread from Vegan Mario’s (the extra sour “rye-less” is beyond!) or Grindstone Bakery. Both make really simple gluten free breads from fermented grains or quinoa. I’m fine with some gluten but go with fermented breads like She Wolf. In the summer we might have zucchini noodles with a simple tomato sauce (my secret ingredient is a couple of smoked dried tomatoes from Cookbook in LA), piled with arugula, lemon and nutritional yeast. I also lean heavily on Moon Juice’s raw crackers. They’re so much lighter than most raw crackers because they’re packed with fermented veggies, not just seeds. I top them with a touch of raw tahini and big slices of heirloom tomatoes. When I’m home alone, its always a big salad with avocado and either toast or some dried figs or dates from Eataly.
What supplements are you taking right now and why do you feel they help?
I believe in getting nutrition primarily from real foods and the sun. But I do supplement a bit. B12 is pretty elusive and so I take Floradix or LivOn’s Lypo-Spheric B Complex Plus and also their Vitamin C packs when I feel run down. I also take a D3 supplement in the winter. Chlorella tablets and Quinton Hypertonic mineral shots are amazing for a hit of energy.
We couldn’t do an interview without asking your fave clean beauty products right now. What are you loving?
My first introduction to naturals was through In Fiore, and I never stray too far from there. I’m obsessed with their Treate cleanser which is so soothing in the winter months. Julie Elliot, the brand’s founder, is a real alchemist. Her Calendula oil and Soleil Fleur serum are favorites too. She also makes a gorgeous leg toning oil called Firmante. Marie Veronique’s probiotic toner is always in my bag and a godsend after hot yoga or really any workout. I also tote around my jar of Nucifera or Lauren’s All Purpose Salve to use after my post yoga shower. They’re both as nourishing as a great body oil but I don’t have to worry about them spilling in my bag. We recently started carrying a makeup line called Vapour. As much as I like to talk about nutrition, colonics and sleep as the key to great skin, Vapour is magical. It reflects light in the most beautiful ways and makes everyone look seriously luminous. I’m also obsessed with the Ground incense from Bodha, Cocofloss and La Tierra Sagrada’s palo santo-infused shampoo and conditioner.