Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out” by Jolene Hart came across my desk at the perfect time. As I’ve mentioned recently, for the first time in many years I’m having success with managing the amount I eat and taking off pounds that really needed to go. With that has come an interest in the rest of my appearance. For the first time in my adult life, I'm setting aside some time to focus on beauty.

Jolene’s advice in “Eat Pretty” is going to empower me to focus on my beauty in a natural way. She’s a former magazine beauty editor who had access to any beauty product she desired, but she had a problem. She had persistent skin problems all those beauty products couldn’t fix. She took prescription antibiotics for acne and tried over-the-counter creams, gels, lotions and washes for acne and eczema. None of them worked for her.

She wondered if it could be her diet, but she was told over and over again that diet had nothing to do with it. Her instincts told her differently.

“I researched and wrote about topics related to the science of aging, global beauty traditions, natural and organic beauty, and the link between nutrition, lifestyle and appearance.” Jolene says. “Along the way, I had the privilege to learn from so many incredible experts in the beauty and health fields, from physicians, dermatologists and integrative doctors to estheticians and specialists in sleep, genetics and hormone health. I consulted with many of these experts while writing “Eat Pretty.”

Jolene, pictured at left, learned her instincts had been right, and the first thing she did was change her diet. She started to eat whole, real foods instead of grazing and snacking from packaged food at every meal.

“I had no idea that my diet was practically devoid of nutrients, high in refined sugar and causing inflammation in my body that contributed to all kinds of beauty issues,” she says. “Buying fresh, whole ingredients helped me to get excited about cooking again, and the change in my body was noticeable when I started eating food packed with nutritional value.”

In “Eat Pretty” Jolene lays out all she discovered about the link between beauty and nutrition. “We write our beauty story with every bite,” Jolene says in the introduction. Every bite. For someone like me, who is paying attention to every bite that goes into her mouth for weight loss purposes, that sentence is inspiring. I’m already aware of every bite that goes in my mouth and that awareness has made such a difference in the shape of my body and my energy level. I’m ready to take the “every bite awareness” to the next level and watch it enhance my beauty.

“Eat Pretty” encourages readers to rethink beauty and starts out with a list of beauty betrayer foods. Of the betrayers on the list, Jolene suggests cutting out refined sugars first.

“Sugar speeds up aging in the body, directly contributes to weight gain, blemishes, wrinkles, redness, bloating, and energy, mood and hormone issues.” Jolene told me. “Cut out highly refined, high glycemic sources of sugar and you’ll notice a major change in your body.”

Sugar causes wrinkles? I had no idea. Redness? Several years ago when I went on a 21-day sugar fast, I noticed that my rosacea was less prominent at the end of the fast, and I wondered if cutting out the sugar was the cause. It looks like it was.

Jolene doesn’t just list foods we shouldn’t eat and leave us hungry. She spends much more time in “Eat Pretty” telling you what to eat than what not to eat. The aim of the book is to give you the tools to help you look your best. The tools Jolene chooses are nutritionally-packed foods instead of creams, powders and lotions.

She includes a list of nutrients essential to beauty, what benefits those nutrients bring and which foods to eat to access the benefits. Mushrooms help keep your skin moist and build up your bones. Butternut squash protects your computer strained eyes. This is good information to know.

She also has chapters on eating with the seasons, which makes sense. In spring, fill up on seasonal asparagus and strawberries. In the winter treat yourself to some dark chocolate to fight wrinkles. There’s a wealth of information about seasonal foods and their benefits in “Eat Pretty” along with recipes to create healthy meals with them.

The beauty benefits in the book aren’t just confined to outside beauty. There’s advice on what to eat to aide with digestion, balancing hormones, getting a better night’s sleep and more.

Interspersed with all of the advice in “Eat Pretty” is Jolene’s concept of “healthy vanity.” She defines it as “a desire to look and feel your best, and show that best self to the world.”

“We see vanity as such a negative quality, but, at the other end of the spectrum, neglecting our appearance is also negative,” Jolene says. “It has unwanted effects on our emotional and physical health. When you’re driven to improve your diet and lifestyle in order to look and feel your best, you’re not vain— and tapping into your healthy vanity reminds you of that.”

I think this is an important idea to embrace. With my recent focus on how I look, I can sometimes hear a voice in my head telling me that vanity is a sin. This concept of healthy vanity helps to hush that voice. I have people who love me, people who count on me, who need me to be healthy and feel good about myself.

I’ve already started to make changes based on the book. One of the reasons I had Nature’s Path send me the Qi’a I wrote about a couple of weeks ago was because I had just started delving into “Eat Pretty” and realized that the chia, buckwheat and hemp in the product were all recommended pantry staples in Jolene’s book. I’ve cut the sugar in my coffee each morning down to the smallest amount I can handle.

I’m going to be incorporating Jolene’s beauty principles into my diet little by little. I have plenty of years ahead of me to continue to look and feel good.

Also on MNN

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

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“Eat Pretty” has simple nutrition information to transform your beauty routine – inside and out.