02/23/2012 04:10 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2012

What Does Food Have to Do With Fashion?

If you know more about seasonal fashion trends than seasonal food options, or spend more time in the morning thinking about what you're going to wear rather than what you're going to eat, listen up. Lori Reamer, registered dietitian and longtime nutrition director of Canyon Ranch, has written The Food That Fits, using fashion theory to offer a foundation for creating a healthy, sustainable and individualized food practice. Intent on making food counseling fun and effective, Lori's goal is to cultivate your food style.

I caught up with Lori to find out about her work and get some tips.

What inspired you to pair food with fashion?

As the Director of Nutrition at Canyon Ranch, I observed that many of the clients I saw for nutrition counseling were highly connected to their external appearance, with an obvious attention to quality -- they had great hairstyles, jewelry, makeup and high-end clothing -- but were lost on the topic of good, healthy food. In many cases, these women disliked grocery shopping, owned homes with beautiful kitchens but didn't cook, and had a history of food avoidance to help control weight.

By embracing what my clients already knew and loved (fashion), and using it as a source of comparison to stimulate change in another area of their life (food), I found the great fit between fashion and food. When you tell a woman who's wearing a beautiful cashmere Ralph Lauren sweater that she's feeding herself the equivalent of poor-quality acrylic fabric, you get quite a reaction. She wouldn't consider wearing low-end acrylic, so why would she tolerate eating that way, much less making it a daily staple?

What started as an approach to counseling culminated in a book, a website, and a blog pairing food with fashion. Food, after all, is the outfit that you wear every day.

You mention that in your book -- that "food is the outfit you wear every day." What do you mean by this?

Basically, people wear the quality and the quantity of their food choices within themselves. Though you can take your clothes off after a long day of work, you're stuck with the food and nutrients you ate that day. Excess food quantity is an obvious example -- if you eat more, you wear more pounds. And they're not so easy to take off.

Antioxidants are a subtler example of wearing your food well -- they can actually enhance and change the vibrancy of your skin tone. Have you ever seen a person who has eaten a lot of carrots? The person's skin will turn an orange color. The hue in our food can change the hue in our complexion.

So eating the right food is akin to wearing the right style -- both make us feel and look good. What are your tips to finding food that fits?

Food, like fashion, should provide a combination of function and pleasure. When you get dressed in the morning, you contemplate what your day will entail and what environment you'll be in, and then you dress accordingly. If you're a lawyer and plan to be in court, you wear a suit -- but you choose one with the material and comfort of your choice. Food can be approached in a similar manner, with attention to both function and pleasure. Choose functional foods that work with your day, and include flavors, textures and temperatures that you enjoy, so you satisfy both your physical need for the food your body needs and your innate desire for pleasure.

It sounds like we need food staples just as we need wardrobe staples -- we need a go-to work lunch just as we need our go-to work outfit.

Exactly. You need a food equivalent of your little black dress. Create a list of simple recipes and their ingredients to have on hand to allow your food choices to go on autopilot for moments when you don't have the luxury of time, or are feeling stressed and indecisive. I encourage clients to use my "mix, match, and multiply" principle. Just as you have a few core pieces of clothing -- tops, bottoms, blazers and a dress -- pick a few core food staples. And then mix and match! A handful of staple ingredients can make many different meals, and can make your life much easier!

For those interested in finding out more, The Food That Fits is available on Amazon. To check out Lori's latest recipes, read her blog, and find food tips, visit

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