As a former catwalk model, I have experienced first-hand the roller-coaster that is "fashion month" with its avalanche of shows, presentations and parties. To be sure, the shows came with a rush and, at times, joy. But they also meant red-eye flights, 18-hour working days and the mounting pressures of social media scrutiny. When I stopped walking fashion week and started covering it as a wellness editor, it was obvious that other professionals, from journalists to buyers, were subjected to similar pressures. What’s more, we all suffered from poor eating habits, daily alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, anxiety and restlessness.
Sadly, health is not on the fashion week schedule, and it’s time for the industry to have an honest conversation about what we are doing to each other. But short of wholesale change, there are some simple but effective nutritional choices that can help you stay healthy this fashion month.
What to Eat
Busy periods inevitably raise our stress levels. Some of us can thrive under this stress. But for many of us, prolonged stress results in hyper physiological levels of cortisol in our bodies, weakening our immune and inflammatory responses. During fashion month, try and steer clear of foods that increase the production of inflammatory cytokines. This means avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice and white potatoes), processed meats, trans fats, monosodium glutamate (MSG), food additives, processed vegetable oils and artificial sweeteners.
It’s time for the industry to have an honest conversation about what we are doing to each other.
Instead, say yes to anti-inflammatory foods that are rich in antioxidants and help to decrease the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, stabilise our blood and provide the necessary nutrients to support a positive mood. These foods include root vegetables, raw nuts, oily fish, bone broth, all vegetables, berries, turmeric, grass-fed meat, organic eggs, dark chocolate, extra virgin olive oil, green tea, ginger and garlic.
You also need to keep an eye on your fibre intake. The majority of us don’t get nearly enough fibre on a normal day. Add frequent travel and our demanding fashion month schedules and the situation gets worse. But fibre is food for our microbes. And happy microbes mean a healthy gut and a happy mind. So, don’t forget your fibre. Fibre is found in most plant-based foods, so try to include as many as possible in your diet.
When to Eat
The fashion month calendar can lead to inconsistent eating patterns. Intermittent fasting has risen in popularity in recent years, and it can be effective. But a high-stress period such as fashion month, when you have little sleep and a discombobulated schedule, is no time to be skipping meals.
There is much debate, in particular, over whether to eat breakfast. But recent research in the field of chrono-nutrition (circadian biology and diet) has suggested that skipping breakfast can heighten the risk of obesity, reduced insulin sensitivity and overeating later in the day. Meanwhile, eating breakfast has been shown to increase concentration throughout the day, something we all need during fashion month. So, don’t skip breakfast. Oats and a fresh juice are a good idea. Then eat smaller, regular meals throughout the day.
What to Drink
Hydration should be your number one habit during fashion month. I remember rushing between shows and completely forgetting to drink water. Dehydration can cause fatigue and lethargy. It can also impact your sleep routine, and fragmented sleep is the last thing you need during fashion month, so try to carry a bottle of water with you at all times and drink regularly.
Hydration should be your number one habit during fashion month.
You should also watch your alcohol and coffee intake. Coffee, in particular, secretes two stress hormones, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and cortisol. During fashion week we want to be lowering our stress hormones as much as possible and adding coffee into the mix will only increase stress. For a much-needed caffeine boost, swap your mid-morning or afternoon coffee for a matcha tea. Matcha — green tea powder — still contains a lot of caffeine, in addition to the amino acid L-theanine, which induces a state of vigilant relaxation and calmness. It will help boost your clarity whilst keeping you calm.
Sarah Ann Macklin is a nutritionist and the founder of Be Well Collective, a not-for-profit organisation delivering wellbeing support to models and other fashion industry creatives.
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