Interview by Lauren Ash.
This month’s Black Girl In Om Wanderlust is Lynnette Astaire, a fabulous healthy food chef based in Mexico. LiveLoft, Lynette’s juice detox and raw food seaside retreat place, sounds too good to be true. You mean I can vacation, relax, and stay committed to my health goals all at the same time? I’m there!
Lynnette reached out to me a couple of months ago when she stumbled across what we’re cultivating through Black Girl In Om. I’ve been moving toward making smarter, more preventative decisions with my health through my eating habits so I was thrilled to hear from her. I’ve been considering the ways in which I can view healthy decisions with food as liberating, rather than constricting. And in talking with Lynnette, I’m encouraged to commit to my recent (re)turn toward a plant-based diet―and to consider a wellness-based adventure for my next vacation. Be sure to check out Lynnette's website for clean eating and creative living inspiration. You can also follow Lynnette on Instagram @LiveLynnette and on Twitter @LiveLynnette.
Lauren: You embrace a plant-based diet and avoid using the term "vegan" intentionally. Why?
Lynnette: Veganism is more than a diet. For example, I wear leather. Plus, there is a current stigma with veganism that I’d rather not even enter until there’s more food education. However, 75% of what I eat on a daily basis is a vegan-identified, raw food. There's a great article on Renegade Health that can help people who want to successfully incorporate more raw food into their diets.
Lauren: That’s me! So I’ll have to read that article later. So, I’m curious about how your experience as a holistically minded woman of color has varied from living in the United States to living in Mexico? Have you been received differently? If so, how?
Lynnette: There aren’t enough foreign women of color here to make a comparison to. So I am simply a black woman, which in smaller villages can be an event in itself. In Mexico City [women who sell tacos] add meat to my taco after I say veggie, but my Mexican friends say it happens to them so I think we're all being received the same!
Eating healthy, for some, seems like something that keeps you from certain things including sugar, carbs, and meat. However, in my own wellness journey, I've seen how it truly liberates you from addiction, disease, and more.
Lauren: I totally agree! After my Mother was diagnosed with cancer and changed her diet, I started to consider how I can do so, too, in a preventative way. She’s cancer-free, but has still committed to eating foods that aren’t going to harm her now or in the future. I’m striving to do the same! Lynette, in what ways has eating healthier liberated you―physically, emotionally, perhaps even spiritually?
Lynnette: I'm liberated from choice and time. You end up going down only one or two aisles in the store when you live like this. It's so much easier to shop when the goal is nutrition. I recently wrote an article on what happened after I unintentionally eliminated processed foods from my diet for two years. The post became popular because, the truth is that a variety of food choices actually makes us slaves to our over stimulated tastebuds, which usually aren't even good for us.
Lauren: You have been traveling in Europe this summer. In your pre-travel blog post you mention that Italy is a place where you have overindulged in the past. Was the temptation there this time around? In addition to your Golden Rules, what other best practices do you adopt, and would you recommend others adopt, when traveling while simultaneously striving to stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit?
Lynnette: With so many changes during travel it's always good to keep some constants. We're not so different than babies when it comes to changes but we just don't practice enough self-care to realize it. I try to stick to my normal routine of a raw food breakfast and lunch and indulge at dinner (and dessert) which is usually the most social time of day.
For long distance & long term travel I’d say adopt a fitness routine ASAP to manage your energy! A big time zone change can really affect you. I've definitely been feeling the seven hour change these past few weeks.
I just posted a YouTube video explaining how to avoid jet lag and a few other tips. I also have a new post featuring a short list of travel essentials.
Lauren: Great tips! These will come in handy for me and Zakkiyyah as we have some travel on the horizon! So, I haven't yet done a detox. There are millions of people just like me who are generally healthy and health conscious, yet new and a bit nervous about detoxing. Where and how would you recommend we begin?
Lynnette: Like most things, begin with the past! Many spiritual leaders throughout history, from Jesus to Buddha to Muhammad have spiritual stories about fasting. These days it's more about diet but I believe if it starts with the spirit everything else will fall into place. I've had so many breakthroughs over the 10 years I've been detoxing plus I think it’s been a key to me maintaining my weight as I get older.
I always suggest to start detox in the summer. Your inclination to drink is much higher, plus it's often "too hot to eat." The biggest thing to remember is that the concept of food is mostly in your head since you can survive about three weeks without food and only three days without water. But if you have any major health issues or medications check with a doctor, though most are, unfortunately, trained to treat with pharmaceuticals and not nutrition.
My detox page includes vlogs, blogs and books about my 10 year journey that you can access for free here.
Lauren: What's your favorite memory, involving wellness, from your recent travel adventures?
Lynnette: The Mediterranean Sea! I've always lived near large bodies of water so I feel at home in waves, but in Mexico I live at a surf beach. It's been nice to be able to just lay back in the calm water without having to look over my shoulder for the next wave. The salt content is higher here, too. So it’s been great to get a mineral soak, although how ashy my skin looks afterwards is not so great.
I'm also loving the wild lavender in Croatia! It’s cool to walk down the street and get random whiffs of "aromatherapy." I got into the habit of putting fresh pieces under my pillow every day and even created a lavender iced tea recipe that can be made from fresh or dry pieces.
Lauren: What a beautiful, simple ritual, Lynnette. Thank you so much for all that you do to inspire more of us to cultivate mindfulness in relation to what we eat and how we live!
Want more inspiration to jump-start your mindful eating goals? Be sure to check out Lynnette's article,"A Recipe for Healthy Food Humility!"