Integrative Nutritionist Daphne Javitch on the Importance of Making Space for Yourself
Integrative nutritionist Daphne Javitch helps people develop their versions of a healthy life—a potentially daunting task that she makes possible through her refreshingly direct, empowering approach to well-being. Through her company, Doing Well, Javitch, a former womenswear consultant at Theory and Uniqlo, offers private health and career coaching as well as group sessions, and emphasizes the cumulative health benefits of simple, everyday routines, such as exercise and eating plant-based foods. (She discusses the impact of rituals on the body and mind on Ep. 46 of our At a Distance podcast.)
Last October, Javitch introduced the Doing Well Subscription to share insights with her community in a more frequent, on-demand way. It consists of exclusive guides and videos in which Javitch addresses viewers in a conversational tone, as if hanging out with an old friend. The content arrives in subscribers’ inboxes throughout each month, like a regular check-in, and covers topics such as how to stop eating processed sugar, what to cook with trumpet mushrooms, and tips for cultivating curiosity in lieu of criticism.
Javitch’s belief in maintaining a balanced lifestyle stems, in part, from her own experience without it. In 2014, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 endometriosis, a disorder in which the tissue that usually lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the organ, which can cause pain, infertility, and heavy periods. She had been taking up to a dozen Advils a day, and so began researching alternative medicine and supplements. Her interest in the subject led her to enroll in a program at Florida’s Hippocrates Health Institute, and become a certified health educator.
In a moment when preserving physical and mental health is particularly important, we recently asked Javitch about the media that keeps her grounded. Here, she explains why she looks for outlets that inform, and, importantly, entertain, as a way of making space for herself to unwind.
How do you start your mornings?
I have a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old. So in the morning, my husband and I mostly focus on spending time together and having breakfast, getting the day ready. I’ll listen to The Daily for a twenty-minute dose of news, and I put on a nineties hip-hop playlist on Spotify or Pandora when I go for a run. Somewhere in there I have a green juice, then begin seeing my clients.
I love Present Tense, a Substack by my friend Anja Tyson. Anja is a real guide for me in terms of learning about new issues and things going on. She has a grounded, insightful way of addressing and investigating issues that is simultaneously assertive and gentle.
I listen to every podcast that my Buddhist psychiatrist Mark Epstein appears on—including all of Tricycle’s podcasts, as well as The Goop Podcast, Pulling the Thread, Ten Percent Happier, and Sibling Revelry—because I like his approach to well-being and learn a lot while feeling soothed by his familiar voice. I also have a huge crush on Kara Swisher. I listen religiously to Sway, old episodes of Recode Decode, and also Pivot, which she co-hosts with Scott Galloway. They’re such a great pair. I think the show is meant to be about tech, but because tech is everything, it covers all issues.
Then there’s this podcast called Talk Easy. Its host, Sam Fragoso, is a great interviewer. The show is unconventional in the sense that it’s typically not someone promoting something. I don’t get the feeling that the guest is there because they’re doing press; I get the feeling that they want to have a meaningful conversation with Sam. It has a kind of intimacy, like sitting next to someone interesting at a dinner party.
And I often listen to The Ezra Klein Show. He was recently on paternity leave, and had some great guest hosts. On one episode, Tressie McMillan Cottom interviewed Kiese Laymon—it was two writers talking about revision. That led me to buy Laymon’s book Heavy, which I’m reading now.
What other books are you reading?
I’m just emerging from, like, Covid mom of two young kids—plus multiple private clients and my groups—so I haven’t had time for a ton of recreational reading, or even investigative reading. But now I’m entering a phase where I have more time to read, which feels like a luxury because when I’m reading, I can’t multitask. I really appreciate just being present and allowing myself to go somewhere in that way.
I just read Roxane Gay’s Hunger. It’s an extremely compelling, very personal book. It almost felt like I was trespassing—that’s how great a writer she is. At the beginning of Covid, I read and loved Americanah, a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m also a huge Elena Ferrante fan. I loved the Neapolitan Quartet—a four-part series that includes My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child—as well as her 2002 book, The Days of Abandonment.
What are your favorite magazines?
I have about three hundred issues of The World of Interiors, and a big old pile of New Yorkers. Like episodes of The Daily, The New Yorker’s contents are conversation starters: You can just grab a copy and read any article, and there’s so much dialogue to be had around it. I also like Apartamento. And I’m really excited about what Samira Nasr is doing at Harper’s Bazaar.
What TV shows are you watching?
I love Mike White, who created and stars in Enlightened, one of my all-time favorite shows. In it, there’s a woman who has the best intentions, and is on a spiritual path, but she’s also extremely flawed and relatable. Mike captures that balance in a way that’s difficult to do on television. Few people can portray the subtleties, nuances, humor, and tragedy of things like spirituality, equity, or race. He does it by using humor in a really intelligent way, and tells stories in a way that doesn’t feel like virtue signaling. It’s much more inviting than that.
Any guilty pleasures?
I feel a bit guilty rewatching episodes of Seinfeld. I grew up on the Upper West Side, and there’s something about listening to the conversations they have on the show. Elaine is a real model for me. The guilt comes from the fact that I’ve seen all of the episodes, and there’s no reason that I need to be watching them again. I’m not using time in a new way.
But I’ve been thinking a lot about guilty pleasures. In my field, we talk a lot about time management and stress management, but we don’t talk a lot about space management—giving, granting, and taking space for yourself. Thinking about space in a different way is what I’d recommend to people looking for moments of pleasure. Taking space, and playing with space, is actually quite healthy.