MG Meal Appeal: Shaping Your Dietary Wellness Plan

Photo: Courtesy Maria Gerrato

Turns out eating one-too-many scoops of gelato affects more than just our waistline—it can have a huge impact on the texture and overall health of our skin. With so many wellness and dietary fads it’s more important than ever to be aware of what we’re putting into our bodies. We turned to Maria Gerrato of MG Meal Appeal to get the scoop on the latest nutritional trends and the best (and worst) foods for our skin and general health.

What foods do you recommend people consider adding to their diet on a daily basis?
Foods such as avocado and olive oil, which contain monounsaturated fat. Small amounts can help reduce heart disease, inflammation and digestive issues.

Any healthy snacks you can recommend?
Kale chips are an excellent way to consume this nutrient-rich vegetable. I also like a small handful of cashews with some organic dark chocolate chips. Nuts can be high in calories, so it’s important to moderate. Fruit is always good when on the go. An exotic fruit, such as starfruit, kiwi, or mango, can be a fun way to bump up fruit intake.

Certain foods can protect skin from aging. What are the best foods for glowing summer skin?
Generally all fruits and vegetables provide a dense amount of nutrition for their low calories. Oranges are rich in vitamin C, which helps with collagen production. Brussels sprouts also are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as folate—all of which are important for the skin. Chocolate that’s heavy in cacao is good for the skin, as it contains antioxidants, and caffeine, which can be beneficial to the skin in moderation.

What about foods that can help protect the skin from the sun?
Oats contain a chemical that helps to inhibit sun damage to the skin. Citrus fruits have been shown to reduce skin cancer risk. Green tea and green leafy vegetables both contain powerful antioxidants and other chemicals that help to reduce skin cancer risk and sun damage. Walnuts, carrots, and red pepper have all been shown to reduce the damage caused by sunburn.

What foods would you recommend avoiding?
Simple carbohydrates, like white rice and pasta. They can spike the blood sugar, contributing to skin aging and skin problems.

When it comes to water, how do we know if we’re getting enough?
A good general guideline is to never feel thirsty. By the time one registers thirst, he or she is already dehydrated. Getting in the habit of routinely drinking water, and avoiding caffeinated beverages, will help with maintaining hydration.

There’s a constant influx “it” foods. What are some of your favorites?
Extra virgin olive oil has consistently maintained its popularity. It’s my favorite “it” food because it provides a multitude of health benefits. Flaxseed is also very popular, and with good reason: it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in skin health.

What are your thoughts on the juicing trend?
Juicing definitely has benefits, especially juicing dark green vegetables—you consume an incredible amount of nutrients in one glass. However, when juicing one also misses out on fiber and other important components present in food. I recommend juicing as a supplement to one’s diet, or an occasional replacement of a meal. Trendy “juice fasts” are not a good idea.

What are some of your favorite healthy spots in the Hamptons?
Exhale Spa and The Body Shop for indoor fitness, and Hither Hills and Montauk Point State Park for outdoor fitness. For fresh produce, I enjoy going to farm stands like the Milk Pail, the Green Thumb Organic Farm and EECO Farms where you can rent a small parcel for the season and grow your own garden.

Maria Gerrato, of MG Meal Appeal, is a personal chef and private caterer. For more information visit or call 631-226-0785.

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