Courtesy Daphne Javitch
Courtesy Daphne Javitch

The Go-To Routines and Rituals of Daphne Javitch

The integrative nutritionist has built a cult following around her relatable, fashion-adjacent health practice.
By Spencer Bailey
August 15, 2023
11 minute read

Through her health practice Doing Well, the integrative nutritionist Daphne Javitch has built a cult following around her one-on-one coaching and subscription service that includes video conversations with her fashionable friends (the jewelry designer Sophie Buhai, the fashion designer Rachel Comey, the food artist Laila Gohar), topic-driven sessions on different health subjects (aging, sex, backmapping), and recipes (halibut and caper sauce, tomato sauce, brothy avocado). A large part of her appeal is her fashion-adjacent vibe, paired with her homey, relatable, no-frills presentation approach (her husband, Pali Xisto Cornelsen, often makes casual cameos in her videos and on her Instagram feed). There’s an arty, stylistic aesthetic to her practice, but it’s not airbrushed, nor does it reek of pretension. As she tells The Slowdown, “One of my goals is to not be annoying. I feel like a lot of the language around this subject can be really off-putting and tone-deaf.”

Here, Javitch speaks with us about a few of her tried-and-true routines, why feeling safe is central to one’s well-being, and making space and time as the ultimate form of luxury.

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Let’s begin with your personal health journey and vision for Doing Well. At 34, you were diagnosed with stage four endometriosis. You chose a holistic approach to handle this diagnosis rather than an allopathic system, and your symptoms cleared up within six months. What happened next? Tell me about your path to now.

I don’t know that I deliberately chose the holistic approach. In retrospect, I almost think of it as one of those moments of divine intervention, where I chose to take my time. Instead of jumping on board with what was recommended to me in terms of Western allopathic medicine, I said, “Wait, can I have a second? I’ll just try using these new skills I’ve recently been introduced to.”

I was in remission, essentially, within six months, and that had such a profound impact on my daily life that I became obsessed with learning more, gathering more information, experimenting with new practices, and so on. At a certain point, I thought to myself, Gosh, I spend all my free time doing this, researching this, and practicing this. I want to do this. I want to take this from passion to profession.

I was so lucky. When I guide other people who are interested in getting into health and wellness, I make a point to say that having teachers or mentors who are modeling a version of that path is so helpful. I really had that. That was very helpful for me in terms of taking the next steps to start a coaching practice.

How do you describe what you do?

If I were to describe what I do in the simplest terms, I guide and partner with people in improving their daily life through sustainable adjustments and establishing rhythms and routines. In becoming more aware and more accountable to ourselves, we ultimately become an authority on our bodies, our health, and even our state of mind and spirit. And by that, I mean our attitudes and emotions. I also help people practice consistency, which is one of the harder healing tools.

What are some of the best daily practices, routines, and rituals you recommend to your clients or practice yourself?

With my clients, whether I’m working with people one on one or in a group, I teach everyone a version of food combining, which is a framework for us to increase leaves, veggies, and what I would call “high-frequency foods” in the diet and crowd out processed, packaged, complicated, refined foods. As we continue working together, the specific framework that I guide my clients through becomes more customized to each person’s health history, circumstances, preferences, et cetera. I also have a subscription that’s a more general touch-base with me and my core principles—things like moving away from packaged, processed foods as much as possible. Basically, what that means is enjoying an abundance of leaves, veggies, and natural, whole, single-ingredient foods.

The Michael Pollan diet.

Exactly. Keep it simple. Keep it grandma. That’s my vibe. And hydration is a big part of my practice, because we’re all so busy that we forget to do some of the simple things. Therefore, we lose sight of the fact that some of these simple things done daily have a very powerful impact on our overall health and health span: sleep rhythm and sleep routine. Routine and rhythm, period, is a big one for me. Just getting into the habit of applying or practicing consistency, wherever it comes naturally throughout our day, weeks, or months, will open up more space for fluidity and awareness that allows us to be accountable and be that authority on what works and doesn’t work for us.

If we’re just trying new things all the time, or we’re externally guided, it’s hard to figure out whether it was the collagen powder or that you slept eight hours last night. It’s hard to figure those things out until we quiet some of the noise. I work with people as a partner, co-regulating and witnessing their experience while providing information and guidance based on my years of experience and listening to what I hear.

I find it so difficult—and I don’t think I’m alone here—to make sense of the current health and well-being landscape and all the information that’s out there. Do you have any tips for wading through that noise, or all the “advice” out there?

I think of health and well-being as a continuum, and I don’t know how much it matters where we fall on that continuum. There’s a lot of striving and this sense of “I have to achieve this or get to the next level, and then I’ll be healthy.” Well, it’s a continuum. It’s a circle. I’ve got news for everybody: It doesn’t end. As soon as we get to the next level, there’s a harder challenge waiting for us. I really encourage people to be where we are and think more about the direction that we’re facing on that continuum.

Health would be facing and moving in a direction of vitality, vibrancy, and longevity. It’s about choosing one to three doable steps or adjustments and practicing them consistently. Then, we’ll find through consistency that the next level makes itself known to us. It’s a more organic, natural progression, but where people struggle and where it can be very helpful to have a partner—whether a friend or coach—is with all the stuff that comes up when we’re consistent. There’s a lot of restlessness, desire for novelty, and wanting to get away from the feelings we’re faced with when practicing consistency versus following instructions. If we’re following instructions, we’re able to disconnect from all the inner stuff that comes up. Whereas, if we’re sitting in the small things and having to wait, a lot comes up, at least for me and many, or most, of the people I work with.

I wanted to ask you about these sticky words of wellness and well-being. How do you define them? Because they get used so broadly….

One of my goals is to not be annoying. I feel like a lot of the language around this subject can be really off-putting and tone-deaf.

The first thing that came to mind when you reached out and we were talking about health and well-being is this idea of being at peace with or feeling at peace in our body. And before we can come close to achieving that peace, I think we need safety. Feeling safe has a lot to do with being healthy and being well. If we don’t feel safe, it’s going to be so challenging to begin the relationship required to experience a peacefulness, a friendliness, or an integration. When I think of that friendliness, peace, and integration, I’m thinking about holistic well-being: mind, body, and spirit. But those words can even be annoying sometimes.

Another word that comes to mind in this conversation is luxury—what a luxury so much of this is. Of course, luxury has so many different connotations and meanings, and I was wondering what luxury is to you, particularly in the context of well-being.

My definition of luxury has changed a lot as I became a parent, then a parent of two, and grew a vibrant practice, which I’m so grateful for. But it’s also an energetically demanding job. For me, luxury can be bodywork or great produce, but as I move forward in my own journey, I’ve come to understand luxury as being more about space and time: experiencing space and time without feeling rushed or distracted. Feeling resourced comes in so many forms, whether it’s getting enough sleep, being able to eat foods that make me feel energized and well, connecting with a friend, feeling pleased with an interaction with my children, or doing something right. To circle back to health and well-being, I feel strongly that the purpose of being well and striving for health is to function and experience a vibrant life and to have that internal energetic source so that we can be of service to other people. That doesn’t necessarily have to mean community service—although I love that idea—but that we have enough to impact, assist, and uplift other people positively. Then, we can start to think about a more global idea of health.

To finish, what to you, Daphne, is the good life?

The good life has so much to do with how we experience the world and our bodies. That can be any way, not only when we’re navigating a health condition or physical injury but also our experience in our body. At this point, the good life for me has to do with perspective and friendliness toward myself and others and feeling at peace with where I am and excited about moving forward.

This interview was recorded on August 29, 2022. The transcript has been slightly condensed and edited for clarity.