Eating for Natural Sun Protection

Sunscreen is something that I plan for way before summertime rolls around. Why? Well because I notice that I start to burn when I go outside for a walk in the spring months of April and May so I’m on top of having my sunscreen prepped and ready to go before sun-season approaches. If you’re not noticing your minor burns in the springtime or not as familiar with using non-toxic sunscreens and eating clean for sun protection, not to worry, we’re going to show you how to get started so you can enjoy the summer rays without turning lobster red.

Sunburn is a type of inflammation, therefore eating anti-inflammatory foods can have a huge impact on protecting you from the sun’s summer rays. The foods we eat impact the inflammation in our body, therefore making the shift to eating more whole, antioxidant-rich, colorful foods can help improve our health by fighting inflammation and protecting us from sunburn.

Vitamin D

Wearing sunscreen blocks our body’s ability to produce Vitamin D, which we all need to stay healthy, therefore sun protection isn’t just about squirting sunscreen onto your body all summer long because we won’t be absorbing any Vitamin D that way. Our bodies need Vitamin D so it’s important to make sure you are getting a little bit of exposed sunshine on your skin. For instance, I usually give myself 10 minutes outside for a walk without sunscreen a few times a week to reap my Vitamin D.

Non-Toxic Sunscreen

What many people don’t realize is that the majority of sunscreen products that line the aisles of the store are full of chemicals. Growing up, I had no idea that the sunscreens I used (yes even the products advertised as ‘healthy’) were full of toxic chemicals that were seeping into my bloodstream. It took me years to realize this and it wasn’t until after I was chronically ill that I began looking at what I was putting on my skin, not just what I was putting in my body. When I learned about the harmful chemicals in sunscreen, I started using coconut oil (SPF 4) as well as non-toxic sunscreens to protect myself on a daily basis. It’s always a good idea to put on a non-toxic sunscreen when you are outdoors, but eating well and supplementing your diet with Vitamin D, if needed, will help you with everyday sun protection. I have very fair skin so I can burn quickly, however, what I’ve learned is that the better I eat (more fruits and veggies, please!) the less sunburn I get and the more tanned and sun-kissed my skin looks.

Vitamin D

I take a Vitamin D supplement daily in the summer and winter months to ensure I am getting enough Vitamin D. Many of us don’t get enough vitamin D and when we wear sunscreen, we aren’t able to absorb the vitamin D from the sunshine so it’s important to get your blood levels checked regularly since Vitamin D is responsible for hundreds of processes in our body. You can work with your doctor to check your levels every few months.


Smearing on sunscreen for those of us who easily burn isn’t always the end all be all. Yes, its’s important to protect ourselves when we are in the sun, however, for long-term overall wellness it’s important to look at what we are eating and address the underlying causes of the sunburn inflammation that we see so often in the summertime. As I discussed in my new cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, getting to the root cause of why you’re seeing inflammation is the name of the game. We often see inflammation manifest as acne or a headache or joint aches in our body, however, in this case, the inflammation is sunburn. Think of your sunburn like any other unwanted symptom you experience. While wearing sunscreen and sitting in the shade is an easy way to avoid getting burned, eating clean, whole anti-inflammatory foods and addressing the underlying inflammation is the best way to help your body stay healthy without getting fried this summer.

Below are the foods to add in and remove from your lifestyle to help decrease overall inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Foods to Enjoy

  • Avocados
  • Ground flaxseeds
  • Raw walnuts
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Wild salmon
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Berries and fruits high in vitamin c
  • Oranges
  • Sweet potatoes


Inflammatory Foods: Foods to Remove

  • Sugar
  • Nutrient-void grains (such as white flour, white rice, white bread, all-purpose flours)
  • Processed foods
  • Vegetable oils
  • Gluten (such as breads, cookies, soy sauce, pasta, etc.)


Here is a simple summer recipe that’s perfect to kick off the warm weather season. It’s full of fiber, healthy fats and protein, as well as loads of antioxidants and vitamins to cool off any inflammation in your body and help you fight off the sun’s rays this summer.

Sweet Potato Buddha Bowl with Coconut Basil Dressing

Serves 4


  • 4 baked sweet potatoes
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 BPA Free can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup white quinoa
  • 4 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. raw walnuts
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes



1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Pierce the potatoes with a fork to create small holes. Prepare the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

3. Prepare the broccoli florets on a separate rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with the oil, salt and pepper.

4. Roast the potatoes and broccoli for 30-40 minutes or until very tender. Remove from the oven; set aside to cool then set aside. Cut the sweet potatoes into ½ inch- 1 inch chunks.

5. In a small bowl, scoop the coconut cream out of the refrigerated can. Add in 2 Tbsp. of the water remaining in the can and whisk together until it’s smooth. Add more coconut water if needed. Add apple cider vinegar, basil, sea salt and pepper, to taste. Place in the fridge for 1 hour before serving then whisk again.

6. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions.

7. In a large bowl, combine the cooked potatoes, broccoli, quinoa, mushrooms, cilantro and walnuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add crushed red pepper to taste and serve.

For more Eating Clean recipes, check out my new cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body. It’s full of over 200 recipes free of gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, eggs, peanuts, white flours and other inflammatory foods.

About our guest food blogger:

Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP is the Editor-in-Chief of She is a chef, culinary nutritionist, professional recipe developer, food photographer, writer, and motivational speaker specializing in simple gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free “clean eating” recipes. After visiting countless doctors and the Mayo Clinic with no results, Amie was able to heal herself from a decade of chronic pain and multiple ailments, including Lyme Disease, Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Adrenal Fatigue, Leaky Gut, and Heavy Metal and Mold Toxicity. Amie cooks for a variety of clients, including celebrities and people with busy lifestyles, who enjoy healthy, organic, whole foods. Her work appears on Martha Stewart, Fox News Health, WebMD, The Huffington Post, The Food Network, and PBS, and in Glamour, Clean Eating, SELF, Vegetarian Times Prevention, and many other magazines and media outlets. Amie splits her time between Manhattan and New Jersey.