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Meet the ‘juice genius’ who’s all about eating…fat?

Annie_Lawless_suja_norwalk

Annie Lawless and her Norwalk Press Juicer (Photo: Suja)

 

She co-founded of-the-minute juice brand, Suja, and a she’s a nutrition savant. (Seriously, a conversation with her sounds like you’re watching a Joshua Rosenthal lecture or a TED Talk with T. Colin Campbell). So, it’s a bit of a shocker that Annie Lawless, the hardcore yogi who quotes nutrition science studies like a pro, follows a diet that’s all about the “f” word: Fat.

“I believe in a high fat diet,” says the 26-year-old, whose petite frame is, maybe, the best argument for the fat-doesn’t-make-you-fat school of thought. “It keeps you satiated, while still being easy on the digestive tract.”

A juice genius?

Annie Lawless Suja Juice

Annie Lawless Suja Juice (Photo: Suja)

As a kid, Lawless was something of a juice prodigy. At 12, she landed in her pediatrician’s office with stomachaches, indigestion, and eczema covering her legs and arms. The doctor tested her for various autoimmune disorders, and diagnosed her with Celiac disease—prompting the kind of nutritional epiphany that usually doesn’t strike until adulthood.

“I was eating, but not absorbing the nutrients, and juicing became the way for me to assimilate [them] without much wear and tear on my stomach,” Lawless says. “Within two weeks my eczema cleared up.” She started with a Jack LaLanne juicer, then a Breville—bringing her juices to school “like a weirdo,” Lawless says—years before “gluten,” “Celiac” or, well, “juicer” were a part of daily vocab.

In 2010, Lawless moved to San Diego to attend law school, but it stressed her out, so she threw herself into yoga teacher training (“I became miserable…and needed an outlet”), as well as whipping up concoctions with her Norwalk Cold Press, machinery typically reserved for pros. “I would bring juice to yoga classes, and people started to pay me for their own,” she says. “I was just excited that other people wanted to try it.”

One day, raw food chef Erik Ethans walked into class toting his own juice, and the two hit it off—launching a home delivery juice service that eventually became Suja in 2011. Soon after, Whole Foods expressed an interest, and the rest is history: Suja now sells its USDA-certified organic juices and smoothies at Whole Foods across the country, and offers its blends and cleanses online.

Her high-fat habit

Annie Lawless Suja Juice coconut oil

What you’ll find in Lawless’s handbag—Artisana Coconut Oil (Photo: Well+Good)

While juice is her passion, Lawless’s number-one focus is on getting nutrients into her body efficiently, hence her devotion to fats—healthy ones. She avoids “any high omega-6 inflammatory oils,” like soybean, cottonseed, canola, corn, sunflower, and safflower oils, and instead focuses on getting plenty of omega-3 rich pressed flax oil, cold pressed olive oil, and MCFA rich coconut oil, as well as avocado and ghee. On a recent trip to New York, Lawless opened her handbag and pulled out packets of flax seed and coconut oil that she mixes together and eats on-the-go.

And after being vegan for seven years and vegetarian for twelve, Lawless has also come around to more carnivorous options. She eats wild salmon (“I always get it from a local fish monger,” she says), and once a month, she’ll have grass-fed meat, but always in carpaccio form, or cooked very raw, in order to prevent carcinogenic effects from grilling or cooking.

Like any true nutrition guru, the decision came from reading up a storm, and tuning in.

“I started noticing I was low in energy, and I couldn’t figure out why. I was doing all the vegan things you should do: I was eating seaweeds…My doctor said, ‘Why are you being so harsh on yourself?’” she says. “I think you should listen to your body.” And what she heard was a little more animal protein and whole lotta healthy fat. —Mike Albo

For more information, visit www.sujajuice.com

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  1. December 31st, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Love this article, thanks for sharing your eating & wellness philosophies with us Annie :)

  2. December 31st, 2013 at 9:24 am

    i think it is great that this young woman believes she is living a “healthy” lifestyle. but if you actually watch a lecture or read a book by dr. t. colin campbell, you will come to learn that processed oils are incredibly unhealthy for us. the key is to eat a whole foods plant based diet that is healthy in FAT but directly from the food source – avocados, flax seeds, and coconuts. also to say that you are vegan and then decide to eat ‘wild’ salmon is such an oxymoron. either you don’t want to eat animals and you care about their health and welfare or you don’t. and buying fish from the local monger or eating grass fed beef is still an artery clogging, environmentally damaging practice.

  3. December 31st, 2013 at 11:19 am

    This article is very shallow, I got very little information from this. The flashy title had me expecting to learn something amazing from this ‘genius’ ‘guru’. I didn’t get how she is a genius at juicing. This article seems to be purely a promotion of a friend of someone at Good & Well.

  4. December 31st, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Awesome article! hope to see more inspiring pieces like this in 2014!

  5. December 31st, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    @SusanChassman -
    The article actually said that she “came around to more carnivorous options”. It didn’t state her reasoning as to why she became a vegan. I didn’t realize that Veganism was so black and white. Also- there is so much conflicting information out there regarding the consumption of meat and health at least she is consuming it in a “greener” way. While I do agree that commercial meat is bad for consumption and the environment.

    Nice article! Being a San Diegan it’s nice to see someone from home doing so well. Keep it up Annie!

  6. December 31st, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Interesting article! I think for the new year I might get into providing my body with more nutrition via juicing.

  7. December 31st, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Fantastic, inspiring article- and just what I expect from Well + Good! I see that the majority of people do not understand that not all fats are bad. I like that Ms. Lawless too it upon herself to resolve her health issues through extensive research. It appears to be working. Bravo for setting a good example Annie!!

  8. January 2nd, 2014 at 10:45 am

    The important take home message from this article is that Annie listened to her own body and make a conscious and educated decision on how to best nurture it.

  9. January 2nd, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    So fun to see the gal behind Suja juice! Whenever I travel for work, I stop by Whole Foods and pick up a few bottles to have on the go. It’s so tasty!

  10. January 2nd, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Many of the choices she is making are “nutritionally smart” but I confess large general statements about any food or food group can be wildly misleading. Recent studies show that corn oil beats extra virgin olive oil for positive cholesterol impact – red meat has saturated fat and the more raw, the more likely you can get a nasty bacterial contaminant – and I could go on, but won’t. Diet should be personal choices that are as close to fresh as possible when it comes to certain food groups, while other choices should be considered occasional treats that be savored in small doses. Juicing and smoothies have their merit but miss the boat often times on satiation, because most people benefit from chewing, swallowing and “feeling the food.”

  11. January 2nd, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Susan Chassman – you were so busy being judgey-wudgey that you didn’t read the text properly. She’s living a far healthier lifestyle than most people on this planet, so a little balance in perspective wouldn’t go astray!
    Obviously Annie’s lifestyle isn’t going to suit everyone, we each have different needs and wants; however, she is a great example of listening to your body and succeeding with vitality. Props to her.

  12. January 17th, 2014 at 6:03 am

    This is an interesting article to read. I have this thought that fat are the biggest enemy of your fitness. But now I see them differently ;-). Eating according to your body type or how your metabolism works will always keep you fit.

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