My body and mind are freshly flowing with inspiration and tons of great new information since I returned from California over the weekend from the Food As Medicine conference. It was a full few days of learning, but my spongy brain soaked it right up.
Using food as medicine is something that I’ve devoted the last 6 years of my life to studying and sharing with others. I will admit, though, that my commitment to health and following a holistic lifestyle seems to automatically turn me into the “health nerd” in my day-to-day interactions with others. At Food As Medicine, we were all health nerds, so I felt right at home.
Every day began with a brief group meditation to quiet and focus our minds. Snacks between sessions included samples from Mary’s Gone Crackers, California Walnuts, Vitamix (my fave!), and a beautiful organic tea bar with every alternative milk and sweetener option under the sun. Filtered water stations were always at the ready, too.
So yep, felt like home to me. :)
A quick word about the lunches at the conference. We were treated to delightful menus created by Rebecca Katz, one of my personal culinary icons. I actually had a chance to meet and hug Rebecca, thank her for all of her work, and of course eat her wonderful food. Everything was Daily Bites approved! Gluten-free, tons of produce, natural sweeteners, high quality proteins—the works.
Pearls of Wisdom
Now that I’m back and have had a chance to go over my notes a bit, I thought I’d share a few “pearls of wisdom” that I thought were the most notable. Sit back and soak it up!
How we treat the planet impacts how the planet treats us.
How often do we think about the planet—the whole of creation—actually having a hand in our health? As human beings we are not just treading on the earth, but we’re actually a living, breathing part of the ecosystem. How we care for our habitat affects how it cares for us. We are so closely intertwined. The rhythms of the earth (or the disrupted rhythms, in many cases) play a large role in the big picture view of our health.
Health happens where we eat, live, pray, and play—not in doctor’s offices.
Thank Dr. Hyman for this one. I actually had the opportunity to shake his hand, introduce myself, and thank him for his many years of work that have taught me so much. So cool! I tried to pull it together and not look too star-struck. :)
Anybody else have big health heroes in their lives that have grown to feel like teachers and mentors? I’m sure if he read this he’d think I was some nutzo groupie. (Sorry, Dr. H! I’m totally normal, promise.) After years of following and learning from his work, it was awesome to see him teach live.
A recent study indicates that cynicism my correlate with a higher risk of dementia.
If anyone needs more reason to work on cultivating optimism in their lives, this is it! I heard many nurses and physicians give testimonies throughout the conference about how attending was such a breath of fresh air, as our traditional health systems in the US can be so depressing and institutionalized. Pursuing health should be something that gets us excited and eager, not scared and stressed out. Fear is not a sustainable motivator for change. Joy is.
The most common deficiencies as noted by Dr. John Bagnulo in his practice include magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, chromium, and potassium.
I can attest to having three of these at some point in my lifetime up until now, so I think he’s dead on. Add food sensitivities and/or celiac disease to the mix and our absorption rate takes yet another hit, so I think it’s smart to get a basic blood panel conducted by your practitioner on a regular basis to monitor levels and work on a preventative health plan. The key word there is preventative. Wouldn’t it be great to prevent health issues from arriving in the first place? That’s my kind of medicine!
People with blue and green eyes may need more zinc to protect the macular lens.
Cool, right? Just another way that our bioindividuality plays such a critical role in how we use food to support all parts of of our health.
And now for my very favorite quote of the entire conference (from none other than Dr. Hyman)…
What you put on the end of your fork is the most powerful drug on the planet.
I could not agree more. The food we eat is edible information that literally instructs our genes and tells them whether or not to express disease. If you feel like you have strongholds in your life that are preventing you from achieving optimal health, it truly is never too late to make changes. With proper nutrition and lifestyle habits, genes can literally change in months if not days. And when you reprogram your genes, you reprogram your biology. Actually, it’s more like a resetting of your biology, returning your body how it was always made to feel and function.
If that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is.
Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about traveling. You might be wondering that with all this talk about health and functional nutrition, how do I travel and still maintain healthy habits?
I’ll admit, it’s not easy. I’m always so thrilled to return home from trips…even vacations. There’s nothing like my own kitchen, bed, and the beautiful Wisconsin landscape!
That said, it’s entirely possible to eat well while traveling with some planning and preparation. I made sure to get a mini refrigerator in my hotel room where I could store fresh produce and protein. (It usually doesn’t cost extra, especially if you emphasize that it’s for a special dietary/medical need.)
After arriving at the hotel, I walked to the nearby grocery store, which actually had a nice selection of organic foods and pretty decent prices. I picked up spinach, salad mix, avocados, lemons, carrots, snap peas, cucumbers, organic turkey slices, and apples. I brought along almonds, hemp seeds, grass-fed jerky, and wild canned salmon from home.
I also bought a small knife for $4 since I couldn’t carry one in my bag on the plane. I brought a few containers along to use for plates and storage. All of this made it easy for me to pull together simple breakfasts and dinners.
Granted, I’m glad to be home now where I can enjoy my regular eats again, but it was doable thanks to some planning ahead. I was gone for 4 days and didn’t eat one over-priced (and likely over-salted and over-sugared!) hotel meal, which I’m pretty happy about.
Here’s a quick snap of one of my morning breakfasts:
It’s most of what I put in my Low-Glycemic Green Smoothie, just in salad form. I love my smoothies way more, of course, but hauling my Vitamix across the country wasn’t really an option.
A big personal takeaway from the conference for me has nothing to do with food or integrative medicine. It has to do with inspiration.
To be completely honest, I’ve struggled on and off with inspiration in various areas of my life for the past 6 months or so. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to become so bogged down in the day-to-day processes of building a business and planning for the future that I completely neglect my own creative wellspring and personal development. I start to lack confidence, feel uninspired, and doubt myself more than I should.
A change of scenery was so helpful in restoring me on a personal level. Long days in a conference room aren’t the most fun of course, but meeting new people, soaking up new information, and getting a little perspective was just what I needed.
Regardless of your vocation, do something to get inspired! There will never be a perfect experience, but bits and pieces can do wonders to transform your mind, broaden your perspective, and renew your confidence in who you are and what you do.
Stay in the Loop
I have new projects in the works that are all about using food as medicine on a very practical level. I can’t spill the details now, but when you sign up to be a Daily Bites insider below, you’ll be the first to hear about all the new happenings! (Don’t worry, it’s free and I’ll never spam you.)