As you know, I just got back from the Food as Medicine conference in Bethesda, MD. I spent 4 glorious days listening to the rock stars of holistic/integrative medicine and nutrition, like Mark Hyman MD, Neal Barnard MD, Kathie Swift MS RD, and Chef Rebecca Katz. This conference was reinforcement that integrative nutrition is 100% my path and the KEY to the health of our country. I learned that indeed a healthy diet is 90% of the prescription for most people.
Here are my major takeaways from the conference:
1. Food IS medicine: While the title of the conference was Food AS medicine, in many ways food IS medicine. Certain foods like ginger and cherry juice can ease inflammation, while a prescription for a low-glycemic, mostly plant-based diet can practically reverse diabetes. So whether food IS medicine or food AS medicine, high quality, unprocessed food is the answer to many health issues. Just try it on yourself: how do you feel when you eat healthfully? Better, right?So perhaps before you reach for that advil again and again, you find a more holistic and natural way to deal with your problem. And not to just heal the symptoms..to find out what’s really going on.
2. Go for quality. While I am a proponent of eating only grass-fed meats and sustainably raised fish (ie. wild salmon), I wasn’t always sticking to my conviction. I must confess that sometimes when I’m just hankering for meat, I’ll eat the conventionally produced burger. But as Dr Mark Hyman told us, “You are what your food ate.” Meaning: an animal fed grains and hormones is going to develop disease and inflammation, and in turn we eat that disease and inflammation. But an animal raised humanely, within the laws of nature, feeding on grass and living the life of a happy farm cow–you’re eating THAT. So which would you rather have? I have made a new commitment only to eat grass-fed meat (and sparingly) and sustainably raised fish (go to Vital Choice for the tastiest, mail order fish ever!)
3. Medicine involves the mind, too. The conference was hosted by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, whose goal is “working to create a more effective, comprehensive and compassionate model of healthcare and health education. The Center’s model combines the precision of modern science with the wisdom of the world’s healing traditions, to help health professionals heal themselves, their patients and clients, and their communities.” Health isn’t just about eating a good diet and going to the gym. It’s about nurturing the mind, the breath, and self-care.
4. Find your tribe. I certainly found mine! I sat with over 300 like-minded fabulous healers, doctors, and coaches for 4 full days and learned about nutrition. The energy was amazing. The people were divine, and I made some incredible connections. Find your tribe, whatever that may be for you, and plug in. Find your community…health is all about being social and sharing with others.
5. Be a little bit out of your element and just a little bit scared. Even though I was with my tribe, I’m still a student. I didn’t know many of the concepts that were being taught, I probably looked like a deer in headlights at times, and at times it was uncomfortable that I just had SO much to learn. But I flipped it upside down and kept in mind that I’d get there, slowly and with time and practice. But now I know who and what I want to be when I “grow up.”