It used to be that food was considered medicine. Family physicians would recommend healing broths, organ meats, and even cod liver oil to help the body heal from illness and trauma. Now, however, nutrition is scoffed at by many in mainstream medicine. Adolescent Type 1 diabetes patients are told to eat whatever they want, so long as they take their insulin.
The reality is, every day I read another study that indicates long-term usage of pharmaceutical drugs is bad medicine. For instance, over 20% of Americans take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to suppress the production of stomach acid because of heartburn, even though these medications cause health problems such as pernicious anemia (low levels of vitamin B12), hypomagnesemia (not enough magnesium in the blood), and in the most recent study from the British Medical Journal, heart attacks, increasing risk by as much as 15-20%.
These medications lead to “drug-induced diseases,” something my colleague Gerald Roliz discusses at length in his book The Pharmaceutical Myth. I see these drug-induced diseases every day in my practice. The good news is, there are always alternatives.
Hippocrates was onto something when he said to let food be your medicine. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that certain foods make you feel good, while others make you tired, gassy, and grumpy.
And you don’t have to be Julia Childs to cook tasty, healthy foods, either! Read on below as I introduce to you another member of my POWER team, Joni Sare, who teaches people how to cook meals that are both healthy AND delicious, no matter what foods you want to incorporate or avoid. I’m excited to share her skills and knowledge with you.
In the meantime, if you think you might be suffering from a drug-induced disease, please reach out to me, and let’s get you on a path to long-term wellness.
Joni Sare, Therapeutic Chef —
Helping people bring healthy eating home
I first met Joni when I was looking for a chef for a client who felt overwhelmed at the prospect of cooking after work. I was immediately impressed by her gentle manner and non-judgmental approach to cooking. Her kitchen also smelled amazing! I consider her my first go-to when I need an alternative to common staples such as wheat/gluten, eggs, or dairy.
Jennifer: I completely agree with your saying that “Healthy cooking is the best preventative medicine.” How did you discover that foods can be healing?
Joni: In 1988, I had a big wake up call that food can be hurtful. I was 27 years old, living in North Lake Tahoe and was in emergency care with severe abdominal cramps. To my surprise, the nurse talked with me about food and eating, not medications. Her diet recommendations worked, she planted the seed and it took hold. From then on I paid attention to the food/mood/body connection and there was no turning back, I plunged into the world of nutrition and eating healthy. You can read the rest of my story here: www.jonisare.com/about
Jennifer: Can you please describe some of the services you offer for people who want to incorporate healthy eating into their life?
Joni: Healthy eating starts at home, from the first food in the morning to the last bite in the evening - so I help them with:
- Pantry patrol: I can help them purge out the bad, and stock with the good - with food that works for their health goals.
- Tours: at the grocery store and/or farmer's markets. They will learn what foods to buy where, what to look for, how to cook the food and how to store the food.
- Cooking classes: healthy cooking is different than what is shown on the TV cooking shows. In my hands-on cooking classes people learn how to maximize nutrition in cooked foods. Also, I focus on teaching cooking methods, which is different than learning how to read a recipe. When people know how to do a cooking method then they can create their own meals with what they have in the fridge, freezer and in the pantry.
- Prepared food: I can come to the person's home to cook their meals for them, to start them off in the right direction. This is for those who want to eat healthy but cannot do the cooking themselves. I can cook one a month, or once a week, or several times per week. And this can be for one month just to get them going, to help them get to a new automatic pilot with cooking and eating.
- Cooking consultations: this is for those who are able to cook, yet need changes, need ideas, need help in modifying their meals to their new way of eating.
Jennifer: There’s a lot of discussion these days about going gluten-free. Do you have any cooking tips for those who are trying to avoid wheat and gluten?
Joni: Being gluten-free myself, I have a long list of gluten-free alternatives and recipe modifications. Before giving advice tho, I need to know what gluten products the person is eating and/or what they are cooking with gluten and then I can tailor my answers to their needs. A tip for a baker who wants to go gluten free: check out what the gluten-free experts are doing, they have figured out the do's and don'ts and are blogging about it. A tip for parents who are switching their children to gluten free: join forces, team up with other parents doing the same thing. Network with friends, colleagues, Yahoo groups, Google + and Facebook groups ...and read blogs that at "age specific." These two sources - Facebook groups and blogs - have real-time Q and A, relevant info on the latest brands. (Twitter and other social media, too.)
Jennifer: When you cook for people, where do you generally shop for ingredients? Do you teach your clients how to shop as well?
Joni: When catering or providing weekly meals for people, I first find out the client's budget and then make suggestions for sourcing organic produce, grass fed and pastured foods. I generally start at the farmer's markets and get what I can there. Then I head to Whole Foods or order from online sites. Thankfully, many of the major grocery stores (including Costco, look for their GREEN signs!) are increasing their organic foods. For myself, I belong to Freshness Farms CSA and get a bag of organic produce each week, and what I don't get in my bag I get at the farmer's markets or Whole Foods or order from online sites.
Jennifer: I sometimes find that family members, such as one’s children or spouse, can be resistant to making diet changes because they are afraid they might “miss out.” What are some of your favorite “comfort foods” that help to fill this void?
Joni: Comfort food comes in many forms: soft and chewy - such as a pasta dish; or a salty dry crunch - such as chips; or smooth and creamy - such as a soup or ice cream. I take a look at what's in their pantry, fridge and freezer - and then come up with healthy alternatives. Thankfully, major brands --as well as artisan purveyors and recipe bloggers (such as myself) -- have healthy alternatives. In my cooking classes, I de-mystify how to make them specifically with the person’s likes and dislikes. Emotions can drive these cravings, so, in some cases, I suggest other forms of therapy.
Jennifer: Do you have an easy, favorite summer recipe that you’re willing to share with us?
Joni: Here are several summer recipes that were featured in last year's California Bountiful magazine: http://www.californiabountiful.com/features/article.aspx?arID=1421
Jennifer: Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know?
Joni: a) One of my fortes is understanding and helping a person move to their next step on their journey to wellness with feeling empowered instead of feeling deprived. My passion is helping people reach a new comfort level with food and in the kitchen, and helping them form an automatic pilot that works for them, their health goals.
b) I call myself a 'Feeling Chef' because my other forte is that I help people find their inner cook. I believe any one can cook - at any age, and I can identify your style, your specific feeling that shows up in your food that makes it tastes good.
c) My fall cooking classes at the Los Gatos Saratoga Recreation Community Center will start in late September. The classes fill up fast so sign up just as soon as LGS Recreation releases the fall schedule. http://www.lgsrecreation.org/
d) Freshness Farms CSA is sponsoring/suppling the food for my Wednesday evening cooking classes at my home in Cupertino. Visit my website (www.jonisare.com) for class dates and details.
e) I am a leader of the local South Bay chapter of "Slow Food" and I invite you to our events: www.slowfoodsouthbay.org. This is an international nonprofit to support the opposite of 'fast food' -- we celebrate, advocate, educate for good, clean, fair food for all. The theme of our events this year is: getting to know our regional food web and how to tap into it.
Chef Joni is offering a $10% discount to my readers when you book her services, but you need to act soon as the offer will expire June 30th.
Joni's best contact information:
Location: Cupertino, Silicon Valley