Food as medicine may be a phrase that you’ve heard. The famous Greek physician Hippocrates is credited with saying what God knew all along: “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food.”
Through much of my life, I have not lived up to that ideal. I grew up in the sugary cereal, white bread, TV-dinner generation. Although my mom cooked homemade meals for supper, breakfast and lunch were of our choosing. I ate pretty much like the rest of my friends.
Each morning my sisters and I raced to the kitchen to see if the captain was still in our cupboard. If you were running late that morning, you’d be the unfortunate sister who settled for a bowl of wheat bran cereal — with the addition of a teaspoon of sugar from the sugar bowl to get it down! Add a piece of white bread toast with margarine and a glass of orange juice, and we were out the door. Lunch was a white bread and lunchmeat sandwich with a piece of fruit, some chips, a milk, and a pastry. My teen years’ diet only worsened as I worked part-time jobs at fast food restaurants and gobbled up the burgers and fries whenever I could.
Suffering the Health Effects of a Bad Diet
But as I became a young adult and had my own children, my health started to spiral – and so did their’s.
Migraines became an issue for me — a big issue actually. You can read about my migraine story here. Other problems started to pop up, like candida, fatigue, PMS, and high cholesterol. My kids struggled with asthma, ADD, ear infections, and allergies. I was desperate to improve our health, so I started researching alternative methods of healing. I’ve learned a lot — much of it contrary to the lifestyle and food choices I had been making. I’ve been on this journey over the last 28 years. And it’s just been over the last two years that I have focused on food as medicine.
Did You Know?
The CDC has recently highlighted research that has emerged from the pandemic showing that those who have underlying health conditions (co-morbidities) are the ones who are at most risk of becoming the sickest with COVID-19. It makes sense to do what we can to improve our health so that if we do contract Covid or any other illness, we have a healthy body with which to fight it.
How To Do Food as Medicine
Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor; this information is for educational purposes only. These are simply things I have learned from my classes, research from experts in the field, and from trial and error.
My Food as Medicine Top 5 List
- As much as possible, eliminate convenience foods. Put foods that come in boxes, bags, cans, and jars (with a few exceptions) on your rarely eaten list.
- Eat whole foods. When you go shopping, start in the produce aisle and build your meals around vegetables and fruits with some pasture-raised meat, dairy, and wild fish added in as the budget allows.
- Eliminate sugar as much as possible.
- Use olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and butter as your healthy fats. Ruthlessly cut out the hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils like canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc. These cause inflammation in your body (the cause of much disease) and may clog the arteries. Read labels because these vegetable oils are in everything.
- As your budget allows, choose some organic produce and meats. See the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists to know which foods you should choose to buy organic. The lists are updated every year.
What If This Sounds Overwhelming?
If all this sounds overwhelming, and it probably does, choose one thing to change right now and work on that. Start by learning what you can from my list of resources below. Just by changing even one thing, you will eventually start to notice a difference. Once you feel you are ready, choose another point to change. And so on. We will explore each one of these top 5 points in future blog posts so we can dive into more information.
Food As Medicine Resources
These are a few of my favorite resources to learn more about food as medicine.
- Food as Medicine Everyday online course from the Food as Medicine Institute. In 2021 I took this class online. This is a wonderful course that I highly recommend, as it will give you a good foundation. We used the book Food as Medicine Everyday available on Amazon (affiliate link).
- Dr. Mark Hyman is a functional medicine practicing physician who promotes food as medicine in his writing and on his podcast, The Doctor’s Farmacy. In podcast #505 called How to Use Food as Medicine, he discusses how food plays the biggest role in whether we are healthy or not. Here’s a quote from that episode: “The single most important thing you do ever day to control every single on of your biological functions that determine health or disease that will make you live to 100 or make you die at 50 is what you eat,” he said. He is the author of many books including this one: The Pegan Diet: 21 Practical Principles for Reclaiming Your Health in a Nutritionally Confusing World (affiliate link).
- Functional nutritionist Shawn Stevenson. Shawn has a popular podcast called The Model Health Show. I first heard him on another podcast where he shared his own recovery from a debilitating spinal disease, caused by a poor diet. It’s an inspiring listen and can be heard on Dr. Caroline Leaf’s podcast Cleaning Up the Mental Mess #299. Shawn is the author of two books including Eat Smarter: Use the Power of Food to Reboot Your Metabolism, Upgrade Your Brain, and Transform Your Life (affiliate link).
Again, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, I recommend to start by changing just one thing. Pick what God is most highlighting to you and start there. Remember, God created food to be a blessing to us and not a curse.
Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. They will be yours for food. And to every beast of the earth and every bird of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth—everything that has the breath of life in it—I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. Genesis 1:29-30.
What About You?
What are you thinking about changing? Leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from you — and we’re praying for you!