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three good mark(c)s

Mark Bittman’s and my path have crossed at the library once again. In So, What’s the Dilemma?, I wrote about how the food writer, chef, and columnist threw his tome, “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” in my way, blocking the entire 640-680 non-fiction aisle–just to get my attention. This time he was a little more subtle. He knew I needed something simpler for my new client, a 32-year-old guy who had been a vegetarian since his early teenage years, but despite his recent attainment of fatherhood was still eating like a teenager. His wife had called me frantically seeking help.

This time as I perused the library shelf looking for some inspiration, his similarly titled, How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian Cooking stuck out conspicuously from the other offerings. It was just what I was looking for. Weighing only about eight ounces with a mere 123 pages, I thought it would be the right serving size to present to the residual adolescent.

I was glad to see that Mark had my back. Not only did he help me with my client that day. His more recent work, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating (2008) and the follow-up companion piece, The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living (2010) has helped to spread my message about personal health and the politics of food to a vast and appreciative audience. Through his books, NY Times column, and television appearances, he is raising awareness about global food issues while providing people with the ability to make a change–that tastes really good–right in their own kitchens. In his own words, he has committed himself for decades to “battling the ascendance of convenient processed food and a general decline in quality”  which has contributed to the big pickle we now find ourselves in.

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Mark Hyman and me 2019

While waiting to check out my books, I realized he is not the only Mark to have left his mark on me. The others are Dr. Mark Hyman and Marc David. I have not merely figuratively crossed paths with them. I have the pleasure of knowing them both.

I have literally sat in Mark Hyman’s bed–it was a long time ago. Back then, he was my college housemate and friend–a doe-eyed, gentle and sensitive spiritual seeker pursuing Asian Studies. Such interest and the influence of another housemate–a nutrition graduate student-led him to both medical school and the study of Chinese medicine. Today, he is one of the leading voices in the field of alternative medicine. Not only is he a deeply caring physician, but he is also a prolific writer and a leading proponent regarding the creation of a new health care paradigm.

Mark’s practice of medicine involves a whole systems approach described by a model called Functional Medicine, which includes nutrition and lifestyle support. Approaching health from this point of view and really understanding that food is medicine, changes the conversation I have with my clients every day. Presenting health care from this angle is challenging in the climate that defines our practice of medicine. We are programmed to be patients, essentially dependent on a pharmaceutical-based promise of healing. Though it is endemic on all levels, this thinking is especially entrenched in the low-income communities like the one where I serve, because options are not available and the stressors are exacerbated.

Every day I hear the pain and strain of being stuck in this prescribed role. People limp into my office with plastic bags filled with myriad medications. In spite of this, they still ache, they are often depressed, and they feel helpless and confused. But, I see the fire in their eyes and the longing in their souls as they suggest that they do not want to take an additional pill. Acknowledging that, I can remind them that they are capable of being an active participant in their own care and feeding. This is the consciousness shift that is happening through the work of people like Mark.

And then, there is Marc David,  a good friend of Mark Hyman. He is less well-known than the “k” Marks, but his message is phenomenally powerful and equally important. Marc is a nutritional psychologist, deeply learned in the areas of the physiology of eating, metabolism, and digestion. He is the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. His books, Nourishing Wisdom: A Mind-Body Approach to Nutrition and Well Being and The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy and Weight Loss are both revolutionary in their understanding of nutrition.

As most of the cultural chatter focuses on what we eat, Marc explores the more primal questions of who we are as eaters and why and how we eat. He writes that we can no longer separate the science of nutrition from the psychology of eating. I agree. His institute is training professionals to counsel from this perspective and his message is increasingly permeating the field. His ideas are very prescient and worthy to explore. He is a scientist, a Buddhist, a healer, and a wonderful writer–but as I once told him, I think he is mainly channeling his grandmother.

So, as I continue to walk among the eaters of the world, assisting where I can, I am glad to have these three good Mark (c) s beside me. These guys, along with some other wonderfully knowledgeable and visionary people are not only informing my work but are opening new doors to the understanding of human nourishment.

I’d be interested to know which piece of the nutritional puzzle you feel you most need to address, advance or heal your eating or health status. Is it informational, structural, shopping/cooking or emotional/behavioral support?

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn

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Kripalu’s My Plate 

My Plate Haiku

Food made joyfully

As a gift of time and self

Feeds body and soul. by Anne Marie

 

 

meditation v. medication

Once upon a time, like this past Monday, I was walking down the hall of the Health Center where I work. Passing a closed exam room, I heard the doctor who was inside with a patient say, “Here’s a meditation for you.” Ah, meditation. Instantaneously, I felt my spine lengthen, my breath deepen, and my third eye got a nice little buzz.

But wait. Which of the Young Living Essential Oils that I frequently use had I just inhaled? Was it the oil blend Hope or Dreamcatcher? I must have been hoping or dreaming. By the time my foot that was in the back had overstepped the other one and placed itself in front on the cold, hard and very clean commercial tile, I realized she hadn’t said meditation. She said medication. Of course, silly of me. Where did I think I was?  cafegratitude

I must digress for a moment. The floors in the Health Center are incredibly shiny. Every day, they are cleaned in Zen-like fashion by a woman named Pam. After dancing with the waxing machine, she traces every seam with a long stick with a tennis ball attached to the end, and then with tiny little tools, she meticulously erases every scuff mark with the hands of a surgeon. The place glistens.

Perhaps my momentary delusion was fueled by the fact that the night before I saw this amazing film called, May I Be Frank. It is the true tale of transformation on the physical, emotional and spiritual planes of an overweight, lonely, ill, middle-aged ex-addict named Frank, living in San Francisco. His soul yearning unexpectedly leads him into a raw food restaurant named Cafe Gratitude and the story begins. Through the use of whole foods, affirmations, holistic health modalities, and the receiving of love, true and profound healing ensues. In the film, there is a scene where he goes to a massage therapist. The massage unleashes a deep emotional release in Frank that simultaneously relieves his chronic back pain. I noticed that on the table in the massage room was a collection of Young Living Oils that I am sure were used. I tell you, these oils are powerful.

How many times a day is the word medication used in the Health Center? I even say it about eleven times — and  I am mainly talking about green beans and sardines. Venturing a guess–seven hundred and nine times. No, I don’t think I am exaggerating. If anything, I am underestimating. There is a lot of medication going down.

Imagine if we could subliminally say meditation instead of medication this many times. What meditation are you taking? I am going to prescribe you some meditation. What’s that? You are calling for a refill on your meditation? Which one? You can pick it up at the sanctuary–along with your wheatgrass. That would simply and certainly alter the medical paradigm.

We would do well to consider our health facilities more so like holy temples with acolytes arriving for sustenance and to promote meditation as a veritable ally in the healing of ills. Though the practice of integrative medicine is growing in acceptance and availability–my yearning is to see it accessible and as a model of care in high-risk communities. I encourage everyone to take a look at the film, May I Be Frank. You will be inspired by being witness to possibility. Pam’s devotion to her task has prepared the sacred ground. When the time comes, may we be ready.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn