What if there was a way to reverse diet related disease? What if this solution didn’t involve a pill, special diet plan, buying a book, following a guru, or installing a medical device? What if the answer didn’t involve any dogma, but simply some applied science, fun, and community – and, get this, what if it was pretty much free? What if this solution already existed? Well, headline news folks, it does!
Firstly, I have to start with the obvious – eating whole, real, clean food. Avoid or eliminate processed foods from your diet, including sugar and all the other crap that the food and beverage industry is throwing into our food supply. Yeah, try the JERF diet: “Just Eat Real Food.” Shop at Farmers’ Markets, CSAs, and focus on foods that come from a farm, ranch, or sea. Foods that look like food, don’t have a label, and haven’t been adulterated, processed, and jacked up with unhealthy sugars, salt, fats and non-food substances.
If it was made in a factory, walk away. If it has a label, it is a warning label. Think you are safe in the health food store, Whole Foods market or Trader Joes? Not. Look at all the processed foods they are peddling, organic and otherwise, laden with sugar…they just don’t get it.
Do you really want to eat Enzymatically hydrolyzed protein or Acetylated Distarch Oxypropanol or the other 10,000 items listed in the GRAS list? Our government says these items are “Generally Regarded as Safe.” Have they lost their minds? Processed food is a massive failed experiment. The evidence: over the last three decades, every country on earth has seen increases in obesity rates, and metabolic (food related) disease now affects over 25% of people on earth.
Ok, if you understand the importance of real food, then what do you do next? Unless you live on a vegetable farm, your food environment is probably something akin to what is now called a food swamp. We are being bombarded with foods designed by chemists that are purposely and powerfully addictive. Their approach is called nutritionism – the idea that you break down real food into chemical constituents, then “reformulate” them into thousands of processed food items and additives. And then there is the constant social pressure – c’mon, lighten up – have a slice! Live a little. Or, live a little less?
At best, health is a team sport – and so is grappling with our food system. It’s hard to go it alone. I’ve been involved in food system work over the course of my 35+ year career in social change. Over the decades, I struggled mightily with bouts of obesity and metabolic disease – even when working on an organic farm.
The best “program” I have ever seen, that really gets to the heart of the matter, is a little known group in New Jersey, called “The Suppers Programs” that offers a “learn-by-doing program where you'll learn to cook, taste and feel your way to vibrant health.” Click here for a brief introductory video by founder Dorothy Mullen. Their mission is to provide safe and friendly settings where anyone, and especially people with food-related health challenges, can develop and manage their own personal transitions to a healthier life. The IRN had the opportunity to interview Dorothy Mullen, the progenitor and vision keeper for this movement, in an online webinar.
What The Suppers Programs does is surprisingly simple, yet profound. Groups of people get together, cook together, eat together, and they conduct simple experiments to see what foods do the best job in helping them halt or reverse the onset of diet related ailments.
They cluster into groups, some focused on type 2 diabetes, some on cognitive disorders, some on allergies, etc. They share knowledge, recipes, and most importantly – community and unconditional love – resulting in “logical miracles”. Turns out judging oneself, or the dietary preferences of others, is harmful and obstructive to creating lasting changes in lifestyle and diet. There is no dogma, no fees, “no ups and no extras” as Earl Scheib used to say… just an amazing community of support that employs an advanced, community based form of applied science.
Over the last two decades, The Suppers Programs has built up an amazing database of knowledge about food, disease, and addiction, and a long amazing history of dramatic results, testimonials, and fantastic recipes. No, there have been no clinical trials, no NIH study, no Doctoral theses written about their work – yet. However, their knowledge, methods, and community approach are all available by simply signing up, and becoming part of an active and motivated community. Does this sound radical? I am personally familiar with several commercial programs that try to get similar results, but charge thousands of dollars, and result in limited and short-term impacts.
One of the strategic objectives of the IRN is to “find the good and praise it.” There are many programs like The Suppers Programs out there, that offer creative ways to educate, engage, and transform health by changing the whole paradigm around food and health…school gardens, urban agriculture, farm to consumer programs, etc. The Suppers Programs is truly unique though, so check out their website. I travelled across the U.S.A. to take a training with The Suppers Programs and was blown away by what they are doing in Princeton and New Jersey. I plan to spread the program in California and suggest you investigate this incredible program on your own. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Wolfram Alderson is just a guy who likes Real Food, and happens to Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition.
Find Wolfram on Twitter here.
(Photo: Wolfram in front of his prize lemon tree in San Francisco)