This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Andrea Beaman.
Andrea is a nationally renowned Holistic Health Coach and Natural Foods Chef. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts of 2012 by Greatist.com, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
In addition to hosting her award-nominated cooking show Fed Up!, she has been a featured on Top Chef, The View, CBS news, Fox News, Emeril Live and Martha Stewart’s Whole Living radio. She also teaches classes and seminars at a wide range of institutions nationwide, including The Institute For Integrative Nutrition, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The 92nd St Y, The Natural Gourmet Institute, The James Beard House and theNew York Open Center.
Andrea is the author of The Whole Truth – How I Naturally Reclaimed My Health, and You Can Too! and Health is Wealth – Make a Delicious Investment in You!
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
Jonathan: Hey everyone, Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Very, very excited about today’s show. We have with us just a radiant individual who is a nationally renowned holistic health coach and natural food chef. She is all over the media. She is working with gourmet institutes all over the world.
She is doing all kinds of leadership activities to help make people healthier and happier, and she is just fun. We are doing this over Skype but I wish we were doing it in person because she just seems like a fun person I want to hang out with. Andrea Beaman, welcome to the show.
Andrea: Thanks for having me and yes, it’s true, I am fun. I’m a lot of fun and modest too.
Jonathan: Fun and modest. Well, Andrea, one of the reasons I wanted to bring you on the show is, if I understand correctly, you may not have always been this fun because there were some health challenges that led you to the place you are today. Is that correct?
Andrea: That’s correct. I was not always a healthy person nor was I always as happy as I am these days. I was a chronic dieter from the time that I was 12 or 13 years old when I saw my first fashion magazine. I saw this really skinny lady on the front cover and I was like, “Oh, I should go on a diet.” Every magazine in the world tells me you have to go on a diet, so I started dieting at a very young age. And all of the dieting behavior that I had, all of the chemicals I was putting in my body and all the chemicals sweeteners and the non-fat foods and the low fat craziness and grape fruit diet and then the chocolate diet.
I was just all over the map and what all of that crazy dieting did was it set my body up for failure because I wasn’t getting the nutrition that I needed so I actually wound up with a hyperthyroid and a goiter and autoimmune thyroid disease. I was told by the time I was 28 years old that I needed to take radioactive iodine to destroy my thyroid and then be on medication for the rest of my life.
Jonathan: Was there any thought of potentially turning you into Spider Woman because you said you are going to be taking some radioactive material, was there any concern there that you’d start web slinging or no not so much?
Andrea: No, yeah that was a thing five years prior I had watched my mom go through the treatments of breast cancer, like radiation and chemotherapy and all that and I watched her body deteriorate with each of those radiation treatments that she got. There was a little mental note that I made for myself that if I ever get sick, I am going to try alternative first before I do anything radical to destroy my body. After I was diagnosed with my condition and the doctor said, “You need radioactive iodine to destroy your thyroid,” there were huge red flags, Jonathan.
They just popped up all over the place, they’re like, “Don’t destroy your thyroid, don’t do it, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work,” so I didn’t. I said, “Listen Doc, my diet is total crap and I know it.” I said, “I’m going to change my diet,” and the doctor said, “Your diet has nothing to do with your thyroid disease.” I said, “Well, before I destroy my body, let me try and do something different.” I searched elsewhere for an answer because I didn’t like the answer that she gave me and I did, Jonathan. I radically changed my diet.
I got off all the junk food and the fast food and the no fat and the low fat and the chemical sweeteners and I actually just started eating food, foods like real food that comes from the farm. It looks like food, apples look like apples, eggs look like eggs, food and my body started to change. Within four months, I had lost 18 pounds. Like I said, I was a chronic dieter. I was trying to lose weight constantly and I kept getting heavier and heavier and heavier every year. When I stopped dieting and I started to eat actual food, I lost weight. It was an amazing thing that happened and I had gone back to the doctor, it was about four or five months after, and I was 18 pounds lighter and I was feeling good and my skin was getting cleared.
I have more energy and I was like, “Wahoo” and when I went back to the doctor and the doctor said, “Listen, your thyroid has changed but it’s still not normal, you have to take this medication. This disease in incurable.” I understood where she was coming from; from what she had learned in medical school, absolutely, my disease is incurable but I never went to medical school so I had a different perspective. I said, “Okay, that’s your belief system, it’s not mine,” and I kept moving forward and I kept eating well and taking care of myself and exercising and doing really wonderful things for my body and my body showed up for me.
I showed up for my body and my body showed up for me. It was an amazing transformation. That was 17 years ago. My thyroid disease never came back. I still have no problem with my weight. I haven’t dieted since and I am healthy and I am happy and I am having a conversation with you and you are healthy and you are happy and life is good.
Jonathan: Andrea, that is such a wonderful story and there are so many things in what you’ve just mentioned that I love to drill into. The first, you talk about red flags going off and anytime I hear of a person, forget about what their profession is, a person making claims that are analogous to saying the type of fuel you put into a car has no impact on how the car runs. We all get,…that would be absurd. If you pour kerosene into the gas tank of your car, bad things are going to happen. It of course matters, so why do you think it’s even controversial that the foods we eat and the things we take into our body impact our body?
Andrea: Yeah, we’re disconnected, Jonathan. We are not making the connection that our food goes through an intricate absorption and assimilation process inside our body. That means that if I eat a piece of chocolate cake, that chocolate cake when it comes out the other side looks nothing like chocolate cake although, maybe a little chocolate.
Jonathan: Maybe that’s a bad example.
Andrea: Let’s try strawberry cake.
Jonathan: There you go.
Andrea: Let’s try strawberry cake. When it comes out the other side, it’s a completely different material and substance because your body breaks down the food that you eat into micronutrients and macronutrients and it’s absorbed on a cellular level, on a cellular level. So that means that my food actually becomes my blood and my cells and then becomes my organs and my bones and my skin. I am literary walking, talking, breathing food.
Everything that I eat becomes me. I am very clear on that and I think that most Americans are disconnected from that, like the old adage. It’s like old times. You are what you eat. It’s literary the truth. If I am eating chemicals or I am eating food that is doused with colors and things that are indigestible, what happens to me?
Jonathan: It’s incompatible. It’s just incompatible. It’s not putting water in your car’s gas tank. That is not what makes the car run; therefore, it’s going to break down. It might not break down tomorrow but it’s going to breakdown.
Andrea: That’s exactly right.
Jonathan: Andrea, another key thing you touched on is, you said from a very early age you started dieting and it’s this dieting word. Sometimes people refer to the lifestyle you and I enjoy as a whole foods diet, so what is the distinction between the whole foods diet and dieting, as it’s traditionally described?
Andrea: Well, dieting is like an action. It’s something that people usually get on and then they get off. They get on and they get off. When I was dieting, I would go into the mindset of I have to restrict my calories. I have to work really hard at the gym to lose weight. I have to not eat the things that I want to eat or the things that will actually make me feel good.
I wasn’t eating foods that didn’t make me feel good and it was a mindset whereas now, it’s a lifestyle; like a whole foods diet is part of my lifestyle. It’s not like I open up the refrigerator and I am like, “I have to diet today, what can I eat?” I open up my refrigerator and I look in and I go, “Wow, what can I eat today? What can I make today that is fantastic and delicious? It tastes good, it looks good, it feels good, it makes me feel good.” It’s a totally different mindset.
Jonathan: Andrea, how do we help other people to embrace this mindset because one thing I see is there’s almost this idea that health or the pursuit of health or eating healthfully is this burden, it’s this drudgery. It’s almost like studying. It’s like the non-sexy thing that you kind of have to do. It’s a tax you have to pay. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to transition into this way of living, it is the most profoundly liberating and joyful experience I think we’ve ever had. So health, as you say in your new book, Health is Wealth but many people don’t see this that way. What’s going on there?
Andrea: Well, like we have been bombarded with advertisements, bombarded with media and everything that tells us that we have to eat this way or eat that way or eat this way or eat that way, but I believe that the way that you and I are eating is just more natural to us. It’s just getting into food in a totally different way, a way that we haven’t been taught. We’ve been taught, I think, to count calories and look at micronutrients and fat grams and if you look into nature, there’s none of that going on. There is no weighing of anything, it’s just, this is food. This is what it is. This is how you eat it.
Also, people, they think of healthy food as being tasteless and boring and that is the furthest thing from the truth. It’s actually much more flavorful but we have to learn how to make it properly. For example, when I use to think about health food I would think, “Oh, sprout salad with lemon juice.” Now it’s completely different, completely different. It has to be savory. It has to really satisfy my palate because another thing with dieting is there’s a deprivation and I don’t deprive myself of anything. I love fat, I love flavor, I love spices, I love herbs. All of that really helps to enhance my eating experience and when my eating experience becomes more balanced on many levels where it becomes this sensorial experience, rather than this dulling experience, which is what most people are suffering with now in America.
When it becomes a sensorial experience, I am satisfied on a much deeper level and I am not going to go out I am not going to snack all day long because my body is saying, “Yeah, I am totally satisfied physically, visually, nutritionally.” My whole entire body is satisfied.
Jonathan: I think there is a profound, I hate to use paradigm shift because it sounds like business synergy, strategy, and glaven [12:21] but there is a profound paradigm shift right when you’re exactly right that once we adopt this lifestyle, it will be as delicious if not more delicious than eating a freaking burger and fries. In fact in some ways, the more gourmet you go the more it’s just whole foods, right? It’s not you’re not eating candy bars and soda, gourmet food is good high quality food. But the macro point here is we talk about something being enjoyable, eating something being enjoyable. There are two ways to look at that.
One is, is the act of eating for the five minutes… let’s say, you rushed at lunch because a lot of people they’re working to rush their lunch. So you spend five minutes, you’re eating something. Was that five minutes enjoyable and certainly eating a whole foods diet that can be extremely enjoyable but I’ll tell you what, there’s no question, is for the other 23 hours and 55 minutes of the day, you have to ask, was that eating enjoyable for that time period as well. You have to look at it over the grand scheme, not just while you’re eating but what that’s doing to you when you’re not eating. What do you think?
Andrea: I think that’s right. Also, we don’t sit with our meals like we rush through our meals. We bite and swallow. We are in this mentality of everything has to be as quick as possible, as soon as possible, right here right now, like internet, I want an internet meal. I want to press those pictures and pull me the meal, right? We are missing the experience that comes with sitting down to a meal and savoring it and enjoying it and making it something bigger than something you shovel in when you‘re going through the drive through at the local junk food store of fast food joint.
They say French women don’t get fat. You go to Europe and the women aren’t fat, right? Well, they are actually sitting down to meals. It’s a ritual to sit with the family because eating food is one aspect of feeding the body. Who are you sitting across from? Are you sitting across from your computer and shoveling down your food and not even conscious or you’re looking across at someone you love and being grateful for their presence in your life, sitting and having a meal? If you look at all traditions around the world in every culture, we have these great things that happen around meals.
You have weddings, you have events, you have family reunions, you have barbecues. You have events that happen around food. And in America food is almost secondary because we’re rushing out to do something. Instead of making it this wonderful, this ritual, this experience where you sit down and you’re nourishing your physical body, you’re nourishing your emotional body, you’re nourishing your entire spirit.
Jonathan: Well, I think there is such profound truth in what you just said, Andrea, and excuse me Andrea, and it reminds me of basically a message my mother thought me a long ago which is we can certainly get into the minutia of what balance of macronutrients and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, if we’re interested in that. I am not particularly interested in that.
Andrea: Neither am I.
Jonathan: What I think is interesting is saying like make sure it’s worth it, make sure it’s related. If you’re going to savor something make sure, one, it’s something that’s worth savoring like a delicious whole foods meal and then actually savor it. The reason I mentioned this is because if you’re not,…like certainly there’s instances where we can enjoy food with let’s take our time like that is such a profound liberating thing.
It could bring us closer to our families. It can build relationships in our life, it’s wonderful. We also have times when we are just, realistically, running around. If we are just running around and you’re not really going to be thinking about what you’re eating or savoring, well then don’t eat hamburger and fries because even if you were to treat yourself to a hamburger and fries, sit down and freaking savor it.
If you’re not going to savor it, drink a green smoothie, do something because you’re not going to think about it anyway. If you’re going to think about it, then you should eat whole foods because it’s going to allow you to savor it even better. If you’re not going to think about it, then you should still eat whole foods because you’re not really going to think about it, so who cares. Either way, you should be eating whole foods. What do you think?
Andrea: Yeah, I think that’s right. That’s right and I have been known to sit down and have a burger and fries but it’s a completely different burger and fries.
Jonathan: Absolutely, absolutely.
Andrea: It’s from the local farmer from grass fed animals. The fries are cooked in a better quality oil but that’s a whole other experience as well. The quality of the food and chewing, chewing, Jonathan, what happened to chewing? Digestion begins in the mouth, not in the stomach and we don’t chew. We’ll bite and swallow like sharks. We’re not designed like sharks. We are not designed like lions.
We have to really chew our food and most people are not chewing. Because they’re not chewing, they are actually not tasting and that’s one of the reasons why our food is so heavily saturated with flavor enhancers because if you’re only getting one bite in or two bites in, it’s got to taste like something. So they’ll jack up the flavor profile with as much salt and sugar as needed so that you could actually taste it before it goes down the pie hole.
Jonathan: That, I think, is such a profound thing, Andrea. When we start to focus more on making eating an experience and something that is truly enjoyable, if we’re going to do that, then let’s do that. If we’re not going to do that then I don’t mean to like repeat myself but I actually think that the cause of so many people’s health struggles is this almost unconscious… I’m at the office and someone brings in a cake, so I am walking by on my way to a meeting and I pick up a bit of it and I eat it and then I just like grab a soda and I casually drink it.
The things we’re doing, which are poisoning ourselves are not even things that really bring us that much joy. They’re really not. It’s like these tiny components of our day which is just like, “Wait, stop, stop, stop.” Totally enjoy food, totally, absolutely enjoy it but listen to what we’re saying. Enjoy food and enjoy it; so sit down, chew food. That’s totally different than what most of us do and that’s what I hear you say and that’s why I wanted to have you on the show because it’s brilliant.
Andrea: Yeah, we’ve got teeth in our mouth and we got to use them for something other than smiling in pictures, right. We’ve got to chew our food.
Jonathan: Well, Andrea, what do you say so, a lot of people I think in principal would say, “Yes.” But then the negative Nancy hat comes on and they’re like, “Well, I’m really busy and isn’t it expensive to eat this way? I just don’t have the time and money. I don’t have the luxury like you guys have of doing this.” What do you say to people like that?
Andrea: I say that they have to figure out and they have to really understand that they are worth it. We don’t even blink an eye about buying an $800 iPod or $200 pair of shoes and this is stuff for the external. We don’t think consciously, well what I’m eating is going into my body; it’s building my blood, building my organs, building my body. I need to really give it the best quality so that my experience here on the planet could be the best one it could be. I am not talking about living forever, I am talking about living here for the duration of your time here on the planet in the healthiest and best possible ways.
So that you wake up in the morning and you’re vibrant. So that you don’t slither out of bed, you popped out of bed and you say, “Hello to a new day.” We have to look at where are we spending our money because we’re spending it. We’re either spending it on good quality food or we’re spending it on crappy food, medications, doctor visits. It’s so interesting; I just posted up something the other day on Facebook. This girl said to me that she spends $1,400 a month for hiring her husband for health insurance.
I haven’t had health insurance in over decade, over a decade. When I left my corporate job, corporate America, I never got health insurance. I just took care of myself. I am thinking she is spending $1,400 a month. That $1,400 a month could go toward better quality food, exercise, going to the gym, getting a personal trainer. It could go to a taking a vacation, getting a massage. It could go towards so much stuff but instead it’s going to a broken health care system that does not actually do anything.
Now, I am not talking about traumatic injury here. If somebody gets hit by a bus, absolutely, they need some kind of traumatic insurance to cover those hospital bills because that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is also pretty criminal activity what happens with that stuff. But we need to start spending our money on the things that will actually benefit our life.
Jonathan: I think that’s such a profound point, Andrea, and that’s,… I sometimes say this has nothing to do with my affiliation with Microsoft but that it’s something ironic that Apple, which prides itself on providing the most expensive entertainment devices you could ever imagine, has seen more profitability during the greatest recession in the United States history since the great depression. So, like you said, people are spending money. In fact, in the greatest recession we’ve ever had, we’re spending more money seemingly on incredibly expensive digital entertainment while our obesity and diabetes rates continue to climb to epidemic levels.
Now, I am not here to make value judgments but it seems like,..I mean iPads are cool. I love an iPad but the reason you buy an iPad is because you think it’s going to make you happy. I can guarantee you, you will be happier when you’re healthy and energetic than any piece of technology could ever make you. What do you think?
Andrea: I think that’s right and listen, like I have all the gadgets too but I am also spending money on this stuff that I know that’s building my body.
Jonathan: Well certainly, you have to have a healthy body to even enjoy that entertainment, so you don’t fall asleep while you’re watching the movie, right?
Andrea: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.
Jonathan: Well Andrea, if we could take let’s say three steps today and they can be mental, they can be tactical, they can be really anything to help us shift our mind and to shift our lifestyles into really one that is about long-term health and fitness, rather than short-term weight loss or quick fix, what would those three steps be?
Andrea: Well, the first step would be to put themselves first, meaning put their health and their wellness in the forefront, make that number one priority. Me, I am number one priority and once we become the number one priority, all the other steps fall into place. A second step would be, just in case you don’t want to put yourself first, which a lot of people will put everybody else first before they put themselves first.
That’s so interesting because when you’re flying in a plane and like they have the little oxygen masks, they say, “If we lose altitude, you have to put your oxygen mask on first, you cannot help anyone else. Don’t put the child’s mask on.” So this is especially for mom’s and wives who have a tendency to take care of everybody else. Put your oxygen mask on first. Put yourself first because without you, you cannot take care of anybody. That’s number one.
Number two would be, choose better quality food, choose better quality food. If you have a choice between dehydrated apple chips or an actual apple, buy an apple, right? Get into the habit of just purchasing food that looks like food and doesn’t need to be packaged with pretty colors and all of that to make you want to buy it.
Get the real stuff, the real stuff. Number three would be enjoy your life, enjoy your life. Put as much joy as possible into your life because when we’re not enjoying our life, we are reaching out for comfort food, right? If we’re not happy, if we’re sad,… you look at any one who has had a breakup right, what do they go for? They’re going right for ice cream. They want that comfort food. They’re going right for burgers and donuts, the whole thing, comfort food. If you’re not feeling loved and joy internally, you’re going to reach out for some type of sweetness externally to help you feel that but it doesn’t work. So increase the amount of joy in your life, joy for food, joy for friends, joy for love and I think that’s three.
Jonathan: I love them though and certainly I would imagine there are many more and folks want to learn that, there is a bunch of resources on your website. Here we’ve got andreabeaman.com and you even got a new book called Health is Wealth. Can you briefly tell us about that?
Andrea: Yeah, that actually teaches people how to get the best quality food into their life in the most affordable ways possible, for example join a CSA, a community-supported agriculture. It’s a way to save money on grocery bills. For example, I pay $500 directly to a farmer, directly to a farmer in the beginning of the year, my CSA. I know my farmer and her family and then she does all the growing and the sowing and all that stuff and I get six months worth of produce, six months for that $500. It comes up to $21 a week, $21 a week.
It’s amazing! So I would suggest everybody in the world join a CSA, get to know your local farmers, and so this book teaches you how to get the food into your life in the most affordable ways. How to cook in bulk, where to shop, how to shop, and then it gives over 120 delicious recipes, so that you can really enjoy it.
Jonathan: I love it. I love it. Anyway that we can cook in bulk and make relationships with the people who are actually creating our food because you want to talk about saving money. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in Economics to understand that if you can reduce the middlemen out of any economic transaction, you’re going to save money. Is it expensive to buy high quality food when there’s four middlemen in between? Yeah, it is expensive but just eliminate the four middlemen and you’re good to go.
Andrea: That’s right, go straight to the source.
Jonathan: I love it. Well, Andrea, thank you so much for joining us today. Again, folks her name is Andrea Beaman. Obviously, a radiant individual who can get us all smiling and help us all improve our health. Her new book is called Health is Wealth and again Andrea, thank you so much for joining us. It has been a pleasure.
Andrea: Thank you, Jonathan. Keep up the great work you do in the world.
Jonathan: Thank you and listeners, I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did and remember this week and every week afterwards, eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Talk with you soon.
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