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Episode 140
The Doctor's Farmacy

How To Be A Food Activist In Your Own Kitchen

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

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We live in a world where our food is making us sick, tired, and overweight. Big Food brands design their packaged products to be addictive, so we over consume unhealthy ingredients, including cheap additives that are banned in other countries. Product labels are deceiving, hiding risky chemicals that contaminate our food and tout approval from organizations we’re led to believe are protecting our health, but in reality are doing anything but that. 

On this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, I was so happy to talk to Vani Hari about how Big Food manipulates nutrition research, purposely makes their food addictive, and how we can regenerate our health by getting in the kitchen. 

There are over 3,000 food additives in our food supply, many of which have not been tested for safety, and the average American consumes three to five pounds of these chemicals a year. Vani shares tactics used by the food industry, scientists, and the media to disguise the unnecessary harms in our food supply. 

Vani and I also discuss the many food companies selling similar products overseas with healthier ingredients. The UK enjoys some of the same products we do, but with totally different ingredient lists. We talk about why the food industry doesn’t remove these ingredients from their American products, and what ingredients are banned in Europe but sold in the US.

Vani shares her advice for reading food labels, including the top things we need to look out for, why we need to be wary of fortification, and what it means when a product includes “natural flavors.”

We also talk about what cooking oils are the healthiest to use, what we should be looking for when buying pasta, and Vani’s special “sweet blend” that she uses to make the Forever Cookies featured in her new cookbook, Food Babe Kitchen. Vani also shares why she hasn’t used a microwave in over a decade, her favorite way to heat up leftovers and frozen food, and much more. 

This episode is brought to you by Tushy, Perfect Keto, and Thrive Market.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. Vani’s personal health journey that led her to food activism
    (5:55 / 9:28)
  2. The prevalence of harmful food additives and chemicals in our food supply
    (13:57 / 17:30)
  3. The myth government regulation and supervision of our food
    (16:08 / 19:41)
  4. The importance of reading food labels and ingredient lists on our food
    (20:39 / 24:12)
  5. The food industry’s funding of so-called independent groups
    (22:15 / 26:24)
  6. Three question to train your mind to eat real food (
    (30:49 / 34:58)
  7. Why “natural flavors” should be avoided at all costs
    (33:02 / 37:11)
  8. How government programs help drive food industry profit over protecting our health
    (37:09 / 41:18)
  9. The best and worst cooking oils
    (42:12 / 46:21)
  10. Vani’s “sweet blend,” sugar alternative
    (50:17 / 54:26)


Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

Vani Hari

Named as one of the “Most Influential People on the Internet” by Time Magazine, Vani Hari is the revolutionary food activist behind, co-founder of organic food brand Truvani, New York Times best selling author of, The Food Babe Way, and Feeding You Lies. She has led campaigns against food giants like Kraft, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Subway and General Mills that attracted more than 500,000 signatures, and led to the removal of several controversial ingredients used by these companies. Through corporate activism, petitions, and social media campaigns, Vani and her Food Babe Army have become one of the most powerful populist forces in the health and food industries. 

Her drive to change the food system inspired the creation of her new company, Truvani, where she produces real food without added chemicals, products without toxins, and labels without lies. Vani has been profiled in the New York Times and The Atlantic, and has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and NPR. 


Transcript Note: Please forgive any typos or errors in the following transcript. It was generated by a third party and has not been subsequently reviewed by our team.

Vani Hari (00:00:00):
So food’s not regulated. The information I’m getting being told is being manipulated by the food company so it benefits them, not me and my health. You start to realize the only thing that you can do is to take control of your health and understand what you’re putting in your body. And once you understand that, you start reading ingredient labels, and then you go, “Aha! I get it.”

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:00:28):
Welcome to Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman, and that’s Farmacy with an F. F-A-R-M-A-C-Y. A place for conversations that matter. And if you care about all the weird crap in our food and want to know what to do to protect yourself and get your family health while avoiding the crap and changing the food system, you should listen to this conversation because it’s with my good friend Vani Hari who is a food activist. She is unbelievable force of nature that has changed giant companies, brought them to their knees, had them quivering and shaking in their boots, and changed their food products, and showed the power of what one person can do to make a difference. So I’m so excited to have you on the podcast, Vani.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:01:08):
And I want to tell people a little bit about you. You have been named one of the most influential people on the internet by Time Magazine, which is no small feat. You were a revolutionary activist behind the movement called The Food Babe Movement. is your website. You founded with another person the organic food brown Truvani, and you’re the New York Times bestselling author of The Food Babe Way, great book, and Feeding You Lies, which is about how the food industry dubs us into buying all kinds of crap. And it was an important book that I read that helped me think about the things that I wrote about in Food Fix. So your book was really influential, and I think everybody needs to read it. It’s a little scary, but there’s a lot of hope within it too, so that’s good.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:01:51):
She has done some crazy stuff. She’s led campaigns against food giants like Kraft, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Subway, General Mills; has gotten over 500,000 signatures on petitions to change what they’re doing. She’s done this in a way that’s led to the removal of several really nasty ingredients that were used by these food companies in our food that we just are blind to. She’s used corporate activism, petitions, social media campaigns, and she and her Food Babe army had become one of the most powerful populace forces in health and food industries. I mean, no kidding, this young lady has literally changed big companies in ways that I never thought possible.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:02:31):
She’s really driven incredible change in the food system. In her new company, Truvani produces real food without chemicals, additives, toxins, and with labels that are really clear with no lies on the labels. So there’s no feeding you lies, only feeding you real food. She had a profile in the New York Times and The Atlantic, appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, Dr. Oz, and NPR. She lives in Charlotte with her family and new baby on the way.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:02:56):
So welcome, Vani.

Vani Hari (00:02:57):
Thank you so much

Dr. Mark Hyman. You’ve been such an inspiration to me throughout my journey of being a food blogger and food activist, and it just means so much to be able to sit down and have this conversation with you. I wish we could do this in person right now because I want to give you a great big hug. It’s just so great to see you.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:03:19):
I know. We are definitely all in a hug deficit in America. It is part of our mental health is hugging eight times a day. So soon, soon.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:03:27):
All right. I want to start off by reading a section from your last book, Feeding You Lies, which was not that long ago, and I encourage people to get a copy of it because it’s just compellingly shows what people can do if they take up a stand and do something. Because we all feel powerless and hopeless, but you showed how we don’t have to be.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:03:43):
You said in your book, “I along with my Food Babe army of fellow activists campaigned food companies to persuade them to remove unhealthy additives or disclose ingredients in their products that they weren’t disclosing. As a result of our efforts, Kraft dropped the artificial dyes, yellow five and six from all of its mac and cheese products.”

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:04:04):
Because you pointed out, by the way, that in the UK and Europe, they don’t allow all that crap in the food, and they make the stuff without it. In America, they’re poisoning the kids and don’t bother to take it out. You’re just like, “Hey, do it.” And they did with a little pressure.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:04:19):
After this, you work with other major food companies and conglomerates like General Mills, Mars, Hershey’s, Nestle’s, and Kellogg’s, which vowed to get all the artificial colors out of their food in the coming years. Subway eliminated this risky dough condition or azodicarbonamide from its bread after your petition, and most other brands followed suit. And by the way, the chemical in there, azodicarbonamide, it’s in Yoga Mat. And you have this great scene where you basically held the yoga mat in front of a Subway and pretended to eat it. Just to tell you how bad this chemical is, in Singapore, if a company uses it in their food, they get fined $450,000, and they spend 15 years in jail. So think about that, and we’re all eating that every day.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:05:08):
General Mills is dumping the controversial BHT, which is butylated hydroxytoluene. Why would you ever want to eat something called that in your food? From its cereals just as it did overseas. So you’re pushing these companies to change. Panera Bread got rid of 150 artificial additives from its products, including artificial colors, BHT, nitrates, high fructose corn syrup, MSG that’s hidden, hydrogenated oils. All this crap was in these foods we think are healthy. “I’m going to Panera Bread. It’s a healthy restaurant,” but it really isn’t. Now maybe a little better. Chipotle did away with all the GMO ingredients, and these are just a few of the changes that you made.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:05:43):
So Vani, these are huge changes. These are not small things, and it shows the power of a single person, an activist, who activates other people to care about what we put in our bodies. So take us back to how you started this journey, and why did the quality of ingredients in food and health of our world become your life’s passion? Because you started out as a consultant for a big consulting company working in business, and you took a right turn into uncharted territory with no roadmap and no likelihood or idea of how you would succeed.

Vani Hari (00:06:18):
That’s right. I didn’t set out to be an activist. It really happened by accident. And it happened because as a child, I was severely sick. I mean, on several medications, eczema all over my body, asthma. Always just having a very allergic reaction to every season. Just always feeling under the weather or having a stomach ache. And I felt like a zombie for most of my life. And it wasn’t until my early 20s where I hit rock bottom where I was overweight. I was working this corporate job, in the rat race lifestyle trying to keep up with my coworkers and just work through breakfast, lunch, and dinner and eat whatever’s being catered in or sent into the office. That I finally made a choice, and it took being hospitalized, getting my appendix out, and taking a long time to recover from that surgery to finally say, “Okay. Enough’s enough.”

Vani Hari (00:07:19):
And what I did was I channeled all this energy that I learned in high school where I was a top tier debater and was recruited to college-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:07:29):
Well, that explains everything. Okay.

Vani Hari (00:07:33):
Yeah, I was recruited to college to be in debate. I was number one in state three years in a row, and I did policy debates. So one year’s topic was healthcare, and I was using that information to win debate rounds in high school. But I wasn’t using that information effect my health. But I finally realized remembering everything that I had learned because you had to learn both sides of an argument, affirmative and negative, and debate both sides, that the healthcare system is really screwed up and the food system is screwed up.

Vani Hari (00:08:02):
So what I did back then, which we didn’t have Google when I was going through high school. So I learned how to research the hard way. You go to the library, you check out periodicals. You look through log journals. You looked through the microfiche, all that kind of stuff. So I went to the library to learn about health and how to improve my health and lose weight and feel better. And one of the first books that I came across was actually by Gabriel Cousens.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:08:31):

Vani Hari (00:08:31):
Conscious Eating. And he had this concept in there that just, it just hit my head so hard that I was just like, “What have I been doing?” And what he says in this book is that the majority of foods on a grocery store shelf are dead. It’s dead food, and that’s exactly how I felt for most of my life was dead. I felt like a zombie. So I was like, “Oh, okay. I got it. I got to eat alive food. I got to eat real food that comes from nature.” So I slowly started to make these changes, and then finding alternative societies that didn’t eat the garbage out there, didn’t eat the processed food, weren’t going to the fast foods, and trying to find these different role models and books and other things. Of course, one of your first books Ultra Metabolism back then I came across. And I was like, “Yes! This is it.”

Vani Hari (00:09:33):
So I started to make these changes, and everyone around me was like, “Vani, what’s going on? You look like a completely different person. You don’t look anything like you used to. What are you doing?”

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:09:47):

Vani Hari (00:09:47):
“What you’re having?”

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:09:48):
I mean, you had before and after pictures up on your website. You can’t even tell it’s the same person.

Vani Hari (00:09:53):

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:09:54):
I mean, your face, your skin, everything. You look like an inflamed mess in one picture, and a beautiful, healthy person in the next. It’s an unbelievable change.

Vani Hari (00:10:03):
Thank you. I look back at those pictures of when I was so inflamed because really that’s what it was. It was just inflammation of my entire body. When I look back at those pictures, I feel the pain that I used to feel, and you ask me, “What drives your passion for quality ingredients and doing this work?” It’s that feeling of I don’t want anyone to feel that way, and I know there are so many people out there that feel that way right now. And they have no idea how easy it is to stop feeling that way and make a change for the better. And their whole life can improve.

Vani Hari (00:10:42):
I’ll tell you, Mark, there is no way I would’ve been able to be an activist and help inspire these changes if I had felt like I did when I was eating processed food and fast food and on several medications to control these ailments. My brain was foggy. It didn’t work clearly. There’s no way I would’ve come up with a strategy on how to get Subway to change or Starbucks to remove caramel coloring or any of these things.

Vani Hari (00:11:07):
So when you take back control of your health and you start to feel well because you’re eating real food with real nutrition and your body isn’t constantly looking for nutrition in other places and craving other things, your brain starts to work so efficiently. And I don’t have to tell you because you wrote a whole series and you did a whole documentary on your broken brain, but it’s amazing what you can do in this life. Your whole life can change and you can find your calling. And you can do your passion and everything. And food becomes secondary at that point. It’s not the thing that you focus on the most.

Vani Hari (00:11:47):
I think there’s so many people in this world right now are on these endless cycles of trying to lose weight every few months, and then they gain it back. And then they get another health ailment, and then they gain more weight, then they lose it, then they gain it back. And they’re just on this constant yo-yo cycle. But when you move to real food, whole food that hasn’t been adulterated by the food industry, your body regulates itself.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:12:14):

Vani Hari (00:12:17):
I mean, I have so many stories of people in my family and people you’ve helped. Like when I called you when my dad was really sick, and I explained everything about what was happening with my dad. And you told me, you said, “Vani, it sounds like inflammation of the brain, diabetes of the brain. You need to get his food under control and those episodes will go away. He will get better.” And that’s exactly what’s happening.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:12:40):
Wow. Okay.

Vani Hari (00:12:41):
And I see it before my very eyes. My mom’s cooking home cooked food for him every single day, and he’s just incredible. He’s been out of the hospital for many, many, many months when he used to be in the hospital every three months.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:12:54):

Vani Hari (00:12:55):
They tried to take out his gallbladder, and they kept trying to take it out and kept trying to take it out. And you know what, it just took his body time to heal with real whole foods, and now they’re like, “Oh, yeah. We don’t need to take it out.” So avoiding-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:13:11):
It’s amazing.

Vani Hari (00:13:11):
… major surgery. Avoided prostate cancer surgery just by watching and waiting as opposed to going through with radiation and other things and just getting him back on a nutrition that really serves his body. And out of the spiral of not sleeping and all the things.

Vani Hari (00:13:29):
Anyway, I have so many things happening in my life that I’ve seen with my own family and my own body, and that’s what inspires me to keep doing this work because there are so many we can help.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:13:42):
It’s true.

Vani Hari (00:13:43):
And I don’t know if our work will ever be done.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:13:46):
There’s so much needless suffering out there.

Vani Hari (00:13:48):

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:13:48):
And you and I both know that it’s not that hard to figure out if you just swap out real food for processed food. And what you’ve done in an incredible way is point out the fact that there are all these things in food that aren’t food that have adverse health consequences that have been studied and documented but are ignored. And we have over 3000 food additives. I think even more probably in our food supply.

Vani Hari (00:14:15):

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:14:17):
10,000. The average person eats three to five pounds of these a day, including kids, who at their lower body weight, it’s a much more serious risk. And most of these chemicals have never been tested for safety. They’ve been sort of grandfathered in or they’re tested on animals in a single small dose, and we don’t really know the longterm adverse consequences. And many of these chemicals that you talk about are also in other countries banned. They’re not allowed and many things we have as a matter of course.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:14:52):
So how is this happened that in America, we have gotten so many of these chemicals that we know have harmful health effects, some of the things you’ve gotten other companies to take out, and how does this happen? How do food industry CEOs and scientists and the media manipulate us to ignore these unnecessary harms from our food supply? How does industry-funded research influence us to eat all this processed food? You lay this out in your books, but I think it’s just so important to break it down for people. Because we go, “There’s all this stuff in food, but the government says it’s fine. It’s in the grocery store. It’s got to be safe. The FDA’s approved it. Why should I be worried?”

Vani Hari (00:15:35):
Yeah. I mean, we have to start with these chemicals have been largely invented over the last 50 years, and the chemicals that have entered the food supply are, largely they’re only for one reason, and they’re not to improve nutrition or improve our health. They’re actually just there to improve the bottom line of the food industry. Because we live in a capitalistic society and our government doesn’t really regulate the food system like we think they should or we are under the assumption that they are… I mean, there’s this underlying assumption I believe along with a lot of people that the FDA is this big, huge part of government that’s independently testing all of these different chemicals and overseeing all of these food companies and what they’re producing and what they’re putting in the food supply. But they don’t have the manpower to do it. They’ve never had the manpower to do it. And they don’t usually act unless they’re sued by a third party organization or a nonprofit that sees some issue with some of these chemicals.

Vani Hari (00:16:42):
And so you see right now there’s big lawsuits happening. There was one very, very big lawsuit that happened actually with artificial flavors. There were seven artificial flavors that were linked to cancer, many of them found in every single candy that kids eat. And it took organizations like the NRBC and others to point this fact out to the FDA to finally get them banned, but they gave these companies two to four years to make these changes. So we just going to allow these chemicals that cause cancer in our food for two to four years even though it’s been proven that they cause cancer?

Vani Hari (00:17:25):
We are in a situation where we don’t have a lot of regulation around the food system, and once you understand that, that we don’t have the regulation-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:17:35):
Oh, we don’t have regulation or supervision, right?

Vani Hari (00:17:38):
Or the supervision.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:17:39):
Just to interrupt quickly, I was in the hospital, and I got a creamer for my coffee and it was full of hydrogenated fats, which five years ago the FDA ruled is not safe to eat and mandated that companies remove from the food supply, gave them a little bit of a runway and window. But they’re still there, and they’re not safe to eat and the FDA said that. But there’s no FDA police going around supervising all the grocery stores.

Vani Hari (00:18:06):
And the worst part is when things are banned like trans fats, food companies find other chemicals that act the same way as trans fats. So one chemical that you’ll see in tons of bakery bread products and other things that have to stay on the shelf for a really long time is monodiglycerides, that is actually a minuet amount of trans fats in every single molecule of that. So it’s still clogging up our hearts. It’s still clogging up our arteries. And trans fats are linked to like 20,000 deaths or 7,000 deaths, 20,000 heart attacks a year. I mean, that’s from the CDC.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:18:44):

Vani Hari (00:18:45):
But we still allow these chemicals in our food and even allow food chemists to come up with different ways to continue to include them, which is just very frightening. So once you understand that the food isn’t regulated, then you also need to understand that the information that we get in the media is being largely manipulated by the food industry and front groups, groups that seems very-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:19:11):

Vani Hari (00:19:14):
… reputable, like the American Heart Association or the Center for Science and Public Integrity or-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:19:24):
The American Council on Science and Health, right?

Vani Hari (00:19:28):
Yeah, exactly. You took it out of my mouth.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:19:30):
Cropped life and-

Vani Hari (00:19:32):
Here are all these organizations, you’re like, “Oh, they’re looking after our health. They care about our heart. These are organizations that are made up of doctors and specialists and experts.” And when you look behind the scenes, you find out they’re being manipulated by big industry. They’re getting money from these chemical and food companies, and they’re really just PR spokespeople for these food companies to continue operating by selling us food that is truly harming our health.

Vani Hari (00:20:05):
So once you recognize those two pieces of the puzzle, you kind of understand, “Wait a minute, so food’s not regulated. The information I’m getting being told is being manipulated by the food company. So it benefits them, not me and my health.” You start to realize the only thing that you can do is to take control of your health and understand what you’re putting in your body. And once you understand that, you start reading ingredient labels, and then you go, “Aha! I get it. I understand why I need to eat real food.”

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:20:39):
Yeah. I mean, we obsessively should be reading not just the nutrition facts but the ingredient list. And you and your book provide a really detailed explanation of how to read those ingredient lists and pick out the things that are bad for you and that you shouldn’t be eating. It’s not that hard.
Speaker 3 (00:20:57):
Hi everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the episode. Before we continue, we have a quick message from
Dr. Mark Hyman about his new company Farmacy and their first product, The 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:21:06):
Hey. It’s Dr. Hyman. Do you have FLC? What’s FLC? It’s when you feel like crap. It’s a problem that so many people suffer from and often have no idea that it’s not normal or that you can fix it. I mean, you know the feeling. It’s when you’re super sluggish, your digestion’s off, you can’t think clearly or you have brain fog or you just feel run down. Can you relate? I know most people can.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:21:28):
But the real question is what the heck do we do about it? Well, I hate to break the news, but there’s no magic bullet. FLC isn’t caused by one single thing. So there’s not one single solution. However, there is a system’s based approach, a way to tackle the multiple root factors that contribute to FLC, and I call that system The 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:21:48):
The 10 Day Reset combines food, key lifestyle habits, and targeted supplements to address FLC straight on. It’s a protocol that I’ve used with thousands of my community members to help them get their health back on track. It’s not a magic bullet. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a system that works. If you want to learn more and get your health back on track, click on the button below or visit That’s Get Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y dot com.
Speaker 3 (00:22:13):
Now back to this week’s episode.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:22:15):
Just to sort of loop back on how industry is influencing public health, the American Heart Association gets about $190 plus million a year in funding from industry, both pharma and food industry. So how are they an independent group, and Dr. Ioannidis who’s a professor at Stanford has written about these a lot and has talked about all these professional societies, whether it’s the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics, American Diabetic Association, American Heart Associated. Said they should not be making recommendations about what to eat. For example, the American Heart Association says tricks are for kids, and Lucky Charms are heart healthy foods. Why? Because they’re low in fat despite the fact that they’re full of additives, chemicals, and tons of sugar.

Vani Hari (00:23:02):
Oh, you hit on a sore subject for me, seriously.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:23:07):
Well, I’m a cereal killer. I hope you know that. With a C-E-R.

Vani Hari (00:23:13):
Definitely. One of the most unethical companies out there right now is Kellogg’s. It’s a company that back in 2015, they said that they would remove artificial food dyes for children in all their cereals, and they said they’d do it by 2018. And I wondered at the time why it was going to take them three years to do it because they were already selling Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks and all of their famous cereals overseas without artificial food dyes. And it wasn’t like they had to reinvent the formula or come up with a new recipe or anything like that or invent a new way to make something blue or red. They’re already doing this to avoid a warning label that Europe requires that says, “May cause adverse effects on activity and attention in children,” when a product has an artificial food dye. So they’re avoiding that warning label. So they know this affects children’s health. So completely unethical.

Vani Hari (00:24:09):
They already know how to make the products better and safer, and they’re not doing it for their own citizens. So not only did they not do it by 2018, it’s now 2020 and they’ve invented four new cereals with artificial food dyes, a whole line of waffles with artificial food dyes directly targeting children, directly targeting toddlers. I have a toddler at home. So I have a three year old and she loves that song Baby Shark. And of course, they come out with a Baby Shark cereal full of artificial food dyes.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:24:42):

Vani Hari (00:24:43):
I actually started a petition. If anyone’s watching this, you can go sign it. It’s to finally get Kellogg’s to uphold their commitment to remove artificial food dyes and to stop making these new products that are harming our children. They’re coming out with these products in the middle of a pandemic. We’re in a situation right now where we need to take our health very seriously. If anything with anything about the world’s events today show you is that government is not going to save us. We need to save ourselves. And we’re going to have to save our kids, and we’re going to have to save our families. So we have the responsibility to learn about these chemicals in food and make a choice not to obviously buy these products and support these companies and vote with our dollars.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:25:36):
I’m a little more hardcore than you. I’m like don’t buy anything with a label.

Vani Hari (00:25:41):
I love it. I love it.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:25:45):
If it ain’t made by God, don’t eat it. If it’s made by man, don’t eat it. Make sure you don’t eat it, right? So you want to make sure if you look at a food, you recognize what it is. An avocado is made by God but a Twinkie isn’t. And Lucky Charms are certainly not made by God. So that’s an easy thing. It’s hard to do because people want convenience, I understand. But we really have a crisis in this country because you’re seeing Kellogg’s and other companies have really not stepped up to the plate to do things which they know are integrity, which they can do, which are not going to add to their cost but actually are going to provide better health for the population. That doesn’t make cereal as healthy even if you took out all that crap because I don’t think it is because it’s full of sugar, but that’s another story.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:26:27):
The thing that-

Vani Hari (00:26:28):
We’re up against a mega PR campaign too against our health. I’ll just give you the example of Kellogg’s, we’ll just go on this one. When they came out their new waffles, there was press up the wazoo. Every single mainstream media outlet reported on the fact that Kellogg’s has created this new unicorn, mermaid waffles for kids. But when my friend who was very famous, you know him too, Jesse Itzler the husband of Sara Blakely, one of the billionaire women in this world that owns Spanx. He challenged the CEO of Kellogg’s to a $100,000 live 15 minute interview on Instagram. He said he’d give $100,000 to any charity of this CEO of Kellogg’s choice, and not a single media report on this. Not one single anything but you watch the mainstream media report on all sorts of garbage and not interesting news. But this is like real news that could effect children’s health and a debate or even an interview about these new products that they’ve created, and no one’s challenging these companies.

Vani Hari (00:27:43):
We’re in a really sad [crosstalk 00:27:45]-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:27:44):
Well, you are.

Vani Hari (00:27:45):
…situation. What’d you say?

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:27:47):
You are. All five feet whatever you are. The other thing about Kellogg I want to ask you about was that they recently announced that they were going to get glyphosate out of their products by 2025. Is that a smoke screen? Is that real? Do they plan on doing it?

Vani Hari (00:28:05):
I don’t know. They announced a lot of things that they say they’re going to do, and I haven’t seen it done yet. So I’ll believe it when I see it, for sure. That’s another thing. There’s this assumption when these companies announce these changes that they’re going to actually go ahead with them. A lot of times they change leadership or they realize that oh, they’ll lose too much money, or oh, people suddenly don’t care about this issue anymore because it’s not a hot button topic in the media.

Vani Hari (00:28:29):
The glyphosate issue was very hot button topic because of bunch of different reports that the Environmental Working Group put out about glyphosate in food and the GMO debate at the government level. But once those issues became less important or people forgot about them, these companies think they can get away with murder.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:28:49):
Yeah, it’s pretty bad.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:28:50):
All right. So your book The Food Babe Way: Feeding You Lies, and the new book Food Babe Kitchen, which everybody should get. It is [crosstalk 00:28:59]-

Vani Hari (00:28:59):
This is in your mailbox at home, Mark.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:29:02):
It’s such a beautiful book. It’s full of incredible recipes. It helps you take Vani’s ideas about how to eat and create health. It puts them into delicious recipes that are easy to follow, that are nourishing and yummy, and even your kids will love. So everybody get that book. But one of the things you help us understand is how to read labels and how to be a smart consumer because unless we’re paying attention, and I even get dubbed sometimes. Sometimes I’ll pick up something that looks healthy, and I’ll forget to turn the ingredient list over. I get home like, “Oh god, this is terrible. Why would I even want to eat this?”

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:29:40):
So how do you pay attention to what is important? What should you look for? If it says natural flavors, that sounds great. It’s like healthy, right? But is it really? And one joke I always tell is that one of the natural flavors they use is vanilla natural flavor, and that comes from beavers anal glands. So I think we got to be very careful. And also, why should we be wary of fortification of foods?

Vani Hari (00:30:07):
Yeah. All great questions. So in the first 55 pages of Food Babe Kitchen I actually show you how to read labels, take you through every grocery store aisle so that you can stock your kitchen like a Food Babe. And everything from how do you prepare your foods to how you warm them up and everything is in this book at the beginning, and then of course 100 plus recipes with color photos for each one. So just so excited to have this book out and so happy. I know you’ve written many cookbooks, Mark, and this is my first one. So the first of many though because I’ve definitely got more recipes in me.

Vani Hari (00:30:48):
But I think what’s really important about reading labels is that there’s this three question detox that I talk about at the end of Feeding You Lies, this is kind of how you start the process of really training your mind to eat real food. You start with the question, the first question, what are the ingredients? So you have to know everything that you’re eating. So if you sit down for a meal and you don’t know the ingredients, stop eating that meal and find out. And once you read the ingredients and look at them, do you understand them all? Are they real food? Is it an apple, cinnamon, and sea salt, or is it TBHQ and blue number one? TBHQ, by the way, is a very popular synthetic preservative that they use in very popular products in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups come to mind, Cheez-its comes to mind.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:31:50):
Oh, no. I used to love those.

Vani Hari (00:31:51):
Oh yeah. This is actually an ingredient that negatively effects your T cells in your body and promotes allergies. So if you have just an allergy to anything, it can increase your immune response to that allergy, and you can have a very adverse reaction. If you eat a lot of foods with this, it’s been linked to vision disturbances, stomach cancer, behavioral problems in children, all sorts of things. And this is a preservative that it’s in a lot of things. But when you read that on a label, TBHQ, you have to ask yourself, “What is that?”

Vani Hari (00:32:30):
And so that leads you to the second question, which is are these ingredients nutritious? Is TBHQ nutritious?

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:32:41):
Hell no.

Vani Hari (00:32:41):
No. Hell no, right? And so then you start to realize, “Why am I eating these non-nutritious ingredients, and maybe I need to choose something different.”

Vani Hari (00:32:51):
And then the third question you ask yourself is where did these ingredients come from? Are they made in a laboratory in a chemical factory? And in the case of natural flavors that you mentioned, yes, they are. People see the world natural and think it’s coming from nature. Yeah, it starts in nature. But the way they manipulate, for example, a strawberry in the laboratory or they can manipulate some other substance that comes from nature and make it act like a strawberry or taste like a strawberry or create the one millionth best part taste of something so that they can put it in a product that normally would not taste good on the shelf that lasts there for nine to 12 months. They could put it in a product and it would taste like a real strawberry even though it has no real strawberries in it, and that’s what natural flavoring is.

Vani Hari (00:33:43):
So it tricks your brain into thinking you’re eating real food when you’re not, but your body is still wondering where the nutrition from that strawberry is coming from. So you start to crave more than you should. And so natural flavors are one of the most evil ingredients I believe in our food supply because they trick your brain and they hijack your taste buds. And they continue that craving so you eat more than you should, and with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes is our biggest issue in this country and cancer, we have to take control of our taste buds. And the only way to do that is not to allow the food industry to control them.

Vani Hari (00:34:25):
So removing natural flavors from your diet is like the number one thing I think, and even though there’s many more chemicals that are much more harmful to you, almost 99% of the products on product shelves at the grocery store have natural flavors. So if you avoid natural flavor, you avoid many of those. And it’s actually one of the reasons I started my company Truvani. I just want to mention because there is so many supplement companies out there, protein powder companies and supplement companies that use these natural flavors, and I wanted to create a line of products that were made from real food and non-synthetic substances and didn’t trick your brain into craving a flavor more than it should. I want people to be able to turn off their normal mechanism to crave food.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:35:13):
So important.

Vani Hari (00:35:13):
It’s one of the reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing at Truvani.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:35:18):
I mean, that’s so important what you’re saying is because these chemicals in some of these things are not put in there necessarily to preservative, but they’re put in there deliberately to hijack our brain to make us eat more, crave more, want more. And one of those is MSG, which is got 50 different names or more. So it’s hidden, and it doesn’t say necessarily MSG or monosodium glutamate. Because people are hip to that, they changed the name. Like hydrolyzed yeast protein or extract. And that actually is what’s used in research to fatten up rats or mice to study obesity. So they give them MSG as a way to increase their appetite, make them eat more, and get fat.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:35:56):
And I remember one time I was talking to a nutritionist who lived in Samoa, which has the most obese population in the entire world, and most of them are diabetic. And she said for breakfast they had Ramen noodles, sugar; they had MSG-

Vani Hari (00:36:13):

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:36:17):
They put Kool-aid powder on it, which has all these artificial colors, and they put MSG powder on it. So it’s extraordinary, that’s their breakfast. Basically Kool-aid, MSG, and Ramen noodles. And that’s why they’re so obese because they can’t stop eating. I think your book really points out a lot of these chemicals and goes through details about which ones you should pay attention to, what they are, what they’re doing to our biology. In fact, whether they’re banned in other countries and why do we have them here. It’s really powerful. And I encourage people to check it out because there’s very few other places where you can get this kind of information that tells you exactly what you should be looking for. Even my books I don’t go into as much detail because Vani’s an expert on this food additive thing, and she’s been taking down large companies based on her work. And I think it’s pretty exciting.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:09):
So one of the things besides the companies I think we want to talk about is the government and how the government effects our food choices. And they have different programs that they do this with that we think are government programs for the public good, but they’re actually helping companies not improve public health but private profit. And one of these programs is called a Check Off Program. Can you talk about that because you write about it in your book, and it was very enlightening to read about.

Vani Hari (00:37:38):
Yeah, absolutely. So in Feeding You Lies, I kind of go off all of the different I guess phases of things that the government has done in terms of trying to help… In terms of when we look at the root cause, and you know this, Mark. So the root cause of a lot of our issues is because of where our subsidies and our agriculture producers are basically being given subsidies so that they produce really cheap commodities for America, and those cheap commodities like corn and soy are what make up the majority of processed foods.

Vani Hari (00:38:32):
And so these check off programs actually give the corn and soy and canola industries power in the government to make decisions, whether it’s something that makes a decision on My Plate, which the government creates to kind of give guidelines to children and schools on how their plate should look at the end of the day. If diary should be on there or not be on there, how much of grain should be on there versus not be on there. And you’ve written a lot about in your detox books and other books about how some of these ingredients, the things that we make the most of, corn and soy, have been very detrimental to our health because not only the glyphosate that’s sprayed on the majority of those crops that’s linked to cancer but also the fact that it imbalances your Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio in your body.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:39:35):
And for people to understand, corn and soy, I mean, you give me corn on the cob and soybeans, that’s not the problem. But about 1% of the stuff grown actually is eaten as the whole food. Most of it’s turned into industrial products, food products, commercial products, gasoline. I mean, it’s just an enormous problem in terms of our government strategy.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:39:55):
So keep going and tell us about the Check Off Program.

Vani Hari (00:39:57):
Yeah. This also happens within the meat industry too. So there’s so many different abuses in terms of the different check off programs. It all stems from this one organization within the government. It’s the Government Accountability Office or it’s called the GAO, the USDA GAO. And it basically oversights all of these check off programs where they allow these food companies to continue to market food to us, even though it’s unhealthy.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:40:32):
Yeah. So to think about it so people kind of make sense of it, programs like What’s for Dinner or Pork, the Other White Meat, Got Milk, these are all not industry funded programs. These are programs that are funded in collaboration with the government. So the government is actually pushing these products into the marketplace through advertising and marketing. What the money is supposed to do is for the research and understanding, not me marketing dollars to pay for ads that make these companies billions of dollars.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:41:10):
So when Got Milk ad was out there, it was so popular. They had every celebrity in it. Everybody had the white mustache. They had all these health claims. It’s going to make stronger bones. It’s going to be great for sports performance. Going to do this, going to do that. Help you lose weight. And what happened was another branch of the government started paying attention to this, the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates truth in advertising. And they were like, “Hey guys, there’s no data to back up what you’re saying in these ads. You’ve got to stop these ads.” That’s why you don’t see Got Milk ads anymore because basically they went, “Got proof?” And there was no proof.

Vani Hari (00:41:46):
Yeah. Exactly. I’m thinking of another one, the whole grain, The Grain Society too was doing that a while with by saying whole grain was heart healthy.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:41:58):
Yeah. Whole grain Cookie Crisp cereal.

Vani Hari (00:42:01):
[inaudible 00:42:01] in everything.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:42:01):
Right. My favorite is the whole grain Cookie Crisp cereal with like seven teaspoons of sugar or something like that. It’s ridiculous. Amazing.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:42:11):
So tell us about some practical things that are in your cookbook. You talk about cooking with oils, and everybody’s confused. Which oil should you use? Should you use olive oil or coconut oil or grape seed oil or canola oil? Cooking sprays. What’s the deal with cooking oils, and what should we be using?

Vani Hari (00:42:29):
So yeah. So one of the things that I want you to do when you go look in your kitchen if you’re watching this, I just want to make sure you just get rid of all the corn, soy, canola, cotton seed oil, any of those. Just throw them away. Get rid of them. Don’t even donate them. They just do not belong in your diet because every time you go out to eat, there’s a likelihood that you’re eating one of those oils. And that’s very much contributing to the demise of our health in this world. Not only are those oils high in Omega-6, which again affect our Omega-3 balance, but also are somewhat rancid of the way that they’re produced. They are produced with hexane, a carcinogenic substance that is a chemical that allows solvent to allow them to extract the oils from corn and soy, et cetera. And this is a very popular way to extract the oils, and it’s something that the FDA doesn’t even regulate, doesn’t even test for the hexane residue that’s left in a lot of these oils.

Vani Hari (00:43:41):
So when you’re cooking with an oil, I want you to start with something that is as close to nature as possible. An extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil. I’ve found that actually refined coconut oil’s a great substitute for frying things in. The reason is is because it doesn’t have the flavor of coconut oil but has some health benefit versus frying in a corn or canola oil or soybean oil. Grass fed butter.

Vani Hari (00:44:14):
So one of the principles of Food Babe and my lifestyle, I’ve never… Mark, we’ve been to many meals together. I don’t hold back. I love to eat. I don’t want to ever be on the side of deprivation and I think my recipes, I have a homemade version of Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich in here. I have homemade Doritos.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:44:42):
Homemade Doritos. Wow.

Vani Hari (00:44:44):
Yes, homemade Doritos. Not going to trick your brain into eating more than you should of the MSG.

Vani Hari (00:44:51):
I never want to be in a situation where I’m depriving myself. I love to eat, but I want to find away to make foods that I love in a healthy way. And the easiest way to do that first is to change your fats. So you want to do grass fed butter, olive oil, and coconut oil, and those are just the three that I use. And ghee. I use those four the most in my kitchen. Now I [crosstalk 00:45:14]-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:45:14):
What about some avocado olive oil?

Vani Hari (00:45:16):
I do use some avocado oil in some of the products from Primal Kitchen and others that have popularized avocado oil. If I need to use a spray or something, there’s a good avocado oil spray, but I rarely have ever had to use cooking spray since learning about different mechanisms on how to prepare food without these conveniency of Pam and Crisco and all that stuff.

Vani Hari (00:45:41):
I go through all of these swaps in the book. I have these charts in the first half of the book where it says, “Instead of lining your pan in aluminum foil where some of that aluminum could transfer over to you, you can line your pan in parchment paper, an unbleached parchment paper. Or instead of wrapping your hot dish in plastic wrap, which a lot of those chemicals can leech into your food later on, use a glass reusable dish instead.

Vani Hari (00:46:13):
So I go through all the things that I do in my kitchen that’s different than majority of people. The reason I put these lists in the book is because every time I travel or I go into one of my friend’s kitchens or my mom even, anywhere, and I see them doing certain things or I see them using certain tools, like a Teflon pan because it’s just they’ve always had a Teflon pan. They’ve had it for 10 years, and that’s what they make their pancakes in or whatever. It makes me cringe because I’m just like, “Oh, no. PFOA, that’s like [crosstalk 00:46:54]-”

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:46:53):
Bad news.

Vani Hari (00:46:55):
We want to get away from that, right? I mean, for people watching, if you really want to know the dangers of Teflon and DuPont, watch that movie The Devil You Know. Have you seen that documentary?

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:47:07):
Yeah with Mark Ruffalo. That one?

Vani Hari (00:47:09):
Uh no.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:47:10):
Oh that’s Dark Waters, yeah.

Vani Hari (00:47:12):
Yeah, that’s Dark Waters. It’s another one. It’s really great. It’s on Netflix. By the way, you were great in Kiss the Ground. I just saw that.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:47:20):
Oh, thank you. Thank you.

Vani Hari (00:47:22):
On Netflix about regenerative agriculture, which that could be a whole nother hour of conversation.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:47:27):
What you’re really talking about is regenerative health though. How do you regenerate your health?

Vani Hari (00:47:31):
Exactly. Exactly.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:47:32):
Same thing.

Vani Hari (00:47:34):
And you regenerate your health by getting in the kitchen. Getting in your kitchen and stocking your kitchen with the right ingredients, making sure you’re preparing your foods so that you maximize nutrition in that food.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:47:45):
So everybody who knows how I think understands that I’m not big on flour and pasta, even though I love it. It’s not that great for you. And yet, in your book, Food Babe Kitchen, which everybody should get and I can’t wait to start cooking from it, you say the pasta can be healthy. So is that true? Are you just giving us a snow job here? What should we be looking for when we buy pasta?

Vani Hari (00:48:14):
Well, there’s this one invention I feel like of pasta in the last few years that it blows my mind. There’s a company called Tolerant, and there’s a couple other companies that are doing this too. Chickpea. They’re making pasta out of chickpeas and lentils. So you’re getting a ton of fiber from the bean. You’re getting protein from the bean. It’s not just white flour that spikes your insulin. You’re actually getting satisfied from a small bowl of pasta as opposed to when you eat white pasta. I feel like you eat a lot more.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:48:50):

Vani Hari (00:48:52):
So I do believe that’s a very healthy way to consume pasta on a regular basis. I make my daughter those little elbow macaronis made from lentils. It’s just green lentils, one ingredient, and she’s having lentils every day with an amazing tomato sauce with eggplant and carrots and other things in it. She loves it. Now when we go out to a restaurant and she eats real pasta, she’s like, “Whoa, this stuff’s really good.” But you really can’t tell the difference when you make this on a regular basis and you put the good sauces and other things on it. I’m not telling you to make fettuccine alfredo or anything with this pasta, but there’s a way to choose pasta that is much healthier than just the white pastas that we grew up with.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:49:42):
It’s true. Actually during COVID I was like, “Oh boy, we’re going to be locked down.” I ordered all this food from Thrive Market, which is an incredible online grocer that has really healthy products and great alternatives like the swaps Vani’s talking about at a great discount. That’s And I was like, “Okay. Well, I’m probably going to have some emotional moments. I want to some comfort food. I’m going to get pasta.” But I did. I bought the lentil pasta and the chickpea pasta, and I thought, “Oh, this is going to be like gross and healthy tasting.” But it wasn’t. It was really, really good. So there’s all kinds of really creative ways to, like you say, eat things that are good for you.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:50:16):
All the other things you do in your book is you deal with the sugar issue because we all like sweet things, and you’ve created this special sweet blend that you use to make these cookies called forever cookies, which sounds amazing, in your Food Babe Kitchen cookbook. So can we eat sweeteners? What should we be doing, and what is this sweet blend thing?

Vani Hari (00:50:39):
Okay. So this is something I invented a long time ago because I do love sweets, but I also don’t want to overindulge on the sweets. And I know when I buy a cookie from a bakery or even just a cookie if you were to buy a bag of Chips Ahoy, you can’t stop at just one. You eat like three or four of those because they’re natural flavor of course in there, but also it’s sugar, it’s white flour, it’s all very addictive ingredients. But in my forever cookies, I’m starting with all whole real ingredients. Actually grind up nuts to make the part of the flour, real oats, and then to sweeten the cookies, instead of using a granulated sugar or a processed sugar, I actually take prunes and dates and I blend them with coconut oil, which is the fat. Instead of using butter, I just use coconut oil because it liquefies better. You can use butter too if you want, but I put it all in the blender. And it smells almost like a Samoa cookie when it comes out.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:51:45):
Oh, nice.

Vani Hari (00:51:47):
If anyone used to eat Girl Scout Cookies, yeah, that was one of my favorite ones. But it smells just like that with the dates and the coconut oil and the prunes all mixed together. And it’s so sweet. It’s a nice sweet base for that cookie, and when you bake it up and if you put a couple chocolate chips or maybe you put some dried cranberries or raisins or whatever you want to put in the cookie to make several different kinds of cookies, they’re delicious. And you’re not getting the sugar hangover from it because you’re getting all the fiber from the prunes, which are plums, just dried plums, and dates. And there’s no additional refined sugar in these cookies. It’s amazing.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:52:28):
That’s good. I mean, that’s great.

Vani Hari (00:52:31):
I want Truvani to create like a little jar of it that you can just [crosstalk 00:52:35]-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:52:36):
That’s so great. Yeah, it’s great. And if you make the cookies with other things that have protein and fat, like almond flour and coconut flour, you can actually have a cookie that’s relatively healthy. I mean, it’s got no refined-

Vani Hari (00:52:46):
I would eat that for breakfast. Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:52:49):
Okay. Cookies for breakfast. You heard it from
Vani Hari. Here we go. I’m not sure I’m there yet, but… I’m going to try the cookies.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:52:58):
The other thing I want to touch base before we sign off. You talk about microwaves, and people are so reliant on microwaves because most food we eat comes from a package or a box or is frozen. And we use microwaves a lot to make cooking convenient. So what’s the problem with microwaves, and how do we actually heat up our leftovers and frozen food and defrost? I mean, I come home and I’m like, “Oh, it’s late. I want to defrost something from the freezer. I don’t want to wait four hours for it to defrost and have dinner at like 10 o’clock at night.” So what do I do?

Vani Hari (00:53:32):
So here’s what I do instead. So there’s a lot of conflicting science about the science of microwaves. What I do know is following your intuition. And I do know that certain nutrients are lost when you cook something very fast at a high heat. So what you want to do is kind of go down and obviously you need to remember, Mark, to put your defrosted things in the frigerator overnight. But if you forget those type of things, you can literally just put whatever, your meat or whatever dish in a big, large glass of water and leave it on the counter for an hour.

Vani Hari (00:54:09):
I know you may not want to wait that long, but you could also use, which I love. I have a big, wonderful, big fancy oven, but I also bought a standalone toaster oven that goes on my countertop. And I tell you that thing gets used more than my real oven because it gets hotter faster. It defrosts things very quickly. It has an air fryer for baked french fries. It can reheat my daughter’s food in a matter of minutes, five or six minutes versus the one minute zap that you do in a microwave, and you’re preserving more nutrients that way in your food.

Vani Hari (00:54:53):
When you spend so much time preparing and getting real food and doing the right things, you want also warm it up the right way. So I always make sure I don’t warm up things in plastic because I don’t want to leech those chemicals into my food, and I use a glass dish. And I just stick it in that toaster oven, and it’s incredible how fast things can get warmed up. And it’s just as fast. I can tell you, I’m not a person that likes to spend all day in the kitchen. There’s many recipes actually that didn’t make it into Food Babe Kitchen because they took too long. I had this whole recipe planned for homemade croissants, but it took four days-

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:55:32):
Oh no.

Vani Hari (00:55:33):
… to keep turning them over in the fridge. And I was like, “Forget that. People do not have time for this.” Of course, a homemade organic croissants pretty amazing. But that’s not who I am. So I was like, “You know what, we’re going to use real recipes that you can make within 30 minutes and things you can heat up very quickly when you have leftovers,” because we just don’t have time to spend. But the time we do spend making our own food and choosing our ingredients is probably the most important time we will have as humans in terms of our health.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:56:07):
That’s amazing. So what is that toaster oven? I have one too. It’s amazing. I use the Breville. What do you use?

Vani Hari (00:56:12):
Me too. I have a Breville.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:56:14):
Oh, those are amazing.

Vani Hari (00:56:15):
I know.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:56:16):
[crosstalk 00:56:16] They’re worth every penny.

Vani Hari (00:56:16):
I mean, I make cookies in them. I bake all sorts of things in them.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:56:16):
Yeah. It’s my go-to.

Vani Hari (00:56:22):
I barely turn on my big oven, only if I’m making a big portion or a big dish for a large crowd or if I need a huge, long pan or something. But I use that oven more than I use anything, and it saves electricity. I mean, all sorts of benefits of it. Everyone should have one.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:56:40):
I agree. It’s so great. I put my sweet potato in there. I turn it on, go for an hour, come back, it’s done. Or I put some shiitake mushrooms, olive oil, make them all crispy. It’s so good. I love my little oven.

Vani Hari (00:56:51):

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:56:52):
So when it comes to meal planning, let’s just sort of talk about that for a minute because I think people are overwhelmed with food. They know they should be eating better. They’re stretched for time, although people now are more at home with COVID and actually having more time to cook. But they don’t know what to cook and how to cook it. That’s why I wrote Food: What the Heck Should I Eat and What the Heck Should I Cook because people are so confused. And you really help people with this in your book Food Babe Kitchen. So tell us about how should we approach meal planning so we don’t get overwhelmed.

Vani Hari (00:57:20):
Yeah. So one of the things that is crucial to making sure that you do have time and avoid those circumstances where you have to use the microwave is to just write down the beginning of the week what you’re going to have, and one of the things that has really helped me is just having the same thing for breakfast and lunch. If you’re really busy, have the same thing for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, and then mix it up on the weekends. Then at least you know your breakfast and your lunch. They’re going to be healthy because you’re going to pick those ingredients in advance. You’re going to have them ready the night before hopefully for your breakfast so you’re not scrambling around or tried to get too hungry and crave to eat something that you shouldn’t.

Vani Hari (00:58:03):
And then having the same kind of lunch every single day. Maybe you change out and ingredient or two. I’ve pretty much had the same lunch every day. I have an arugula salad with some type of beans and nuts and some other different kind of vegetables, Thrive Market balsamic and olive oil. And I have that almost every day for lunch. That’s just kind of what my go-to is if I’m making lunch. And having my go-to reminds me to get those ingredients into my kitchen so that I have those every single day.

Vani Hari (00:58:38):
My breakfast, I have steel-cut oatmeal that takes me literally less than one minute to prepare. And people are like, “What? No, steel-cut oatmeal takes 25 minutes on the stove.” I’m like, “No, no, no. You get a small little crock pot. You put in those oats the night before with…” I put in usually a half a cup of oats with two and a half cups of water, and that’s enough for my whole family to have steel-cut oatmeal ready to go first thing in the morning when I wake up. I don’t have to do a thing. I just open the pot and scoop it out and top it with walnuts and dates or whatever I’m eating that day with it. I mean, there’s a million toppings you can do with oatmeal. But it’s so nutritious, so easy. Took me one minute to prepare the night before, one minute, right?

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:59:25):
Yeah. I think people don’t understand how easy it is if you just have a little few simple things. You don’t have to have a repertoire of 25 different dishes. Just get your basic stuff, rely on that, and then you want to have fancy stuff once in a while, that’s okay. But I’m the same way. Stuff that I’m used to eating, it’s so super quick and simple. And then if I want to get fancy, I can.

Vani Hari (00:59:45):
Yeah. Absolutely.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:59:45):
Very powerful.

Dr. Mark Hyman (00:59:46):
Okay. Last question because this is really important. You are guiding us on how to reclaim our health and reclaim our kitchens and our bodies through making different choices about what we eat personally and what we feed our families. But you’re also driving huge change in the food system. And my question to you, Vani, is people listening might go, “Well, she’s very special. She’s an activist. What can I do? I can’t make a difference.” But that’s not really true. So what can people do? What action things can people do to be our own food activists and advocates and change the system? Because we all need to change the system together.

Vani Hari (01:00:27):
So the best thing that people can do is to share what they learn about food with the people they love, their friends, their family. Do whatever they can to teach them, educate them. If you learn about an ingredient, tell someone about it. Try not to be the food police or go into people’s pantries and throw stuff out like I do. But you can do it in a very respectful way, in an educational way, and that’s how you bring about changes through education of what’s in our food and how to make the changes. When you go to a party and you know there’s going to be a lot of bad food, always bring something that’s amazing and healthy, that’s delicious so that people can see what it tastes like and try a new food. Really become the change. Be the change in your environment and to those around you.

Dr. Mark Hyman (01:01:22):
Yeah. You can join Vani’s Food Babe Army so that when she needs to push a button and get X, Y, or Z company to get this nasty ingredient out of their food, you can sign the petition, you can join in. And there’s so many different things we can do, and my book Food Fix, I created a Food Fix action guide, which you can download from And it lays out exactly all the steps that you can do as an individual to make a difference. If you’re a business owner, what you can do. If you’re a policymaker, what you can do. So I think there’s so much, but we all have to join this grassroots effort because it’s not going to change without us pushing for it.

Dr. Mark Hyman (01:01:56):
Thank you so much, Vani, for being such a light, such a driver of change, such an inspiration for me and so many others about eating real food and getting healthy and reclaiming our health. And ending all this needless suffering out there from the junk that we’re all eating. It’s not just about obesity. It’s about so many other issues that are being effected, whether it’s our mental health, our emotional and psychological health, whether it’s our skin or other conditions and health problems that we have like you did. It’s really so powerful.

Dr. Mark Hyman (01:02:25):
So Vani, thank you for all the work you do and being such a light. I encourage everybody to go to the store or go online and buy Food Baby Kitchen: More than 100 delicious real food recipes to change your body and your life. You can go to to learn more about it. And just follow Vani because she rocks. And thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Vani Hari (01:02:52):
Thank you so much, Mark. It was so good having this conversation with you. I can’t wait to see you again in person.

Dr. Mark Hyman (01:02:57):
I know. Soon hopefully. And if you’ve been listening to this podcast and you love this conversation, share it with your friends and family. Help them get healthy. Leave a comment about how maybe these food additives and chemicals have affected you and what you’ve learned and how you’ve gotten better stopping them. And subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And we’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

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