Introduction: Coming up on this episode of the Doctor’s Farmacy.
Shawn Stevenson: Currently in the United States, only about 30% of families eat together on a regular basis. So my question was, could this be pulling away some protective factor for us when it comes to human health and longevity? And this led me to some really fascinating research.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Welcome to Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman, that’s farmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter. And one of the things that matters most is the integrity around eating. And not just eating for ourselves, but eating as a social act, eating as a way of bringing people together, bringing families together of actually healing through food, but in community. And it’s such an important topic, and I’m so pleased today to have one of my good friends, an incredible human being who’s written a new book about this. And I’m so excited to talk to him. Shawn Stevenson, he’s the author of many books. His new book, which is out called The Eat Smarter Cookbook, is really about food in a different framework that I think we’re going to talk about today in ways that I think are going to blow your mind and that will reveal some of the failures of our current food system, the failures of our way of eating, and the potential to really turn that around and improve the health of ourselves, our families, and America, literally one meal at a time.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So Shawn is the author of many books, including Eat Smarter, the International Bestselling Book, Sleep Smarter, which is great. He’s also the creator of the Model Health Show, which I’ve been on number of times, one of the number one health podcasts in the US with millions of listeners and downloads each month. He graduated of Missouri, St. Louis University. He studied business biology, nutritional science, and was the co-founder of Advanced Integrative Health Alliance. He’s been on lots of media outlets, Forbes, fast Company, New York Times, muscle and Fitness. I want more of his muscles. He’s got more muscles than I do. I’m working on it. I’m working on it. And many other shows. And he’s just an awesome dude. So welcome, Shawn
Shawn Stevenson: Mark. Always loved talking with you. You’re one of my superheroes in this field, so it’s always
Dr. Mark Hyman: A pleasure. Thank you. Thank you. So listen, I remember reading this book called Connected and also looking at the research, Nicholas Christakis from Harvard. And in his research he basically talked about the power of our relationships to determine our health. And in particular, he talked about obesity. He used, I think the Framingham data, and he found that you were 171% more likely to be overweight if your friends were overweight than if your family, for example, is overweight. If your family or sister or brother were rate, you’re maybe 40% more likely. But it was really these social threads that connect us, that determine our health. And one of the things that’s happened over the last 60 years that I’ve been alive is the disconnection from the kitchen and from the home cooked meal and from the family dinner. And I remember even in the sixties, and I know I’m really old, so I was alive in the sixties and the seventies, that the food industry basically insinuated themselves in the American kitchen.
Dr. Mark Hyman: They basically hijacked our kitchens and they put in all sorts of things like Betty Crocker, I dunno if you remember Betty Crocker, the Betty Crocker cookbook. You remember that, Shawn? Yep. My grandma had it. Yeah. Right. And I thought Betty Crocker was a real person. She was not a real person. She was a fabrication of the food industry to actually insinuate their products into home cooked meals, to slowly disrupt the relationship between our food and family traditions and get the food industry’s crap into the American home. And so if you remember, the cookbook was like Add one can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup to this casserole, or put one roll of Ritz cracker crumble on top of your broccoli, or it was like all this weird crap. And then we got into more and more processed food and more and more prepared foods. And so most of the meals that are eaten in homes today are meals that the cooking has been outsourced to factories, to corporations who are producing hyper palatable, biologically disruptive foods that have led to this unprecedented obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease epidemic we’re facing in America.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And anybody listening to this podcast before you’ve heard me talk about this ad nauseum, but basically we’re in a storm of bad health that is bankrupting us. And I think we’re now $4.3 trillion. And one of the things that I believe is the solution for this is what you wrote about in your book, the Eat Smarter Cookbook, which is bringing back kind of the family dinner, bringing back home cooked meals, bringing back a tradition of connecting and being together as a family. And now if people do eat at home together, they’re probably eating different meals cooked in different factories, or I wouldn’t say cooked, but manufactured and invented and synthesized in different factories, all cooked in microwaves or heated up in an oven while they’re all watching TV or on their phones and not connecting to each other and maybe lasting 20 minutes. And that to me is really one of the fundamental breakdowns in our society that nobody really talks about. And I’m so glad you wrote a book about this. And I think the research has really shown that when you sit down with some people you love on a consistent basis, that it improves our health, our diet, it reduces stress, improves our body composition, lowers body fat, increases muscle mass. It’s not just what we eat, but it’s how we eat and who we’re eating with. It makes all the difference. So can you talk about how food can bring families and communities together and why family meals are on the endangered list?
Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely. That’s a great setup. And what I did was we just hit some,
Speaker 4: I kind of went on a rant. I went on a rant, but I’m sorry. I know
Shawn Stevenson: Even as I was writing this book, I knew that in particular this would be special for you because we have very similar perspectives about this because it’s so much bigger than the food itself. The food itself is definitely an issue, but the culture is really guiding so many of our food decisions. And so one of the things that I highlight in the book was a huge meta-analysis that was put together by researchers at Brigham Young University. And they looked at 148 studies on the impact of our social circles on our health outcomes. This included about 300,000 study participants. So it’s a huge dataset. Wow. They found that people who have healthy social connections have about a 50% reduction in all cause mortality. So basically, if we have healthy relationships, this is about a 50% reduction in risk for basically death from all causes premature death.
Shawn Stevenson: And so this is just also another kind of echoing sentiment right now with some researchers out of Harvard. And Dr. Robert Waldinger, another friend, and he’s the director of the longest running longitudinal study on human health and longevity. And their research indicates that our relationships are the biggest determinant of our longevity and our health outcomes. And for me, it’s just like how is that possible? And what it is really is that our relationships are such a controlling force over our food decisions, over our exercise habits, over our mental health. And the list goes on and on and on. It’s like a real powerful governing force. And so I took that data and built upon it and tying in nutrition and social science in this book in a really palatable, fun way. And so what I uncovered was that, and I started with some research that was collected out of Harvard, and I was blown away, and I’m already hesitant to even talk about this because it’s sad that everybody doesn’t know this right now.
Shawn Stevenson: And to actually go through the data and just, I had to hold my chin up because my jaw just kept on dropping. How do people not know this? And so what they uncovered was that families that eat together on a consistent basis, number one, the children consume far more vital nutrients that help to defend their bodies against chronic diseases. And they found that they consumed significantly less ultra processed foods as you were just alluding to earlier on chips and soda and things like that. And here’s what else they found, and this was a thing that really got me to really put this book together, was over time, just within the last couple of decades, you’ve seen it, the degradation of the family meal. And right now, currently in the United States, only about 30% of families eat together on a regular basis. And so my question was, could this be pulling away some protective factor for us when it comes to human health and longevity?
Shawn Stevenson: And this led me to some really fascinating research, and I’m just going to sandwich these together. Publishing, pediatrics, publishing, journal of Pediatrics, and also jama, journal of the American Medical Association. And what the researchers found was that people who eat together with their children just three times a week, those kids have significantly lowered incidents of developing obesity and disordered eating. Alright, now what about the parents? Well, I also shared in the book this study that was done on office workers that i b m, and they found that just by them being able to make it home and have dinner with their families on a consistent basis led to higher work morale, lowered stress levels and better work performance. And as work obligations cut into that family mealtime, they began to have a lot more unrest, lowered mental health, higher stress, and lower job satisfaction. And why does this all matter?
Shawn Stevenson: To put a bow on top of it, stress is really the leading component to our chronic disease epidemics in different ways. And this was published in JAMA as well. They found that up to 80% of all physician visits are for stress related illnesses. And so there’s something protective about getting together with friends and family, getting together with the people that we love. We can unpack why what’s happening behind the scenes, but it’s something protective for our health. And this is something that has been on the endangered species list as you alluded to. And this is something that we are on a mission right now to rekindle this powerful protective metric and get people reconnected under the spirit of health and wellness and good food.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s so true. It reminds me of the movie Fed Up that I was in and helped with, and it was, I think released in 2014 and it was about childhood obesity. And we went down to South Carolina, this place called Easley, South Carolina, one of the poorest areas in America and also one of the worst food environments in terms of food desert. They had this something called the Retail Food Environment Index or something like that. And it’s basically how many convenience stores and fast food restaurants are there to a grocery store where you can buy produce. And it was like 10 to one. This family of five lived in a trailer. The father was 42 already diabetic on dialysis from kidney failure at 42 and very overweight. The mother was huge and the son was 16. Two other kids who were smaller, they weren’t that overweight, but the 16 year old was like 50% body fat.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Normal is 10 to 20 for a male, pretty much diabetic at 15 years, 16 years old. And I went in their trailer and rather than giving a lecture and saying, oh, you should eat this, you should do that, I said, why don’t we cook a meal together? So I got a guide from the Environmental Working Group where I’m on the board called Good Food in a Tight Budget, which is howdy food, that’s good for you, good for the planet, and good for your wallet. And we cooked a meal. And now I went through their kitchen and they didn’t have one real food ingredient in there. Everything was in a box of package of canned, frozen. The ingredient lists were four pages long, you couldn’t pronounce ’em, know what they were. And they had no clue. And they thought they were trying to do the right thing.
Dr. Mark Hyman: They thought they were, and they were desperate because the father needed to lose 45 pounds in order to get a new kidney. And he couldn’t lose weight and they were struggling. I said, so I basically cooked a meal with ’em. I said, here’s how you peel onions. Here’s how you stir fry a vegetable. Here’s how you roast a sweet potato in the oven. Here’s how you make some Turkey chili. Here’s how you take simple salad ingredients and make olive oil and vinegar dressing rather than something in a bottle that’s got high fructose corn syrup and refined inflammatory oils and gums and thickeners and who knows what else. And we had this delicious time together. We literally cooked and chopped and talked and hung out, and they loved the food. They were like with shock. The one kid didn’t ever eat vegetables. So he was like, shocked, these are vegetables in this. I’m like, well, they’re like candy onions.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And the one kid said to me, he says, Dr. Hyman, do you eat like this with your family every night? And I’m like, yeah, no matter how busy I was, no matter how hard I was working, I always made sure I cooked dinner for my family at home. And I actually often breakfast too when my kids were little and we ate together. And it was really a time of being together of cooking in the kitchen, of having the experience of even shopping together, including your kids in the process, including them in the preparation and the menu design. And what was amazing to me was that this family, I gave them my cookbook. I gave them this guide on how to eat well for less. And I said, you guys can do this. And I didn’t even know, they didn’t even have cutting boards or knives.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And I literally, on my way home, I basically ordered on Amazon a bunch of cutting boards and knives and had ’em sent to there. We were cutting sweet potatoes with a butter knife and they lost over 200 pounds in the first year. The father got a new kidney, the son lost 50 pounds, gained it back because he went to work at Bojangles, but then kind of got sorted out and wanted to work with me and ended up losing 134 pounds and was the first person in his family to go to college. And then ended up asking me for a letter of recommendation for medical school. And it kind of blew my mind because I was like, wait a minute, if people want to do the right thing, it’s not like people are like, I don’t care. I just want to be overweight and I don’t care if I’m sick.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And people don’t really have the information, they don’t have the knowledge, they don’t have the skills, and being in the kitchen is a skill. And I think what you’re providing when they eat smarter Cookbook is a roadmap for people to kind of reclaim their kitchens, reclaim their health, reclaim their family connections, reclaim that fabric of our social networks. That actually is the essential act of being human is we are social beings. There’s no way around it. You stick a naked human out in the forest by himself and he’s screwed. We’re interdependent. And so what you’re hinting on is just such an important topic.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, what you’re talking about as well, when you mentioned even him making that pivot when you started working at Bojangles and gaining the weight back, that is pointing to the influence of culture and the environment because even our cravings, our cravings are cultural, our cravings are cultural. And let’s define culture really quick. Our culture is the shared values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are then passed on from one generation to the next. Alright? So a lot of this and our behaviors are really unconscious. And so for example, we know that hunter-gatherer tribes, that really, there’s a subconscious belief that if I don’t move, I will die because I need to move in order to procure my food and to provide for my family. It is required. And our culture today movement is optional. It’s never been as optional now as it has been in the past.
Shawn Stevenson: And so our culture is really influencing our choices and our beliefs and even sharing that insight, this is what is so special about your perspective and my perspective coming together is that I come from that environment of a low income atmosphere where when I was in college, as you mentioned in my bio, I lived in Ferguson, Missouri, and this is a food desert of the highest order. And in fact, as soon as I came out of my apartment complex going to school, there’s a huge liquor store right there. And there’s so many of them just like shelves filled with ultra processed foods. There wasn’t a quote organic section in my grocery store. There weren’t,
Shawn Stevenson: There weren’t any gyms in my area. I didn’t know what yoga was. None of this existed to me. And every fast food that you can name was within a two mile radius of my apartment. I’m talking, we can go down the list, you name one, it was around me. And so that’s really all that I knew. But something else that was really special for me was I came across a study that was looking at minority children that would generally be in the context of a low income environment like I come from. And this was published in the Journal of Nutrition and Behavior. And they found that children who ate with their families four meals a week, no matter what those meals were, those children ate five servings of fruits and vegetables at least five days a week just by the act of eating together on a consistent basis.
Shawn Stevenson: And they ate significantly less ultra processed foods. Things like chips and soda in the researchers noted in particular when the TV was never or rarely on. Now for me personally, I’m not going to be somebody who’s going to be dogmatic. We all go through our dogmatic phase and just kind of being very, very hyper-focused on doing everything. I love getting together with my family and having a movie night or watching the game and having some food, but we were missing out on something that was protective for our children. And part of this why this is so powerful is that when we get together with people that we love, our chemistry changes, we are shifting over from that fight or flight sympathetic nervous system as indicated in that study I mentioned on those office workers and shifting more into the parasympathetic rest and digest, rest and digest system because one of the chemistry changes that happens is we start to release more oxytocin.
Shawn Stevenson: And so we know that oxytocin kind of counteracts the activity of cortisol in some really interesting ways. And just by getting together with people that we care about, that system, that tweak, that shift is happening. And on top of that, we know that, by the way, when I’m talking about this chemistry change, our thoughts create chemistry instantaneously. Our thoughts are really a powerful internal pharmacy. And it isn’t bioidentical. It is made for you by you to fit your receptor sites. So your thoughts instantly change your chemistry. And so this is an opportunity, another reason why this is so powerful for our children is that sitting down the dinner table is really a unifier. And I’m not saying this just for dinner by the way, but it’s a unifier. It’s an opportunity to see your child, to see your family member, to be able to notice subtleties in their character, to be able to offload stress as well.
Shawn Stevenson: And so some of the things that we do is just taking a moment for centuries, it’s been one of those things where we have prayer. Why do people pray before they eat? Are they praying that maybe the food was dangerous back in the day, that the food isn’t going to kill them? That’s not really what it’s for. It’s a moment to press pause, to center oneself, to be present. And so whether it’s prayer, whether it’s a gratitude practice, so this is something we’ve integrated over the years, is before we eat with my family, we all go around the table and share three things that we’re grateful for from that day. That’s beautiful. And it could be small things, it could be did well on a test or it could be something big that happened, but we’re able to start to share and open up. It is kind of like these things that transition that into, and also we know how the brain works, neurons that fire together, wire together.
Shawn Stevenson: So it’s opening up that pathway to connection. And also we’ve done things and tested things like share one thing you failed at today. We’d go around and share that and just getting an opportunity to hear what my kids might’ve struggled with a reframing opportunity. And also us sharing as adults, life is not all super smooth and sweet. We go through our own challenges and for my kids to develop more compassion and empathy and understanding and perspective taking. And all these things take place at this unifying entity that we call the dinner table versus we’ve all got a lot of stuff going on. And so if we don’t have this unifier in place, it’s easy for life to get swept up. And I’m thinking of the Wizard of Oz. We end up in this tornado of craziness and we miss out on the things that are most important. And so the last piece I want to share here on this cultural front is, I mentioned this earlier, that cravings are cultural as well. This true story. And Mark, you might even know this, there are people in Cambodia right now that are munching on spiders. Tarantulas are a delicacy in certain places in the world.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I can’t see, I crave at eating a spider. It’s never a craving. I’ve had, I’m like, lemme go to the fridge and see if I can rip up some spider stir fry.
Shawn Stevenson: But that’s the thing, it’s deep fried spiders in Cambodia. And my wife is from Kenya, so it might be Yama Choma, which is like barbecue meat, preferably goat. And then there’s other places where it might be
Dr. Mark Hyman: As one meat I don’t like is goat,
Shawn Stevenson: Right? And it’s just, I think also, again, it’s cultural as well because goats are even called the baby. Goats are called kids. So it’s just even another layer of strangeness. But some people might crave fermented shark in Icelandic regions, our cravings are cultural. And in our culture today, as you noted earlier, and a lot of people have heard this by now, you’ve shared this as well, the B M J one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, published data just a couple of years ago, indicating that the average American adult, their diet is now made up of about 60% ultra processed foods. But here’s the thing. And kids, 67%.
Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. And I’m in a special place where I get to publish the first major book that’s sharing that data and really getting that out to the world in a big way. Because that study that you just mentioned that was published in jama, they tracked the food intake of kids for almost 20 years in the US and found that in 1999, the average American child’s diet was 61% ultra processed food. And by 2018 it was almost 70% of our children’s diet is ultra processed food. And this is kids two to 19. And so we have now a culture where fake food is normalized, it is the normal thing to eat. And let’s make a real quick determinant. The last little part here, humans have been processing food forever. Cooking is processing. We’re not talking about taking an olive and pressing the oil out. We’re talking about a field of wheat.
Shawn Stevenson: We’re talking about a field of corn being so denatured that in adding sugar and food colorings and artificial flavors and list goes on and on to where that field of wheat is now a bowl of fruity pebbles or that field of wheat becomes poptarts or that field of corn is now lucky charms or the list goes on and on. It’s so denatured and removed from anything natural that’s ultra processed foods. So we just want to make that clear distinction between the two all. So ultra processed foods are really at its core foods that aren’t even real food anymore. And that’s making up the ingredients that are making us up now.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, really. There’s so much in there. That was beautiful dissertation. Shawn, really, I just want to comment on a couple of things. One, the science is really clear that our social relationships determine so much about our health and not just on an emotional, spiritual, or psychological level, but on a biological level. And loneliness is arguably one of the biggest killers in the world. And the science around the gene expression changes in social relationships to me is fascinating. I call it sociogenomics, which is how our social relationships influence our gene expression, turning on genes of health or disease of inflammation or anti-inflammation of longevity or shortening our life, literally our social connections determine so much of that. So what you said is so right on second, and just to kind of reemphasize the importance of family dinners and of sitting with your kids and meals and making it a priority.
Dr. Mark Hyman: When you look at the data, kids are right now suffering in such a way that I just have never seen in my entire career as a doctor. The levels of A D H D levels of depression, the levels of eating disorders, I mean it’s just out of control. And when you look at the data on family dinners, if you eat with your kids, like you said, they’re less likely to be obese, they’re less likely to have eating disorders, they do better in school, they have better relationships and friendships in school, they have less addiction and drug use. I mean, these are big deals and we’re talking about something that is actually fun, which is sitting down with your family and having dinner. I mean, yeah, family’s got their craziness and drama, but if you can get over that, you actually can start to create a beautiful culture around dinner and food.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So it’s a beautiful thing. And I think lastly around the ultra processed food, just to emphasize that what is ultra processed food? It’s not a can of tomatoes with tomatoes, water and salt or are can of sardines with olive oil and sardines and salt. It’s basically food substances that were grown in the ground like corn, wheat and soy, like you said. But they’re deconstructed. And so chemically they’re altered. And if food is information, it actually works based on the shape and the chemical structure of the ingredients, which are signaling our biology to do different things in different times. When these molecules, when you rip them apart, when you pulverize them, when you create all kinds of weird things that aren’t ever something that humans ate before and you reassemble them into things that look like food, it’s actually not really food. And it’s driving so much of the disease epidemic where every 10% of your diet that’s ultra processed food, your risk of death goes up by 14% and it’s 16% of our adult diet and 67 or 70% of our kids die.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So really we’re seeing an increasing awareness about the dangers of ultra processed food. And of course the food industry is like, oh, well, what does that mean and how do you define it? And it’s not so bad. And we always processed food and processing is fine. In my book Food Fix, I kind of cataloged this research that was published, I think in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which is a very premier nutrition journal. But you look at the funding of the journal and it’s all like 40% food industry funded. And one of the articles is processing food is actually healthy and it’s okay. And I’m like, what? And I read, no, who funded the study? And it’s like, it’s all up. Excuse my French. But anyway,
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, you’re just summarizing what I experienced in college. I took a fancy nutritional science class, this big auditorium classroom, and it was drilled into us, the food pyramid very early on, seven to 11 servings of healthy whole grains, which I’m going to come back and talk about a new revelation there. But also we were really just kind of, there was a huge through line, whether it’s in nutritional science or whether it’s in biology, and a disconnect from understanding how food plays into it as we’re studying the cells. In my biology class, we were not informed, or of course my professors were blind to this as well, that as I’m looking at that mitochondria that it’s made from our menu as I’m looking at the nucleus that is made from the nutrients that we eat. When I’m looking at the membrane of the cell that it’s made from, the meals that we’re eating, we’re literally making all the things that we’re studying is made from food.
Shawn Stevenson: This is why we see such big ramifications when you just talked about the epidemics of chronic disease in our children, not just our children, but us, the CDC D’S numbers. Just last year, the C D C put this out. It was a cute little infographic, I guess to soften the blow. But now 60% of American adults according to the C, d, C, have at least one chronic disease. 40% have two or more, right? And the crazy thing is so many of these issues have skyrocketed in just the last four or five decades skyrocketed. And it’s a huge hallmark of this, as you alluded to, was there’s this entire field of nutrigenomics, right? Looking at how our intake, our dietary intake affects our gene expression. But it’s deeper than this because in that biology class, for example, and I remember this, D n A to r n a to protein, right?
Shawn Stevenson: D n a to r n a to protein. So number one, our nutrition is impacting which genes are getting read, how they’re getting expressed, let’s put it like that, including that interaction with our D N A. But as we go down that pathway, we never stop to ask how are those proteins that we’re printing out getting made, what are they getting made from that’s made from the food that we’re eating? So literally, as you know, colleagues who are experts in cardiology, as they’re studying the human cardiovascular system, the human heart, veins, arteries, blood, we’re not getting educated that all of the things that they’re monitoring in their patient is made from what they’ve eaten. And the quality of those ingredients determine the quality of the proteins that are getting made. So food is of the highest order of importance and not just that. And last part here is it’s the energy substrate itself. How all this stuff is working, food is the fuel that is enabling ourselves to talk to each other. Food is the fuel. If we’re talking about hormones, our hormones are proteins, neurotransmitters. These are all built in how our cells are talking to each other. They’re all made from food. And so if we’re bringing in a fruity PE dust,
Dr. Mark Hyman: Junk in junk out, junk in, junk
Shawn Stevenson: Out, and Snickers crumbs and funion substrates to fuel these processes, what do you think? Oh, I never heard of that’s
Dr. Mark Hyman: Going to happen. What’s a funion? Oh, funion.
Shawn Stevenson: That was one of my favorite hood snacks. What’s
Dr. Mark Hyman: On funion?
Shawn Stevenson: Funions are, they’re basically potato chip, onion rings made of corn. Oh god. Corn starch.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I didn’t grow up in, I grew up in the suburbs. I missed that one.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. And best soda, right? We didn’t have the really fancy soda. Oftentimes it costs more, we get the cheaper stuff. So even with Kool-Aid, we didn’t get Kool-Aid. We had flavor eight. So we had all of these, but it’s all still made from the same ultra processed food.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So Shawn, this is really important. I personally was very lucky because my parents left America in 1950 and they went to Europe for 11 years. And so did they miss the industrialization of the food system and the push of processed food into the kitchen. Although my mom did have the Betty Cracker company, but they shopped in markets. So they went the butcher and they went to the little vegetable stand and the fruit stand, and then everybody had a little bakery and there was all these different street markets and they made real food, and they didn’t even really have a fridge and they had to buy fresh every day. And then my mom had a garden when we were growing up in Toronto, and we’d go eat vegetables, we had fruit trees in the backyard, and she would cook real food night. And I learned that as a kid.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And so I think that was really important. But you grew up in an environment which you were eating all this weird stuff, like you said, like flavor aid and funions and things I never heard about. And how did you go from being essentially deprived of understanding how to actually shop for, prepare, cook, and enjoy real food to where you are now, where you’re making all these yummy meals with your family and you’re teaching all this? It is like how did you get there and how did you learn those skills? I think that to me is the biggest challenge right now, is that the food industry have been so effective at disenfranchising us from our own homes and kitchens that we no longer know how to cook a meal or prepare anything even simply and are overwhelmed and don’t feel burdened and feel like we don’t have the time.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And the food industry is very good at teaching us and brainwashing us that preparing your own food, it takes too much time, it’s too expensive, it’s too hard, and just leave the cooking dust. You deserve a break today. So how did you kind of get to where you are and tell us how somebody who’s listening to this who just like, I don’t know how to cook, I don’t have time. I got a job or two jobs and I got three kids and I got this and I got soccer and I got whatever, whatever, whatever. How do I do this? I’m overwhelmed.
Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely. So to start things off, number one, because of the way that I was eating, as we’ve talked about this before, when I was 20, I was diagnosed with an advanced arthritic condition of my spine degenerative disc disease. My bone density was so low that I broke my hip at track practice just running, and I was basically dramatically accelerating my aging process, kind of like a meta perspective. But really what I was doing was making my tissues out of these really, really low quality ingredients. Because at the time, even then, when I got the diagnosis, I was eating fast food at least 300 days out of the year. And when I wasn’t eating fast, 300
Dr. Mark Hyman: Days,
Shawn Stevenson: Wow, at least, at least. And by the way, I’m not abnormal in that because at any given day in the United States, about 85 million people are stepping into a fast food restaurant. This is a normal part of our culture. But when I wasn’t eating fast food, if I didn’t even have $2 to go to Jack in the box, I ate like a bowl of macaroni and cheese at home for a meal or a family can of SpaghettiOs. That was one of my favorite. And so I was eating ultra processed food essentially at every meal. This is what I was making my tissues out of. And for me, there was a huge revelation because I didn’t know that there was a difference that was really at the core of it. I didn’t know that there was a difference between wild caught salmon and the fish sticks that I was eating.
Shawn Stevenson: I didn’t know there was a difference between even just, you mentioned something earlier, and I want to point back to this. You mentioned the environmental working group, and one of the big revelations that I’m sharing in the new cookbook, they just did an analysis, which was fascinating. A lot of people now are aware of glyphosate and some of the impacts. The World Health Organization has denoted that glyphosate is a class two A carcinogens. So this means it probably causes cancer. But the environmental working group did this huge analysis of some of the most popular products on store shelves and found that up to 90% of all grain products in the United States on store shelves are contaminated with glyphosate. It is crazy pants. And so being in the environment that I was in, I didn’t know that there was a difference in the sourcing of that food because when I was trying to get healthy, here’s the first thing that I did, mark, I was like, I need to eat more like an adult.
Shawn Stevenson: I was 22 years old at the time, so I’m going to stop eating my kids’ Honey Nut Cheerios, and I’m going to eat more of an adult cereal. I’m going to eat Quaker oatmeal squares because it’s high in fiber. And there’s a Quaker on the box, and I don’t know if he was real or not, but he’s not a B, at least he’s not this B who has a dysfunctional stinger. He’s a real guy. And so in that analysis, come to find out Quaker oatmeal squares is like top five most contaminated with glyphosate. And so again, I’m trying to make these changes
Dr. Mark Hyman: Now to mention high in sugar, and
Shawn Stevenson: It’s all sugar. It’s all
Dr. Mark Hyman: Sugar.
Shawn Stevenson: It was the framing and it’s dating back to my university education that that’s what I’m supposed to be eating. And the basis of our diet, the bottom of that pyramid, the foundation should be these whole grains. And without paying attention to the sourcing, without paying attention to the impact that it has on my metabolic health and my blood sugar and all these things. And so how did I make that change in that environment? Well, number one was awareness. Awareness is really that first domino, just becoming aware that there was a difference in how these foods were impacting me. I had no
Dr. Mark Hyman: Idea. Then you have to learn how to cook and learn how to chop vegetables and peel garlic and do basic simple skills. It is a skill. We know how to use our iPhones and drive a car and use our computer, but most of us don’t know our way around the
Shawn Stevenson: Kitchen. Little babies, you see ’em rolling around in their carts at the grocery store or at the Target. They know how to mess with iPads and all this stuff at one year old. Yeah, all of my kids,
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s a whole nother problem.
Shawn Stevenson: You’re talking my youngest son, he just turned 12 last week since he was like seven or eight. He’s known how to prepare food, alright? And he’s been helping out in the kitchen even prior to that. It’s just a part of the culture. And as you said, it’s just a skillset in that. Whereas for me, I actually grew up in a culture where my stepfather was an executive chef at Morton’s of Chicago. But again, we’re living in poverty. I’m talking about getting food from charities. The Hosea house was close to our house, wic, food stamps, all these things. And it’s just like even hearing that, why don’t you just work harder for the parents and not understanding the volatility of the environment that we’re living in? By the way, because I grew up in the crack epidemic, and so next to our two family flat, there’s a little gangway, little path separating us from the next building.
Shawn Stevenson: That next building was where crack was being cooked and sold. And so my stepfather lost his older brother to the ramifications of crack. And my stepfather, he just passed away two months ago. He’s been in assisted living for almost 15 years due to brain damage from crack. And it’s just, again, if people understood the volatility and also my mother trying to make ends meet, sometimes she would sell her blood just to get $20 to get us a meal. And so she also worked overnight at a convenience store. And being in this environment, she was stabbed eight times on one of those evenings. And my mom is different. She actually subdued the guy and he ended up getting arrested. But when she went in to get stitches and all the things to get sewn up, the physician told her that if you weren’t a heavyset woman, you would’ve died.
Shawn Stevenson: You being overweight, her obesity saved her life. And so do you think she’s going to be in a hurry to try to lose weight? It’s her protective force field, really. So these are the conditions that I’m in. Every one of my family members has at least one chronic disease, including myself, chronic asthma, my little brother, chronic asthma, my little sister eczema. And for me, having that onset of this arthritic condition when I was 20, finally getting this diagnosis that was years in the making to get to that place where I have such severe degeneration that the physician is telling me, I have the spine of an 80 year old man. Now, here’s how it all changes. Number one was awareness because I didn’t know, I didn’t know. But number two is, and this is really important for, again, there’s two parts here. There’s okay, there’s a cultural aspect where yes, we need social change, but the most powerful form of transformation is addressing the microculture, the microculture in your own household.
Shawn Stevenson: And so regardless of the fact that I was living in Ferguson, Missouri, I can step outside of my close environment, proximity environment and go and start to procure my food because as soon as I became aware that food mattered, that food could change the ingredients I was making my tissues out of Suddenly this farmer’s market in Ferguson, the nicer part of Ferguson by the way, for years there’d been a farmer’s market and I was oblivious to the fact that it existed. And now I’m going there each week with my family. I’m saving, sometimes paying 50% less of what I’m paying at Whole Foods, try to get these same foods, saving money, getting closer to where my food is coming from. And now, again, just because of my awareness and my dedication to changing the microculture in my household, because as I mentioned, it wasn’t just me going to the farmer’s market. I was taking my kids with me. I was taking my then girlfriend, now wife with me, and we made this into a family event and it became a part of our culture.
Dr. Mark Hyman: But how did you, Shawn, how did you go, God, here’s what kind of knife I need. Here’s a pot I need, here’s how to chop an onion. How do I mince garlic? How do I bake? I mean, just basic things. How did you go from basically eating in factory made food to making homemade food and that bridge that you had to cross was a big expanse for most people to think about who don’t know the way around the kitchen?
Shawn Stevenson: Okay, I’m going to share two things. Number one, that wasn’t my particular story because I grew up in a household where the skill of cooking was apparent. It was there. We were oftentimes eating ultra processed food, but my mom was a great cook. My stepfather got paid to cook at high end places. We just didn’t have a lot of money. Same thing. My little brother to this day is a fantastic cook. And so I’m going to share with you one of my core memories. But
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s unusual, right? That’s unusual.
Shawn Stevenson: So I’m going to share that second thing in just a moment. But one of my core memories, and it’s so interesting that this book is coming out having just lost my stepfather, but one of my core memories was it’s one of those days we open up the cabinet, there’s nothing there. We open up the refrigerator, we don’t have anything to eat. And this is a time when he’s at the house and we’re just like, we’re hungry. And so I go to him like, Hey, we’re hungry. There’s no food. He goes into the kitchen. And there was a loaf of Texas toast that we got on the WIC program. There was government cheese, which is this block of cheese, and there was some tomato sauce in the cabinet, and there was some frozen deer sausage in the freezer that my grandfather had sent to us. And at the time, of course, I wasn’t trying to eat Bambi.
Shawn Stevenson: I was not into that deer sausage. But what he did was he took those ingredients and he made pizza out of them. He made pizza with those ingredients. And I will never forget that I was like eight years old and it stayed with me forever because number one, and by the way, it didn’t taste like dominoes, all right? It didn’t taste exactly like pizza I was used to, but the fact that kids like pizza and I was eating pizza, that elicited some motivation and some joy in that moment. And the fact that I got to eat with him because we rarely ate together. And sharing that moment with him eating pizza, eliciting, and this is a huge part. This is the point I was trying to make in that environment. It really can incite such a high level of creativity. When people hear about my story and where I come from, there can be a lot of empathy and even sympathy about that, but you don’t understand the beauty that’s there as well and the capacity for creativity. And so that stuck with me my entire life to this moment. And so this is bringing it back to, okay, so where do we pick up these skill sets if we don’t grow up with this? And today, it’s really ironically, even though we have this, it’s never been easier to be unhealthy. It’s never been easier to be healthy. We have access to I that’s true every manner of training with this, with a simple YouTube video. But what we need
Dr. Mark Hyman: To do this, my mother always said, if you could read, you can cook. Meaning just follow the recipe. And it’s like if you can watch a YouTube video, you can cook, right?
Shawn Stevenson: That part.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I was like, I don’t know how to make duck breasts. I’m going to watch Gordon Ramsey make duck breasts on YouTube. I was like, oh, that’s not hard. Yelling
Shawn Stevenson: At me. Virtually could. Oh,
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s okay. Yeah. I was like, wow, wow, wow. That’s so hard. So I think even if you don’t know how to make everything, you can learn so easily by just the tools we have available, you’re right, it’s never been easier to be sick or healthy.
Shawn Stevenson: And we’ve also got to take the complexity out of it because it’s unnecessary. And so even a lot of great recipe books, they can tend to be a little bit complex. And so what I focused on was simplicity, high quality ingredients, real food ingredients, but also tying in some of the most joyful food experiences in our culture. For example, one of my favorite things growing up, and in particular when I was trying to get my health together and having this revelation prior to that, I love McDonald’s breakfast all, and I’m not alone, the sausage McMuffin, but the thing was, I oftentimes didn’t get up in time to make it to breakfast because of staying up late playing video games, being unhealthy, all the things. But it’s one of my favorite things. So my thought was, I know that these breakfast sandwiches are incredibly popular. How can I upgrade this and create a delicious breakfast sandwich using real food ingredients that’s going to knock people’s socks off?
Shawn Stevenson: And that’s one of my youngest son’s favorite foods, by the way. Favorite meals is this breakfast sandwich that we put into the Eat Smarter Family cookbook. Love that, love that. And the same thing with pancakes. If we’re talking about, I would get the hotcakes and sausage. And so I took a foundational food that has these powerful anthocyanins that have been found to improve the health of our memory, metabolic health in the form of sweet potatoes and make these delicious sweet potato protein pancakes. Wow. And again, it’s based on a real food deliciousness. And now we’re getting all, as you said, and I remember it changed my life when you said it, mark, that food isn’t just food as information. So now we’re getting all these higher order, more intelligent compounds into our bodies, and it starts to change us from the inside out. And so those are the two things, taking away the complexity, making simple recipes, number one, easy, and also things that we’re familiar with.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I agree. I mean, I was a single father. I had two kids, worked hard as a doctor, and I figured out how to make simple things. And the weekend might make a big pot of stew or soup. I learned how to make simple quick meals. And last night a great example. People think it’s got to take, be onerous and take a long time and be difficult, but it really doesn’t. I had a couple of friends over last night and we didn’t really have much time. And now I was busy working all day and essentially just made in, I don’t know if it was 15 minutes, maybe less an incredible meal. I had sweet potatoes that I put in the oven before, so I planned ahead a little bit, just put ’em in an hour ahead, which is you throw ’em, wash ’em, throw ’em in the oven.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s like a toaster oven. It’s pretty easy. I whipped together a salad. I buy pre-washed arugula and I chopped up some tomatoes, chopped up some cucumbers. I didn’t bother even mixing the olive oil and vinegar, just pour the olive on, pour the vinegar on, salt and pepper, toss it up, literally salad. Took three minutes. I cooked a steak on the grill, five minutes and certified some mushrooms with garlic. And the whole thing was a very simple meal, but it was delicious, full of medicinal compounds and everybody loved it. And it didn’t take a lot of stress or a lot of time or a lot of effort. And I think people have to understand that the myth of cooking for yourself, that is hard or it takes too much time or it’s too expensive. It’s just a myth and we need to reclaim our kitchens.
Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. And part of that myth, again, it’s that cultural influence, and I was just going to share this really quickly, was that one of the other things on the other side is when we’re eating in isolation and we’re not preparing food for us even ourselves, let alone our families, and this was published in Nutrition Journal in 2018, and I was just finding is there some data showing that if we’re not doing this, what’s going to happen? And they found that eating alone, we tend to have significantly lower diet quality and lower intake of essential nutrients that help to prevent chronic diseases. And so it’s protective on so many different levels, eating together with people, we care about having higher quality ingredients and taking the complexity out, taking back really control because America, we invented the TV dinner, we invented it, and that marketing, that culture, I
Dr. Mark Hyman: Used to eat that
Shawn Stevenson: As taking
Dr. Mark Hyman: The Salisbury steak,
Shawn Stevenson: All the mushy steak. Yes,
Dr. Mark Hyman: Swanson’s, Salisbury, I remember that. And we had those TV dinner trays. It was like a special tray that you’d open up to put on your TV, tinfoil dinner on, and then you could watch tv. And this was like in the sixties. It was so bad. It was so bad. Wow. The title of your book is so important. It’s like the Eat Smarter Family cookbook. This is food you can cook with your family, with your kids, a hundred delicious recipes to transform your health, happiness, and connection and health, happiness and connection. They’re all not separate. Your health is actually determined by your social relationships and connections as we start off talking at the beginning. And so whether it’s inviting friends over, whether it’s family members, whether it’s your spouse, whatever it is, if it’s two people, that’s a family dinner. So make sure you prioritize this.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s got to be something that’s built into a value system that you have for yourself. Otherwise it’s going to be very hard for people to reclaim their health and for us to get out of this disaster of chronic disease and obesity that we’re seeing today in America. So Shawn, I’d love you to sort talk about some practical tips around grocery shopping, around what pots and pans we should have about cooking tips that make things faster and healthier and easier, more fun. Can you kind of guide us through, because you’re talking about getting your kids in the kitchen. Take us through some of the really practical things in the book. I think people would love to sort of hear that and understand some of the juiciness that you’ve put together for people, not just to yumminess, but the juiciness of how to do this in a different way that’s going to activate your biology in a way that’s going to create help as opposed to create disease.
Shawn Stevenson: Absolutely. Absolutely. So a couple of really interesting things that we could transition into. It’s also one of the things I targeted in the book was transforming our kitchen culture and looking at the things that we’re cooking on, as you just mentioned. And one of the big revelations recently and I grew up with this is Teflon and non-stick pans, but there’s a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid or P F O P F oas. And this has been shown repeatedly in peer-reviewed studies to contribute to higher levels of infertility, liver disease, various types of cancer. This chemical has actually been banned. It’s banned, but testing people’s blood. Today, the majority of people tested still have this compound in their system because it’s one of those quote forever chemicals. And so coming into this and wondering, and by the way, so I’m not just saying a bunch of studies, one of these studies was published in a journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that p FOAs is a strong kidney carcinogen, so renal carcinogen with risk increasing in tandem with levels of exposure.
Shawn Stevenson: And so this non-stick cookware that we’ve grown up with is not without a cost. And in particular, the higher temperature that we’re cooking, the more these chemicals are getting released and getting into our food and also inhaling them as well is a big risk. And so let’s pivot and look at what are some better options here. And also, again, we don’t want to become neurotic because what we did over time, living in a low income environment was just replace one piece of cooking equipment over time. We didn’t just do an overhaul, throw everything away, we just did what we could. And so one of the time tested things to cook on is cast iron skillet. Now of course, some people will be like, well, there’s iron, whatever. But it is far safer than Teflon. And by the way, them removing that one compound, there are several others that are really dangerous and shown in peer-reviewed studies to be dangerous for our health.
Shawn Stevenson: But cast iron skillets are awesome, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, and it has so much versatility. You can go from the stove top to the oven, stainless steel time-tested, probably the safest of all of these. But it might not be great for what we tend to do for non-stick cooking purposes. But there are ways and skills that we can learn to be able to modulate manage that ceramic is very popular right now. And being able to source it in an efficacious way, making sure that you’re getting actual ceramic coating is important because there are some imposters out there. So this is also speaking to knowing the companies that you’re purchasing from. So these are all options.
Dr. Mark Hyman: And you have all that in the book. You have the specifics of what to get. And so people have to guess like, oh, because people are, what should I get and what brand? And I’m like, you have all that laid out, so it doesn’t have to be problematic to figure out what to do.
Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. Yes. So I was just, again, really hitting these hard hitting facts and then here’s what we can do as an alternative and also another part to kind of transition into with that as well. And by the way, this study just came out, so this was newly published and this was in clinical and experimental pediatrics, and they were the impact of plastic bottle feeding on human infants and finding significant amounts of B P A metabolites in these infant’s urine and higher levels of V L D L in these infants, higher levels of triglycerides. And of course this can be due to the formula as well, but in particular this kind of creatine kinase offshoot that can indicate cardiovascular damage as well being elevated in these kids. And in particular finding all of these microplastics we’re talking about somewhere in the ballpark of 1.5 million microplastics found per bottle feeding.
Shawn Stevenson: It’s like these crazy numbers. It’s just like we’ve never been exposed to this kind of thing. So what about safety for our food and storage? So I’m talking about, because for us, we had the Tupperware, we had the GLAD whatever, and we take even hot food and putting it right into some plastic containers. And you are definitely consuming a significant amount of microplastics and nanoplastics with this. So what are some things we could store our food in? Stainless steel. We’ve got a bunch of that downstairs now. We’ve got glass containers and the like and silicone for things like if we’re talking about bottle feeding, for example, even silicone nipples could be better, but we got to be careful with heating on that. But that’s great for lids. It’s great for frozen items. Like if you’re making iced coffee or even popsicles, you’ve got a great Popsicle recipe in the book. And this is speaking to growing up in my environment, and I don’t know if you know about this mark, because this is in the same vein as Funions, but we had the ice cream Man. Do you know about the ice cream
Dr. Mark Hyman: Man? Yeah. Well, I don’t know about the good humor man, which is all this crappy good humor,
Shawn Stevenson: But they’re rolling around the hood in a truck and it’s like a bell dinging, ding, ding, dinging, dinging. We called him the bomb pop man, and they would roll down your street and you could hear him from a two miles away. We can hear it. And we’re all going nuts. The bomb pop man is coming and they’re rolling up, and maybe if you even got 25 cents, you can get at least a Popsicle from this guy. But then there were all of these monstrosity ninja turtles was popping at the time, so like a Ninja Turtle face Popsicle. But I wanted to take that same thing. We love those frozen treats and we have this really wonderful cherry frozen yogurt pop that you can simple mold silicone. Ideally you could pop into the freezer and have these ready to go at any time. And it’s so delicious.
Shawn Stevenson: Plus even with that, one of those ingredients I shared over 40 different foods, science-backed foods, cherries are one of the few foods that are a dense, concentrated source of naturally occurring melatonin. All right, so that’s one of those foods that can, yeah, it’s so cool that we have these foods that can help with our sleep quality. We have foods that can help with our metabolic health. We have foods that can help with our cognitive function. And what I did was take, we have an emoji culture as well right now, so I could send you a whole message with just emojis and you’ll feel what I’m talking about. You’ll know what I’m talking about. And so for each benefit that that food is targeting, so for example, with those cherries, we’ve got a sleep emoji right next to it in the book as we’re talking about it, going through the studies. And then in the recipes where you’ll find those cherries, you’ll see that same emoji. So you can eat for a purpose if you want to improve your sleep quality or improve your cognitive function.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, that’s amazing. I dream for a cookbook where in menu, where you actually write what is the ingredient, but then what does all the medicine in it, what does it do to your body and how does it work? And I think it’s pretty fascinating and so great. So what about the people who say, I just don’t have time or it’s too complicated, I just dunno what to do in the kitchen. I’m lost. What would you say to those people?
Shawn Stevenson: Well, the first piece is we all have the same, 24 people have heard this before, but it’s really about priorities. And even with this, all the wonderful signs that we have on eating together with our families, it can get brushed under the rug unfortunately. And so what we have to do, especially in our busy day-to-day lives, is to schedule it to look at our own individual family and our family culture and design it based off our own lifestyle. So for us, it might be family dinners on Monday, Wednesday, because as I indicated in the research, those three meals were really the minimum barrier of entry to see some significant protective effects for our family members. So family dinner on Monday and Wednesday and family brunch on Sundays. And so I’m catering this to what fits with our family model, and I’m putting it on the calendar, especially with our busy lives. If you don’t schedule it today, sometimes it’s not even real. It is a floating objective. And so what happens also when we know that we’re having family dinners on Wednesdays, our subconscious mind, it’s already enacting. Okay, it’s bringing forth a matter of planning. Like, okay, this is what we’re going to eat,
Dr. Mark Hyman: Right? It’s planning.
Shawn Stevenson: And
Dr. Mark Hyman: Also if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Something like that.
Shawn Stevenson: Benjamin Franklin, shout out to Benjamin Franklin. But also if we have this as our family’s mandate, our modus operandi where we’re operating from just a couple weeks ago, for example, we had our typical family dinner that was scheduled, but my wife got caught up on the other side of la which LA traffic is different. And she was going to suddenly now not be able to make it home. And she had planned on cooking. And so what I did was it was a DoorDash moment, so I ordered some high quality foods that we can get around us and had it delivered and I still sat down and ate with my sons. We still ate as planned together as a family. So giving ourselves grace, allowing ourselves to pivot if need be, and also just with that barrier of like, well, I don’t have the time. Things are too hard.
Shawn Stevenson: It’s really about, again, creating that microculture right? And part of that, and I’m just going to be 1000 with everybody. When we are going from what we’re typically doing to something new, there’s going to be some turbulence. And so being prepared for that, because the real solution is people don’t like things taken away from us. We don’t. And what I found success as working as a clinician was helping people to replace that thing that they might’ve been addicted to was something of equal or greater value. And so with my kids, if they’re addicted to their screens and their gaming and whatnot, and I’m just like, guys, we’re eating family dinner together, shut it down. Just out of the blue, there’s going to be some revolting by the townspeople. All right? So we’ve got to approach this in a more intelligent way, which is let’s find some things.
Shawn Stevenson: And by the way, this goes back to even eating together so we can pay attention to our children. Because whether we acknowledge this or not, we know our family better than anybody, but a lot of times because our mental energy is drained, we don’t want to deal with it. And so we’re just like, we want people to just act the way we want them to act. Just don’t kill my vibe. Everything’s going to be fine. Just act right. But people without a doubt are going to do things that you don’t want them to do. And so by paying attention to our family members, we can know what excites them, what de excites them, what inspires them, what gives them even a feeling of a depressed attitude. And so we can leverage psychologically things to inspire our kids, our significant other, because you’ve probably seen this as well, mark, the number one reason people would give for not being able to make the changes that they said they wanted to make.
Shawn Stevenson: They would say, well, it’s just so hard with my kids because da, da, da, they won’t eat this. I don’t want to make two separate meals. It’s really so hard because my wife or my husband is always, you don’t understand. It’s my parents. If they were always pointing the finger at people that they love being the most difficult obstacle and them getting from where they are to where they want to be. And what I’m saying and supporting people then is here are these strategies because that microculture creating in your household starts with you, starts with you, and you are a representation. And so I just took my family for the first time. We went to Maui, we went to Hawaii recently, and something I realized, number one, there’s this kind of dramatization of a luau, and this is something that humans have been doing forever.
Shawn Stevenson: Our tribe was constructed in such a way that we hunted and gathered together, prepared food together, ate together, celebrated together. This was a normal part of life. And over time, we become further and further away from each other, but we’re watching this dramatization and I’m just like, we’re not doing that anymore. There’s something special about it. But here’s the other part I noticed even taking my family and plopping ourselves into this other culture, I realize we take our culture with us everywhere that we go. We are representation of that and we can’t help it. And Mark, I’m telling you, this happened twice on that trip. Somebody walked by us on the airport now on the airplane and said, I love your family. And I didn’t even know they were watching us, right? And one lady, she had to be in her seventies, she walked by us on the airplane and said she asked if we adopt her.
Shawn Stevenson: All right? There was something about my family that was exuding something that was infectious because bad health isn’t the only thing that’s communicable great health is as well. And this is what we have the opportunity to do and to understand because you and I have both spent a lot of time trying to target the bigger social, we’ll call it the larger culture scape, to make it easier for people to make the changes that would help them. And we can still continue to do that, but it’s going to be very, very hard and take a longer time versus let’s focus on the microculture, help people to change the culture in their household, and then that’s going to affect the people around them when they walk out their doors. People can’t help but to see what’s possible when they see their family. People can’t help but to see what’s possible. And that’s how I think we can get to this tipping point to my
Dr. Mark Hyman: How fast. I love the whole concept of the microculture and actually that you think change has to be on a big scale, but it actually happens on a small scale over and over and over again. We used to have this saying back in the seventies, think globally, act locally, right? You got to think of the big picture, but you got to act locally, which means locally is your kitchen, is your dining room table is your family. And I think that’s something that we lose. And however you define your family, whatever your family looks like, and we live in a world where families are not like they used to be, but it’s about what is your tribe? And it could be, it could be you just have a bunch of friends and that’s your tribe and you have maybe weekly dinners together, or you have a supper club where you rotate through.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It doesn’t have to be in the traditional nuclear family structure. That’s not what we’re talking about. But it’s just the idea that we are social beings and that we get sick together, but we also can get healthy together, as you said, and getting healthy as a team sport. So I’m so excited about this cookbook. Eat Smarter Family Cookbook, a hundred delicious recipes to transform your health, happiness, and connection. It’s out now. Encourage everybody to get a copy. I think there’s some yummy stuff in there. I can’t wait to eat the sweet potato pancakes and the breakfast whatever, I dunno what you to call it in the book, but it sounds like an egg McMuffin, but not quite as bad.
Shawn Stevenson: Upgraded breakfast sandwich. Upgraded breakfast sandwich.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Upgraded breakfast sandwich. All right, well, thank you Shawn for being a light that you are and showing us how it’s done and being a great friend and love having you back on the podcast. For those of you listening, I encourage you to get the book check out Shawn’s work. His podcast is fabulous. It’s really called The Model Health Show, one of the Top Health podcasts. It’s a great podcast and definitely check out the book and subscriber every get your podcast, share this with all your friends and family. Everybody needs to know really how to reclaim their kitchens and get the food industry out of there. Just go through there, get a garbage bag, go through your kitchen and throw out all the crap, and bring in all the real stuff. And I think you’ll see your life change for the better in a very short time. And we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Farmacy.
Closing: Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their find a practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.