Food for Thought Recap: Health Values

I don’t know what it is about mid-August, but it has me in the recap mood. Maybe it’s because I want to hold on to the last few weeks of traditional summer, even though fall doesn’t start here in Chiba until Halloween. Maybe it’s because I prefer to spend my weekends lounging around reading historical fiction or children’s fantasy books, my usual summer tradition going back to when I was 8 or so. At least now I’m old enough to drive myself to the library when I run out of books.

This is also, apparently, the summer of desserts…

I get inspiration from all sorts of places, but one constant source of encouragement is my brother, Joe, who is a health coach and operates the site Feeling Terrific. On the blog section of his website, you can find quick posts on easy things to do to integrate healthy, sustainable changes into your site. And one thing we can say for certain is that I can’t write a quick blog post to save my life. So check out Feeling Terrific for the rundown on leafy greens, soy (with a Toy Story reference!), healing your relationship with sweets, and all sorts of other goodies. Joe recently did an interview with blogger Tal Gur on his site, Below Zero to Hero. It reminded me of some important values we share regarding health, emotional wellness, and enjoying food! I’ve put in some excerpts below, but it doesn’t do justice to the whole interview, so check it out!

Eating an amazing sweet potato with Joe at Wildfire in Chicago.


Sustainability: A holistic approach is a long-term lifestyle change. The transition isn’t always the easiest, especially emotionally, but the long-term benefits of realizing your full health and spiritual potential opens up a whole new world of living. Of course, eating a balanced whole foods diet also resonates with me, because it is one of the best ways to ensure a sustainable relationship with the planet and its’ resources.

My dream is to create a sustainable, connective community with food.

Thought-provoking: Literally! Joe mentions that what we eat becomes the fabric of our cells, organs, even our thoughts! I always knew there was a connection between my mental and emotional health and eating refined vs. whole foods, but I had no idea this was literally true! I can’t wait to find out more. Also, it is helpful for anyone making a transition to healthier eating to remind themselves to focus on all the amazing things they are gaining – physical health, emotional well-being, mental stability, and full spiritual potential – rather than what “foods” they are giving up. From the interview:

My ultimate goal is to awaken people to their potential to heal themselves of any disease, including and especially cancer.

Universal & Giving: Both Joe and I found that our passion is helping others to discover the world of whole foods and our greater potential as human beings. Unlocking the healing power of food also unlocks our own potential to realize what our purpose is in life and fulfill it – helping others in the process. Joe was one of the great inspirations for one of the most fulfilling parts of this site – Sunday Food for Thought posts, because he encouraged me to be open and vulnerable and share my story. Stories connect us, and sharing not only helps others, but helps you heal yourself. So never be afraid to share! Start with adding your voice to the comments section.

The world in an egg yolk

Funny: Healing, emotions, addressing disease and our relationship to food – this is all serious stuff. It’s important to have some humor in there! I love Joe’s post on soy, not only because it was informative but because he also included a Toy Story reference! How great is that. I also love this comment on leafy greens: I wouldn’t say that one leafy green vegetable is better than the others – that’s like asking a parent which child they like best. I think the more leafy greens people can add into their diets, the better. Having a variety is great too. The only exception is iceberg lettuce – that stuff’s evil.

I’ve gotta admit, I play favorites with kale. I might be a bad foodie parent…

Salads to the rescue

Inclusive: Everyone can benefit from a whole foods diet, and we all can learn something from each other, even if we don’t always agree on what diet is best. From Joe: I do believe that everyone, including vegetarians and vegans, could learn lessons from the Paleo lifestyle, like the importance of unprocessed, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods, high-quality sleep, sunshine, and exercise.

When things get stormy, remember how far you’ve come and be grateful for your improving health each day

Unique: Ok so this is a little bit contradictory, but here’s the deal. Every one can benefit from broad, whole-foods based guidelines. But when it comes down to specifics, each individual is unique, and we will best heal ourselves when we find what works for our own individual needs and stay true to that. Joe clarifies:

Listen to your body. Your body knows what the optimal diet is for you as an individual. It knows exactly what you need at every moment of the day and is trying to send that message to you. The problem is, most of us have forgotten how to listen.

Pay attention to how you feel rather than how you or anyone else thinks about carbs or fat or calories. 

Amen! To feeling, not thinking

Truthful: Joe has also inspired me not only to stay true to my needs, but also to speak out about my beliefs. As a health coach, Joe helps others by providing support but also accountability. Sometimes it isn’t enough to be accountable only to ourselves. Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves that we need love and support from others to see the real situation. And sometimes we need a little tough love – my sister is awesome at this – to get the reminder we need that our health is our greatest priority, and eating that [doughnut/piece of bread/jumbo fries/soda/square of unsweetened chocolate/whatever] is not really going to make you happy. Tell it like it is, brother:

Everything in moderation… including moderation! The problem with that adage is that someone’s definition of moderation might be much different than what moderation really means. I think a lot of people use the adage as an excuse to eat way too much junk food.

Those of us who want to help others gain back their health and healthy self-relationship advocate whole foods not because we are some taskmaster drill sergeants who want to discipline every one in their lives (in fact I am working on having a little less discipline). We advocate whole foods and prioritizing health because we have gained amazing benefits from doing so and we want others to feel this good and this happy. We tell you not to eat junk from a box because we know it’s going to make you feel like junk. We know what it is to be unhappy and unhealthy, and we’ve gone through part of our health journey so we know what you can gain if you have the courage to get rid of damaging “foods” and ideas.

I think a lot of organizations value profit over the health of their customers/citizens. Companies doing factory farming come to mind as one example. Companies marketing junk food to kids is another one. These organizations have billions of dollars to spend in influencing people’s opinions, and I feel they often make false claims, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. I feel like it’s my responsibility to figure out what can truly help people be healthier and spread that information. – Joe Johnson

Whole foods goodness

What health values do you have? Is there any one that is most important to you? What do you like to focus on in your journey to health and happiness?

I have to say thank you, because chronicling and writing about all these things has made a significant impact on my own health and healing. It’s also given me great joy to know that I have helped others by sharing my story. Thank you for listening and reading, and giving me the opportunity to share. I encourage you to share some of your thoughts, because you never know who you might help with a thoughtful or funny comment – especially since that person might be you.

Take care, enjoy some good eats, and talk to you soon!



Johnson Family Nutrition Team

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