Archived Story

Speaker: Food can love us

Published 11:01am Friday, August 23, 2013

A leading nutrition and healthy living advocate on Thursday called on his generation to tackle the issue of food as previous generations had taken on smoking.

Dr. Neil Barnard, an adjunct associate professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and president of the Physican’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, made his plea at the conclusion of his hour-long speech Thursday afternoon in the Celebration Center located in PioneerCare Center.

There was a large turnout for Barnard’s speech and the audience, comprised mostly of elderly people, alternately laughed, gasped and called out answers to Barnard’s questions.

Barnard, who advocates a vegan diet and lifestyle, listed fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables as the four essential food groups for a healthy diet. He began his speech by recalling his own family history, including his father and grandparent’s bouts with Alzheimer’s DIsease.

But soon after that, Barnard lightened the mood by telling a story of how his mother would cook bacon for breakfast, put the excess grease into a jar and use it the following days to cook eggs.

“It’s amazing that any of her children lived to adulthood as I reflect on it now,” said Barnard, drawing laughs from the crowd.

The diseases brought on by poor eating habits were a main focus of Barnard’s presentation. Using several studies as evidence, Barnard demonstrated the link between saturated fat and Alzheimer’s and how too much copper and iron is bad for the body.

He also talked about how food marketing has become more subtle and clever over the past number of decades. The bright colors of grapes, blueberries and carrots, which are the result of the healthy antioxidants in these foods, have been incorporated into much less beneficial foods.

“Those bright colors aren’t just there by accident,” Barnard said. “Those colors are saying, ‘Eat me, I will protect you.’”

But Barnard did acknowledge how daunting switching to a vegan diet can be. He presented the audience with his idea of the 21-day weight loss kick-off, also the name of one of his books.

With this idea, he challenges people to adopt the vegan diet for three weeks after a few initial weeks of preparing for the switch. Once the three-week period is over, Barnard is confident people will never look back.

Before Barnard’s speech, Karen Schimming gave a personal testimonial of her experience with the 21-day kick-off. Schimming, a certified nursing assistant at PioneerCare, said she was morbidly obese when she first tried the program four years ago, but has lost 70 pounds and found the program worked for her more than food journal or counting points did.

“I met the 21-day challenge and, amazed at how it worked for me, I decided to continue eating vegan,” Schimming said. “I just like how eating vegan feels.”

Barnard also hosted a vegan dinner and book signing Thursday evening at PioneerCare.

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