July 26, 2022
209: Food Is Medicine Conference | Changing Lives with Plant-Based Nutrition with Valerie Acosta

Valerie Acosta is the Executive Director of Healthy City in Midland, Texas. She is passionate about helping others improve their quality of life through simple lifestyle choices. In 2016, a group of doctors in Midland, Texas ...

Valerie Acosta is the Executive Director of Healthy City in Midland, Texas. She is passionate about helping others improve their quality of life through simple lifestyle choices.

In 2016, a group of doctors in Midland, Texas saw a need for change in the way their patients were being treated. They knew medication was not the only answer to tackling health problems and started the Lifestyle Medicine Center. Healthy City was created to support the community in making lifestyle changes to improve their health. Midland County is now ranked 27 out of 250 counties in Texas for health, the best ranking the county has ever achieved. The Food Is Medicine Conference is happening again this year on August 6 and the Executive Director of Health City, Valerie Acosta, is sharing five reasons why you should attend.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  • How Healthy City, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and a local Lifestyle Medicine Center are working together to make Midland, Texas a healthier community
  • How the Lifestyle Medicine Center uses the pillars of lifestyle medicine to help people recover and improve their quality of life
  • How changing people's diets can be harder than changing religions


Other episodes you'll enjoy:
Lifestyle Medicine Conference: https://www.healthylifestylesolutions.org/206

Website Link for this episode:

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[00:00:00] That started in 2016.. Now, fast forward five years later with the Lifestyle Medicine Center doing their amazing work and Healthy City being that community support for people that are making the changes. Midland County ranked early in the top 10% on the Robert Wood Johnson County Health rankings. Last year, we were number 27 out of 250 counties in Texas for health. This is the best ranking that Midland has ever achieved, and it's definitely because there were doctors who saw a need to not just medicate their patients but really tackle their health. 

[00:00:40] This is the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast, and I'm your host Maya Acosta. If you're willing to go with me, together we can discover how simple lifestyle choices can help improve our quality of life. Let's get started. The Food Is Medicine conference in Midland Texas is resuming again this year, August 5, and you need to be there. The Executive Director of Healthy City in Midland Texas, is coming on the show to give us five reasons why we need to be there. 

[00:01:08] As always, the full bio for each of my guests and their links is on the website healthy lifestyle solutions. And make sure that you sign up for my newsletter that's bit.ly/mayaacosta. In my newsletter you will find recipes, information about my guest speakers, and so many other events. Welcome Valerie. Well, thank you so much. 

[00:01:30] I'm so excited to be a part of this. Thank you. I'm glad that we were able to make this. I know that you have a full schedule right now. Like I said, we are less than three weeks away from a big event that you're part of, and so I can imagine you're down to the wire like the last few things that you have to do to prepare. 

[00:01:48] So let's start with how are you feeling right now? Are you kind of waking up in the middle of the night and making lists? 

[00:01:56] Right? Yes. I'm dreaming about it. Yeah, it's a constant. Someone will ask me, hey, can you come over this evening and do something social? 

[00:02:06] And I'm like, I need to do that I need to stop thinking about it. But I know I'm just going to sit there and think about what else I need to be doing. So, it's definitely all encompassing but very excited to have it back in person. It's been three long years since we've been able to do this and have the community back together and supporting it. 

[00:02:25] And it's very invigorating to hear as I'm visiting with people within our community about. Oh, I attended in 2018 or 2019 or 2016, and just telling me about their experiences And they're very excited to hear that it's coming back. It is. I am super excited I really enjoyed myself. 

[00:02:43] 2019. Dr. Gregor was there. We had no lights that year. I was there too. 

[00:02:50] You guys are impressive. We drove on Friday night and we were coming through the storm and at once we came and we might have arrived at midnight or one in the morning, I don'tremember. But we heard the storms heavy storms in the area, and we woke up to a conference without electricity.

[00:03:10] And they rolled with the punches. That year, the show went on, and a minor inconvenience is how they made it out to be. Exactly. You would have never really noticed that there was such a significant change. You guys still offered, well, the presentation still took place. 

[00:03:27] Everything was the slide shows, presentations were offered on a website that we could access from my cell phones. So, it was pretty cool, the way that it all worked out. It just goes to show how professional everything is, how well prepared the speakers are, and how your team in general is really prepared to deal with these sort of situations. And the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center in which we had it last year is we're going to be again this year because we were actually moving it to a new location and it flooded water main busted on the came up through the floor flooded the whole place. So, anybody had anything planned there was scrambling to find a new location. 

[00:04:06] Of course our date wasn't available, so we're now in August. So, it's roll with the punches in Midland Texas, these days because you never know what's going to happen. So, let's start with you, Valerie I'd love to learn more about you. You wanted to be healthy for your daughter and in 2018 you made some changes. 

[00:04:23] I was 37 when my daughter was born and of course the weight didn't come off as quickly as I wanted it to, and so I did feel sluggish carrying around the extra weight and my husband also. And we had watched Forks Over Knives, probably in 2014. I feel like we had seen it I know before she was born in 2016, so we were aware of it we were very much supportive of the idea and thought anyone we knew that was going on a wholefood plant based diet we encouraged. 

[00:04:55] Whenever Marcy Madrid the President of Healthy City, was diagnosed with Ms and went on a wholefood her husband told me she was doing wholefood plant based, I was like, so very encouraging I was like, that'sgreat I was the person that was telling everybody else they should do the health. 

[00:05:21] We had watched Forks Over Knives. We had watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead with Joe Cross that does juicing and everything. And she said, just watch what the health. And it really struck a chord with me as a non profiprofessional whenever l was hearing about my fellow nonprofits taking money from the exact industry in which was creating the disease and many people so, I mean that really struck a chord with me. 

[00:05:47] My husband the whole talk about dairy really struck a chord with him And he said, that'sit, we're going to do this. And we did it cold turkey. We were the crazy ones. For each person is their own way. 

[00:06:01] Some people step down we just cut off completely changed everything. And we were those types that had this dramatic weight loss in two months and felt the best we ever felt the best we ever looked I aged backwards for a while definitely felt the difference and would never want to go back. Now, you fast forward to 2020 and go into isolation and there was this whole thing about save the restaurant industry and, oh, yeah, we have friends that own restaurants we should be getting more meals from them. And then that was a slippery slope for sure. 

[00:06:44] And so the weight starts coming back on and you're not feeling as well. So, I can sympathize for those that have struggled to stay completely wholefood plant based. A lot of my friends call me plant-based, and I tried to explain to them the difference between wholefoods plant-based and plant-based. And my goal is to be wholefood plant based, not just eliminating animal but also eating the whole foods that make us feel so great that heal our bodies and protect our bodies from disease processes. 

[00:07:15] Thank you for sharing that. So, you already knew Marcy, were you already part of Healthy City at the time that you made your change? No, had been asked to join the board but I was currently serving on another board and as a nonprofiprofessional l always encourage people not to take on too many. So, I was living by what l preached and I said that year was not a good year for me. Come back to me though. 

[00:07:38] I am interested. And then when they came back to me, it was more about would you consider coming and working and be our first executive director? Because they were doing it, it was completely volunteering, and they did an extremely wonderful job with everybody volunteering their time. So, it's an incredible group that are very passionate about what they do. Tell us more. 

[00:08:02] So, you had the pandemic was a little bit difficult for you, and then at what point did you join Healthy City? I startedin August of 2021 of the rare people that switched jobs in the middle of the pandemic. But it was a great opportunity, I should say. I was involved I was going to the community meals. 

[00:08:21] I had gone to cooking demonstrations with Healthy City. I had even gone to the grocery store tour. I always encourage people we do these grocery store tours and we go through HEV and we show them the products that they might be overlooking and tell them what aisles just avoid. Make your shopping easy. You don'thave to go through every aisle and how to read a label. 

[00:08:44] And I had made the change a year before I went on a grocery store tour and I went just because I'm like, what am l overlooking? Whenever I'm, I've got my set, what I like to buy and what we like to eat, but what am l overlooking? So, I would encourage anybody if you have a grocery store tour near your home go and do it to see what it's amazing what you don't think of. And I feel like that's what our community Healthy City does is we have these community meals and people make a totally different recipe than what would even think about doing. 

[00:09:18] And then that's now incorporated in our weekly plan. We eat more curry now and things that we normally wouldn't eat because we tried something at the community meal. And it's great to take my husband to it because he will try the things and let me know don't even try to cook this because I'm not going to eat this ever again. So, it's made our life a little more enjoyable. 

[00:09:45] I switched and I started working in 2020, August of 2020. And that year was the first year they had to cancel Food As Medicine. It was supposed to be April 4. I knew this because it's my daughter's birthday and it was supposed to be April 4. And of course everything shut downin the third week of March. 

[00:10:05] So for the rest of the year they had the speakers do what they called like a Facebook Live, but it was through a platform company live and do their presentation so that we're at least forgetting the message out. And I do feel like it was a great platform. We touched people tha twe normally wouldn't have touched at the events that wouldn't have been able to be there I mean we had people from people in England, people in India, we had people all over that were watching these presentations and that was how that was handled. Then in 2020, so 2021 comes around. 

[00:10:44] We were going to be doing it in October and thought that was safe. And 4th of July happens and our numbers spike. And of course Midland Health our local hospital was our presenting sponsor and of course we're going to follow their guidelines and their suggestions. So, it went to a virtual platform and we had a virtual conference which was different. It was nice, but we had, oh goodness we have seven or nine speakers. 

[00:11:18] There was a lot. We did it over two days. So, that started Friday afternoon and then we did all day on Saturday. So, it was fun But it wasn't the same as being in person and having that community and visiting with fellow wholefood plant based individuals. 

[00:11:35] That was one of the advantages that a lot of us have said, right? That you had a broader reach. People were able to tune in from the comforts of their own home. And yet at the same time we are done. We're fed up. 

[00:11:48] We want to come together. We want to connect and network and hug each other. And now we feel like things are opening up. I keep mentioning the Food Is Medicine Conference is coming up. There are things that are happening.

[00:12:00] I'm going to a podcast conference for podcasters. But we're ready to come together. We need this for sure. It's definitely time. Yeah. 

[00:12:10] So, a couple of things before we talk about Food As Medicine. I'd love for our listeners to understand the culture of Midland Texas. Where is Midland? What is the main industry in the area and how did Healthy City get started and how is it helping to drive change in Midland Texas? So, geographically Midland is between El Paso and Fort Worth. 

[00:12:34] Right in the middle Midland. And when people that aren't from Texas don't really understand that concept we always say, you know where New Mexico makes the rightangle? We're just maybe like 100 miles from that corner on the interstate. And Midland, it was started as a ranching community which is great for Healthy City. 

[00:13:02] We first are known for oil and gas in the Bushes. So, George Bush and George W. Bush and Barbara Bush and their whole family lived here for quite some time. And they call this George W. Bush's childhood home. 

[00:13:19] But oil and gas, we have a very large transient population of people coming in to work in the oil field and coming into what's called man camps and staying there for their time while they're working in the oil field and then go home. So, we have a lot of people coming in and out of our community. But it's typical when people think Texas, it's very typical. It is barbecue and Mexican food and Tex Mex, and the more meat the better And definitely not where you would think something like Healthy City would have started. 

[00:13:52] Before Healthy City even started there was a group of physicians that were very interested in taking on making Midland healthier. In fact, the mission or the vision of Midland Memorial Hospital is for Midland to be the healthiest community in Texas. So, they definitely started doing more and more things within the hospital. Starting the Lifestyle Medicine Center and then also partnering with Plant Pure Nation to bring in the meals. There's a plant-based option in our cafeteria every day, several, actually. 

[00:14:26] And that started in 2016. Now, that's for five years later with the Lifestyle Medicine Center doing their amazing work and Healthy City being that community support for people that are making the changes. Midland county is ranked nearly in the top 10% on the Robert Wood Johnson County Health rankings. Last year, we were number 27 outof 250 counties in Texas for health. This is the best ranking that Midland has ever achieved. 

[00:14:59] And it's definitely because there were doctors who saw a need to not just medicate their patients but really tackle their health. And one of those people Doctor Padmaja Patel started the Lifestyle Medicine Center. But Dr. Staton Awtrey and his wife Blythe brought Dr. 

[00:15:19] Stoll to Midland in 2014 or 15 and had actually the first Food Is Medicine at a church here and had a lot of doctors come Dr. Patels’. Because there's two of them were two of those that attended and got this message about making these lifestyle interventions to help reverse and prevent a lot of our common diseases. And I think that one of the things that really resonates with me is that these doctors are doing it based on science and evidence studies. This isn't just PETA for animal protection rights. 

[00:16:03] These are people that are invested in their patients health past just what's happening in the exam room. Really agree with that. Again, this is what drew me to what is happening in Midland Texas. And I did say that what you're doing is really you'rea role modelfor what we wouldlike to see in our own cities. Now. 

[00:16:25] I am familiar with the doctors Patel. They are a married couple like you said. So, they initially kind of started this movement in 2016 with their own practice is what heard you say. Yeah, they have a practice a cardiac rehab program that we've wanted my husband Dr. Riz and I, we wanted to just go and kind of observe. They're using the pillars of lifestyle medicine to help people recover and increase their quality of life as well. 

[00:16:53] Exactly. Staton Awtrey who Dr. Staton Awtrey was the first person to bring Doctor Stoll in and he himself is a cardiac surgeon. He does the surgeries and on the heart so Dr. Staton shares that with people. 

[00:17:11] We can open you up, take a vein from your leg and do a bypass or you can change how you eat. And unfortunately not everybody wants to 

change how they eat I tell people that changing people's diets is harder than changing religions for a lot of people. People would change their church before they would change the way they eat. And it's very personal for people and I don't want to downplay that they should just do it, but it takes a lot of convincing and I love that there's science that's backing it. 

[00:17:45] It's studies that are backing it. It's not just hocus pocus. And we think this might work. But he started that he brought everybody and then of course Dr. Padmaja Patel is an internist and she approached the hospital about starting this Lifestyle Medicine Center and so she has been doing that. 

[00:18:03] And so they have diabetes program they have the cardiac rehab they do a smoking cessation. I would say wrong program, It's not sensation. 

[00:18:16] They have programs on weight loss. So, they not only treat people with disease, but also doing things to try to help prevent by quit your smoking and get your weight down. And you're pre diabetic what can we do? And have had a very large success rate. In fact some of our board members on Healthy City have gone through the programs through the Lifestyle Medicine Center. 

[00:18:43] So, that's really exciting to see them and continues to get involved with Healthy City and continue to share the message with their family friends and just neighbors in the community. Excellent. There's all these programs that Dr. Patel is working with is that in the hospital setting it's Midland Health. So, that's the overarching. 

[00:19:04] She's in west campus of the hospital. So, it's a clinical setting. So it's within where you can go in and see her. You can see a nurse you can see a dietitian and they have several of each. But they're doing these programs and offerings things online and cooking demos and getting people active. 

[00:19:27] And they'regoing beyond just wholefood plant based. They're incorporating all the pillars of lifestyle medicine to make sure that people are getting their sleep and reduce their stress and being connected in their community. Midland, like you said, it's a culture where the Bushes originally are from and so you have a lot of barbecue and transient is a word that really stuck out that thought well, yes, it makes sense for sure. And I talked about the guys that are coming in and staying in the main camps. But Midland is probably one of the only communities where it is more expensive to stay in a hotel during the workweek than it is the weekend. 

[00:20:04] We aren't really what you consider as a vacation destination. So, people aren't really coming in on the weekends. But our hotels are packed during the workweek because we also have the businessmen flying in from Houston and Dallas and Colorado and comingin and staying for the week and then flying home to their families. Yeah, a lot of people in and out. But then we have a large, almost 150,000 real true residents in our community. 

[00:20:32] And the same over in Odessa, which is only 20 miles apart so where Food Is Medicine is at the Wagner Noel is actually right between the two cities, but it is in the middle of nothing. You're very much right. In fact, I've heard it referred to as like a food desert which is so crazy to me because you're in a city. But yes, our conditions were very dry. 

[00:20:54] It's a desert and we get very little rain. So, the fact that it rained on Food As Medicine in 2019 is just amazing. We welcome those storms we have gardening groups but it is very difficult to grow things in Midland. So, let's talk about Healthy City itself and then let's move on to the conference because I'm very excited about it. So, Healthy City is a 501 C 3 and tell us what does that all entail?

[00:21:22] So, one of the components one of the things that you offer is an annual conference. But you have your HB tours, your restaurant, your tours. And what other things do you guys do throughou the years? You do classes? Yes, we're nonprofits and so we're driven by participation in our programs which are very affordable. 

[00:21:44] It's hard to say that that's how we're fundedbuy private donations and our local foundations and we offer the grocery store tours we do community meals which there is no cost to participate. l mean other than buying your food but there's no cost to come in and attend the community meals. We do cooking demonstrations throughout the year. We just started last almost a year ago at community fridge that have people come and bring produce only wholefood plant-based items. I'm constantly going cleaning out mac and cheese, tuna. It's amazing what else shows up. 

[00:22:23] I just take them to other food pantries but really trying to focus on making sure that people have frozen fruit frozen vegetables or something else. We keep in the freezer all the time but access to produce because we know that when people go to pick up their food at the different food pantries or they're using their food stamps a lot of times produce is overlooked. So, if we can have people who are able to grow things in our community donate we had eggplant, one time we just recently had a donation of cantaloupeand watermelons But these peoplein this communitycan go and just without any asking it's outside of a building you can just go and help yourself and also people can just go and drop things off. That's how we end up with tuna and mac and cheese. 

[00:23:19] That's funny. So, what a wonderful way to collaborate with the community. So ,you have people that are growing produce that donate to your costs and then other individuals the people that want this produce can just show up and grab what they want. And I try to advertise when! know something is going and try to advertise it through social media and word of mouth. I think that there's enough people in the community that are watching that fridge because it's amazing. 

[00:23:48] I didn'teven have time to advertise the watermelon and cantaloupe really. And I want to go check on it and there was very little left but I went ahead and posted it. But it was amazing how quickly that went without any advertising at all. This is wonderful, l have relatives I live in Arizona and I'm the only one in my family that's wholefood plant based. 

[00:24:08] However, I learned about programs that they told me about I can't remember the name of it but you receive a certain amount of pounds of produce for a very small fee. And that has really caused family membersof mine to take advantage of it because to them it's like a big bonus. Look at all the food that l can eat. When you make produce and foods like this available to the community. 

[00:24:33] They'll find a reason to eat the foods. Not to mention that you also offer community cooking demos and food demos so that people know how to use some of this produce. It's an excellent way of putting together things to support the community. Yeah, I mean, we just keep on trying to grow and grow as an organizationand try to fill a need. And our focus has been so focused on nutrition but we are trying to now incorporate stress management especially with coming out of the pandemic and people are having a very difficult time and offering them resources. 

[00:25:10] So, we're about to start a program hopefully this fall that can help them make small changes in their life to go from so just trying to lift their spirit a littlebit more. Absolutely. We see that there's a mental health crisis happening right now throughout the country and people just need to feel supported. And I think part of it is not coming together and connecting heart to heart networking with other individuals that's a great need, a human need. The current surge in general between he was the Sergeant General for Obama and then now for Biden. 

[00:25:51] So, during the Trump years, he wrote a book called Togetherness and it really talks about, it's a great book that talks about he'll be great on your podcast about the need of coming together and definitely someone guess I could sort of segue into. We've done Food As Medicine now for six years, and we're looking at we've heard from our supporters. Well, I don't go anymore I've gone. I've heard it realize we're bringing in different speakers every time but they think that it's the same message over and over. So next year, we're doing a new conference. 

[00:26:34] So, we will take a year off from Food As Medicine and do one called Take Back Your Health which then will be speakers from every pillar of Lifestyle Medicine. You're bringing lifestyle medicine closer to me. I am so excited. Like, I'm getting chills just thinking about it. Wow. 

[00:26:49] And we have a very prominent podcaster who has been asked to come and be sort of our keynote. And I'm hoping that we can make that announcement at Food As Medicine. Who that person is, you have to. Tell me off record. So, you were talking about Food As Medicine which is absolutely exciting. 

[00:27:09] There will be some changes because you have added another component to it. So, we are just trying to buildit into really a true conference. And we've always had it in this one day seminar setting and it's been very successful. Last year, we brought in extra speakers since we were doing it virtually and tryingto get as many speakers and continuing education units for our medical professionals. So, those that are trying to get their certification in lifestyle medicine can get those hours easily and trying to be a catalyst in getting more peopleto get that certification. 

[00:27:48] Because the more doctors and nurses and medical professionals that can be certified I feel like the morewe can move our mission forward as far as making our community healthy. I mean ourname is Healthy City. We want people to be healthy however we have to do it Healthy City has many things that they offer throughout the year, but the Food Is Medicine is the one that happen this year. So, this is another way to compensate professionals health professionals to come and to get the hours that they need if they want to be boarded in lifestyle medicine who does that include. 

[00:28:23] Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, even chiropractors learned recently. Pharmacists. Okay, yes. 

[00:28:35] Dietitians I would say yes, dietitians. So, we added a pre conference this year. I guess I didn't really say that. So, this year we have a Friday pre conference for medical professionals. 

[00:28:46] It is limited size wise. We're only taking up to 60, and 50 would be much more comfortable. But Dr. Brooke Goldnerand, Dr. James Loomis and Alex Caspero, who is a dietitian and Caryn Dugan will be the four that will be there that day. 

[00:29:05] And it'll be an hour and a half long for each session. So, you would be able to get six additional continuing education units at that time. Karen, we are going to do it in a different location at a local hotel conference room. But we're going to move to our West Texas Food Bank to do our cooking demo, where we do our cooking demos for Healthy City all the time so they have the facility to do that this way, that one. We know a lot of medical professionals work on the weekends especially locally. 

[00:29:41] We wanted to give those nurses and doctors an opportunity that are on call, if maybe they're not on call on Friday, to be able to come and get those hours or get additional hours. Because then the next day on Saturday, there will be five additional hours with Dr. Goldner, Dr. Stoll, Dr. Loomis Alex Caspero and Caryn Dugan. 

[00:30:05] Okay, I was just thinkingit was just the 6 hours so you can end up with 11 hours. You're right. There are many individuals who can't take that additional day off. 

[00:30:17] Talks might be similar but they're going to be, of course, on Friday. I have told the presenters you don't have to talk in layman terms. You can talk, use medical terminology and get a little more in depth. And then on Saturday we need you to tailor it to a general population. So, that's a huge advantage to offer the preconference. 

[00:30:40] Oh, yeah, definitely. And I know what the menu for Friday. I don'tknowwhat the menu is for every day, but Friday's is extremely delicious sounding Saturday sounds great don't get me wrong but we have a different caterer for the two different events. And since it is only 60, it's a littlemore. 

[00:31:02] Fancier, I guess you'd say, than what we can do for a couple of hundred people. Sure. How are you advertising this to the professionals? If you're capping it at about 50 or 60, how is the word gettingout? So, we partnered with a marketing company and they are geofencing different hospital in our area. 

[00:31:23] Abilene Lubbocks Dallas, Fort Worth Houston Denver, because we have people that came from Denver, we have people who come from Albuquerque to come to this and then just general social media sharing the message. We are partnering with our local hospitals we have three in the Midland Odessa area to share the information with their physicians and their newsletters. But the more word of mouth i think is probably the best I spent the weekend at two different events, a health and wellness event. The hospital was promoting their wellness tour that morning. 

[00:31:57] I spent the time handing out information participants that were coming through the Ninja course and their parents and had great conversations there and then packed up and headed over to an art celebration of the arts is what it's called, without Art Council. And they have invited nonprofits to have boost there. And last year I went and attended and I was very encouraged because what have found is a lot of people that are art collectors or care about the arts tend to also care about their health. I see a complete correlation with the two types of the two people that is one commonality is that they like both of those so had great conversations with art collectors and artists and sharing the information. 

[00:32:43] And then of course, I walk around to all the other nonprofits and hand out flyers to them so that they can share with their clients. So, the last time you held an in person conference which was in 2019, what was the attendance I don't know if you have the number for that It was around 600. I think it was just shy of 600. 

[00:32:59] Wow. Oh my goodness! Yeah, I knew it was huge. I remember it was huge. Lots of peopleto meet opportunities to speak with some of the speakers. 

[00:33:09] Let's talk more about that. What does a day look like? It starts and how much are the tickets? Because you also talked about that earlier, that the foundation really offers a lot of these resources at a very reasonable price. As soon as the promotion started coming out about Food Is Medicine. I started sending the link to a lot of people that I know here in Dallas to let them know that this is an affordable event. 

[00:33:33] Look at the speakers. Even then I think the speakers had not been announced. But I know that Midland Texas Food Is Medicine is known for having wonderful speakers attend. So, tell us about that. What does the day look like? 

[00:33:47] How much are the tickets? What else can we expect? So, ticket prices are $40. That's incredible. And it includes your lunch so you don'thave to go out and find somethingto eat. 

[00:34:01] We're going to feed you a whole food plant based meal but it starts at a check in, starts at 7:30 if you want to come really early. But at 8:30, we will start the program itself with introductions. And we'll start with Dr. Brooke Goldner. We'll start and do a presentation for 50 minutes and then have ten minutesof Q and A. 

[00:34:21] So, you have an opportunityo ask questions as the presentation ends with Dr. Goldner. And then we'll have a littlebit of a break. And at that break you can go and purchase Dr. Goldner's books and she will meet with you and sign them and you can have that one on one timewith them. 

[00:34:42] And then following her will be Alex Caspero, who is a dietitian and has plant-based juniors. Her instagram or website is delish knowledge. She was the one who developed the recipes for Fiber Fueled by Dr. Will full switch. So, if you don't know who he is, I guess you live under a rock, because I feel like he's everywhere righ? 

[00:35:10] He's on a lot of podcasts right now. I want to back up a little bit. So, many people that are listening I have a lot of new listeners may not know who Dr. Brooke Goldneris, even though l do. 

[00:35:22] But let's talk about that. Let's talk about autoimmune and how she has sort of the perfect recipe to help people reverse their disease. What wouldyou like to tell us about Dr. Goldner? Well, she is a medical doctor.

[00:35:37] She considers her a plant-based healer, and she's an author of three books. Let's see her. She has goodbye Lupus, goodbye Autoimmune disease and then Green smoothie recipe to kickstart. Dr. Goldner herself had lupus and was able to reverse the disease and has had a lot of success working with patients to reverse different autoimmune diseases. 

[00:36:05] She's been featured in multiple documentaries such as Eating You Alive, White Washed and the Conspiracy Against Your Health. She's also featured in Doctor Stoll's book disease Reversal Hope, which has just been released in the last not even six months now. And a documentary is about to come out or film I think they call it a film but on the different people. And not only is Dr. Goldner Featured in there but so is Marcy Madrid who is our President.

[00:36:37] So, very excited to have her story get the recognition it needs. And we can talk about Marcy if you want to, because it's very amazing how if you're religious or nonreligious really, how the stars aligned how God was there to really help her in the darkest time of her life through plant-based nutrition. But Dr. Goldner is from Houston. She lives in Houston and she shares the stage with a lot of large names like Dr. 

[00:37:13] T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Ornish, Dr. Esselstyn. So, what we call like the godfathers of plant-based nutrition. She's been in vegan health and most recently I shouldsay this, I think this is amazing. 

[00:37:29] She has recently joined the Forbes medical editorialist. She is the one that helps whenever they're doing their different articles and she gets to look at them and she's the only plant-based doctor that is on there. 

[00:37:47] Her star is just rising rightnow and getting the recognition she needs because she has such an amazing story herself I think last year we had Doctor Stanczak that spoke about her and her diagnosis with MS and reversing that and our comments were so great because when people hear that their doctor has struggles themselves and how they've been able to overcome and I think it just gives it a new life. These aren't just doctors trying to solve you. They also are taking care of their own health. We spoke about how much of the content all the content that is. We spoke and I think it was so greatly covered is evidence based. 

[00:38:27] We come from a science perspective. This is not a home remedy that we're prescribing. But there are some celebrities that either have lupus or multiple sclerosis, for example and have never heard about using Whole Foods and lifestyle to reverse. And so we have living examples like you just said, Dr. Brooke Goldner, Doctor Saray Stancic who have really taken control of their own healthy making these lifestyle modifications. So, I really want to drive that message that autoimmune conditions such as like even rheumatoid arthritis psoriasis and other debilitating conditions could be either reversed or properly managed and even halted with these lifestyle changes. 

[00:39:12] And so Dr. Brooke Goldner is known fort hat. And I think that any patient that has an autoimmune disease can definitely identify with the side effects of those medications. Autoimmune disease medications have a load of side effects that it's managing your disease, but you're in a very difficult and uncomfortable way a lot of times so to know that you can have the same managementor in Marcy's case, actually see a reduction in the scans, the lesions in her brainwere shrinking from changing her diet. 

[00:39:52] I mean, it almost brings tears to my eyes and think about it but to have that kind of change and not be on medication is really amazing. And I think that Dr. Stoll's new book where he's gone and visited with a lot of different people in our nation that have had different diseases and naming it disease Reversal hope I mean that's exactly what we want. And this past weekend as I was visiting with people I don't say, here if you're having issues, take this flyer, come see us. I said, hey, we're having this conference. 

[00:40:25] If you know someone struggling with their health or wanting to have more vitality and increase in vitality and just feel better can you share this with them? Because they might find some hope in what we present. And that's something that you don't really get a lot of times when you go and visit a doctor. Exactly. Yeah. 

00:40:457 And this is what we want from your doctor. So I've often said that we can't wait for our local physicians to catch up with the evidence with the science. We have to learn it this way and then just do what is right for us while still visiting our physicians still following the recommendations that they're asking us to do. But we have to take control of our health. So, you started with Dr. 

[00:41:08] Goldner, and then you moved on to Alex Caspero, who is a registered dietitian. Yes, and she's registered dietitian. She is a registered yoga teacher. She just seems like someone l'm going to really enjoy being around. She's from St. 

[00:41:24] Louis, which I am from Missouri myself so I feel like she's a hometown girl for me. But she is the owner of Delish knowledge and the author of Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation. So, a very exciting cookbook for people that think that Italian cooking is going to be out the door whenever you go wholefood plant-based, which actually Italian is probably the easiest. It sure is. It really is. 

[00:41:48] And I often say I give so much credit to registered dietitians because, again, while we want our specialists to be on board it's really the registereddietitian that helps you closely. Yeah, we are very excited to have her. We haven'thad a dietitian for a couple of years. Well, of course even precovid we hadn't had one for, I think two years prior to COVID. So, we're excited to have her. 

[00:42:12] And like I said, she wrote the recipes for Dr. Will B, which is Fiber Fueled book Valerie, you just touched on the recipes for Fiber Fuel and I want to show you have a copy of the Fiber Fueled book. I love that cover. I think l do, too. 

[00:42:30] And now that know that she was involved with the recipes, I'm going to ask her to sign. I'm going to have to get a photo and ask her to sign my book as well. For sure. Yeah. I love collecting signatures autographs when I have the books. I'm a big fan of many of these people. 

[00:42:44] And then she and she's the co-founderof Plant based Juniors, which is on instagram. It's an evidence based platform that helps parents navigate the world of plant-based prenatal and pediatric nutrition. So, she's going to talk about plant-based children is what she's going to so last year with our virtual we had a pediatrician but this is definitely something that we're hoping that by putting her early in the day, that parents will come to it and maybe stay and listen to the rest. All right great Well, there you have it. 

[00:43:14] See, listeners if we have parents out there that are wondering how do we get started in not only our own lives in eating healthy but how do we get our children on board? If you can get your children started at such a young age and support them you are giving them a gift for the rest of their lives. Yeah, I think we got it through ACLM. They had a little grocery store scavenger hunt that we hand out to parents It has the pictures of like brussels sprouts and different things. So the kids, while you're shopping can markoff they found these items because the more you get them involved the more excited they are. 

[00:43:53] If they're involved in the cooking of the food they want to taste their cooking If you explain to them that the different colors of the foodis different flavors and you want to have as many flavors instead of the same yellow and brown color on your plate all the time let's taste all of the good flavors that are provided through nature. She is amazing. She's got her delicious knowledge of course is hers. And I just saw yesterday she posted a donut recipe. 

[00:44:25] And I know that donuts are very popular in our community as a Saturday and Sunday ritual so taking a donut recipe and making it vegan. So, it's at least a little healthier. Brilliant. So, who else will be speaking at the conference. Well, we'll have Dr. 

[00:44:42] James Loomis and he was there in 2019. You might remember him. He was the Internist for the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams and the traveling physician for the St. 

[44:52] Louis Symphony. So, he was featured on Game Changers. He is medical director at Barnard Medical Center in Washington DC. So, he has a lot of experience working with athletes. He was in the documentary. 

[00:45:07] Game Changers. So, he brings a lot of knowledge as far as plant-based athletes or people that are performance based and thinking that they need that protein that everybody talks about all the time that they can't get that through plants. You know he's able to share his experiences as an athlete himself. Excellent. I'm so excited. 

[00:45:31] Who else will be speaking? And of course, Dr. Scott Stoll who has been with us since day one. And I mean he is the most want to find the right word genuine. Like when I say genuine he is a genuine person. 

[00:45:49] Whenever I email him and say we're ready to start Food As Medicine or getting your speakers together he's like, who can I help get you get? So, he is very instrumental in bringing in speakers. I give him my wish list and he goes to town visiting with these folks and helping bring them on board. He is an Olympian so he was on the Bot Bobsled team for the United States. He also then served as the team physician for the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Team and Lehigh University. 

[00:46:24] He is the co-founder of the Plantrician Project which is in the internet. He's also with the International Plant Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Preventionand Regenerative. Generative Health Institute. Really? I said those others are the godfather. He is definitely listed amongst the Godfathers of plant-based nutrition. 

[00:46:49] He just is younger. 

[00:46:53] Right. But he has served as a member of the WholeFood, Scientific and Medical Advisory Board and consults with healthcare organizations globally to integrate lifestyle medicine solutions. So, he offers a one week total health immersion programin Florida and helps attendees recover from lost health overcome addictions and restore emotional balance. He's been on the Dr. OZ show. He's been the host for a PBS special called Food As Medicine's close to ours 

[00:47:27] And he's been in the Game Changers Eating You Alive Disease Reversal Hope, which is his new one, being released plantwise, and thena new upcoming TV series based on health immersions Oh, how exciting is that there is just so much to look forwardto. I just love whenever friends of mine send me something before know it and they're like, I watched this. Have you seen this yet? 

[00:47:54] And I'm like, I love that you're watching this stuff Documentaries are cool, folks. And then last but not least is Caryn Dugan. And Caryn was supposed to come in 21 so last year. And then since it was virtual doing a cooking demo virtual did not make much sense. 

[00:48:13] But she started STL, which St. Louis venge girl is her thing. She's a plant-based nutrition and culinary and lifestyle educator with a simple mission plant on every plate is her thing so she adopted a plant-based diet in response to tragedy In 2008, Karen cancer took her father and then just ten weeks later, she received her own cancer diagnosis. 

[00:48:42] Yeah. So she started searching for the answer and found one in the growing body of literature supporting a wholefood plant based diet to bolster our natural immune systems. Adopting a plant-based diet herself and beating cancer, she sought to share her knowledge with others. So, she was actually one of those selected to go to the Dr. Neal Barnard and went to the Physician Committee on Responsible Medicines Food for Life program. So, she is trainedin that. 

[00:49:13] She's a certified instructor. She has in St. Louis her own group which is a private plant-based group that she does cooking demonstration and sort of like a Healthy City, but at one person show. So, bless her heart. We're really excited to have her finally come on. 

[00:49:33] And she's been doing wonderful things in St. Louis, getting on weekly segments on the news, cooking segments. So from living in St. Louis before moved here I know that the food scene there is incredible just not wholefood plant based normally. 

[00:49:50] So, just to know that she is being a catalyst for wholefood plant-based in that community is amazing. She's been a joy to visit with so I know that everybody is going to love her. We love Food for Life instructors here on the podcast .Awesome. So, that's a littlebit of the speakers. 

[00:50:10] Will you be having any exhibitors? It's more local exhibitors. So, our master gardeners we've invited them to have a spot. 

[00:50:21] There's a marathon here in West Texas. The Energy City races. It's fun Run for the kiddos. For those that don't run I shouldn't say just the kiddos. 

[00:50:32] A 5K, tenk and half marathon should say it's a half marathon. And so one of our former cardmembers it is his foundationand in his honor in his memory he passed away in a horrible bicycling accident several years ago, and his family started a foundation and they put on this in his memory and it's a great time. So, of course he was on our board and we love to support it. So, they'll be there sharing information about the upcoming race. 

[00:51:06] We'll have book sales. We'll have Healthy City will be selling some different fun items to add to your repertoire of cooking items and shirts and 

things like that. So, this is wonderful.

[00:51:20] So, we talked about the speakers. The exhibitors lunch will be available. So, if you have to kind of narrow this down to maybe five reasons that people have to attend the Food Is Medicine Conference what wouldbe the five things that you would say? Knowledge for sure. And even if you aren't suffering from something right now, what I find amazing is I learned about wholefood plant-based in 2014, and I don'tknow how many people l spoke to between that and myself making the switch to whole food plant-based. 

[00:51:53] But I encouraged people. And just because you yourselfaren't living a wholefood plant based lifestyle doesn't mean you can't share that hope with others. And I think that the knowledge and seeing how you can increase your plan's intake and encourage others the things you'regoing to learn at this is going to affect you or someone you know. And so knowledge just being aware of what is offered we have our Take Back Your Health Conferences coming up. And knowledge is the way that you can take back your health and be active in your own health journey. 

[00:52:29] So, one would be knowledge to wouldbe community. Probably you're going to be around other peoplethatare like minded or open minded to a wholefood plant-based lifestyle and lifestyle medicine. So, being around those people sharing your experiences, sharing your story and hearing their story could maybe find your new friend for life out there. And there's just something to be said about community and knowing that you're not alone And you're not alone when you come to this conference you're going to be surrounded by a lot of people who share your passion and then l would say entertainment because all of these speakers are coming and are professional speakers for a reason. 

[00:53:18] They can get up on the stage, share their message, entertain you Brooke Goldner. If you don't know her, go on Instagram because the way she says things has me rolling all the time. So, you're definitely going to be entertained. Karen is going to do a cooking demo so you're going to get some knowledge and be entertained and new cooking techniques. So, I would say definitely knowledge community and entertainment. 

[00:53:46] And then a great lunch Oh, yes, a great lunch Oh my goodness. I am wondering what that will be. This is wonderful because we don't have to worry about during our 1 hour breaker so we don't have to worry about where are we going to eat and what are we going to eat. 

[00:54:03] You will provide the meal as well. All of this for $40? Yes. Incredible My goodness. 

[00:54:10] That's wonderful. Everyone needs to take advantage of this. So, those that are coming from out of town we do have some discounted rates. We have rooms available but l imagine you'll find great rates everywhere because like I said earlier, not many people come for the weekend. Again, when you go to and I'll provide the link in the show notes. 

[00:54:32] But when you're purchasing your tickets, there are two different tickets. There's the preconference which is for healthcare professionals who want to receive those CMEs. So, that's on a Friday. So, make sure that when you're buying your tickets that you're actually buying the right one. And then there's the Saturday conference for the rest of us that are not necessarily health professionals butare interested in learning from these great speakers, we're going to attend. 

[00:54:55] We're going to socialize, we're going to buy books and have a good time. So, make sure that you know exactly what tickets you're buying. So, yeah, there's one that says Food Is Medicine and one that says preconference. So, you want the Food Is Medicine one. I thinkit is actually the first option on our events website. 

[00:55:11] Now, if you go to www.ourhealthycitycom, it takes you directly to the actual Saturday conference Okay, great And the fifth reason why people should attend that. Just added are the CMEs. Yeah, that's why you want to attend so is there anything else, Valerie, that you'd like to share with us, with our listeners in terms of either anything what's going on with you? 

[00:55:43] Like, I know that this is a huge project for you, so this is keeping you busy, but there's anything else that's going on withyou? And is there like a final message that you'd like to share with our listeners in terms of either attending this event or something that they can do if they cannot attend the event? Oh, that's a good question I think rightnow my mindis all on Food As Medicine and looking forward to what we're going to do in 2023 and continue to push the message of your health is your health and that you can make the changes to either prevent any kind of disease or at least reverse disease thatyou might have. But as far as those that can or cannot attend I would just encourage you that don't be hard. 

[00:56:33] I think we said at the beginning don'tbe hard on yourself. There are good days and bad days for all of us, and today does not determine our health but it's a long term as far as the changes you have made are the ones that will make the difference. So, if today is a bad day for you and you didn't get enough sleep, try for tomorrow. lf today you fell into the breakroom and ate a donut oh well, just continue to don't be hard on yourself because the last thingyou need to do is stress yourself out about how you're eating. We want this to be a natural way where you feel good about what you're doing. 

[00:57:10] Absolutely. And a lot of people have been in this sort of funk as a result of the pandemic. Many people have kind of moved away from the healthy choices they were making. But we're coming back. We're all coming back together to support one another. 

[00:57:26] And it starts with events like Food Is Medicine. So, Valerie Acosta, thank you for being with us today and getting us excited about this event. Well, thank you for reaching out. I'm so excited to see you in just two and a half weeks or so. We'll see you soon. 

[00:57:43] Thank you. We learned about five reasons why we need to be at the Food is Medicine Conference Number one, knowledge. Bring your paper and pen because this is going to be a note taking event Number two is community.


[00:57:56] It's about time we come together. Don't we miss each other? Number three, entertainment. The whole thing is going to be a great sense of entertainment. We're going to feel revived and re-energized. 

[00:58:06] We talked about how many people went back to their old ways during the pandemic and we can't blame each other. This is what stress causes. So, let's come back to build support. Number four, Valerie teased us about some delicious foods thatwe can expect at the conference. And number five, our health professionals can gain continuing education credits. 

[00:58:27] CMEs. This is so important because they do have to have CMEs every year. And why not get it from information related to whole plant-based foods? And the tickets are only $40 and simply go to ourhealthycitycom and friends I hope to see you there. 

[00:58:43] This information as well about hotel stay and thank you for being the listener. You've been listening to the Healthy Lifestyle Solutions Podcast with your host Maya Acosta. If you've enjoyed this podcast do us a favor and share with one friend who can benefit from this episode. Feel free to leave an honest review as well at ratethispodcastcom/hls. 

[00:59:05] This helps us to spread our message. And as always, thank you for being a listener.