Christa Orecchio Discusses Food as Medicine at TEDxVillageGate (Transcript)

Christa Orecchio

Here is the full transcript of Whole Journey founder Christa Orecchio’s TEDx Talk: Food as Medicine at TEDxVillageGate.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Food as Medicine by Christa Orechio at TEDxVillageGate


Good morning everyone. I’m a clinical and holistic nutritionist, and I have been for the past eight years. And I honestly can’t imagine ever being or doing anything else. This is a field that is just so fascinating to me, and I feel like it’s the reason I was put on Earth, is to share this information.

Because I believe so strongly in using food as medicine, and over the last eight years, I have seen over and over again: give the body what it needs and it will heal itself. Take away what it doesn’t need and it will heal itself.

There’s one thing though, that as I do this work, that blows me away every single day, and that is how much our food supply has changed. Our food supply has changed more in the last 50 years than it has in the previous 10,000 years. So many things have happened, and we’re going to talk all about what’s happened and how to avoid the landmines, the pitfalls, and how to use food as medicine to really thrive.

Because as a result of the changes in our food supply, we’re dealing with health issues that we never had to deal with before. Our kids are dealing with health issues that they’ve never had to deal with before. We have celiac disease. We have autoimmune issues in children that never existed before.

Raging food sensitivities. I remember being a kid; that’s a benefit you get to eat anything you want and it really doesn’t affect you. Kids have really kind of lost that privilege today because of what’s happened to the food supply. We’ve got major digestive disturbances. And the one that really gets me is mental and emotional issues like we have never seen before in children: depression and anxiety. And all of that can absolutely be helped, reversed, eliminated through using food as medicine. And that’s the power in this.

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In using this information, taking them into your daily life, because your children’s, our children’s organs are forming now to what their health is going to be in their adult life. Their glandular systems, their digestive systems, so what you choose to feed them and how you feed them is laying the foundation for their adult life, for how their health is going to be.

So this field of holistic nutrition, it still seems to be very new, and an alternative thought pattern. So I just wanted to describe what it actually is. It’s a philosophy that talks about health and the interplay between all of the systems — the mental and emotional, the physical and chemical, and the spiritual and environmental aspects of one’s health and being.

How can we separate it? For me, I can’t understand how we can separate the mind from the body from the spirit. It’s impossible. Sounds like this is a new concept but it’s not, it’s ancient wisdom. And its time has come to bring it back into the mainstream so that we can achieve wellness and experience wellness on all levels.

And I’m going to go into what’s happened to the food supply and we’re going to talk about food, but I would be remiss if I didn’t start, especially as a holistic nutritionist, with the mental and with the emotional. Because in order to make this last when we make changes in your diet and changes in your life, you take it away from being a diet and it becomes a lifestyle. And so much of that is your perspective around food, your approach to food.

How many of us think of food as a relationship? I think we think of food as a habit, as something we do, three times, four times a day, however often we eat. But if we can start to shift that perspective and look at food as an approach to life, something much bigger and deeper, something that can connects us to the world around us and to our families, that’s the perspective shift that takes away the diet and it becomes a lifestyle. And that’s what we have to talk about.

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For years, I have been teaching clients to separate emotional nourishment from biological development, where we say that food feeds us and enhances us biologically, and keeps us alive, but it shouldn’t nourish us emotionally. We shouldn’t turn to food when we’re stressed, and when we’re tired and when we’re lonely, but we teach them, turn to primary foods — your sense of spiritual connection, your relationships, exercise that you enjoy, creative outlets. And that philosophy worked for me for a really long time, but then most recently, I really started thinking about it.

Is that complete? Is that possible even, to separate emotional nourishment from biological development? Is it honest? And the answer that I came to was ‘no’. And actually, it dawned on me, and I felt a little ashamed that I hadn’t come to it sooner, because I am 100% Italian. How can I separate emotional nourishment from biological development? My friends knew during my childhood and adolescence not to call me on Sundays, I couldn’t be with them, because, you know, we were eating. That’s what we were doing on Sunday. And we would be at the table from 12 to 6 or 7 o’clock at night and that was a tradition, that was a ritual, it was a family ceremony.

So food, it’s not just for our bodies, it’s also for our mind and our emotion. And it’s a way to connect to so much more than just the actual food that we eat. Now I’ve been calling this the form and function of food, right? So food is more than its physiological function, there is form to it. It’s the difference between a house and a home. A house is a structure that will protect us from the elements. But a home is a place where we store our memories and our emotions, and the things that are most dear to us, the place that we go for solace and nourishment.

You can ask any morning coffee drinker — How many of you are morning coffee drinkers? Right? It’s not just about getting a cup of coffee, it’s about the ritual of it, it’s about the ceremony of it. I see clients for the first session and they say, “Don’t take away my coffee. I’m not coming back if you do.” It’s their weapon to the world. It’s the security blanket to go out into the world and have this warm cup of something that nourishes you, your little buddy, your friend, at your desk by your side. It’s so much more… It’s so much more than just that morning coffee.

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I also relate — it’s the difference between clothes and fashion. Clothes are so much more than their function to cover our bodies and to keep us warm. They are a tool for self-expression, for creativity, for individuality. It’s fun to dress according to how you feel, right? It’s a way to let the world know who you are, how you feel, and how things are working.

So if we can have this approach to food, it lays a foundation, because I can talk all day long about greens, and water, and grains, and all of that stuff, but it’s not going to be a finishing work, unless the perspective has shifted.

So we get that foundation in place, and then we move on to the physical, and to the chemical. That’s what we’re going to talk about: challenges in our food supply. And we have a lot of them. Because in the last 50 years, our food supply has changed so dramatically. The reason I’m telling you this is not to incite doom and gloom, but rather, empowerment, because awareness is the first step towards changing anything. And the reason I’m standing up here is because I am certain, I will tell you, so many of us have no idea how amazing we can feel, how many extra levels of wellness that there are than we’re currently experiencing right now.

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