MGU 159 | Food Babe

So many things seem to be out of our control, especially this 2020, but our health shouldn’t be one of them. In this episode, none other than the Food Babe herself, Vani Hari, enjoins us to reevaluate our relationship with food and wellness and take positive action to achieve a healthy, happy life. Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen also talk to Vani about what has been happening in her life since the pandemic started. Having to deal with a new baby, a new cookbook, and a massive shift in the industry all at the same time, Vani somehow found a way to get through it all with grace. This conversation humanizes one of the most influential people in the wellness industry – a moment of vulnerability that we can all take inspiration from in each of our own health journeys.

Listen to the podcast here:

Taking Charge Of Your Relationship To Food And Wellness With Food Babe, Vani Hari

Over the course of many years of friendship and knowing a human being, there are a lot of intricate, interesting, funny, quirky, fascinating moments that you share with a person over years of knowing them. Our guest Vani Hari, Whitney and I, have both had the pleasure of knowing for many years and seeing her wonderful and meteoric rise in the wellness industry with her incredible books and courses and her brand, Food Babe. One thing people may not know of the intricacies of this relationship as we dive into this show, which has been long-awaited. There has been a lot of chaos and setbacks in our lives lately. It’s wonderful to have Vani here.

The thing I want to bring up, Vani, as a touchstone is people doesn’t know about our shared obsession for squirrels. There was a time when we were passing texts back for a year on and off, about our fascination with squirrels and a particular squirrel that used to come to visit you. I want to kick this episode off in an unconventional way about our shared love for squirrels. Where is that squirrel? How is the squirrel doing? Do you have any squirrels at the new house?

MGU 159 | Food Babe

Food Babe Kitchen: More than 100 Delicious, Real Food Recipes to Change Your Body and Your Life – https://www.amazon.com/Food-Babe-Kitchen-Delicious-Recipes/dp/140196012X

I’m excited to be here. We’ve known each other for a long time. This has been a long-time friendship and every single time I come to the West Coast, I call you guys to get together. I haven’t been there in so long for many different reasons, but this reason for being on lockdown. To give everyone a little bit of background about the squirrel is I moved into my current house in 2013. I set up my office and there is this awesome window that I could look out of. I had my husband put a bird feeder up so I can see all the beautiful birds in the neighborhood.

It was low that one particular squirrel would come, jump on the bird feeder and eat all the seeds every day. The birds would never even make it to the seeds. The squirrels would get to first. I started to leave whole walnuts, whole pecans, and all sorts of goodies for the squirrel on my ledge instead. He’d still eat the bird feed. I could watch him from my window while I was working strategizing on how to get to the bird feeder. Some days he would make it and some days he wouldn’t. He had to straddle the side of my house for quite a while to get to the bird feeder. Eventually, he became skilled at doing it. I would take videos of the squirrel and I’d send them to Jason and Whitney.

I had no idea that Jason loves squirrels too. We started to hand feed the squirrel. The squirrel would visit us every day at breakfast. I would open the back patio door and the squirrel would be waiting there, I’d hand feed the squirrel a nut and the squirrel would run with the nut on top of our pergola, stand at the top of the pergola like the queen of our backyard and eat that nut. The house behind us went for sale, it was a small, tiny little house but a lot of lands. Some developers saw the opportunity there and knocked down the house, killed all the trees sadly and I didn’t have a squirrel family anymore after that.

It was a sad ending.

It wasn’t up until now that I’ve seen any squirrels in our yard again. It’s because my husband, us being sequestered to this house has gone ape shit. We’re growing everything you can ever imagine in our garden. We have many fun things for these animals to eat and to get into. We have these two light up poodle dogs we brought out. When we had them up, their little Christmas decorations that my mother bought for my daughter. At first, we thought they were hideous. We were like, “Mom, why are you buying us this stuff?”

Now we see the joy and excitement in our daughter’s eyes. Were like, “Let’s get all the blow-ups, and let’s get all the hideous holiday decorations out.” A raccoon family came to check out the poodles. That awesome to see. We’re hoping they’ll come back. There’s plenty of food for all these animals in our yard. We’re hoping we’ll get our animals back, but we have seen a few squirrels. We got to train them and hopefully they’ll start eating from our hands again.

Cooking can save your life. Click To Tweet

It’s like a Disney fairytale with all the sweet animals coming around all the time.

They are coming to visit me every day and that is so sweet.

I love that your garden, all this amazing food, and nature played such a big role in your book especially the cover which you were writing about in some of your posts. It brought me so much joy looking at the pictures alone from this new book. One thing that I’m curious to check in with you on is regarding this post that you put up that I thought was wonderful because it felt real and raw. It was on October 28th. You said, “I’m going to be brutally honest with you. The last couple of weeks haven’t been easy.” You start describing in detail how you’re you were eight months pregnant during this global pandemic. You’re launching your first cookbook and your daughter’s quarantining. You were about to leave for the trip, is that right?

The story goes like this, imagine you’re about to come out with something that you’ve worked on for many years and the first time around it didn’t happen because your publisher told you they wanted to publish it in black and white and that wasn’t an option. You did whatever you could your power, and begged your agents to help you get out of that contract. You finally found a publisher that saw your vision and you made it happen. You worked extra hard even during quarantine with all the restrictions, canceled photo-shoots, canceled recipe testing, and all the things that need to happen in person for a lot of this material to finalize. All the meetings with different various publicity things, all the things that you don’t get to do, and then find out the day of publication that there are no books left, zero books to be sold.

They’re sold out everywhere. There are no copies. It’s not because you haven’t printed them. It’s because the printer is printing. They’re somewhere in the world. They’re not at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or the bookstores because of things out of your control. It was disheartening to have all this momentum and to have worked hard for months, developing a promotional plan for all of these awesome opportunities like your podcast and live interviews with some major celebrities and other things that you had planned that you all had to cancel because there was no point. Doing it because no one could even get a book. When people were buying the book on publication date, the shipping date on Amazon was 1.5 months away.

Most people are used to when a book comes out, they get it in two days, they’re a Prime member, they get it the next day, or they can go to their local bookstore and get it. Local bookstores are closed or they’re only doing curbside pickup and they don’t even have the staff to unpack the books that are new. That was the case at my Barnes & Noble and many others across the nation that they have all these new books that they haven’t been able to get on the floor because they only have 1 or 2 employees working because no one’s coming into the stores, everybody’s on lockdown. It was frustrating, to say the least. I’m grateful that it’s sold out. The pre-sales of the book sold out of the copies that we did have, but I was fed up with what was going on that I was like, “I’ve worked way too hard. This book is out there. I need to leave the country.” I wanted to book a trip to Mexico.

I started looking into it. There were 1,000 things wrong with that not to mention that I was eight months pregnant during a pandemic. The fact that my daughter who is in school would have had required her to quarantine for two weeks when we got back, which would have meant two weeks of no school, putting myself at risk and all sorts of reasons not to go. I talked myself out of it and continued to promote the book like it was all out there and available. I just sucked it up.

It’s relatable, Vani. For all of us on some level or another, we have this big thing that we’ve been working hard for and looking forward to for our whole lives. In your case, you never thought that you would have an opportunity to write a cookbook or you always dreamed of it but didn’t know if it would ever happen. Suddenly, everything’s falling together and then everything starts falling apart. It’s like you wanted to escape it or find a way to handle these tough emotions, but you couldn’t even do that and in your case, that was going to Mexico. It’s like, “Not only has everything become topsy-turvy, but you’re not even able to do something that brings you more joy.” You have to stay, sit with it, handle it, and not run away from something frustrating.

Travel’s always been my outlet. Remove me from the situation and things will get better. Not having that as an outlet has been challenging. I’ve lived in Charlotte for many years, I’ve lived in a relatively smaller town. We can drive to the mountains and the ocean, but it doesn’t have that get it away feel. Not to mention all the restrictions that go with travel. The reason I picked Mexico’s because it was the only place open that didn’t require stringent testing, other protocols that would potentially put us at risk for the trip, and other things.

It was something that I didn’t do, which my mother and everyone around me I’m sure is glad that we didn’t do. What was awesome about Food Babe Kitchen is that everything went in going into the planning of the book, the recipes. Making sure there was a photo for every single recipe. Making sure that the first half of the book was all guidebook that someone could completely transform their kitchen, everything from what they’re using, their pots and their pans to their things that they’re storing their food in and how to warm up their food. Everything that’s in their pantry, how to get the bad stuff out? How to put the good stuff in? Taking them aisle by aisle at the grocery store, showing them a poor choice, a good choice, and all the misleading labels. All of that was important to me.

The photography and getting the personal side of me in there, the family photos, and the family recipes because my mother has 4 or 5 Indian recipes in there that is a meal that she makes for us every single week. It’s her creation. I don’t know any other Indian moms that make kale. It’s a flatbread that she takes kale from her garden, she mixes it with water, a blender and mixes it into the dough and then makes the flatbread. My daughter eats this up and it’s awesome to be able to share that recipe with the world. The book itself, with everything I dreamed of, everything imagined, and that was perfection. When it was ready to get out to the world, there weren’t any copies.

I found myself reaching out to all of my author friends that have released books. They’re like, “This is happening.” This is the world we’re living in and there’s nothing we can do. Amazon won’t even unpack boxes. They have the boxes of books on their dock for weeks and weeks. Many people are using Amazon now because of them being locked down and they are getting everything delivered that even Amazon hasn’t been able to ramp up and been able to meet the demand of what they’re going through and all of these little things. My struggle compared to most people is relative. Every day, I have a little mini breakdown based on a business closing, someone dying or someone being affected unfortunately in terms of having to have a Zoom funeral for a relative because of the situation that we’re living in.

MGU 159 | Food Babe

Food Babe: Making the ingredients the best is Truvani’s number one priority, even and if that means that they have to spend more or lose profit.

 

There are many more important things out there than having cookbooks in stock. I always keep reminding myself of the bigger picture, which is the cookbook is going to be perennial. It’s not something that is seasonal. There’s no time and date on it. It’s not like, “These recipes are going to expire or the ingredients are going to expire inside the book.” The book will make its way out to the world when it’s time. Now could be the perfect opportunity because people are listening, they’re at home, and they’re in their kitchens more. That was the goal is to get people in their kitchens more for them to understand that cooking can save their life because that’s what cooking did to me.

I want to congratulate you on the book because I got my copy and my immediate reaction when I started to read it and look through was, “This feels like her.” There’s a masterful thing that happens sometimes with books especially if you know the person. You know their energy, their vibe, and their personality. I thought it was wonderful in those pages that it felt your spirit was infused in the pages. I find that to be a rare thing when I pick up a book, to feel someone in their book and I want to acknowledge you on that. I was like, “This feels like Vani.”

What I loved about looking through the book to Vani is, it felt warm and comforting and we need that. Your book is going to matter to people whenever they get it. It’s not necessarily a rush. It’s tough for you because it’s your baby and you literally have a baby on the way. I imagine there’s even some crossover between what it’s like to give birth to a child versus a book, something that you’re working on and you’ve looked forward to, and you’ve spent your whole life in some ways preparing for. A lot of times we have to release our expectations and realize that things are going to come in a way that we don’t expect and we have a lot less control over them than we realize. The nice thing is that you masterfully succeeded in making me and Jason feel good. I’m sure many other people feel good and feel they’re getting to know you on another level, which is special.

Thank you for that. The book is back in stock and you could get it in time for Christmas. Part of releasing this book is I have ignored the baby in my belly. I realized I had taken barely any pregnancy photos. This poor baby is not going to even know that they’re in my belly. I had a freak out panic session when I started to feel contractions. I’m only 34 weeks. I was like, “No, I’m not ready for this baby.” I’m calling my mother and she’s like, “Babies come when they want to come.” I haven’t even prepped my daughter on who’s going to take care of her when we’re in the hospital. I haven’t made any food. I haven’t done anything. I haven’t even washed newborn clothes or a piece of clothing. I was like, “This is not happening.” I was up until midnight. I got into the bath so that the contractions would die down and this happens towards the end. You go on and off and you never know. It’s like every day is a gamble. My husband went and washed our old baby car seat and got out all the clothes.

This whole day I’ve been in nesting mode. It’s like someone’s listening to your prayers, the pains are calm. I was like, “I got availability. We can get the nursery painted. I got the wallpaper up.” It’s like a sprint to the finish. When you have your first child, you have all of this time to think, ponder, plan, and you’re excited but when you are busy chasing around a three-year-old toddler and then also trying to get the cookbook out into the world and also running another company, Truvani, at the same time, it’s like, “What in the world is going on?”

You’re doing all of this during the pandemic, which certainly adds a whole other layer of challenges for you because things aren’t the same as when you have your first child.

Your mind is more powerful than your body. Click To Tweet

Whenever we’d had to do photography, video shoots, or anything for Truvani and we’ve come up with a lot of new products. I would have a whole team of people that would fly down from New York and help me. Now it’s me and one other person and that’s it. We got to make it happen. We got a limited staff to get this stuff done. It’s fine but it’s hard. The sampling of products is also difficult. It’s not like I can go hop on a plane, get to the manufacturer, sit there, and experiment with these different things. It’s like shipping samples back and forth not hundreds yet. We’re not that level thankfully, but it feels that way because every day I get a new package, sample, formula, tweak, and ingredient change. To try to keep up with it all is challenging.

What’s interesting for you especially bringing up challenges, one of the things that I appreciate you with Food Babe but also about you with Truvani is that you work hard not to compromise on quality. We were having an offline discussion about this. It’s tempting to compromise. There are many ways to compromise. As consumers, we don’t always recognize how frequently brands compromise on their products to save money, time, or because it’s hard. One of the most remarkable things about you and your work is that even when it’s hard, you do your best to never compromise because you’re dedicated to quality and transparency. It sounds like that’s been another big challenge for you personally and professionally. Do you find yourself feeling tempted to compromise? If not, how do you work through those times where people might even pressure you to compromise to move things along?

That’s the story of my life. Every single day, I get pressured to move things along because I have two business partners. One, he was money and time-minded, and the other one that’s workaholic crazy. That’s part of what makes Truvani successful. We all have our strings. I’m in charge of ingredients and integrity with products. No one can supersede my ruling on an ingredient or how the product ends up and what it looks like on the label at the end of the day. No matter how many knock-down-drag-out fights we have about these different ingredients, I win that category every time, which is what makes Truvani trustworthy because people understand that I’m not going to create a product that I can’t use personally.

Not everybody sees it as I do especially when you’re growing as a company. We started in February of 2018, which was our first product launch. We’re young as a company, but we were growing rapidly and we have to hire lots of people. For them to understand what we’re trying to create takes constant reinforcement. I’m having offline conversations with employees talking about if there is a product out there that is better than Truvani, then we have failed at product development. This was based on a conversation. They’re like, “You told me this ingredient was okay to use in this product. Why isn’t it okay to use this product?”

MGU 159 | Food Babe

Food Babe: We all have to become our own health experts and our own health investigators. We have to advocate for ourselves.

 

That’s because this product can be used differently. We can make it even better. Everybody wants me to have these black and white standards so that I could write my knowledge down in a book and give it to the product manufacturers and then being able to go and create things. It doesn’t work like that because I have many years of knowledge about learning about ingredients, product use, and all of those. I don’t know how many years we went to expos together, learning about how products are made and what manufacturers have to do to create them. Going behind the scenes, the supply chain, and how these ingredients are created, how extracts are created, and how all of these things. They all have different levels of other ingredients that aren’t on the label that no one ever sees and no one’s ever questioning.

This is not knowledge I can pass down in writing. I have to be there to ask the questions. I’m finally getting through to my team and they’re starting to understand like you can’t come to me with anything mediocre or any questionable ingredient period because it doesn’t meet Truvani’s standard. It’s a constant struggle and work. I’ve had many knock-down-drag-out conversations. It’s not been an easy thing at all. I don’t want to sugar coat it and let everyone know that like, “It’s such a great thing. This has been the greatest thing ever.” It has been because we are creating revolutionary products for the world and the best in supplements. I want people to know what’s happening in behind the scenes because every single change, ingredient, supplier, preservative anything in terms of shelf life, all of these decisions come down back to the ingredients. Making the ingredients the best is our number one priority and if that means that we have to spend more or lose profit, we do it because it’s our number one standard.

I love that you’re peeling back the curtain a lot on getting real about your process and your experiences. One of the things that the three of us united on many years ago were these organic standards, non-GMO standards, and quality standards. Realizing that food when selected, prepared, and grown mindfully is medicine for the body and the being. On another level, you have the Food Babe, which is an incredibly successful blog, you have your books, New York Times bestsellers, the Truvani supplement line, your house, an amazing husband, a second child on the way. You have a lot that is happening in your life all of the time and what you’ve built over the last nine years.

Beyond food, if you experience anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and maybe analysis paralysis, the mental and emotional of everything that you’ve got going on in life. What do you do when you start to feel depressed, anxious, or way stressed beyond? What are your practices may be a spiritual or mental level, in addition to the healthy food that helped you reel it back? What is that experience like for you? You have many things you’re juggling in life.

I’m an anxious person. I have to manage my anxiety. If I didn’t put wellness first, I could easily be on Xanax, Ambien, and depression medication. I could easily be on all those things but I have to put wellness first. Wellness first for me means I have to exercise and I don’t exercise to stay lean. I exercise for my mind. If I don’t get that exercise in, my mind starts to go bonkers. That’s my stress relief and I have to do it first thing in the morning because the day gets away from me if I don’t get it done first thing in the morning. This pregnancy has been difficult to find the energy to do that because I’m still chasing around a toddler, running these companies at the same time, doing a book launch, and doing all the things.

I had a scare where the doctor was saying that she checked my blood levels and my iron is dangerously low. People know that in pregnancy, you need to have good iron levels because when you give birth, you lose blood. If you don’t have enough red blood cells, a lot of bad things can happen. I’m normally anemic because I have a genetic thing that I was born with called thalassemia minor. I’m normally low on the iron level. I immediately text Dr. Mark Hyman because he’s my friend and he’s only one of the best functional medicine doctors in the world.

I’m like, “What do I do?” He’s like, “You need to go eat a buffalo.” I’m like, “What? I haven’t eaten beef since I was fourteen years old.” He’s like, “Buffalo’s not beef.” I’m like, “No.” I’m sending my best friend pictures of baby buffaloes. I said, “I can’t eat that.” He’s like, “Are you tired?” I was like, “I’m not tired.” He’s like, “What? You should be falling over at that level. Your mind is way stronger than your body.” It was a wake-up call to me that he’s right. If I am to sit down and think about how tired I feel, I’m effing tired, but I got too much to do, many important things, employees that rely on me. Without me, they don’t get paid.

I have a daughter that I want to make sure she eats real food and is healthy, a husband, and my own little baby to take care of my body. I’ve put everybody else ahead of paying attention to what I was doing. The truth be told, I haven’t been eating a lot of iron-rich foods even though I eat kale and spinach, they’re going out of style and they’re growing crazily in my yard. I have no excuse not to keep eating them, but I haven’t been dialing in nutrition.

I’m taking some new iron supplements and I’m taking a big spoonful of molasses every morning, which has a black strap organic molasses that has a lot of iron in it. I made a chili with kidney beans that have iron in them. I’m paying attention and trying to fix this issue. It was a wake-up call because there are all sorts of other issues that start to happen when you don’t have enough iron in your body, depression, anxiety, and all the things that I experienced. I have to keep wellness first and I’m even more uber focused on my diet so that I’m making sure I eat enough iron. I’m hopefully absorbing some of it.

It can take several months to get your iron stores back up hoping that it doesn’t take that long, but it’s going to take some time and I’m going to be breastfeeding. I’m going to need my energy. What this taught me is that your mind is more powerful than your body, and no matter what your body is going through, any deficiency, cancer, ailments, or anything that you can overcome with your mind. I think of Louise Hay and all the affirmations that I was saying when I gave birth to my first daughter about how contractions are sensations, how I never thought of birth as a painful activity. I didn’t even put that in my mind that it was going to be painful so it wasn’t painful.

Be your own nutritionist. Click To Tweet.

People are like, “It’s supposed to be painful.” I’m sure it was at times, but I didn’t allow my mind to go there. Knowing that this is a fixed experience that I’m going to get to see my baby, it’s not going to last forever and this pain or sensation is temporary, helped me get through that. With this iron deficiency that I have, I’m going to be doing the same thing and it also allowed me to put some brakes on, “I need to settle down now. I’ve got a month or so to go. I need to sit and focus and take my bass.” I went back and read one of my old pregnancy posts and I was taking a nap every day in my third trimester at 3:00.

I’m like, “Why I’m not taking any naps?” I need to find time for a nap and get back in the rhythm. I’ve had that huge wake-up call. Normally, when I’m not going through all this stuff, I’m eating the right foods, staying away from too much caffeine, exercise, sunlight or the things that helped me stay happy and less anxious. There’s another mental trick that I do when I have a stressful conversation and I’m not happy with who I’m talking to or what’s happening, I reframe it. Instead of calling the person an A-hole, I reframe it to how I want the person to be in my life so that I’m creating my own reality.

If there’s somebody in your life that’s giving you the third degree or is being negative, you can say, “This person wants you to be so happy and is the most positive in the world.” You keep repeating that every time the negative thought gets into your brain. You switch immediately to the positive thought and that person becomes that. It’s beautiful to watch and it can happen quickly if you set your mind to it. I believe that you can create your own reality that way.

I’m grateful for you as being real, transparent, and humanizing yourself. What I mean by that as I go into my question about this technique you shared is I feel like there’s a strange perception online that Whitney and I have faced. I know you’ve faced it on a completely different level with the haters and the critical people online. That’s a whole another subject of deflecting that energy or assimilating that energy. It’s wonderful that you’re talking about your struggles with iron deficiency, rest, and this new pregnancy because, in the wellness industry, we have noticed that there’s a certain bizarre standard that certain people hold you to especially when you’ve accomplished things.

You have a best-selling book, TV series, or YouTube channel if you talk about like, “I’m iron deficient.” They’re like, “You were supposed to be the leader. What do you mean you’re iron-deficient? Aren’t you supposed to know what you’re doing? You’re supposed to have all the answers and you have all these New York Times bestselling books.” We’ve noticed over and over again. There’s a certain style of person in the wellness industry that wants to attack sometimes or poke holes like, “We thought you knew what you were doing. I guess you don’t.” It’s like, “I’m a human being. I’m not supposed to be perfect all the time.” You’re talking so openly about your challenges and humanizing yourself because it’s like, “You are this amazing expert, the beacon of truth and wisdom, but you’re also a human being who changes, evolves, and has different needs.” I don’t understand why people don’t get that.

We are all human beings. I’m not perfect either. My body’s been craving kale and spinach, but not many beans and nuts. I’ve eliminated my eggs because I noticed that I get a little bit of eczema when I eat eggs. There’s a lot of things that have iron in them that I’ve eliminated from my diet because I haven’t been craving it, not realizing that I need to be eating it. Even though I’m still eating super healthy and organic food, it’s like, “We’re humans.” This is something that I’ve tried to translate when I share my activism work, share about the chemicals in food and what we shouldn’t be eating.

There are so many different things we shouldn’t be eating but it’s your decision whether you want to eat it or not. I want to share the information so that you know and then it’s up to you to figure it out. We all have to become our own health experts and our own health investigators. We have to advocate for ourselves. If anything is taught to us, the government is not going to save us. The requirements that are coming out of the government are not for our wellness. They are Band-Aid solutions. We have to realize that we have to become our own nutritionists. We have to know about our food and we have to get tested or blood tested to see what we’re deficient in so we can make those different tweaks and changes.

MGU 159 | Food Babe

Food Babe: The problem with American society is we’ve always valued work over health. When you’re sick, you need to stay home and rest.

 

There isn’t a one size fits all diet for everybody. We all have to do things independently of how our genetics are? Where we were raised? How were you raised? What part of the world did we come from? It’s so important to have that open mindset when it comes to food and diet and why I’ve only advocated for real food? I haven’t said that you need to be paleo or keto. It’s about eating as much real food as possible that will solve 80% of the issues and then you got to dial it in the other 20%. You got to figure out what’s right for your body.

That reminds me of something you said on social about how you were reading an article and there was no mention of diet or nutrition in terms of staying healthy during COVID.

It was an article on CNN and it was the 7 Ways to Stay Healthy for the second outbreak. Not one single tip on that page had anything to do with what you eat, the supplements you take, exercise, getting outside, and having vitamin D. Nothing, not even a single one. It was like, “How far you can stay away from your grandmother, a mask you can wear, and a vaccine that’s coming.” That’s not how we’re going to solve these pandemics. This is not how we are going to solve these health crises that we face as a society. We have to get down to the root cause of why there are so many COVID-related deaths and what group of the population of people are dying and what other comorbidities they have and study that.

What we can do to reduce those co-morbidities so that when the next virus comes along, it doesn’t wipe us all out and we don’t have to shut down the world to handle it. Talking about COVID has been challenging because it’s been politically motivated. Hopefully, now that the election is over, we have less political divide around some of these issues. We have to realize that health is not a political issue, it’s a human issue, and we have to look at all of these different ways of wellness as a whole and as a society of what’s going to bring us together. I wish this pandemic would have brought us all together to make us all focused on our health and the correct ways but it’s done the opposite in some respects and it’s sad.

If you were to rewrite that CNN article and it was a completely unfiltered Vani Hari, the Food Babe, for CNN giving you free reign, what would you have written in that article? What are the supplements you’re taking to keep your immunity high? What are some foods and techniques? What are you doing for yourself and your family? If you were to lay that out on CNN, what would it say?

One of the products that I’ve had my eye on because many people talk about it is vitamin D. Truvani makes a wonderful vitamin D formulation.

I would follow the same principles of any flu season. My daughter was born during a flu season back in January of 2017. I had signs up that said, “Keep calm and wash your hands before you walk into my house.” I didn’t let anyone wear their shoes in my house. I do take flu season seriously because there’s no reason to spread the flu just like there’s no reason to spread COVID. We got to be sensible about it. What I would say is, “Wash your hands before you eat, when you get to a new place, when you come home and before you touch a newborn baby,” that’s number one. I’m not talking about using hand sanitizer. That’s killing all the good bacteria in your body. I’m talking about good old-fashioned, hand-washing.

Health is a human issue, not a political one. Click To Tweet

If you are going to use a hand sanitizer, what do you look for in a hand sanitizer?

I don’t use hand sanitizer.

That’s fine. Staying at home is the best option because you can wash your hands. Hand sanitizer is greatly overused but also people use it because they’re being told to. It’s important to talk about that.

I have a daughter and I have a backpack always with me with her toys, snacks, and stuff. We use what’s called WaterWipes and they’re 99% water. I hand one to my husband, I use one, and my daughter uses one before we eat if we’re out at a restaurant or if we’re at the park, we use those before we have our snack. I’m using water and grapefruit extract. The second thing is and this is one thing that’s always bugged me is when I used to work in an office and somebody would come in sneezing, hacking, and coughing. I’m like, “Stay home.” The problem with American society is we’ve always valued work over health. When you’re sick, you need to stay home and rest. Be cognizant of that. This is difficult for parents with school-aged children because kids are constantly getting sick.

For you to put everything on hold to get that kid to stay home has been difficult, but the regulations are ten times worse where if a child has something like that, they have to stay home for a lot longer because of different regulations depending upon the school that you’re in. I wish during certain seasons when there are things that we need to be concerned about, you stay home when you’re sick. Do that for the person, neighbor, your classmates or coworkers. The third thing I would say is exercise and get outside for 30 minutes a day at least to get natural vitamin D. Most people are deficient in vitamin D and that’s why I recommend our Truvani supplements. It’s a vegan-based supplement.

A lot of people don’t realize that vitamin D is taken from lamb. We have a plant-based vitamin D supplement that’s organic. Get outside, get vitamin D naturally at least 30 minutes a day, and exercise. Avoid sugar and processed foods. Eat more vitamin C-rich foods. You can take a vitamin C supplement. We also have an organic vitamin C supplement made from Amla berries. It’s the highest potency of vitamin C out of any fruit or vegetable. That ingredient is also in our immune support supplement that I take personally whenever I have a tickle in my throat or a little sneeze. I immediately start taking that. It has elderberry, other herbs like ginger and garlic, and good stuff in there. I take that too when that happens. That’s all I would recommend. I wouldn’t recommend locking ourselves down. I wouldn’t recommend not seeing those that you love. I got a lot of crap for seeing my dad on his birthday in April in the middle of the first wave. This could be his last birthday. I knew I wasn’t sick or didn’t have any symptoms or anything like that. I felt comfortable going to see him.

MGU 159 | Food Babe

Jason and I both saw our family members. It’s tricky because we get all these different opinions and there’s so much fear. Each of us needs to make the decision for ourselves based on what’s best for us. We are taking risks, but we’re taking risks all the time. If we can talk to people and everybody is agreeing that we feel comfortable, then we’re doing the best that we can, know-how given our circumstances. Spending time with family, especially with older people when you know that neither of you is going to harm each other, then it’s important because none of us know how much time we have and this has opened our eyes to that and all of this uncertainty. Family is important.

I lost my mother-in-law to ovarian cancer several years ago and not spending more time with her is my only big regret in life. Life is too short to allow the fear of a virus to take over your life. That’s all you hear out there, unfortunately, is the fear. Fear is one of the lowest levels that you can feel in terms of your vibration and positivity and you have to break through that. That’s why everyone needs to turn off the news and get back to wellness. We’re all going to die in due time. If you lived your whole life trying not to die, that’s no life to live.

I love how many nuggets you spread out through this episode. That one you said sticks with me. The other one that sticks with me is the part that you discussed how much as Americans we have over prioritized work versus our wellness. You are a crusader for that. You are one of the leaders in this world of helping people re-landscape their relationship to food, what they put in their body, and loving themselves through food. We want to thank you for being here. On a personal level, getting to hear your voice, connect, and having such a deep rich conversation, but then knowing that we’re going to get to share it with all of our readers. It was such a joyful time with you here. Thank you for spending it with us.

Living a whole life trying not to die is no life to live. Click To Tweet

This has been great. Whitney and Jason, thank you. It’s been cathartic for me. I’ve gotten so much off my chest.

It goes to show that this is an important part of our wellbeing is to connect with people. That’s been my biggest joy during COVID is reaching out to people that I haven’t talked to in a while because I’ve recognized how short life. Thank you for that reminder, for being here, and for your incredible book. Truvani has been a blessing. I am grateful for the products that you make because I don’t have to question them. I know that you have done so much work to make them as amazing as possible. It’s refreshing to be able to buy something and trust it in a time where we second-guessed so much in our lives. You are doing many wonderful things that affect me, Jason, and our readers. We know many other people that are transformed by your work. We hope this is the beginning of more frequent communication with you.

I hope I get to see you guys in person soon. That’s what I wish for.

Her book is back in stock on Amazon. It’s $20, they’re shipping immediately, and she has a free gift when you guys get a copy. Her 100-page healthy holiday guide with holiday recipes, appetizers, and main entrees looks incredible. Jump into Vani’s world. You will not regret it. You will feel happier, healthier, and more vibrant as a result. We appreciate you getting uncomfortable with us on the show. We’ll catch you with another episode soon!

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About Vani Hari

MGU 159 | Food BabeNamed as one of the “Most Influential People on the Internet” by Time Magazine, Vani Hari is the revolutionary food activist behind foodbabe.com, co-founder of organic food brand Truvani, New York Times best-selling author of The Food Babe Way, and Feeding You Lies. For most of her life, Vani ate whatever she wanted—candy, soda, fast food, processed food—until her typical American diet landed her where that diet typically does, in a hospital. Despite her successful career in corporate consulting, Hari decided that health had to become a priority. Her newfound goal drove her to investigate what is really in our food, how it is grown, and what chemicals are used in its production. The more she learned, the more she changed, and the better she felt.

Encouraged by her friends and family, Hari started a blog called foodbabe.com in 2011. It quickly became a massive vehicle for change. She has led campaigns against food giants like Kraft, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Subway, and General Mills that attracted more than 500,000 signatures and led to the removal of several controversial ingredients used by these companies. Through corporate activism, petitions, and social media campaigns, Hari and her Food Babe Army have become one of the most powerful populist forces in the health and food industries. Her drive to change the food system inspired the creation of her new company called Truvani, where she produces real food without added chemicals, products without toxins, and labels without lies. Hari has been profiled in the New York Times and The Atlantic, and has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and NPR. Vani lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband Finley and daughter Harley.
Visit her online at foodbabe.com

 

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