Psychotherapist, Author, Speaker

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Robin D. Stone is a New York City based psychotherapist, coach and consultant who works to help you achieve your most optimal self. 

Posts tagged food as medicine
Foods vs. Pills
 

I have a friend who lives on salads, pasta and lots of coffee. A single mom, she strives to be the epitome of health in spite of her hectic city life: full-time job, volunteer work, teenage daughter. She does meatless on Mondays and holds the mayo and she eats a colorful diet. And to cover her bases, at just about every meal, she pops a slew of vitamin pills.

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Research shows, when it comes to taking vitamins, it’s possible she has too much of a good thing.    
Without question, we need all 13 vitamins to help our bodies function properly. For instance, C supports healing and absorbs iron to fight fatigue; D helps process calcium for strong teeth and bones, sharpens the mind and boosts the mood; E elevates energy and helps other antioxidants fight off cancer-causing free-radicals; the Bs help convert food into energy. We get vitamins mostly from the foods we eat, and, when our diets are lacking, from pills, or supplemental vitamins.

And that’s where we can run into trouble. Some of us take double or triple the recommended dietary allowance of some vitamins, thinking, like my friend, that more is better. I’m guilty too: at 250 mg, I take more than three times the RDA of Vitamin C (it’s 60 mg for adults). And if I feel my body even thinking of catching a cold, for a few days I double or triple my daily dose. If 250 keeps me reasonably healthy, I presume, then 500 should do twice the job. But over time, that kind of thinking can misguided and unsafe. Studies show a definitive link between excessive vitamin use and increased risks of illness, including cancer and heart disease.

While the Food and Drug Administration is charged with monitoring dietary supplements, it doesn’t approve products before they go to market. By law, it can’t force manufacturers to tell you how much of a vitamin is too much – the supplement industry defeated those efforts long ago – so manufacturers can sell you double and triple the daily recommended allowance without any proof that those doses are safe. Use this guide by the National Academy of Sciences to determine how much is too much.

Your body absorbs vitamins and minerals from fruits, veggies, grains and dairy much more readily than from a pill. So try to go straight to the source to meet your needs. When you need to supplement, read the labels and unless directed by your health care provider, take just enough to meet the recommended allowance.

Like I tell my girlfriend, be careful out there in the wild, wild west of dietary supplements: pill-popping might not do what you think it’s doing; in fact, overdoing it may cause damage that no pill can undo.

 
My New Film Highlights Black Women's Stories about Stress & Self-Care
 

I was honored to premiere my mini-documentary "THICK: Black Women Weigh In on Body Awareness, Food, Stress and Self-Care"  recently at the Black Women’s Life Balance and Wellness conference at Spelman College in Atlanta. Featuring the stories of nearly 20 Black women nationwide – myself included – the film asks how can we take care of ourselves in the face of stressors like job demands, relationship issues, family drama. 

    Black Women's Life Balance and Wellness conference, Sept. 19, 2015.   

 

Black Women's Life Balance and Wellness conference, Sept. 19, 2015.
 

THICK centers on healthy weight, as Black women contend with weight-related health concerns like heart disease, diabetes and fertility problems in disproportionate numbers. This project was a part of my master's thesis, which focused on using narrative techniques like storytelling and writing to promote healing among Black women.

Joining us were two of the sisters featured in the film who are from Atlanta. They loved seeing their stories on the big screen. One, Elizabeth Montgomery, shared that she was thrilled to go from "homeless" -- a reference to her tenuous life as a young adult -- "to Hollywood!"

We followed the film with a powerful writing workshop focused on the body and self-care. The women gathered, wrote and witnessed, and some shared from deep within their hearts. 

I now incorporate narrative techniques in my coaching work. A beautiful thing about writing for healing is that it is a way to get your “stuff” down on the page. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’re struggling with until it’s there in front of you, talking to you, telling you about itself. And once you name it, whatever it is, you can begin to deal with it. 

I look forward to showing "THICK," to writing and sharing our stories, and to continuing conversations about what it takes to be healthy and whole.

Click here for a preview of "THICK," and let me know what you think at robin@robinstone.com.

 
Why HealthJones? For a Healthier You!
 
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If you ask them, most of my friends and family would say I’m a certified health nut. I don’t see myself that way. But I do get excited about making a “traditional” recipe just as tasty but better for your body. And the seasons’ bests thrill me: summer’s sweet, sweet strawberries, cherries and corn on the cob, fall’s full-bodied squash, pumpkins and yams and spring’s awesome asparagus.

I eat real food and for the most part avoid stuff that’s fake—that is, stuff that’s processed or bioengineered or and packaged in boxes or bags. I don’t really care for working out or taking the stairs instead of the escalator, but I like the results: doing so keeps me fit, firm and feeling my best. I regularly make time to move my body and quiet my mind.

The last time I was in a fast-food spot, it was for a bathroom break last spring while visiting the World Trade Center memorial. As soon as I stepped in, I knew why I hadn’t been in a fast-food restaurant in years. The smell of grease and hyperprocessed food turned my stomach so much that I had to wait for my friend outside. I could "hold it" till I got somewhere less offensive. Call me a health nut, but my body knows when stuff is no good for me. 

I believe in Hippocrates’ quote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We have become addicted to eating, turning to foods to nourish areas of our lives that it can’t: relationships, satisfaction on the job or in a career, spiritual peace, entertainment, happiness. Meanwhile, we’re growing sicker and sicker, and looking to drugs and medical intervention to heal us when it only salves the symptoms and patches us up. The answer to what ails us usually starts with what we put in our grocery carts. We simply need to stop and think before we buy.

That’s why I started HealthJones, a holistic health and nutritional consulting practice. I work with women in particular to help them learn to think before they buy what will ultimately heal or harm them. Often that means helping them get out of their own way so they can identify, embrace and then realize their health goals. I’m thrilled when I can help my clients to do just that: Whether its losing 20 pounds or getting rid of GERD or finding more energy or reviving long-dormant dreams, we work together, step by step, to drop old habits and adopt a new way of looking at food, fulfillment and fitness that works just for them.

On a bright day in late fall, with mellow jazz in the background and mimosas front and center, I shared that philosophy with more than 40 guests who joined me to celebrate the official launch of HealthJones. We feasted on a gluten-free menu featuring a seasonal favorite, squash-infused Carrot-Ginger Soup, along with Tortilla Quinoa Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing (so good somebody asked if they could take the dressing home), Turkey Chili and a Salmon Pasta Salad (made with Ancient Harvest quinoa “Pagoda” pasta and low-fat mayo). For dessert: a wheat-free version of my “world famous” Oatmeal-Cranberry Flaxseed Cookies (gone in no time flat). All dishes made by me and with love (and all recipes found on this site).

We chatted about women’s most common and pressing health challenges: sorting through conflicting and confusing information. Feeding a hungry family. Finding time and making room for simple changes that have profound and lasting effects. Generating energy. Quieting a turbulent digestive system. Conditioning a body to serve you well. My HealthJones custom program does all of that and more.

I told my guests that, as I neared my 48th birthday, I intended to enjoy another 52 summers (my favorite season) and I want them all to be able to celebrate with me. I want clients to take the long view – to look beyond tomorrow’s parent-teacher meeting and Sunday’s service, that big project at work and parent’s doctors’ appointments. To—as the flight attendants say in the event of an emergency—put your mask on first. Do you first. That way, you’ll be here to do all those other things too. That’s what HealthJones is—your fix for healthy living. And what’s nutty about that?