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Eat to Live: Breaking the Fast-Food Cycle

While the importance of nutrition is not a new concept, it has been overshadowed by modern western medicine which focuses on treating diseases rather than educating people on how to avoid them in the first place.

Photo courtesy of Brooke Lark via Unsplash

Over 80 percent of the U.S. population is overweight or obese resulting in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more. While the importance of nutrition is not a new concept, it has been overshadowed by modern western medicine which focuses on treating diseases rather than educating people on how to avoid them in the first place.

Continuing our series on the very best retreats for improving one’s health, fitness and overall well-being, we attended the Eat to Live Retreat in San Diego, CA. This experience provides a truly unique opportunity for those wanting a nutritional restart​ and to find ways to improve their vitality from the inside out. Arriving from all over the world, guests are encouraged to stay for at least one month​ to properly retrain their eating and lifestyle habits. The retreat was founded and is run by the highly acclaimed nutrition physician and ​New York Times ​best-selling author, Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

Reversing Disease Through Nutritional Excellence

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a pioneer in the field of lifestyle medicine, has worked tirelessly to combat the nutritional health crisis in the United States. He has found that nutrition is not only vital to the prevention of disease but can also be effective in the reversal of serious diseases. Guests who stay at the Eat to Live retreat are completely immersed in a curated, healthy lifestyle, and, as a result, are able to both restore their health and learn how to maintain that lifestyle when they return home.

The daily schedule offers numerous exercise classes, aquatics in a saltwater pool, cooking classes and lectures, all delivered in a very supportive and encouraging environment. The lectures are enlightening, discussing topics such as the serious health risks associated with processed and fast-food consumption. Alarmingly, highly processed foods do not merely increase death from heart disease and cancer, but also impair the brain causing depression, lower cognitive function and an increased propensity for drug abuse. Perhaps most importantly, highly processed foods are extremely addictive, exacerbating the damage they cause and leading to excessive caloric intake and dependency. This dependency can cause a cyclical health problem, making it very difficult for people to wrench themselves out of the detrimental diet to which they are so attached.

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Learning nutritional strategies to help break out of the fast-food cycle, slow aging and live longer, guests are shown the long-term benefits of caring for themselves through food. The basic principles of longevity nutrition can also benefit heart disease and diabetes, enabling people to wean off medications. Interestingly, the vast majority achieve​ more favorable outcomes, compared to drug management, and gain the advantage of avoiding potential risks and side effects of medication.

Cooking and Eating for Health

The field of food and eating psychology has highlighted the powerful influence of food’s taste, smell, appearance and texture when it comes to our food choices and quantity intake. While we can and should use this science to improve our health and well-being, this is easier said than done. For generations, the food industry has widely conveyed the opposite message through advertising and media, which has become embedded in our cultural norms.

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The food industry in the United States has truly taken advantage of their consumer, and while this is merely the result of effective capitalism at work, the results are not good. Not only are we paying for the unhealthy processed foods that we have become addicted to, but we put ourselves in a double jeopardy situation by paying the even higher price of medical consequences. Most Americans are unaware of the food industry’s profit-driven active research and development activities that seek to identify and promote food cravings and overconsumption. The result is a reduced life and health span filled with chronic disease states.

Dr. Fuhrman and his team of chefs teach “everyday” delicious recipes and food preparation techniques that make their program easy to follow. From nut-based salad dressings and “nice” creams to vegetable sauces, guests learn how to prepare food and maximize nutrient retention in the cooking process.

Taking Back Control

In Dr. Fuhrman’s extensive experience, it takes weeks to months of an intensive, immersive experience to break the spell of misinformation and addictive behaviors. He has established a spacious, peaceful and comfortable contemporary retreat limited to a dozen motivated individuals. These guests learn the skills needed to develop a healthy connection to their nutrition and overall health. Located in the bucolic hills of San Diego County, the gentle climate offers the year-round advantage of daily hiking on adjacent ​miles of scenic trails. The acres of exotic fruit trees and organic farms provide a fresh harvest for the team of resident chefs to prepare a cornucopia of nutritional cuisine. Frequent cooking classes and demonstrations supplement the open access to the chefs as they select and prepare delicious meals.

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As a family physician, Dr. Fuhrman provides medical support to skillfully guide guests who often arrive with a portable pharmacy to control their blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions. A single to multi-month stay typically results in significant weight loss and reduction or cessation of the pharmaceuticals needed to control disease. More importantly, the goal is to change patterns of eating based on nutritional needs and hunger. These improvements become progressive and sustainable.

As Dr. Fuhrman explains,​”The ultimate goal of the Eat to Live Retreat is to enable our guests to enjoy living healthfully when they go home to continue and maintain the benefits they gained here and to reach their human potential for the happiest and healthiest life moving forward. We are not comparable to any program or heath retreat or spa, as our guests stay longer and learn life-changing behaviors and strategies that change their outlook forever. We enable people to take back control of their health destiny.”​​

While visiting, we ​spoke with ​guests who had come to the Eat to Live Retreat from around the world and their personal​​​ ​stories of life ​transformations and improved vitality ​are remarkable. Safeguarding and regaining one’s health is the ultimate return on one’s personal investment.

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