Food As Medicine and Beyond – Episode #009 Interview with Celine Beitchman

In this show, I speak with Celine Beitchman, my most influential chef instructor from back in my days studying to be a Natural Foods Chef. Celine’s work as an integrative nutrition and healthy food guru has been featured in Bon Appetit, HuffPost, Forks Over Knives, Mind Body Green and the Today Show. She’s made her mark sharing both her culinary and nutrition expertise with medical professionals following her passion for bringing wellness to the plate. Join me for this down to earth conversation where we explore how embracing a genuinely holistic perspective on food offers a refreshing approach beyond diet culture and nutritional dogma.

To learn more about Celine Beitchman: Forks Over Knives

Follow her on Instagram: @cbeitchman and Linked In: Celine Beitchman

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Podcast Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the soul science nutrition podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you’re so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.
Christine Okezie (00:22):
Hello and welcome to the soul science nutrition podcast. I’m Christine Okezie, thanks so much for tuning in today. Today. Special guest goes back to my time as a culinary student, back in 2010 at the Natural Gourmet Institute for health and culinary arts, you see it was during my studies to become a natural food chef that my relationship with food took on a whole new dimension. I experienced this deep connection with the concept of food as medicine that went way beyond the limited diet mentality, the way beyond the just standard nutritional mentality of good foods, bad foods, fattening foods. I discovered that the food itself had profound healing powers, but really so did the enjoyment of eating the food, preparing the food, getting your hands in the food. My time at the Natural Gourmet Institute showed me how valuable and life changing it really is when we recover this natural born connection to the food that we put in our bodies.
Christine Okezie (01:23):
For me, I learned how, what a gift cooking was because it became this channel for creativity, artistry, passion, and pleasure. The gifts were truly life changing. number one, a deep reverence for mother earth and how our food is truly our most basic connection to her. Number two, a genuine are really for the design and the inner workings of our bodies. And number three, food was in so many ways, the highest form of self care and a fundamental tool to heal our bodies and change our lives. So, yes, because the bounty of food itself, but also because of the awakened consciousness that comes when you embrace food as nourishment. So on today’s show, I’m so excited to have one of my most influential and favorite chef instructors, Celine Beitchman who in her own right, is not just an amazing natural food chef, but also really a nutrition and integrative health guru, a healthy food expert and educator.
Christine Okezie (02:27):
So, you know, for the last 15 years, Celine has made such an impact. She’s been sharing her culinary expertise, her nutritional wisdom with students, doctors, health coaches, and other halide professionals. She’s developed programs and led hands on cooking instruction from the medical professionals, specializing in conditions like celiac disease and cancer. Most recently, Celine is the director of nutrition at ice. The Institute for Culinary Education in New York City in their health supportive culinary arts department. Her work is truly amazing. She’s been featured in Bon, Appetite, Brit and co the Huffington Post, Forks over Knives, Mind, Body Green, and the Today Show just to name a few. Celine’s background is so fascinating. You know, she grew up learning about natural foods from traveling with her, as she says, hippie parents and her time living in Brooklyn, as well as the South of France. It was at an early age that she developed this appreciation for the connection between what you eat and how you feel.
Christine Okezie (03:32):
So she went on to apprentice in Paris and pursue 15 years of high end catering in New York city. She finished her undergraduate degree in film, but she went on to work and travel at restaurants around the world, doing catering food styling, as well as high end private cheffing what I love about Celine and she’ll share with us today is her truly genuine holistic perspective on food, seeing food as connected to all systems in life, our body, our agriculture, the planet, our culture, of course, the profound healing powers as a result of food to create true wellbeing, Her vast knowledge and ability to share it in an inspiring way, whether it’s sharing the health benefits of cooking with dandelion greens and miso, or being in on the latest culinary trends from tips, to how to be a healthy, vegetarian medicinal cooking for cancer. I mean, she really embodies what I’ve come to appreciate as what’s missing in most mainstream conversations about food and health. Okay. Hey, Celine, how are you?
Celine Beitchman (04:39):
Oh, I’m doing great today. It’s so good to be in your presence.
Christine Okezie (04:43):
Yay. I’m so glad. It’s nice where we’re not wearing masks and we’re not wearing our chef uniform. So it’s kind of a different vibe, but I love it. So, so I am so excited to have you here and just jump into conversation. I’m a little bit, you know, just, you know, about, you’re passionate about my passion when it comes to food and health, we’re here to kind of elevate the conversation and, you know, blow through some myths and just give people maybe some additional guidance and inspiration around how to look at food and their bodies a little differently these days, because there’s so much noise out there. Isn’t there just a lot of confusion, a lot of overwhelm. And one of the things that I want to start with is when I went, when we went into Natural Gourmet together, this philosophy of Food as Medicine, right. Food as Medicine was really kind of his overarching theme that we dove into. What does that mean to you nowadays?
Celine Beitchman (05:39):
Well, I think of it more, um, uh, in, uh, in terms of food as a therapeutic tool, you know, food can provide a therapeutic outlet on so many levels and it can be a therapeutics with meditation and it can also provide an actual sort of intervention level medicine style kind of therapy. So, um, it’s kind of a broad definition for me in that sense. Um, I think natural Gourmet’s, um, foundation in, in macrobiotics was where sort of the food and medicine thing was really, um, you know, w really kind of met up for Anne Marie Colbin who founded the school, um, and, and, and a lot of, sort of using food as a way to heal yourself so that you were avoiding maybe, um, conventional medicine or mainstream medicine was kind of what that messaging was, was more about. Um, I see a kind of an, a, in a bigger sense, I’d say.
Christine Okezie (06:32):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I agree. And you mean your path has really married, um, all the, the philosophy around food as medicine, but really seeing the interconnection and the different applications, right. As we evolve, you know, in these modern, in modern day life.
Celine Beitchman (06:48):
Yeah. I think one of the things that keeps sort of coming up from me and, and, um, uh, is, is the metaphor of the recipe and that, you know, the recipe of our lives or the recipe that we choose to follow from time to time can provide, uh, like a guide post as we organize information around, you know, what we’re learning and taking in kind of all that noise and translating to something for a period of time, you know, and, and seeing if that recipe works right. Um, and, and for that, we need like the trial and error of, of the making of the recipe. Right. We need to be able to, you know, enjoy its outcome and all the ways that it shows up. Right.
Christine Okezie (07:26):
Wow. Yeah. The recipe, I love that. Yeah, because that’s a little bit more freeing, you know, then that, you know, one size fits all or eat this way or get this right. This diet, that diet, I think that’s kind of all the noise is that we’re losing our sovereignty in terms of when it comes to deciding what really is healing for us.
Celine Beitchman (07:46):
You have also this sort of, um, you know, measure of perfection that, that, um, something about, I think those social media aspects of food have driven home really hard. And, and that’s, uh, all of our, all of our attempts in, in the kitchen and in our own lives, in any aspect should be so photographical, you know, this to be hosted and, and, and, and viral unliked. And if not, there’s somehow lacking. And then I think that’s a mentality that, um, you know, we need to just consider, you know,
Christine Okezie (08:17):
Oh my gosh. Yeah. I mean, if it is it post worthy, right. That that’s what the standard is become almost. And I might look how healthy I’m eating. It’s, it’s become a little, you know, kind of superficial that way. Right. Or competitive, even frankly, jockeying for who’s the healthiest, you know, who making the best veggie, whatever. Right. Yeah. That’s kind of crazy food as a sport. I guess
Celine Beitchman (08:46):
we have to consider these fundamental questions like that. I think Ann Marie Colbin taught me in the early stages of, of, um, my working with her really at a very young age, even, and then others that I saw kind of up to me, delving into science. So the more deeply was like, what is health? What is the goal? Where, what are we, where are we going? And, and how do we know when we get there? And what’s the signpost. Right. And, and, um, you know, this idea that we’re going to arrive in a place like health, uh, you know, like body weight, which is such a huge, like, you know, um, trauma, I want to say for people, and that’s never, ever gonna have to deal with it again. Right. Once, once we get there, we’re like, and now we can move on to something else. Right. But it’s not like that.
Christine Okezie (09:32):
Yeah. You’re absolutely right. It’s so interesting because even in my own journey and I’d love to know with you, but I remember saying literally is probably right around shortly after natural gourmets. And as I was exploring, you know, teaching and, and food with my clients and with students, I remember saying specifically how I eat today is great for me now, but, you know, I’m totally open to how that’s going to look like three years, five years, 10 years from now, it could look totally different and that’s perfectly correct. Right, right. Yeah. How about you, how has that changed for you?
Celine Beitchman (10:06):
Well, I think, um, as a teacher, uh, over the years, I think I, I get a lot of questions from students who are looking for sort of what is the way what’s the path, you know? And so the question that always comes up that, you know, I’ve, I’ve answered in different ways over the years, you know? Well, how do you eat, you know, wanting to know, like, what’s in my, you know, what’s in my pantry, what’s in my closet. What’s what am I carrying in my grocery bags? You know? And you’ll look it over when I’m eating. Like, you know, for me, I think because I am, you know, uh, so to speak naturally thin, and I’ve always had a super high metabolism, and it’s not to say that I don’t gain weight or, you know, that I’m happy or not happy with my, my, my physical form. But, but that always lends itself to people wanting to know how do I do it, you know? And it’s, it’s sort of put me in this position to try to put off those questions in a sense, um, or really try to try to explain to people on some level or other that, you know, just because it’s, whatever’s working for me is working for me now. It doesn’t mean that it will work for you. It’s just, there’s so much involved.
Christine Okezie (11:08):
Oh yeah, no, you’re absolutely right. That’s interesting. Thank you. The, the idea of going back to the external experience, external appearances, the connection, the true connection that exists between body, weight, body shape and, and wellbeing. It’s, it’s kind of that really, it’s almost like a third rail. Right. And, you know, but at the end of the day, I think maybe that’s why I’ve hoped to elevate, you know, people’s conversations around food because food is really something so much more than making you fat or thin, you know, or even quite honestly, a bunch of calories and nutrients and super nutrients. It’s so much more right. Because it’s, as you in your journey when you were young, I remember you learned at an early age, this amazing connection with people to this day are still trying to figure out when I eat this, I feel bad. Right. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s that the, uh, that connection right there, I think is kind of what is gotten really fuzzy.
Celine Beitchman (12:05):
Yeah. Well, and I think also the, the, you know, as I’ve learned over time that, um, there are a lot of different, um, inputs that can create the same kind of output. And, you know, it’s important that we, um, you know, sort of explore all of the possibilities that might create a certain given outcome. You know, we talk about sort of diet culture and weight and health and all of that. There are a lot of things that can, um, cause you know, all of that to go off the rails. Right. And, um, you know, a lot of things that are, I would say like, you know, extra, um, outside of food, outside of nutrition, outside of what we take into our mouths and process, you know, you know, stress and, you know, sleep and, and all those things that are vital for our health. Right. And as we learned that, um, you know, the connections that, um, you know, maybe food provides in order to make things like hormones that help us sleep better and how that then feeds into us being hungrier for more food to make better choices. You know, it’s, it’s hard to separate all of the, um, points and features cause I think they’re so intermeshed um,
Christine Okezie (13:12):
Celine Beitchman (13:12):
So I think we need patients, um, as we work it all out.
Christine Okezie (13:16):
Yes, yes. Yeah. Patients and, and less rigidity, because I think it’s that interconnection that, um, I just know that in my, you know, yours, I get, I prickle more and more when I hear like, you know, when you have to eat this and, you know, ketos the way and paleo is the way. And, and again, everybody’s playing, you know, they’re bringing their own passion for what’s working for them to the table, but I also kind of prickle at that, because again, it goes inherently against everything you just said, which is that, you know, food really is so much more, um, in the context text of our life and our family culture, our, our lifestyle. Right. And it’s hard to kind of distill all that down into calories and fat grams and eat this dont eat that.
Celine Beitchman (14:06):
Well, I think that I’m also lucky. I don’t know if this is something that happened to you after a culinary school when you started to maybe play around with it at a different level, but as a professional chef who, um, who was, she was steeped in that, uh, for, for most of her life and, and spent most of my time cooking in a professional way and cooking all different kinds of foods and different kinds of, so diets, it wasn’t until I got to teach in a culinary school environment, especially in the last maybe 10 or so years that the kinds of different meals I was making were suddenly labeled, labeled, you know, as a, as a particular dietary pattern. Right. And suddenly, like, you know, if I’m making a meal that doesn’t have any starchy carbohydrates in it, and just because I’m making that because that’s the, the food that’s available at the market and what my client had wanted, it’s suddenly now, you know, in today’s day we would call that what Keto, right.
Celine Beitchman (15:01):
Doesn’t mean that practically speaking, it doesn’t mean that that’s going to elicit a ketogenic, um, outcome, but we’re going to label that meal Quito now. And so then if I’m eating it suddenly I’m a keto eater. Right. And then I have to adopt all of the sort of, um, paraphernalia of that, you know, the accessories of that. I have to look the part and I have to be convincing, right. And then I have to tell people why I’m doing it. But I was, I think I’ve benefited from the fact that any other chefs that I relate to in this, that I’ve certainly can’t help, but be aware of all of the food culture around us and all of the move towards healthier eating all that. And I love the chefs that I’ve known over the years relate to food at that level, where we can see like different, um, Pat Neal patterns, um, as just creations as interesting experiments as a kind of trial and error of a rescue we’re producing. And not as a, like, uh, this is a way to live forever.
Christine Okezie (15:57):
Oh yes. I’d love that. And again, the creativity, the exploration, right. That the, the curiosity, the curious kind of, um, mindset that goes into it. Right. And that, yeah, that’s huge. And I think that’s that creative aspect and that enjoyment of just let’s see how this turns out and let’s, what does this do? That’s what I got from natural gourmet, you know, it, because it really was, and I never considered myself a creative person. Right. I was told I didn’t color in the lines enough when I was five years old, scarred me for life, but in the kitchen. Right. Um, at least not with, you know, pastry and baking, you know, there was a lot of opportunity for exploring how does that taste? Can you taste this? And really, it was such a sensory experience, you know, um, being in that environment. And again, I think I bring that, you know, that’s why I, my goal is not to have you spend five, six hours in the kitchen. You know, my goal is to really just enjoy, see how simple, see how lively empowering it can be to get your hands on the food. Right.
Celine Beitchman (17:04):
Yeah. Yeah. And I think it’s also a kind of, um, it becomes a teaching tool in a sense, that’s a window into your ability to engage in the world in a sensory fashion, you know? Right. So, so kind of, you know, uh, recalibrating your, um, your senses to, um, you know, like your own ability to appreciate things, right? Yes. Yes, exactly. And I didn’t really, in fact, I feel also, um, strongly about a kind of before and after in my life, when it came to really noticing, um, food, um, at the level that you’re describing kind of the taste and textures and the sensory aspects of it that are creative, because for me, for many years, um, you know, prior to this, this moment I’ll mention it a, it was very, um, technical for me, you know, practical and about recreating, um, you know, based on skills, I’ve learned to produce something for a particular chef or job, whatever, very, very technical craft oriented. Right. Um, but when I undertook, uh, my wine studies, uh, that’s when I really learned how to taste.
Christine Okezie (18:11):
Celine Beitchman (18:11):
And I bring some of that into my teaching nowadays that we don’t really get in a traditional culinary school, which is sort of the blind taste test, the sort of, you know, turn the lights off and close your eyes and smell and, and, and, and, and, and try to shut down some of the noise that happens when we’re looking in different directions, you know do that enough in the food world
Christine Okezie (18:31):
Oh, I love that. Yeah. So, so you went on to become, um, verse and food and food and wine pairing, right. Essentially.
Celine Beitchman (18:42):
Well, I think you just sort of naturally, um, bring those aspects together and what you realize when you’re tasting and exploring what wine contains and what what’s Tanisa mind boggling about it is we’re talking about something that’s made out of, you know, one fruit, right. The grape, you know, of course all the different myriad kinds of grapes out there, but really the grapes that can produce so many hundreds of thousands of chemicals that smell like familiar things to us. Right. Um, and we think about food in a much more limited way.
Christine Okezie (19:15):
Celine Beitchman (19:16):
As a single note item, you know, once you start to realize that, you know, chemistry in wine gives rise to flavor compounds that are found in other things, because those chemicals exist there, then you start pairing right. To those chemicals in a way. Right. Yeah. Or to the torture, the tastes that you’re able to recognize, or
Christine Okezie (19:35):
yeah. Yeah. No, I, again, it’s, it’s just a very, a deeper appreciation for the role that, you know, food and pleasure are supposed to go together. Right. That’s what makes this human in the sense we get to elevate how we choose to eat our food.
Celine Beitchman (19:52):
Yeah. I agree. I agree. I agree. I think it’s a continuum. I think, um, you know, one of the, um, you know, really important aspects of food for me that, that, um, Verizon, you know, how I would pair food and wine or how I might sort of bring someone into, um, the space that they hold in the continuum of the world is, um, is, is how, um, you know, for example, when it comes to something like wines and foods, I look back to the culture that grew in that original grave that made that original wine. And I looked to the foods that were made in that region. And that’s where you see the NEF, which then connects you to those people and to that place and to that time. And then I think you feel maybe at least I do a little less alone.
Christine Okezie (20:36):
Mm yeah, yeah. Again, the deeper, the deeper origins and the history. And the same thing I think is, um, thankfully, um, really got so much momentum now is the whole farm to table movement. Um, understanding where your food comes from knowing your farmer, you know, caring about the way they treat the land. Um, I think that again is the lens that is, again, a healthier perspectives on food, right. Other than what food can do to make us healthy, but food is health, right. Um, depending on how we work with it in our lives and how we view it in our lives.
Celine Beitchman (21:13):
Mm Hmm. Yeah, that sounds very profound. I like the way you put that,
Christine Okezie (21:17):
but speaking of food and health, so you you’re, you know, um, bringing, as I know you’ve said putting wellness on the plate, um, or, um, all the people I’m just going to say to the mainstream medical model, you know, um, which, you know, has kind of had a blind spot when it comes to the role of food and supporting our bodies, you know, healing abilities. So knowing your you’ve been on the frontline there, is there progress happening? I’m dying to ask you this question. Is there progress happening when it comes to the mainstream medical model in terms of embracing food and healing?
Celine Beitchman (21:51):
I think it depends on, um, what aspects of the mainstream medical world we’re discussing, because I think that there’s a sort of spectrum in that, that, um, uh, may or may not have the, um, uh, interest in it because of whatever area they’re specializing in. So we’re talking about kind of acute care, you know, mainstream, or we’re talking about preventative medicine, you know, so I just want to kind of, um, uh, you know, I think it’s important for me, uh, because, you know, um, not because your question necessarily is going in that direction, because the question should new sort of, um, pings a bit for, um, the us versus them or the, you know, what would the mainstream versus alternative and, and, um, you know, so I think it’s more like a, kind of a groundswell more so than it’s a mainstream medical or mainstream anything, but kind of a ground swell of, of wanting some transparency in, um, in, in the food that we’re consuming.
Celine Beitchman (22:52):
I mean, there’s a whole model, like maybe that’s being promoted out there in some mainstream medical environments, because they may be, have the time to spend, uh, educating their clients in this direction or their patients in this direction towards, um, you know, health, uh, promoting diets. But, you know, there’s not really a lot of time and the mainstream medical environment to, um, you know, full disclosure. My, my partner is, um, is a physician. And, you know, I maybe that softened me a bit in terms of what’s available and possible within that model. You know, I think that, um, customer demand drives a lot of what’s available out there. And when we think about something like this pandemic that we’re in right now, and we look at the statistics for, um, food sales and we see that, you know, just think like in the times today, you know, some maybe by Jane throw in you’re someone else, you know, on the scene talking about how, um, the sales of processed foods have skyrocketed since people aren’t sure. And then I, and then I think about all my chef friends and, um, you know, former and current students, you all, um, is this, I don’t even know if this is a real word in the lexicon for procrastibaking, right.
Celine Beitchman (24:08):
Cause you’re not out there and you’re buying all your food cause you don’t cook a lot now you’re buying more processed. And if you you’re cooking at home, you’re, you’re using like flour and yeast and you’re, you know, maybe you’re using your alternative sweeteners, but you’re still, you know, basically. So, um, you know, there’s so many shake shacks and okay, what’s happening out there. What’s sold out there as a, as a measure of what, you know, the mainstream medical model can kind of work with in a sense, you know?
Christine Okezie (24:35):
Yeah, yeah, no, I see what you’re saying. And I guess my question is when you develop the curriculum and the programming, let’s say for doctors, dieticians, other health professionals to come in and actually learn, um, through the lens of what if people make these changes on their plate, what’s possible, right. Again, how people get, that’s definitely a whole other conversation too, to your point, which is how we get people to actually agree to do that is, is a whole other hurdle. But I’m curious about just the experience, you know, the experiences you’ve had, let’s say, you know, cooking alongside a, did you have any, um, I guess gastrointestinal, you know, specialists, or did you have any, um, you know, just primary care physicians?
Celine Beitchman (25:23):
You know, the, my experience, I would say would be limited to the degree that, um, uh, most people who are in the, um, in a professional medical environment don’t necessarily have a lot of time to be, um, breaking out and taking, you know, a two week course with me. So, so those that, that have been able to are bring it in because they are interested in adding some, you know, what I would describe maybe even, you know, unfortunately in a pejorative sense, it maybe comes out that way, like a complimentary aspect to their existing, you know, a biz, right? Because they’re suddenly realizing how important it is, but what I find more so in my experience with working with people who are in the so called mainstream, uh, medical environment, is that they don’t know how to cook. Uh, they are just as impressed and excited by learning, like, you know, how to saute spinach and, you know, a little lemon does, you know, wakes up there and they’re just like regular people, you know, and they don’t have any real special knowledge in this area. And, um, yeah, I think they’re just as interested as anyone else, but it’s just a question of time constraints and practicalities that gets in the way of it, which I would suggest is probably the issue for most of us, even though the best of us making the best attempts at, um, navigating all of this, um, stuff we do every day and also right.
Christine Okezie (26:40):
Time yeah. Interest in that you mentioned. So, yeah. Agreed. Um, so the question is, you know, how, what gets in the way, you know, how can we change our level of interest, right. And how can maybe we can decide that our time, you know, we can make some modifications around that, like how, what would be, what would be possible, right. It’s always comes down to, I guess our curiosity, you know, our willingness to see things differently and then maybe have different choices around food. Yeah. What would you say? Um, we talked about keto and paleo and all that kind of, um, you said, I love that all the paraphernalia that goes with these diets, right. What would you change about the mainstream dogma of that, you know, have to, are you paleo, are you keto or are you macrobiotic? Are you vegan? You know, if you could change it, like what would you decide?
Celine Beitchman (27:34):
Um, I don’t, I don’t, I, well, this is like, you know, in a, in a, in a magic world where I get to like rub the genie lamp, um, it just happens like that without all the complications surrounding it. You know, I think, you know, it’s a double edged sword of this world that we live in where, um, you know, expert opinions abound and, and at the same time, no one believes any of the experts who have backgrounds in this information. So, you know, it’s, um, it, you know, what’s, what’s troubling is people’s sort of, um, following the, you know, the prettiest, maybe whatever the pretty means. I’m not necessarily saying that, you know, but what is the prettiest message? The, the, the, you know, that, that seems to, um, you know, that, that appeals to your confirmation bias about how the world works and how your body works.
Celine Beitchman (28:22):
Right. But when I talk to people about things, like what ketosis is that I would change is really, um, maybe tempering, uh, uh, how you absorb information, uh, trying to, um, sort of see where it lands without just following it, and also being willing to try it for a period of time. I think you had mentioned somehow, and, you know, like that’s a, you know, and this is such a common theme and kind of diet culture is like, if it’s not working, it must be you, right. You’re the one that’s not working. Cause here’s this perfect thing. We’ve figured it out in an academic environment, we figured out in the research it’s, it’s, you know, we’ll, you know, small, white mice, it works with we’re on cell cultures, it’s working well, you are the wrong person. Right. So we just need a little bit more like, again, like just this thing, that’s I just, you know, love from Anne Marie’s work, which is like this you’re Ristic right.
Celine Beitchman (29:16):
The trial or the not yet the, try it on for a couple of weeks peaceful. It doesn’t feel good. You know, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to throw the whole thing out. A lot of the, um, a lot of the people that I, I went to graduate school with were people who are already working out there in the field too, um, are doing nutrition, counseling and therapy in that level. Um, you know, that’s one of their kind of biggest pet peeves. And I think a lot, what I’ll do as a teacher in, in culinary school or with clients is, I don’t know, like, what do you call it? Debunking, myths I’m sorta deep brainwashing them. What do you, what happens when you come back from like war? You have to be like, so debriefed and you know, it it’s, it’s almost like I have to like circle, what is your thinking coming from and how do you approach information and kind of help someone understand how they’re absorbing things.
Christine Okezie (30:06):
That’s powerful. Yeah, no, I totally agree. Because it’s almost, when I, when I’m giving a workshop, I almost have to say that, which is assume, you know, nothing, everything you’ve learned about nutrition is at best questionable, you get locked in almost with this fervor because that’s kind of the conversation level is it’s like, Oh, this is the way it is. And this is good and this is bad. You’re absolutely right. I think it blocks us off from, and really evolving where we need to be with that perspective.
Celine Beitchman (30:38):
I don’t know if you experienced this in your work with, with people kind of, at what point do they come to see you? I would imagine that that would bear on it, but, um, uh, you know, people who are, um, uh, so concerned with, um, like knowing what the exact sort of answer is to everything and, um, that being like a really stuck place for them, that kind of unwilling to, to move on from it and being, um, you mentioned you work with, um, women, you know, kind of within our age range and, you know, that’s someone who has been eating for 45, 50 years, a very early sort of, not really riddle, but kind of like math question. I ask students when they, when they first meet me is, you know, how many meals have you eaten this? I just throw this some question out and your 365 or something like 1,003, which is three meals a day, you know, six times your age.
Celine Beitchman (31:40):
And when they come with that number, we just throw that these random numbers from the room, they just call out random numbers and they don’t even know what it’s about yet. Cause I don’t say it’s how many meals you’ve eaten. I just say, this is the number of multiply when you’re just throw these numbers up. And when I asked students like what all those numbers are, I’m actually 20 numbers ranging from 10,000. So 60,000 they’re like, what is it? Don’t know, that’s the amount of meals they’ve eaten. And when they meet me, they want to know why everything is wrong with them, why they’re there. And if I were to have like a session with them as a nutritionist, you know, I might be able to find some, you know, issues going on, but by and large, they are relatively healthy. I biologically speaking, it’s an alert and not falling off their chairs and yes, malnourished maybe, but like within a very small range of the over and under, but there’s such a concern about the moment now and in the future where you probably made a gazillion so-called mistakes leading to this show and you’ve survived it and remarkably beautifully.
Christine Okezie (32:41):
Right. I mean, I love that. You know, I think that sounds like very familiar. Did you do that in my class? I’m sure that we did because it’s echoing something. I’d love it because it got me thinking, um, yeah, yeah. You’re there, you know, there’s a stuckness that can happen around that, you know, about trying to get it right. Should have done it differently. Look at so. And so, but I read an article and my hairdresser told me and yada yada yada, right. And what that cuts us off from is, again, also what we were talking about. And certainly what happened in my training at NGI was trusting yourself, really trusting your experience. Your experience is real, you know, like you eat this, you feel that you got excited about it, you enjoyed it. It made you feel amazing. You wanted to learn and do it more. And as you said, Ann Marie’s heuristic approach. And that, um, that is the most natural relationship with food. And I used the word natural for what it really means that I think we need to reconnect to. We need to rediscover that. Yeah.
Celine Beitchman (33:49):
I think there’s also like a lot of things going on for people. It’s hard for me to generalize too, too much. I think, you know, you and I, um, you know, may have a very similar approach or, or, you know, um, you know, we spent time in a class together, certainly. So, you know, there’s, um, a shared experience that that’s, uh, we may carry, it’s just subconsciously you know, for our lives, as I meet people through teaching or, or as clients, um, you know, there’s just so many ways in which people are complex and bring all this information in. And I find that with each encounter, I need to kind of put my universal translator in my ear. Like almost like, what language are we speaking now? You know, what are you considering? I say, I’m alkaline, you know, like, do you think alkaline diet, you know, do you, what are you saying? Do you think baking soda,
Christine Okezie (34:44):
trying to see through the lens? What lens are they viewing their relationship with food and health and all of it? Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it is really interesting. We have to kind of peel back a lot of layers sometimes. Right. But speaking of that, um, you know, at the end of the day, you know, I believe you don’t need to be, by the way, everybody, you don’t need to be a professional chef to be able to, you know, eat cook and health, you know, your way to health, but cooking does play a fundamental role, in my opinion, you know, and we were talking earlier, if it’s just roasting a tray of vegetables or making a simple salad, right. That’s healing compared to so many other things we try to in the name of convenience, right? How do you get people these days, you think inspired around food. What’s the, what’s the conversation that you like to have to kind of ignite people into thinking they do have the time you don’t need to be an expert. It is worth it.
Celine Beitchman (35:42):
Well, I think that, um, it’s helpful for me to share that I have frozen and canned food in my house that there are, um, times when I’m so tired, I need to order a pizza. You know, like I think it’s important for me to express to them, um, that it’s not like an abstract idea, but that it’s a reality that, um, we need to figure out how it’s gonna work and that will include, you know, shortcuts and some home cooking and some not home cooking and some, you know, it takes a village kind of cooking. And, um, so, you know, as, as with like kind of how I approach, uh, maybe a nutritional intervention that I may know in my heart will take many years to, um, you know, uh, show itself and it’s in its best stages or, um, it, you know, I may just start by saying, you know, you’re going to add in like another two servings of fruit for the next three months. Right. And, um, I think that it’s, um, about building self efficacy, right? And it’s, um, it’s, it’s too many people that I know and love dearly that are this all or nothing kind of mentality, you know, if you’re shopping through fresh direct or whatever, so buy some, some broccoli, Rob, it’s already cooked and made and add that to a piece of fish that you are cooking and, and, you know, identify what is wholesome, but don’t necessarily have to make all of it.
Christine Okezie (37:06):
I love that. I love that. Yeah, no, absolutely. And again, another obstacle is that all or nothing, right. Have to be perfect. As you said, it has to be photo worthy.
Celine Beitchman (37:19):
And I have, I have, you know, you have children, I have, um, you know, uh, nieces, niece, and nephew and friends with children and, and, um, we have to think appreciate that whatever message we are projecting or, or, or, um, sending out there or believing and, and adopt ourselves for your, in my age group is one that we have to expect that those younger folks are gonna have to somehow bring into their lives because we can, you know, let them on along. And then we’ll good luck. And when you get to 50, come on over, and I’m going to show you, I’m going to set you straight. It’s like going to work for them. And then in a way they they’re there nobody ever grows up kind of in a way when it comes to some things in life. Right. And so I think we have to be, you know, like we’re our, we have to be our teenager selves in a way when it comes to cooking.
Christine Okezie (38:07):
Yeah, no, I agree. And, and it’s, it’s about being practical. It’s having balance. Um, I think that’s one surest way to, you know, suck the fun out of cooking is to, you know, be your own task master. We were even talking during the pandemic, you know, you know? Yeah. Take out, you know, when you can, it works well to kind of just, you know, ease the pressure, which is most of the time is self-imposed anyway. So, but yeah, no, I’ve a huge fan of, um, important shortcuts, you know, have a well stocked pantry, you know, some really good staples that you can just whip up, pull up, you know, something leftover big, comes a side and you know, all that good stuff. So yeah, I love that moderation. And I’d love your, your idea about self efficacy, because that goes to the heart of this conversation when it comes to nutritional changes, we have to believe that we can make positive changes if we have to believe in ourselves that we have what it takes to do that. Right. That’s huge. Thank you.
Celine Beitchman (39:11):
I have a kind of also like, um, for me, like it sort of runs the gamut from maybe like a clinical sort of personalized nutrition concept to a, sort of a very generalized public health one. And within all of that is, um, you know, how you’re supported by, um, things outside of your own person. And so, you know, how we engage with the food world outside of our kitchen, you know, where we get our food from and, and you know, what we’re purchasing and how that provides for, you know, more food in the future and for healthier communities just by anchoring stores and all that kind of stuff. I think that also, you know, plays a role in, um, yeah, our mental health and our, and our, um, and our relationship to food and our interest in wanting to do it, you know, sometimes, um, feel a little bit, um, bored with cooking, but find myself in a farmer’s market or in a really good produce aisle. And then suddenly like the inspired and it’s thanks to those places that I have, you know, and no, sometimes I have to take myself to those places to get some inspiration.
Christine Okezie (40:10):
Oh, I love that. Yeah, absolutely. I always have this amazing feeling. Um, this farmer’s markets are just starting to open up here. And so, um, I went for the first time two weekends ago and, Oh my gosh, it was, it was, it was like a, just this everybody was, I mean, everyone’s wearing masks, but we’re all smiling. You can tell. Yep, exactly. Um, they, but it was exactly that there was just this feeling of a liveliness and freshness and, and celebration, you know, and all the colors and everything. And again, I think that’s instead of the, have to, should to, you know, this can kill you or this will save you dogma. It really just hearkens back to what lights you up, you know, what, what can and food can do that? You know, again, we have to teach people that food can do that. It really is possible. Right? Yeah.
Celine Beitchman (41:06):
It’s a lot, you know, there’s also a, you know, I, I, um, there’s, you know, there’s slippery slopes and I think we have to also, um, it admit that, um, you know, things like, um, you know, like intuitive eating or how people approach, um, in a, in a personal way, um, isn’t necessarily healthy for their bodies biologically. Right. And, you know, we need to kind of recalibrate sometimes, and that requires, you know, a retraining, you know, I, I, I don’t know what your upbringing was specifically. Um, um, but I, you know, I know that my kind of intuition around what a plate looks like at the table was wrought from having, you know, that drilled into me over the first, you know, say seven or eight years of my life before I was feeling really more sentient about food and all, but, um, you know, what, what health is comes from or what, what food is and how we organize it. And, and it making us happier, not happy, not necessarily, you know, connected to, um, nutrients as, you know, right. Connected to how that food is delivered to us and under what circumstances we’re eating it.
Christine Okezie (42:16):
Absolutely. Yeah. So, so there’s a whole, um, different level of consciousness that you can take to what it means to have food and to, you know, what role it’s going to play, especially these days, as we said, when you start looking at, you know, the economics of food or the, you know, global sustainability, environmental issues around food. But I think that’s, what’s so interesting about it, um, is that when we distill food into, again, you know, dogma, we lose that richness and we lose that richness because it’s, it’s important, you know, for us to have a deeper relationship with food. So when you, and I love this conversation because I love I’m, I I’m a science geek. And I think I, you know, in your class, even though it was a culinary class, you know, I was hungry for all of the knowledge that you were sharing about that. And, you know, and so I can go off on leaky gut easily as I can go in about, you know, self-compassion, they’re both like, awesome.
Speaker 3 (43:19):
We really have a lot of things in common with one another. Yeah,
Celine Beitchman (43:24):
yeah. But, you know, marrying the two, right. Which is yes, trust yourself, be open, you know, watch those limiting beliefs, but also recognize that right now we’re in an amazing age of science, nutritional science. I mean, it’s exploding right around epigenetics and the microbiome. So I think it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing. I think that’s the whole beauty of us having these conversations is that we now have both, we can marry both science and spirit around this.
Celine Beitchman (43:59):
Yeah. I mean, no offense to any, um, you know, group that is sort of an anti-science or yeah. I’m living at living in a, you know, kind of, um, you know, less modern environment by choice or by whatever, but refunds, mentally that, to not appreciate all of the information that we have out there is a disservice to ourselves. And it’s just like, turn your back on something, because it’s science. I I’ve been in environments where it’s been so, um, a chord to bring up science based models that they’ll put science in quotes and, you know, like, well, what do you mean by, you know, quotes, unquote science, you know, it’s a disservice to people to ignore all of the, um, definitions out there on food or labels on food and not help people understand what those things mean. You know, at the same time that I want people to step away from, you know, being tied to it, tied down to calories and things like that.
Celine Beitchman (44:58):
And at the same time for me, like, well, sodium is really important to consider. And I think so much of what we eat is full of it. And if you are getting a lot of processed stuff, you need to read that label, understand what that means you to understand what it means relatively to how much you’re getting and eating. I think it’s not something that you can necessarily taste in the food. And so I questioned the limit of sort of the intuitive model on those grounds. Right. So I think it’s important to, um, no, again, it’s education as you brought up, like educate the person to what’s happening and what all these things mean out there. Yeah. I mean, I have so many bits about this from just individual experience with people where they don’t. Most of the people that I have worked with, um, are under eating for their body’s needs. And they’re so caught up in the, um, energy model. So caught up in, um, and so disconnected as you described to hunger and satiety levels. And I’m so confused in a way about what they need to do for themselves, that they’re eating the below, what their body needs to survive.
Celine Beitchman (46:04):
Most people don’t understand that you need 70% of your calories to, um, maintain basic biological function and that, you know, eating below that or at that is not going to result in, you know, some weight loss. Interesting. You know, when I start to explain those models, to be able to explain some of the practical aspects of that, just as an addition to, um, maybe they’re more emotional approach to, I love that. I think it’s really helpful. It just, just provides more context
Christine Okezie (46:36):
context. Yeah, no, I agree. I mean, if we understand why and how it gives me more motivation and focus to actually give it a try or to, you know, say yeah, that, that sounds like that would be good for me. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. GMOs and organics. Just want to get your little, you know, again, there’s an explosion of research and science and it’s connected to so many other economic systems. Right. Um, what do you teach these days, you know, in your practice or actually with students?
Celine Beitchman (47:13):
Um, I think when it comes to let’s tackle organics first, I think when it comes to organics, um, I sort of, um, I think it’s important to consider what organics mean and, and what labeling laws are and, um, what your budget is and, uh, what you can or cannot, um, access. Um, and I think that, um, the danger of focusing on organics or GMOs or radiation, or any kind of potentially, uh, nefarious sounding, um, aspect of the food system is potentially a trigger for orthorexia. Right. Um, and, uh, and you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve experienced it myself. I’ve, I’ve witnessed it. I’ve, I’ve been in a store where I’ve like not known how to decide what to get, you know, faced with the choice of some vibrant, like beautiful, you know, bouquet of greens. Uh, that’s not organic versus the wilted limpy, you know, whatever.
Celine Beitchman (48:08):
And, um, so, uh, you know,, I think organics as a movement or as a concept is a very, um, that’s a big concept, you know, that speaks to land use and labor, you send all of that, right. And it’s every circulating concept. It’s about a sustainable model for the earth, but, you know, there’s even more well developed ones like biodynamics, for example, that’s, you know, not that promoted way more expensive, but, you know, like I said, just try to present facts really, as much as I can about these two and let people decide what is, what is valuable to them, but also remind them again, of how many meals they’ve eaten so far. And, and, and, and question who’s who to, who am I talking to? Is it someone who is pregnant and there’s like a baby in there that we’re concerned with and, you know, we’re relative size and exposure to things may be more problematic or, you know, um, so that’s maybe an issue.
Celine Beitchman (49:01):
Um, yes, yes, that’s so important, but I think when it comes to kind of GMOs, um, that, um, you know, I’ve done a, I’ve done a lot of research on it over time. I’m not a, I’m not a biochemist, I’m not somebody who works like at a high level at all in this area. And, um, do either in policy or in, in the food, food or chemical level of it. But, um, it seems to me that one of the big concerns about GMOs apart from controlling like seeds, you know, so that farmers can replant and that kind of stuff. That sounds just, you know, to me, like in humane and kind of just a crazy aspect of, of the business or the industry is the cross breeding of, um, of species that can result in, um, allergies, uh, for individuals. So if somebody is eating something that doesn’t, um, obviously have wheat in it, and yet it’s been crossbred with something because of some, um, you know, environmental reason for growth or stability or whatever, to have some particular wheat DNA. And it does that then lead to you being allergic now to that particular food. That’s not wheat based, but now has a wheat, uh, DNA. Um, and now then how does that, you know, kind of, kind of, how does that manifest in the culture? How do you figure out what’s edible or not for you? Right. Okay. Um, so that’s really, I think an issue, um, from a nutritional standpoint, but, but I think the subject is just really too big for me in a, in a way to opine,
Christine Okezie (50:34):
Yeah. Well, I think it’s, it’s, uh, it’s, um, another opportunity for, as you said to kind of, when we’re out there educating, you know, students and clients, it’s armed them with the information and the facts, and then making decisions that support their lifestyle, their, you know, their budget, their just whatever’s within their possible, I guess. Right. And again, isn’t that kind of what I always say is that we’re always doing the best that we can, you know, and, and that’s another thing I think when it comes to you, tradition that we need to give ourselves a little bit of a break here, you know, turn off the noise and just trust a little bit more and be open. You know, it’s really not as complicated as everybody has been made. Beautiful.
Celine Beitchman (51:25):
Yeah. Right. We can say that about everything though in life. Right, right, right, right. I’m pretty good at complicating things. That question what’s for dinner. Ooh. It’s like nails on a chalkboard these days. Oh. Cooking class that’s what for dinner.
Christine Okezie (51:46):
Exactly. Um, okay. So I’m going to ask you a fun question. If you had to be stranded on a desert Island, what is the one food that you would absolutely want to make sure you had an endless supply of
Celine Beitchman (52:02):
God? You know, that’s such a hard one for me, Christina. Cause when I think about that, I think I’d get bored with it. I think like probably good. Cause I think I probably have, at some point in my life been in environments where I did get that, you know, did get like a lot of a certain thing because maybe I was catering or there was a lot more and I thought, you know what, like maybe I’ll buy three cases of this peaches. And I’m like, by the end of, you know, a month I’m like no more peaches. Um, I think it would be, um, yeah, you know, I’ve always said for me, I always said Sherry’s, you know, has always come up for me as like a favorite food and I love them. So I just,
Christine Okezie (52:42):
yeah. Okay. And then maybe you could make some Brandy out of that too on the Island. Right.
Celine Beitchman (52:48):
Savory. I’m going, of course I’d be like catching fish and, and getting coconuts and you know, Palm things. Of course you can totally see a lot of opportunity there. I love it. That’s great. That’s great. Okay. Well, I’d like to throw it at you
Christine Okezie (53:01):
back at me. Yeah. You know, it’s funny, um, favorite food, you know, you mentioned coconut, but I guess that already grows on an Island. I’m a little obsessed with coconut. I’ll be honest with you. I think. Um, but you know, these days I would probably tell you some fresh greens, you know, and I don’t say that because it’s the right thing to say, but literally because, um, you know, I’ve been, you know, places, whether we’re on vacation or, or, or on the road and you’ll go for at least a week, let’s say a few days without getting really fresh greens. I mean, you might be eating healthy, other things, you know, broccoli and, you know, whatever fresh greens I really do mean that I feel different when I don’t get them. So, and they’re, and they’re, they’re versatile. Right.
Celine Beitchman (53:45):
That’s not really fair Christine cause you put greens and that’s a huge calorie category now.
Christine Okezie (53:52):
That’s kind of a category. Hmm. Okay. So, uh, Oh, Dino Kale. Yeah. dino kale because again, very flexible can eat it raw and you can steam it and crisp it and all that.
Celine Beitchman (54:10):
But you know, like just to, just to, just to, you know, back to my answer in a sense, I think that, um, just me knowing that I would get bored with the same thing, even the healthiest thing is, um, that’s healthy as well. That’s really important. Right. I mean, going to follow anything for any, you know, duration, I mean, we’re talking about a lifetime here. Right. You know, the, the, the kind of the, um, the new language, right. Replacing like diet with like, you know, sort of living and healthy patterns over your lifetime. Well, it’s like, what does that mean? That sounds like interminable, you know, and I’m sorry.
Christine Okezie (54:46):
Oh my gosh. So what are you curious about right now?
Celine Beitchman (54:49):
Well, but, um, you know, one thing that that keeps kind of, um, uh, servicing, uh, is a, is, is a push, even though I’m a little bit reluctant to see it in, um, in as many places as, um, as are pointed out that there is a sort of push to at like a simpler kind of eating style to food that we can recognize more, um, to less complicated foods, even like in the Instagram world where people are like making you the whole picture and food, whatever, there’s some more simple items and it becoming the order of the day. And I think that, um, it, you know, it’s maybe my wish and, and, um, maybe a part of like kind of this new, brave new world we’re entering when it comes to dining is, um, maybe a move to not so much people cooking more, but eating sort of more wholesome food and, um, and less adulterated and, and, um, and maybe people, um, you know, taking more culinary classes in some level or other, you know, in home or online or whatever, and, um, and realizing how economically or therapeutically, or, you know, biological emotion, whatever valuable that that is compared to heating out, which doesn’t just stay on, you know, against eating out.
Celine Beitchman (56:00):
But it’s, that’s never really been a big part of my, my, my life. My experience is eating in restaurants. I, you know, I’ve worked in them and I find them to be really enjoyable venues, but, um, restaurants were like theater to me. No, I think that’s, that’s the hospitality industry, right? To me, there’s an artifice and a kind of lovely thing I enjoy in any level of restaurant. But, um, but I think, uh, uh, wishful thinking, I don’t know why I, I, you know, the way that the natural gourmet center at, um, at, um, the Institute of culinary education has evolved even in the year or so that they, they brought the curriculum in, um, has just grown in terms of, um, you know, people wanting to be in the program and interest in it. And so I think that that’s a big tell, you know,
Christine Okezie (56:47):
I love that. I hope I share the same vision. And I think that vision is actually why I do what I do. Right. Because it’s based on that principle, which is you can’t get it wrong. You just have to be curious and there’s a lot out there, you know, so, and there’s a lot to gain, so I love it. I’ll come live in your world. So we’ll hope we’ll create it together.
Celine Beitchman (57:11):
Private chefs, you can be my private chef. There you go. There you go. You can be my sommelier as well, which would be lovely.
Celine Beitchman (57:18):
You got it.
Christine Okezie (57:19):
Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Is there anything that I maybe I didn’t get a chance to ask you that you would love to share or,
Celine Beitchman (57:25):
yeah, one of the things that I think food can teach us is, um, is how to be resilient. And, um, you know, that’s, uh, you know, we might not like one taste, but we might like another, and, uh, we may find that this store is out of it, but this has something else or that we made it a different way. And we said, you know, like there’s so many levels in which I think food can provide a measure of, you know, how we function in the world in, um, in a manner that teaches us or reminds us of, um, uh, our ability to be resilient in the face of all kinds of other bigger issues. Right. So, yeah, so, so huge teaching tool, and I think it has the potential to, um, to be that over your lifetime, even if you’re not always tapping into it.
Christine Okezie (58:12):
Yes. Yes. I couldn’t agree more. Couldn’t agree more. Okay. So thank you. This has been awesome. And, um, again, I just want to thank you and Celine, if people want to kind of learn more about you, you know, where would you send them like online?
Celine Beitchman (58:29):
Oh, um, if, um, they want to learn more about me. Um, I would probably send them to, um, uh,, Um, and they could find information about me and upcoming classes. Um, the school’s kind of like in an interim stage right now, but we’re going to September again. And so they can certainly reach out to me there or find me there. Uh, find more information about me. I have a ton of, um, writing I’ve done over the years. If you just keyword search my name in Google, you’ll find a lot of, um, writing I’ve done. Certainly people can find me on Facebook, right. I’m not huge in social media. So that’s a good one.
Christine Okezie (59:05):
All right, Celine. Well, thank you so much. I had a great conversation with you, Christine too. That was lovely enlightening. Yes. Thank you. Same, same. Thank you. Great. Be well, bye, bye.

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