Beans are superfoods. They are a high fiber, plant based protein that helps with weight loss, heart health, and preventing diabetes. They contain a more complete set of amino acids than other plant foods. They are loaded with iron, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins. Beans act as a sweep helping to clean out your digestive system.
In an era dominated by pharmaceutical solutions, there is a rising consciousness about the incredible healing and preventive powers of food. As the age-old saying goes, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” But how does this translate in today’s world? Can we really use nutrition as a potent tool against sickness and disease? How does one curate a diet that supports health, longevity, and wellness? In this series, we are talking to nutritionists, dietitians, medical professionals, holistic health experts, and anyone with authoritative knowledge on the subject. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Robin Fischman.
Robin Fischman is a Holistic Health Coach. She received her coaching certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Before becoming a Health Coach she spent 25 years in the corporate world as a Talent Acquisition leader. Over the years she learned first hand the effect eating whole foods and living a healthy lifestyle has on people’s health and well-being. She offers one-on-one coaching and small group programs that empower people to put their health first so they have the energy to thrive in their busy lives.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Iwas raised in New Jersey. My parents divorced when I was 8 years old. What made my childhood unique was the opportunity to split my time between New Jersey and New York City. During the week I stayed with my mother, sister, and step-father in New Jersey, experiencing a fairly normal middle-class suburban upbringing. Many weekends were spent in Manhattan with my sister, father, and step-mother.
On those weekends, I had the chance to immerse myself in the best of New York City. I witnessed iconic moments like Simon & Garfunkel performing in Central Park, explored renowned museums, roamed through different neighborhoods, and indulged in a wide variety of foods, including Indian, Mexican, Thai, and Cuban Chinese cuisine. Looking back on that time, I realize that those experiences greatly contributed to my love for art, culture, food, and cooking.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I was inspired to become a Holistic Health Coach by my mother. She was a single parent raising two kids. She worked long days and instilled a work ethic in me that I embrace every day. When we were growing up I, or my sister would prepare dinner for the three of us so when she arrived home from her long days at work dinner would be on the table. That got me started down a path of loving food and enjoying cooking. As I got older I became curious about how food affects people differently. Why can one person eat eggs for breakfast and feel energized and someone else gets tired? My curiosity about food led me to get my certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. The program taught me that health isn’t just about what we eat, it’s about so much more.
Being a Holistic Health Coach allows me to combine my 20+ years of work in corporate America as a Talent Acquisition leader with my health coaching certification. I believe that health is about so much more than the food people eat. One can’t be healthy and well unless they enjoy the work they do, move their body in a way that makes them happy and take time to care for themselves. During that time I interviewed tens of thousands of people and helped them identify their skills. I use the intuitive listening skills I mastered during that time to tune into what’s keeping my clients from achieving their optimal health.
It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the funniest mistakes I made when I first started my coaching business was spending all my time marketing the business and forgetting to actually coach clients. I was so excited to be sharing information about food and wellness that I would often forget to sell my services. What I learned was that marketing is just one piece of starting a business. It’s also vital to connect with people, share your passion, and get paid for the work you do.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The three character traits that are instrumental to my success are failure, compassion and work ethic.
Failure: I have faced moments of failure in my career, including being fired from jobs I initially believed were perfect for me. These experiences taught me valuable lessons about decision-making and the importance of understanding what I truly want in life. Making mistakes is an essential part of personal growth and learning.
Compassion: Compassion is a trait that I practice daily. One of the most significant displays of compassion in my life occurred during Barack Obama’s election. At the time, one of my team members, who was also the only Black person in our office, expressed the desire to take time off to travel to Washington DC and witness Obama’s inauguration. I can only imagine what it meant for a young Black male to witness the swearing-in of the first Black President. I wholeheartedly supported his decision to be a part of that historic moment and share in the energy and passion of the day.
Work Ethic: Leading by example is essential to my leadership style. I firmly believe in never asking my team to do something I wouldn’t do myself. Understanding the details of a task and what it takes to get it done is a critical aspect of leadership. In my role as the Director of Talent Acquisition at a global advertising agency, I led a team of five. Our workload was demanding, often requiring long hours. We had tight deadlines tied to our work. I supported my team members by helping where I could so we achieved our goals. This instilled a sense of teamwork.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m working on the expansion of my coaching practice. I’m committed to supporting more people in their journey to improved health and wellness. I’m in the process of developing a corporate wellness program. The objective is to extend my reach to a larger audience. This program will equip employees with the knowledge and tools to incorporate wellness practices into their daily routines, both at work and in their personal lives. By promoting physical health and overall wellness, I can help individuals feel better, have more energy, sleep better, and ultimately, lead more fulfilling lives.
I firmly believe in the principle of giving more than you take. Whether it’s through engaging social media posts, informative Lunch & Learn sessions, or impactful presentations, I aim to inspire and educate individuals on their path to wellness. Each person I can reach is a step closer to experiencing a better quality of life. By fostering a culture of giving we can contribute to people’s lives in a meaningful and lasting way. My ultimate goal is to create a ripple effect where individuals not only improve their own lives but also inspire and support others in their wellness journeys.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about cultivating wellness through proper nutrition and diet. To begin, can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority on the topic of nutrition?
I have a certification from a world-renowned health program. I was taught by experts like Deepak Chopra, Dr. Marion Nestle, and Dr. Joel Fuhrman in many of the top health and nutrition theories. I learned how to empower people to reach their health and wellness goals and that eating a diet rich in high-fiber foods is key to defending against chronic disease. I have seen firsthand the effect that shifting from a diet of processed foods that are high in sugar and fat to a high-fiber, plant-based diet has on people’s overall wellness. A perfect example is one of my clients who is incorporating more plant-based whole foods into her diet. In the first two weeks, she feels more in tune with her body and has more energy. In my own experience, after incorporating more plant-based foods into my diet, I reduced the inflammation in my joints which alleviated my body aches. After six months, there was a drop in my LDL “bad cholesterol” levels. When I work with clients and they incorporate leafy greens into their diet and start eating whole grains, I see an increase in their energy. They begin to feel better, which starts a positive cycle where they are inspired to make more changes that improve their health. Long term many are able to cease taking cholesterol medications and of course many experience the loss of unwanted weight.
We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
I must say that I’m not sure that everyone does know the basics of good eating habits. I’m often surprised to hear that people still stumble on the basics, such as eating fewer processed foods and incorporating more whole foods into their diet.
The biggest issues I see are time and habits. People are incredibly busy, especially in the United States. We work long days in stressful jobs. Many of us are caring for our families, some with aging parents. As a culture we are sedentary. We spend long days sitting at our desk which is unhealthy. What I hear repeatedly from people is they barely have time to eat breakfast or cook a healthy meal. Habits can be progress killers. It’s comfortable to stick with what we know, even if it’s not working. People are tired, overweight, and sick. So we have to do things differently to bring about change. Breaking habits like spending an hour on social media can be challenging, but it’s essential.
For a lot of people food is tied to their culture. Fried chicken is just fried chicken for some of us and for others it’s connected to a history that goes back hundreds of years. When you ask someone to change their diet you have to consider it may not be that simple. They might face criticism from their family and friends. I counseled someone who has an autoimmune disease. She is feeling tired and lethargic. She wants to incorporate more whole foods into her diet to see what effect it has on her energy and lethargy. Her family is resisting the change. It’s unfortunate that sometimes putting our health first can be a battle with the people we are closest to.
There has to be a strong motivator to take care of ourselves. We know that the food industry doesn’t always support us in making healthy choices. Many doctors receive less than 4 hours of nutrition training during medical school. Unfortunately, doctors often benefit from writing prescriptions, so they might not always be the best sources for supporting us in making better food choices.
From your professional perspective, do you believe that nutrition plays a pivotal role in supporting the body’s natural healing processes and overall well-being, particularly in cases of chronic diseases? We’re interested in hearing your insights on the connection between a holistic approach to diet and its benefits for individuals facing health challenges.
Yes, absolutely. Nutrition, a holistic diet, and a healthy lifestyle are crucial for supporting healing and preventing chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. One cannot improve their health or prevent disease without a good diet. However, it’s not the only important factor. Adequate sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, regular exercise, and doing work you enjoy are also essential components of overall wellness. These elements work together to protect the body against disease and illness, making it easier for someone to recover from an illness.
Reducing the consumption of animal products is crucial for overall health. There is a common misconception that eating meat is good for our health, that it gives us strength and energy. In reality, it has been shown to raise inflammation in the body, contribute to high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, and hinder the body’s healing process.
Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your research or experience could you share with us five examples of foods or dietary patterns that have demonstrated remarkable potential in preventing, reducing, or managing specific health conditions? If you can, it would be insightful if you could provide real-life examples of their curative properties.
1 . Beans are superfoods. They are a high fiber, plant based protein that helps with weight loss, heart health, and preventing diabetes. They contain a more complete set of amino acids than other plant foods. They are loaded with iron, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins. Beans act as a sweep helping to clean out your digestive system.
2 . Leafy greens: There are a huge range of leafy greens to choose from: spinach, collard greens, kale, bok choy, turnip greens to name a few. If they are green and leafy, eat them as often as you can. Greens help build your internal rainforest and strengthen the blood and respiratory system. Green is associated with spring — the time of renewal, refreshment, and vital energy. In Chinese medicine, green is related to the liver, emotional stability, and creativity. Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. They’re loaded with fiber, folic acid and chlorophyll. Leafy greens help boost overall health, reduce inflammation and prevent disease.
3 . Whole grains: An excellent source of nutrition. They contain essential enzymes, iron, dietary fiber, vitamin E and B-Complex vitamins. Because the body absorbs grains slowly, they provide a sustained and high-quality energy. Whole-grain foods help control cholesterol levels, weight and blood pressure. These foods also help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions
4 . Turmeric helps reduce inflammation in the body. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that can protect from the harmful effects of free radicals. It helps boost brain health. It supports the immune system, helps control diabetes and lowers cholesterol. It helps treat skin problems like psoriasis, acne and eczema. It helps prevent cancer and can help stop tumor growth.
5. Reducing sugar in the diet, especially processed sugars, is critical to one’s overall health. Sugar is prevalent in the American diet. Processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup are in many processed foods from yogurt to soda, crackers to sauces. Other processed sugars like fructose and glucose are also found in many grocery store products. Reducing the sugar in your diet can help with weight loss, help improve heart function and lower inflammation in the body.
Do experts generally agree that merely choosing healthy foods isn’t sufficient, but that understanding how to consume them is key to unlocking their full health benefits? (For example, skins on/off, or cooked/raw, or whole grain/refined grain) Could you provide advice on how to approach this and sidestep common errors or misconceptions?”
Raw vegetables contain the most nutrition, but raw food isn’t always appealing, especially in colder months. For individuals with digestive issues eating raw foods can be hard to digest. Steaming or sautéing vegetables is the next best option because it adds moisture, which can help hydrate the body.
Choose whole grains over enriched grains ALWAYS. Enriched grains means that the grain has been stripped of the good stuff. Whole grains are whole — leaving the nutrients intact.
Reducing the consumption of animal products is crucial for overall health. Consuming animal proteins is the biggest misconception. There is a belief that humans need to eat meat to be healthy. It’s actually the opposite. Eating meat raises inflammation in the body and is tied to high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, slowing down the healing process in the body and can cause weight gain. What we learn about eating meat often comes from the meat industry itself which lobbies our government to promote its products. Eating meat is a controversial topic. There are several fad diets that promote eating meat saying it’s necessary to build muscle. Our culture tells us that eating meat makes us strong. It’s simply not true.
With the recent prominence of nutrition’s integration into healthcare, what’s your perspective on the collaborative approach between medical professionals, health coaches, and nutrition experts when it comes to delivering holistic patient care? Can you please explain?
I think it’s great, we should all work together. Medical professionals have very little nutrition training and their limited time with patients may not allow for on-going support. That’s where health coaches come in. We are trained to support people over time to make the necessary changes to their food and lifestyle that are key to long term success. Nutrition experts are needed too. Sometimes a specific issue arises that requires a deep dive into particular nutrients or supplements. We are still a society that looks to our MD’s first. Ideally every medical professional would have a health coach and nutrition expert as a part of their medical practice so patients can be fully supported.
It’s been suggested that using ‘food as medicine’ has the potential to reduce healthcare costs by preventing disease severity. However, there’s concern about the affordability of healthier food options. What solutions do you believe could make nutritious choices accessible to everyone, ensuring that food truly becomes a form of medicine for all?
I’ll first say that a bag of beans, which is one of the best foods on the planet and can feed a family, only costs $1-$3 in most grocery stores. I think saying that healthy food isn’t affordable isn’t completely true. To answer your questions about making nutritious food accessible to everyone, small organic farms need to be supported by government farm subsidies so they can lower their food prices. What isn’t being taken into consideration about organic farming is that while it is more expensive to farm organically, it is a more sustainable way to farm which is better for the earth, and the food itself is more nutritious. Unfortunately small farms don’t get the same support as bigger factor farms.
Continuing the SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) is important so lower income families can get access to great food. Farmers markets are key to bringing fresh local food to communities. It would be ideal to have farmers markets in food deserts. There also has to be school education programs around health and nutrition and a way to improve the school food system so kids have healthy food options at school.
Everyone’s body is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. How does one navigate the vast array of nutritional advice available today to curate a diet tailored to individual needs, ensuring health and longevity?
It’s vital to tune into how you feel after eating a meal to see what works for you because we are all unique. If you aren’t feeling well, or have a huge drop in energy, consider that what you consumed during your last meal may be the culprit. That will begin the process of finding your best foods. While there is a wide range of nutritional advice available, don’t get caught up in the latest food trends. Keep it simple, focus on a whole foods, plant-based diet, consume a variety of colorful foods, eat whole grains, nuts are good, opt for healthy fats like olive oil, reduce the amount of sugar you eat and do your best to cut out processed foods. Cut down or eliminate the consumption of animal products. Experiment with foods and pay attention to how your body reacts to them.
As our understanding of the intricate link between food and health continues to evolve, we’re curious to know which emerging trends or breakthroughs in nutritional science excite you the most. How do you envision these advancements shaping the future of healthcare?
Recent advancements in understanding the human microbiome are particularly exciting. The connections between the microbiome and various health conditions, including mental disorders, Parkinson’s Disease, autoimmune diseases, and more, are still being explored. In the future, we may have specific supplements that can support the microbiome and help prevent and treat common diseases.
How can we better educate the public about the medicinal properties of food, and what role do professionals like you play in this educational journey?
First off, let’s provide more nutrition training to doctors. Right now most people seek out a doctor’s opinion first so let’s equip them with the tools they need to help people be well. Let’s have a nutritionist and a health coach in every doctor’s office so we can pick up where a doctor leaves off. Provide nutritional education to children in school so they learn the benefits of eating well at an early age. Improve school food programs to include healthy options. Some grocery stores have nutritionists on staff to teach customers how to make good food choices, that’s a great idea that could be expanded to larger chain stores like Walmart or Aldi. Incorporate a flagging system on articles and published research so readers are aware when that information has been paid for by a vested interest.
My role is educating and empowering people to improve their health through coaching programs and corporate wellness programs. I’d love to see more companies incorporating Wellness at Work programs for their employees. In 2021 the United States spent over $4.3 trillion on healthcare. Corporate wellness programs have been shown to increase productivity at work, reduce the amount of sick days employees take and lower the cost of healthcare costs for employers.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website is: robinfischman.coach
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!