Shawn Stevenson Family Meals

Shawn Stevenson
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Kelly: [0:00:04] Hey everyone, I’m Dr. Kelly Starrett.

Juliet: [0:00:06] And I’m Juliet Starrett.

Kelly: [0:00:08] And you’re listening to The Ready State Podcast.


Juliet: [00:00:16] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by our friends at LMNT.

Kelly: [00:00:21] I want to challenge you, if you’re feeling like you need a 4 p.m. bump.

Juliet: [00:00:25] Like a caffeine bump at 4 p.m.? Or what about in my case, a 4 p.m. entire bag of popcorn?

Kelly: [00:00:31] Yeah, that would be it. What I would suggest is you’re thirsty and probably could do with a little salt. If you’re rolling into your workout and you’re like, ah, I don’t feel motivated, bah, hit some LMNT and watch what happens. Have you ever seen a plant thirsty? You water the plant, it comes back to life in like a day. That’s what happens when you slam some LMNT before you train. It’s amazing.

Juliet: [00:00:53] In my case, at 4 p.m. I often am dying to have some caffeine or some kind of snack in order to get through the rest of my work day.

Kelly: [00:01:00] You need some water and a little salt.

Juliet: [00:01:01] But I really found that if I just have some LMNT at that time, what my body really needed was some water and some salt, and I feel way better.

Kelly: [00:01:07] If you are doing this in the morning, try a little bit of a half serving of hot LMNT.

Juliet: [00:01:12] Controversial. Controversial. No, it’s so good.

Kelly: [00:01:16] The idea is a little bit of LMNT in your water before you train. I guarantee you, you’ll feel better 30 minutes before, even 10 minutes before. The other day when we were riding, I was slugging an LMNT as we were getting on the bike and I was like by the time I’m warmed up, ready to go.

Juliet: [00:01:31] Right now if you order through our link, you get a free sample pack with all of LMNT’s flavors. Go to

Juliet: [00:01:41] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by Vitruvian. 

Kelly: [00:01:45] I was just recently having a conversation with our friend Zach Even-Esh, who specializes in training young kids.

Juliet: [00:01:52] He’s a legend.

Kelly: [00:01:53] He’s been doing it for forever and he’s now a strength and conditioning coach at a high school also. He says there’s a real thing he’s seeing where kids are not doing basics anymore. They’re doing a lot of fancy training. And guess what? At their school they’re seeing injury rates in kids who are not training or doing agility drills versus kids who are learning the basics and fundamentals of strength and conditioning: front squat, back squat, pressing. The Vitruvian solves that problem for a lot of parents because we need to be able to move a lot of this into the household, into the garage, if you can do it. The problem is you can’t have thousands of pieces of barbells and weights.

Juliet: [00:02:33] No, not everybody can have a totally kitted out home gym or has even space for that.

Kelly: [00:02:37] And what you’re thinking to yourself is, self, do I need a spotter? Vitruvian has a spotter built in. If you start to fail, it’ll stop. It has accommodating resistance, takes up, samples your speed and what’s going on a hundred times a second. So this is one of the safest ways I know to get kids under real load in their garages very quickly. And by the way, parents, I’m talking to you too. You could stand to have these fundamental basics. Oftentimes, we take the barbell out, in other words the barbell attachment, we put handles in kids’ hands. All the magic happens.

Juliet: [00:03:07] And our kids have really enjoyed using it and because they’re so tech savvy, they’re able to figure out how to use it in like two seconds.

Kelly: [00:03:13] Even I was able to use it.

Juliet: [00:03:14] And they gravitate towards it and when we’re not using it, we can just store it underneath a shelf in our garage and it’s been a really fun and awesome tool to have around for our kids in particular.

Kelly: [00:03:23] We have to solve this problem. Recently one of our neighbors walked by and is like, “What’s that Tron thing?” So it’s very cool.

Juliet: [00:03:29] It’s very cool. For more information, go to

Juliet: [00:03:35] Shawn Stevenson is the author of the USA Today national bestseller Eat Smarter and the international bestselling book Sleep Smarter. He is also the creator of The Model Health Show featured as the number one health podcast in the US with millions of listener downloads each month. A graduate of the University of Missouri St. Louis, Shawn studied business, biology, and nutritional science, and became the cofounder of Advanced Integrative Health Alliance. Shawn has been featured in tons of media outlets like Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, Muscle and Fitness, and many, many more. Shawn’s latest book, Eat Smarter Family Cookbook is out October 10, 2023, and I for one am really excited about it.

Kelly: [00:04:20] Full caveat, we’ve known Shawn for a minute. 

Juliet: [00:04:23] Yeah, we’re fans.

Kelly: [00:04:23] We’re fans.

Juliet: [00:04:24] Fans and friends.

Kelly: [00:04:25] He’s an incredible father, person, holder of this space. What’s radical about this book is that he’s used this trope like we need another cookbook, we don’t really know how to cook. But instead, he’s said we can use this cookbook to transform how our families connect and ultimately the health of our family. It’s radical.

Juliet: [00:04:44] Yeah, I mean one of the things that really stuck with me is how much he talked about creating a kitchen culture and a table culture at your house. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that since we originally interviewed him. I thought it was such a cool concept that nobody’s really talked about before, the importance of creating a space that makes cooking and being together as a family and sitting together as a family a fun and cool experience.

Kelly: [00:05:04] The research around obesity, health metrics, connection, loneliness, and eating together blew my mind. I mean really this is well researched. This isn’t like touchy feely. It’s like the science of human beings are… What do you say? Human beings move together and we-

Juliet: [00:05:21] Eat together.

Kelly: [00:05:22] We eat together. This book I think is a wonderful recapturing of why it’s essential that we rebuild our culture, rebuild our family, rebuild our household, just by eating together.

Juliet: [00:05:34] I think you all are really going to enjoy this conversation with Shawn. I know we did. And let’s get into it. What is up, Shawn? Welcome to The Ready State Podcast.

Shawn Stevenson [00:05:43] I’m happy to be here. You’re two of my favorite people. Power couple.

Juliet: [00:05:48] You know, we were lucky enough to be on your podcast a while ago. And man, we were definitely on the circuit, but that for me was one of the most fun, especially because I have known of you, but you and I actually hadn’t met in person until that point, so that was a major highlight.

Kelly: [00:06:04] Major lowlight for me because Juliet’s weaseling in on my man love. Shawn and I are friends, we actually text, and then all of a sudden, I was like, oh, I know what’s going to happen here. He’s going to get to know Juliet and I’m going to get dropped.

Juliet: [00:06:16] That could happen.

Kelly: [00:06:16] It happens all the time.

Juliet: [00:06:17] It could still happen.

Shawn Stevenson [00:06:18] She has been extending the love much more my way than you have recently because she shared with me that I’ve done all this media recently, but doing The Model Health Show with you was the best. She told me I couldn’t tell anybody. But since she opened the can, I’m going to share with everybody.

Kelly: [00:06:35] There it is.

Juliet: [00:06:36] It was really fun. So I want to start by saying congratulations in advance on your next book. Man, you are a prolific book creator, writer, marketer. It’s amazing to see. I am so excited about this book. And literally the moment you announced it, I was reposted about it because I was really excited about Eat Smarter Family Cookbook. And so I just want to get right into it. Why this book, why now?

Kelly: [00:07:01] And that word family. Explain that to us.

Shawn Stevenson [00:07:04] Absolutely. All right, so I’m going to share the tip of the spear here, which is I came across some data from researchers at Harvard and they were tracking family eating behavior for decades and health outcomes for in particular the children. And I was just so shocked that people didn’t know this information. And so to look at the end of the story, where we are now, they found that only about 30 percent of families are eating together on a regular basis now.

Kelly: [00:07:32] Can you define what does it even mean eating together? In the same room or actually sitting down sharing a meal?

Shawn Stevenson [00:07:39] Exactly. Yes. Because we can eat at the same time, which is what I did growing up, but we would disperse and oftentimes end up in front of a television, a video game, something like that. Eating together, sitting down at a table face to face, not even necessarily at a table, you know, you guys will sit on the floor. And we do to from time to time. But just sitting together without distraction. And so that’s number one. So that’s where we are currently. 

But what I was curious about was is there something protective about this practice of eating together because we evolved doing that as a species. As we evolved, everybody in the tribe would be involved in food preparation, in the process of eating, and also celebration. We just came back from Maui and we see this thing as entertainment now, to see the concept of a luau. But truly, having this opportunity, the hunting, the gathering, eating together, the celebration around that thing, and so it’s kind of been on the endangered species list recently for our families. And so I was curious is this creating some kind of potential health ramification by not eating together. And what was so crazy, and I’ll just share this study to start with, there was a study that was published in the Journal of Pediatrics and another one… I’ll just couple them together. A study published in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association. And they were looking at how often families eat together, does it have any impact on the children specifically. And they found that eating together with your children three times a week was the minimum dramatically decreased the incidents of obesity in the children in the family. And the other study found that it dramatically decreased the incidents of eating disorders in children as well. So there was something really interesting about eating together as a family that was reducing the incidents of those health conditions. 

The last part, just circling back to those researchers at Harvard, their data found that families that eat together on a regular basis consume significantly higher amounts of micronutrients, macronutrients, things that help to prevent chronic disease, basically. And the other part is dramatically reduced consumption of ultra processed foods like chips and soda. And so this practice of eating together that we’ve been doing for so long, thousands of years, suddenly now we’re kind of dispersing, oftentimes in front of mind numbing media. And by the way, this is the caveat for this show, we’re not demonizing… None of us are Luddites. We’re doing this on technology. The thing is when we start to shift our behavior so quickly, which has only been a couple of decades when we’ve been doing this.

Kelly: [00:10:15] Yeah, the TV dinner, right?

Shawn Stevenson [00:10:16] Americans invented the TV dinner. We invented it. And the advertisement is the family gathered around watching TV. And now we love to do that. We can get together, have a movie night, watch the game, that kind of thing, but we’re going to be missing out on a key component and ingredient, something our genes expect us to do, where we’re not sitting together face to face and interacting while enjoying our food. The last thing I’ll share with this, and we could talk more about this in this conversation, but the catalyst for all of this was some data coming from researchers at Brigham Young University. And this was a huge meta analysis. This was like 148 studies, over 300,000 people. And they found that our social connections, by having healthy social ties with our friends and family, reduces all cause mortality by about 50 percent. So reducing your risk of dying from everything by 50 percent by having these strong social ties. And my question for you guys and for everybody listening, what is the context under which we most often connect? It’s usually around food. If we’re doing it right, if we’re being human, food is usually going to be involved. 

Juliet: [00:11:27] Yeah, so I love all of this and I have 50,000 follow up questions. But one of the things that I’ve been saying as we’ve been cruising around the world talking about our book Built to Move is that human beings do two things together: They eat together and they move together. And on the eating side, one of my criticisms of the fitness industrial complex writ large is that a lot of diet culture and strange eating styles have removed the eating together piece for a lot of people in our industry.

Kelly: [00:11:57] For single young people who are on the internet, on Instagram looking shredded, nothing to do with families.

Juliet: [00:12:03] Yeah, so I think people who are interested in fitness and diets, that’s certainly a reason that they pull themselves out of this key thing that is eating together. But if you look at society in general, what’s changed? Is it the influx of technology? One of the things I can say is true for us, and I know people in my community raising kids, is that youth sports has exploded and a lot of times the nights that we often can’t eat together, it’s because one of our kids is actually at a sports practice, and that makes it difficult. I don’t know. What’s your diagnosis? What changed so quickly? I’m sure it’s multifactorial. But what are you seeing and what’s caused all this?

Kelly: [00:12:39] And did it even change quickly or has it been a slow erosion?

Shawn Stevenson [00:12:43] Yeah. I want to specifically talk about that point with kids’ sports because my son, my youngest son, is in AAU basketball here in LA which is like a big deal. It’s a whole thing, it’s a whole investment. And at these games where athletics is supposed to be at the highest order, human performance, and you take a look at the food that they have available to fuel these kids’ bodies. I’m talking about 99 percent ultra processed foods that they’re shelling out for, again, well-meaning parents, families, to provide for their kids. The environment around all of this stuff is very, very strange recently. But how did this come about? And by the way, we’ve got to tie in that key aspect of… You said a key word, you said culture, all right? This is what it’s really all about. And let’s define what culture is, by the way. Culture is the shared attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors of a community that is then passed down to future generations. That last part is the most important part here. Values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors that we pass on to our children. And so we can’t help but be a product of our culture. We just are. And there are cultures still on planet Earth today, there are very few, but we’ll just give an example of a hunter gatherer tribe, the Hadza. Their culture, it is a subconscious belief they have that if they don’t move, they will die.

Juliet: [00:14:07] I love it.

Shawn Stevenson [00:14:08] For them to be able to procure their food, the hunting, the gathering, getting some honey, they have to move or they will die. If they’re going to eat, they have to move. It’s a deeply ingrained belief. In our culture, movement is optional. I can literally push a button on my phone and have food put into my hand, let alone, I’m very far removed from where any of that food comes from. And so that part, as Kelly alluded to, has been slowly degrading. We’ve lost touch with where our food has come from. That was kind of the first domino with the advent of factories and labor changing to where we’re now working in factories, assembly lines, all this stuff, and we have a certain class of people who are growing food, whereas a significant percentage of our citizens grew something for their families.

Juliet: [00:15:02] Even just a backyard garden or something.

Shawn Stevenson [00:15:03] Even that. Like my grandmother had a garden and she would preserve things and she had this super creepy cellar, by the way. I still have bad dreams about that cellar at my grandma’s house.

Kelly: [00:15:14] You’re bringing up all of these family members. I’m like Joyce Starrett had a weird lockout cellar with jars of fermented hands and body parts, I’m sure. And little children in there looking through the glass-

Juliet: [00:15:25] That’s what you saw as a kid.

Kelly: [00:15:26] Seriously. Open up the freezer. But I’m thinking of her TV trays that were on a special rack. They were a thing. I’m like, wow, grandma, you were the first domino of destruction of our society. 

Shawn Stevenson [00:15:40] But also, within that context, she loved the mess out of you. She loved you so much. And she was speaking that love language through food. And in particular, we want to feed our grandkids especially things that make them happy. And so my grandmother loved me deeply and my grandfather was diagnosed with high blood pressure, hypertension, he was at risk for heart disease. And so his doctor at that time, this was back in the mid-80s, said, hey, you need to cut out the fat, get off that butter, and start eating this margarine. So Country Crock was always in our refrigerator. So partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which has been banned in many places. Actually, banned in restaurants in New York, all the way back in the early 2000s. And a lot of people don’t know this. Well, actually it was somewhere around 2005, 2008.

Kelly: [00:16:32] Don’t bring up big butter politics in New York. 

Juliet: [00:16:36] Man, the Country Crock, though, everyone had Country Crock in their fridge.

Kelly: [00:16:42] I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray, how about that?

Shawn Stevenson [00:16:45] The commercial for Country Crock, the container would open and talk, be seductive. But anyway, my grandmother and everybody at this point, a lot of people at least, have heard of the five love languages and how we communicate love differently depending on who we are and how we receive love and what really fulfills us is different depending on who we are. And so those love languages fit really perfectly with food because for example, acts of service, that was one of the things when my wife had my youngest son, my mother-in-law coming over and bringing food. That act of service freed up so much mental space and space in our spirit to just be present, to not worry about what we’re going to eat, that kind of stuff. She brought the service. And for her, that love language is returned in words of affirmation. So she might not ever say it, but just hearing from us of how good that food is, you could see she turns on, oh yeah, you like that. She doesn’t sound like me, by the way. She was from Kenya. That was a very bad impression. 

Kelly: [00:17:49] If you think of your mother, your grandmother, your great grandmother right now, think about what you associate most with those elder relationships and it’s food. I mean I think of my grandmother’s bread, my grandmother’s pancakes, my grandmother’s pies. I mean the number of times where Joyce was cooking for us all, binding us together, I mean that’s really stuck there. That’s really interesting. I haven’t really thought of how much I associate my grandparents with specific eating events and specific foods. That makes total sense.

Shawn Stevenson [00:18:20] Yeah. And also, during that time, this is when food manufacturers and food scientists started to integrate themselves into our family construct. And so for her to be a part of our community, the new McDonalds down the street, I had my birthday party there. I wanted to be like the other kids. And so she relented to, okay, cool, I’ll get the kid this thing. And so much so that my grandfather, he would get her home cooking, but I would just rebel as my taste buds were starting to get manipulated. I was like I want fish sticks. And because of her wanting to love me, she gave me fish sticks and macaroni and cheese. And I could see my grandfather giving me dirty looks out of the corner of his eye. But she was just trying to make sure that I was eating and also, again, showing her love. She didn’t know, of course, that she’d be laying down the foundation for disordered eating for me and just being somebody who consumed mostly processed as the foundation of my diet. But again, she was just doing what was normalized in our society, becoming normalized at the time. 

And where we fast forward today, and this is according to the BMJ, British Medical Journal, it’s one of our most prestigious journals, they affirm that the average American adult here in the United States right now, 60 percent of our diet is made of ultra processed foods currently. And that number, and this is the first book to share this data, and I’m very proud of that, but also, this should be jarring and catalyzing. A new study has come out looking at the diet makeup of American children. This was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This tracked the dietary intake of kids from age two to 19 for about 20 years. And they found that back in 1999 the average American child’s diet was already 61 percent ultra processed foods. Whereas currently, fast forward to 2018, which it’s gotten worse since then, almost 70 percent of the average American child’s diet is now made of ultra processed foods. 

And just to clarify, what does ultra processed mean? Humans have been processing foods forever, all right? Cooking is a process. But we’re not talking about cooking some steak; we’re not talking about taking some olives and pressing the oil out. That’s processing. Ultra processed food is where we have a field of corn that through an immense amount of processing and additives and preservatives and food dyes and colors, that corn becomes a bowl of Lucky Charms or a wheat field becomes Pop Tarts. That food is so denatured, is so far removed from anything real, that’s what ultra processed foods are. And that makes up the majority of our diet today. And most importantly, and I hope this flips on the switch for everybody, that makes up the majority of the ingredients that make up humans today. That’s the majority of ingredients that make up our cells and the energy in which is used for our cells to communicate. So the very recipe that makes us up as people has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades.

Kelly: [00:21:27] When you describe going from corn field to-

Juliet: [00:21:30] Pop Tart.

Kelly: [00:21:30] Pop Tart, I’m like, oh, you’re describing like a science fiction movie. You’re describing Ghostbusters to me.

Juliet: [00:21:35] Yeah, it is like a science fiction movie.

Kelly: [00:21:36] I mean when you picture it that way, I’m like that’s not real, that doesn’t happen. How is that possible? And it’s really true.

Juliet: [00:21:43] I just have to go back to something you mentioned earlier, which is connected to this youth diet crisis I would say. It’s really alarming, especially when you’re able to share some of that really scary data. And by the way, one extra piece, and I can’t quote the source, but Kelly and I recently saw a piece of data that kids were questioned and the age was like elementary age kids, when’s the last time they ate a fruit or vegetable.

Kelly: [00:22:06] It was The New York Times.

Juliet: [00:22:06] And most kids, they’d maybe eaten one fruit in the last week and no vegetables. That really tracks this data about 70 percent of them only eating ultra processed foods. But I want to go back to the youth sports thing because that has been such a shocker to me as a parent. And I’ve reacted to it in all the ways. I’ve tried to be the heavy-handed parent who sends all the team parents lists of things our kids shouldn’t eat. I’ve tried to sit back and just let it happen.

Kelly: [00:22:37] You’ve lectured at leagues.

Juliet: [00:22:39] I’ve sent Kelly off and said you need to take over the training table for this fourth-grade volleyball team because otherwise, it’s just going to be Doritos and bagels. And you still see Gatorade pervasive in all youth sports. How did we get to this point where especially in this youth sport context-

Kelly: [00:23:00] Do you remember the first time we became aware of this? Our kids were in a swim league locally and they’d swim 25 meters, one length. And they’d get out and the parent would hand them a Jamba Juice.

Juliet: [00:23:10] And a donut.

Kelly: [00:23:10] And a donut. And it was like there was immediate reward between-

Juliet: [00:23:15] And that’s like an 18 to 27 second race. So they’re burning maybe one additional calorie than they would just living life. Yeah, that was a real shocker to us, that that was the culture. And so I think it’s also connected to what Kelly said, it’s food as reward concept when it comes to youth sports. So I don’t know. I just want you to tell us a little bit more about your thoughts on, first of all, how did we get here with sports, and what can we all do on the ground as parents and individuals in our homes and our communities to try to correct this ship a little bit.

Shawn Stevenson [00:23:53] Awesome. Well, one thing I want to reference in the context of, like you just said, kids getting surveyed and seeing how many fruits and vegetables they eat, is going to point back to what we just talked about and the construct of family. And one of my favorite studies that I cited in a book was published in a Journal of Nutrition, Education, and Behavior. And they looked at minority families and their food intake and health outcomes with the children. And this would be generally in the context of a low-income environment, which is where I come from. And so it really kind of shined a bright light of hope. But the thing is most people don’t know about what I’m about to share with you. And so what they found was that children that ate together with their families four meals a week, ate five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, five days out of the week. Dramatic change versus what you just shared, kids getting surveyed, well, not really much of any, if at all. And that’s not rare because that’s how I grew up. I might get that little fruit cocktail at school maybe, which I might surf out maybe like a grape out of there with all that syrup that was in it. We just didn’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables because it just wasn’t around in my food desert that I grew up in. And so I just want to reference that point. 

Again, there’s this protective aspect of eating with our family. And we can talk about why that is too coming up here. But just kind of how we devolved to a place where even with youth sports… And by the way, still it’s not the majority of our family constructs that have an investment into their kids’ performance and sports and all this stuff. It’s a growing amount, which is getting something that we’re new to at this level as well. But we could see the dysfunction there hovering over as far as this is what elite athletes are supposed to eat. But it’s a cultural thing and here’s where it really derives from. So we opened up a can of worms here. All right. Here’s the thing: I am always trying to find the good in things that don’t seem to be that good because I don’t want to become dogmatic.

Kelly: [00:25:59] And it’s easy to point out all the problems. No solutions, all problems. Right.

Shawn Stevenson [00:26:03] Yes. And that’s another reason why these foods are so accessible, is that they’re also very cheap. It’s very convenient, low cost, and I was just like how is it that I can get these two for 99 cent tacos from Jack In the Box, and if I want to buy a container of strawberries it’s like $4. How is that possible? And if I’m trying to get full, why would I not buy these tacos? I can get four tacos and still have money left over versus buying these strawberries. And so, again, just being in this environment. And also, these foods are chemically designed by really brilliant food scientists to be delicious, all right? Why would I buy these strawberries?

Juliet: [00:26:45] Delicious.

Shawn Stevenson [00:26:46] And what it really boils down to is government subsidy programs that date back many decades. And one of the studies that I shared as well is looking at these programs of government subsidies and seeing almost $200 billion that the U.S. government has invested in a short timespan last decade and a half and funneling that into largely foods that wind up coming through the drive thru window and ultra processed food: corn, wheat, soy based products to make different sugars. That’s where the majority of the money is going now. Here’s the positive part of me. I believe that it started off with good intentions to feed Americans, to make food more affordable. And through that process, through corporate interests and the bottom line mattering in business, food manufacturers are finding ways to manipulate the system and to cut corners to make products that are much lower in nutritive value tasty. Addictive is the key. Creating repeat customers. And we can talk about that and how that affects our biology. But basically getting us hooked on ultra processed food. 

And so my question was do we have any data affirming if we eat these government subsidized foods, is this affecting our health or is it just a good guess? So I came across another study I was shocked people didn’t know about, published in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association. And they analyzed people who on a spectrum consumed a certain ratio of government subsidized foods. And they found that people who consumed the most government subsidized foods had about 30 percent higher incidents of developing obesity, higher inflammatory biomarkers—things like C reactive protein—higher rates of insulin resistance. I can go on and on. They were not well. They were not doing well by eating the very foods that our government is investing in the most. And when I say our government, by the way, I’m talking about us. It’s coming from us. Our tax dollars are literally feeding the problem of degeneration in our culture. 

And last point here, the CDC’s numbers last year, 2022, they put out this cute little infographic, I guess to soften the blow of this, but they’ve affirmed that 60 percent of American adults now have at least one chronic disease. At least one. And 40 percent of American adults have two or more chronic diseases. Something is seriously wrong. And that’s filtering its way down to skyrocketing rates of chronic diseases, lifestyle related diseases, in our children. And when Kelly started this off asking about family, that’s what this is really about for me because our children are entrusting in us to create cultural conditions to where health is more accessible. Right now, being sick is normal. Being unwell, having a chronic condition is the normal state in our society. It’s the majority of our citizens. So if you’re healthy, you’re not normal. And what a shocking revelation that is. And I believe because we’re still close, we’re close to this tipping point—and you guys have seen this as well—we get into these little bubbles. And so we can sometimes not really see what’s happening at the larger cultures cape. But your culture that you guys have created as a family has affected so many people outside of you. 

And this is really where the secret is—this shouldn’t be a secret. I spent years and I know you guys have as well, trying to get people to make behavior changes, targeting behavior changes. It’s backed by science. This stuff works; you’ve just got to do it. But I’m giving them this behavior change recommendation and sending them back to a culture that’s inundating them with behaviors that are opposite of this. And it takes an incredible amount of will for them to navigate in a culture that is largely unwell. And so the mission now is let’s make intelligent shifts to the culture. It’s difficult to change the larger culture scape, which I’ve spent years trying to do. But here’s what we can do-

Kelly: [00:30:49] I love this. Impossible. Jamie Oliver, et cetera, et cetera, we’ve seen people come in and rail against the system, which is faceless, which is bureaucracy, which is industrialized, which is impossible. And what you’re saying is that the subservice act has this word family in it and it has this word cooking with my family. Juliet and I are… I don’t know if it’s because we’re 50 years old or because we’ve been doing this for 20 years, but we’ve become such realists about we appreciate the scope of the problems but we need to see where the sticky behaviors are, where is the fundamental unit of change. It would be great if we could get everyone some high tech machine and they could get a coach and it doesn’t scale. And so one of the things that we look at as we’re presented with new technology or new ideas is we ask does this scale and can it be democratized very quickly. And what you are suggesting by the very title of this book is that potentially the solution to a gigantic looming disaster for our families is that we need to cook together and start to eat those meals together. Am I getting that right?

Shawn Stevenson [00:32:03] You absolutely are.

Juliet: [00:32:04] It’s so beautiful in its relatability and its simplicity, it’s so refreshing.

Kelly: [00:32:12] You’re not even saying, hey, we understand you don’t even have a model of this from your parents. Because I think Juliet and I, we’re all latchkey kids, Gen Xers, who were just sort of left at home, Stouffers goes in the microwave. And you may not have a culture where people sat down and ate. You may have to create this for your household. And when we say family, we could expand that to say the people that you cohabitate with, your household. Because I’ve seen that family be in the military, be in a group of athletes eating together. But the idea here is I don’t even have to do this seven days a week. I could make a radical change in my culture by simply beginning to cook together and eat together one time a week. And if I can get it to three times a week, I start to see real change. Is that what I’m understanding?

Shawn Stevenson [00:33:03] Exactly. This appears to be the minimum effective dose kind of tipping point where we see significant results. But like you said, even one day, just stepping through that doorway. And this really speaks to, yes, that larger culture scape needs to change. But we have the power to make changes to our micro culture and to create intentionally a micro culture within our household. That’s how I was able to come from a place where living in Ferguson, Missouri, trying to get my degree and being absolutely surrounding… You can just rattle off fast food names. Every one of these fast food restaurants are within a two mile radius of my apartment complex and as soon as I come out, there’s a liquor store right there. And there’s so many other liquor stores, convenience stores. All I knew was processed foods. There wasn’t a gym in my neighborhood. There’s no yoga studio. I didn’t know what yoga was. And so how was I able to transform my health where I was diagnosed with a so-called incurable spinal condition? I basically had an advanced arthritic condition in my spine when I was just 20 years old. And to have that diagnosis where my discs are so degenerated and herniated, it was years in the making to get to that place. And at its core, I was making my tissues out of fake food, things that didn’t have any real nutritive substance to actually build my tissues. 

And so to circle this all back, within that micro culture, how do we do this? That’s what the book is all about. And again, all of this data, all of these studies are in the book in a very colorful, fun way. But at the heart of it, what do we do to make this change, what do we do to start to shift the culture? Well, on the other side, what happens when we don’t eat together on a regular basis? Well, in another study, this was published in Nutrition Journal, and this was a pretty recent study in 2018, they found that people who eat in solitude, who eat alone, oftentimes end up in front of some kind of technology. And again, not to villainize this. I have been known to watch Conan O’Brien clips while having lunch a time or two. Super random. Wouldn’t expect that when you see me walking down the street. But that’s something I do from time to time. 

Juliet: [00:35:13] We’ve all done it, Shawn. We’ve all done it. 

Shawn Stevenson [00:35:16] Shoutout to Conan. Now, the research has found that people who eat alone tend to have a much poorer diet quality and a lower intake of essential nutrients that help to prevent chronic diseases. And so we know that that’s the case as well on this end. Where can we get in some of these benefits that are seen in the data that we can extract by eating together? And the question is why does this matter, how does it work? One of the things that jumps out, and this is something that really parallels the work that you guys do and really have brought out for everybody, is the impact of stress. And I remember Kelly said this to me, and he talked about—this was years ago—how humans are really good at going from zero to 100, but we’re not very good at going from 100 to zero. Down regulating. And there is something especially powerful about being around people that you love that helps you to downregulate. In particular, in this context, without distraction and around food. 

And so one aspect here, by the way, I’m just going to throw out a blanket thing with stress. So this meta analysis as published in JAMA as well. And they were looking at why people go to the doctor as well. And they found that 60 to 80 percent of all physician visits are for stress related disorders, stress related conditions. So stress is a huge underlying component of many of the chronic diseases that we see, and acute conditions as well. And so here’s where it affects us as adults, where can we get this benefit. There was a study done on workers at IBM and they found that if they were able to make it home for family dinner on a consistent basis, their work morale stayed high, their levels of stress at work stayed manageable, and their fulfillment, their enjoyment of their job, stayed high. But as soon as work started cutting into family dinners, their work morale plummeted, stress went up, and their happiness in what they were doing went down. This is obvious but sometimes we need data to affirm this. There’s something protective and rejuvenative about eating with our family. 

Juliet: [00:37:22] Hey Ready State listeners, if you like what you’re hearing, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show.

Juliet: [00:37:29] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is brought to you by our friends at Momentous. What we want to talk about today is what we’re calling the Caroline Starrett Stack.

Kelly: [00:37:39] Oh man. So let’s be transparent, Caroline will not eat a micronutrient. 

Juliet: [00:37:44] It’s tough to get her to eat one.

Kelly: [00:37:45] She loves brown foods. She’s growing. She’s getting into it. She’d murder me for saying this. But she also hates anything that smells, rhymes with fish. 

Juliet: [00:37:53] So it makes it difficult to give her a thing called omegas.

Kelly: [00:37:56] Yes. But Caroline, every day for breakfast, we make our little fermented food, we do our little protein, but she gets brain drive, vitamin B, she gets vitamin D because our family doesn’t get enough sun sometimes and I always have a little vitamin D.

Juliet: [00:38:14] And omegas.

Kelly: [00:38:14] And omegas. She takes two omegas. Omegas isn’t even about heart health we think anymore, I mean it’s your whole your body. But really, for brain development and brain health. And if we can get our persnickety, picky 15-year-old to take omegas, and she has no fish burps, no problems over the long haul, it’s a game changer. So I love having these micronutrient tools for her.

Juliet: [00:38:34] Yeah, and I can’t tell you how many days that she has left the building for school and you literally say I feel so relieved because now doesn’t really matter what happens with Caroline for the rest of the day, she got these omegas and other vitamins on board.

Kelly: [00:38:48] Bring on the brown foods, people. 

Juliet: [00:38:50] Anyway, this is awesome stuff. It’s all third party tested and we obviously are huge fans of making sure that our kids are getting high quality supplements.

Kelly: [00:38:58] And just double click on that for a second, is that not all supplements, not all things like this are third party tested.

Juliet: [00:39:06] Not even slightly.

Kelly: [00:39:07] Or validated. And that’s really important for kids, it’s really important for families, and especially athletes. If you’re not doing safe sport, third party testing, you’re gambling.

Juliet: [00:39:17] Yeah, it’s really important to know that what you’re taking is what it says it is, especially-

Kelly: [00:39:22] That is one of the biggest differences.

Juliet: [00:39:22] That’s a big difference, especially when we are sharing these things with our kids. Go to and use code TRS for 20 percent off your first purchase.

Juliet: [00:39:34] This episode of The Ready State Podcast is also brought to you by YETI. And what we want to talk about today is one of our favorite products of all time, the YETI Yonder Bottle.

Kelly: [00:39:44] When we travel, little known fact everyone, if I have to buy water-

Juliet: [00:39:50] You feel so sad.

Kelly: [00:39:51] I get so mad. I literally become a 50 year old man where I’m like, wah, I’m  not paying for water.

Juliet: [00:39:55] Wait, aren’t you actually a 50-

Kelly: [00:39:55] Stop it. Stop it. And what’s so fun is that I have these great bottles and I can fill my water and I’m like ha ha, I’m not paying $12 for that water, I got you. But I have to tell you, there’s been a couple of times when I’ve had to go through the line twice because in my old bottle-

Juliet: [00:40:11] You have an inch of water left.

Kelly: [00:40:13] An inch of water. I’m like, yeah, it’s empty. Doesn’t happen to me with the Yonder. I love the Yonder because it’s light and it’s easy. But also, guess what, it’s transparent.

Juliet: [00:40:21] Yeah, and I’ve been on a travel junket lately. I was just in D.C. And actually, I took this thing out of my backpack on the plane and some lady was like, “Wait, I see a YETI logo on that. What is that thing?” And I was like, “Yeah, it’s YETI, it’s as awesome as all YETI products, except for travel or outdoor activities or whatever, it’s just a lot lighter and easier to take on the go.”

Kelly: [00:40:38] Did I mention leak proof because I have leaked many things in the past. No longer does anything leak. This thing is leak proof.

Juliet: [00:40:45] Yeah, you can put this in your backpack with your laptop and your lunch and you don’t have to worry at all. It’s awesome.

Kelly: [00:40:50] Grap yourself a YETI Yonder, people.

Juliet: [00:40:52] Go to to learn more and check out the Yonder bottle.

Juliet: [00:40:59] It seems like what we’re supposed to be doing as human beings because we’ve been doing it for a millennia and it’s only been so recently that we’ve stopped doing it. And what I’d love to shift to a little bit is some of your strategies on the how to because I can imagine a lot of people saying, well, again, my kids have sports or I don’t have time. What are your strategies to make this a consistent part of people’s family culture or microculture to make it a fun and rewarding experience? I think sometimes people think oh, if I’m going to cook this whole meal and eat this whole meal, that’s going to be a three hour affair. So I don’t know, you have so many great how to’s in this book, how to make this possible for people who maybe think it’s not possible for them.

Kelly: [00:41:44] Yeah, I don’t need another recipe. I need tactical strategies to wrangle my children and my crazy family to sit at the table. 

Shawn Stevenson [00:41:53] The great news is this is coming from somebody with kids. Adult kids and I still have a little kid as well. I’ve been through this and I know what it’s like, I know what it takes. And also working with for years, I ran a clinical practice working as a nutritionist, doing consulting work, all this stuff, for about 10 years as well. I don’t know if a lot of people realize this that are even practitioners, if they ever paid attention to this, but when I would ask people about what is the barrier, what do you feel is the biggest barrier for you to be able to implement this behavioral change to get the goal that you want? And most of the time, they would say, well, it’s just my husband or it’s just my kids or my mom won’t. They start pointing the finger at people that they love causing them problems and making it harder for them.

Juliet: [00:42:48] Yeah, and not supporting their goals, not supporting their specific goals. Yep.

Shawn Stevenson [00:42:53] Exactly. And so just hearing this firsthand, something hit me that part of the reason we struggle in making these changes, if we’re trying to change the microculture in our household, is that we’re in a safe space right now so we’re just going to admit this, we want people to do what we want them to do. We want our husband, we want our wife, we want our children just to act right. everything’s going to be fine, just do what I want you to do. Yeah. Tap him. But he’s not going to do it, all right? For his own good.

Kelly: [00:43:27] No, she’s talking about herself because I’m like you’re not doing your stuff, woman. 

Shawn Stevenson [00:43:30] See, it’s happening in real time right now. So the thing is, again, we want people to act the way that we want them to act and to be predictable, essentially. But humans are so unpredictable. We have our moods, we have our own vision of reality and perspective, and we’re not really taught about building healthy relationships. With that being said, here’s the other part of that. We want them to act how we want them to act and then we get pissed off when they don’t. This is the thing: You both know each other better than anybody. You know what pisses each other off, what motivates each other, what deexcites, what excites, all of these things. We know what buttons to push. But a lot of times we push the pain button because we just expect them to at that this point, you should know what to do. And the same thing with our kids. We know our kids better than anybody and we know what motivates them, we know what irritates them, what makes them shut down. But because we just want them to fall in line and do what we want them to do, that’s what causes so much conflict and turbulence. 

And so what I’m here to say is this is also a movement towards paying attention to the people that we love. Unfortunately, I know it sounds like that should be obvious, but because we’re so distracted, because we’ve got so much going on, it becomes a big mental weight. Because all of this takes mental energy. It literally is just burning away glucose just trying to make a decision to be more patient, to ask a second time. That all takes energy. And so by you knowing your children’s personalities, you know how to create that culture. I almost used the word manipulation. But altruistic, turning the joy stick towards getting the behavior that you want for everybody’s collective good. But that takes a little bit of work. Now with that said, there are people, not just children, who can be disruptive toward having a family culture of eating together. I don’t know if you guys have seen the TV show Yellowstone, but Beth Dutton has never finished a meal with her family. 

Juliet: [00:45:35] No, she has not. Yes, I did. 

Kelly: [00:45:39] That’s an eating strategy. That’s calorie restriction. That’s calorie restriction for high pressure attorneys. You have to respect her way of calorie control.

Shawn Stevenson [00:45:47] But even with that, it’s like coming into it knowing the personality of everybody. And wherever you are on this spectrum with your kids’ ages, by the way, there’s a thousand ways to make some improvements. And with that being said, and again, I shared specific strategies, science backed ways, to transform the kitchen culture. So as Kelly mentioned, the process around eating, recipes, and all this time and whatever. We don’t even have to have a lot of time doing that and suffer. For me, everybody in my family is an amazing cook. My stepfather was executive chef at Morton’s of Chicago, my mother’s an amazing cook. My sons both can cook. My oldest son is an amazing cook. My wife is an amazing cook. My wife is an amazing cook. My mother-in-law. I’m just surrounded by deliciousness. And of course, I do my thing. 

For me though, cooking, especially if it’s a lot of things, it stresses me. It’s not a stress reliever. For some people, it’s a stress reliever. Because I’m a perfectionist in many ways. I’m going to just admit it, okay. I want things to be a certain way, plated, all the things. I tend to do that. Whereas for my wife, she’ll have a tough day and want to cook. I’m like what are you doing, this is a day to DoorDash. But for her, it’s a stress reliever. So it’s knowing the personality and also creating the kitchen environment that makes you happy. So for me, when I’m cooking, and even this morning when I was making stuff for my family, I put on music that I love. And whether they like it or not, which they better like it—again, this is like just do what I want—I’m going to be blasting this music. You’re about to listen to some old school Jodeci or just some John Mayer, whatever mood I might be in. I’m going to put this music up, I’m going to be singing, I’m going to be dancing, you can join me in the vibe or just wait until you get your food. So creating an environment in the kitchen that makes you happy. And so I left there feeling this extra level of energy as I was going into my day. So creating the kitchen culture, and I give a bunch of strategies in there about that. But the table culture, let’s talk about that. How do we do it?

Juliet: [00:47:54] Yes.

Shawn Stevenson [00:47:55] All right. So as I mentioned earlier, being with your family, humans are really good when we’re in close proximity with people that we love and we’re actually attentive, we start producing more chemistry, like oxytocin for example. And this is known to basically help to deactivate that fight or flight sympathetic nervous system because it counterbalances cortisol really well in our bodies. And so but we have to be there, we have to be present. Women do oxytocin even better, by the way. And so the question is how do we create more connection. And so when we’re sitting down at the table and knowing the personality of our families… I know my 11-year-old right now, he’s gaming with his friends. For me to say, hey, dinnertime and this is new that we haven’t done this before, get off of that and come sit down and eat, that might be a problem. He might come with the bad energy, the bad vibes, and we don’t want that. But over time by me creating an atmosphere to where it’s of equal or greater value to what that other thing is, that’s the secret. And so this is a true story. Both of my sons will ask me, if a certain amount of time goes by, like my oldest son texts and just said, “Family dinner on Tuesday?” because we had missed like five days because we had been traveling and this and that. They ask us. I promise you that’s possible. Because it’s not like they’re just super different from their friends. It’s because their brain and their nervous system is looking for that.

Juliet: [00:49:24] Yeah, they’re craving it. They’re craving family dinner.

Shawn Stevenson [00:49:27] Exactly.

Juliet: [00:49:29] It’s amazing. 

Kelly: [00:49:30] In so many ways, it can be really neutral ground. It gives us an activity, something we love, we’re hanging out together. We always, when our little kids, both our daughters were little, highs and lows of the day, what would you do again. We had a structure and an expectation that we always sit down, this is what we do. So a little bit of routine that got them there and then a little bit of structure. And then the thing sort of maintains itself.

Juliet: [00:49:55] This was like a year ago, but someone sent us as a gift a conversation deck of cards. Have you ever seen those? And when we got it-

Shawn Stevenson [00:50:02] Yeah, we have that.

Juliet: [00:50:04] We actually made fun of it, I’ll be honest. When we first got it. Because we were like conversation starters, we Starretts can talk, we don’t need it. And we actually had it sitting at the table and it was really fun. We actually would do one a night. And they’d be absurd things like if you could be a superhero with a single power, what would it be?

Kelly: [00:50:20] Ridiculous power.

Juliet: [00:50:21] Yeah. Ridiculous power. I mean I love what you’re saying because I’ve never heard anyone in our space talking about kitchen culture and table culture and just the importance of creating both of those cultures in ways that makes sense to your family and your micro family culture and your own kids and approaching that from the point of view that you’re evaluating who are these people in my family, what are they into, do they like music or not, or candles, or whatever it is that makes people feel like this is a safe and-

Kelly: [00:50:51] Ceremony, ritual.

Juliet: [00:50:52] Ritualistic wonderful space. Man, from a stress standpoint, it makes so much sense to me and it’s so important.

Kelly: [00:51:00] And I found myself recently saying a lot, hey, the bigger the engine, the bigger the brakes. So the faster you’re going in your life, you have to have some things at home that allow you to hit the brakes that aren’t necessarily bourbon and THC. But how are you going to get out of that fight or flight? And I hadn’t thought about the dinner because that’s such an important part of our habit. But that dinner as being a way of brake. No matter how crazy it is, you can sit down for 10 minutes. I mean I think people think we’re going to have this Italian dinner, lunch on Sunday where we eat 16 courses and no one’s allowed to leave the table for three hours. It’s not that. We’ve just got to start by getting together in the same place doing the same thing.

Shawn Stevenson [00:51:44] Yeah. You just said it. Our genes expect us to connect. Even the most introverted among us, our genes expect us to connect with other people. We need it for survival. And my colleague, he’s the lead researcher and director of the longest running longitudinal study on humans and human longevity out of Harvard University. They’ve got decades and decades. The torch has been passed down to many directors. And he couldn’t believe it when he became the director of this study that what I’m about to share is the truth. So they actually have outsourced and replicated this seeing data from other researchers, but it’s clear the number one determinant of our lifespan, and not just our lifespan but our quality of life and longevity, is our relationships. Having warm relationships is almost like a super power. There’s so many people looking for biohacks and other things to extend their lifespan. The number one thing is our relationships. And the dinner table acts as a unifier, truly. And it’s been something, again-

Kelly: [00:52:46] Been cross culturally.

Shawn Stevenson [00:52:47] Cross culturally. We’ve been doing this throughout our evolution, sitting down and eating with the people that we care about. But now there’s an opportunity for us to feel seen, even if we are rebelling, to feel seen, to feel loved, to feel acknowledged, and we can proactively put things in place to open that up even more. So one of the strategies, and again, it’s going to depend on your family, but it’s just experimenting. Having a gratitude practice where maybe everybody goes around the table and shares three things they’re grateful for that happened during the day. We even tested out what was something that you failed at today and everybody going around and sharing something that they struggled with. And so there’s so many different kinds of questions for people to offload to express themselves. And it might be something small, like I’m just grateful to have this delicious food in front of me or I’m grateful to be able to hang out and game with my friends today, whatever the case may be. But to be able to open up, to be seen, and to share things vocally that they wouldn’t normally share with their friends or their coworkers or things that are outside of this family unit. So you mentioned this deck of cards, there’s a few of them out there. But some of these things can definitely be entertaining and also something to just laugh at. It can be so silly.

Juliet: [00:53:59] Yeah, it’s just fun.  Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson [00:54:00] But we can add these into the mix as well.

Juliet: [00:54:01] And just one more little tactic. Our daughter went through this big dominos phase. And we would eat half of our meal and start playing a little bit of dominos during dinner because she was obsessed with playing dominos. But it’s just such an easy game that doesn’t require a lot of focus and attention. So we would sit there and finish our meal and play a couple of rounds of dominos. It was just a little strategy that worked and kept us all at the table interacting for a little longer and it was such a nice little phase.

Kelly: [00:54:35] The caravan of hope. You’re coming from multi perspectives. We’re looking at this problem with food, we’re looking at this problem of disintegration of the family, we’re looking from stress. What I think is interesting is that in my work with high performance teams, I’ll use an example, the San Francisco 49ers two years ago brought a chef in so that they would cook year round for the players. And so the players could always come to the facility and be cheffed. And they would sit down. What ended up happening is universally an order of magnitude more players stayed around the club. And after they did that, they had that really great season last year. It’s very strange how that actually happened. Maybe just accidental, but what they found as, the owner told me it’s not insignificant in terms of the price, but the change in our culture has been foundational because it removed the barriers to young men hanging out and sharing commonalties. We see that in a lot of our elite tier one military groups. They eat lunch together ritually. And you do not sit in someone else’s squadron, you sit with your squadron and you sit with your small team. And they do that five days a week, six days a week as a matter of ritual. And snow we’re seeing it as a matter of performance and as a way of playing offense. Because a lot of what you’re describing, something we’ve said after the pandemic is it’s not a brain unless it’s around other brains. Your brain has to be around other brains; otherwise, it’s not an actual brain, it’s a weird science experiment living on itself and you’re on a sailboat going crazy. And what you’re really describing here is the subservice act of high performance, of being able to feel better, be more self-actualized, have deeper relationships, and ultimately be more successful. This is a book about offense, not defense. I think we’ll get defense in the exchange. We’ll eat better, we’ll feel better, all those things. But holy crap.

Shawn Stevenson [00:56:42] Yeah, man that’s such a great example. This is a place, also at the dinner table, where we can stack things. Stacking things that help reduce stress. And it’s so important. Stress is the leading domino of so much of our dysfunction. And by the way, when I think about dominos, I think about, for whatever reason, Betty White and Ice Cube. I don’t know that spectrum. But anyway, being at the dinner table, when you’re not mindlessly outsourcing your attention to YouTube or Netflix or whatever it is, and not to villainize any of these things because they’re awesome, they have their gifts, but we might not be paying attention to our food as well and our satiety and even our chewing of the food. And something I think you guys would love, there was a study that was published in BioMed Research International and they found that the act of chewing your food is a stress reliever. Just chewing on your food. How often are we not chewing enough and/or how often are we eating ultra processed foods that don’t require much chewing? 

There’s this phenomenon called banishing caloric density that I’ve been talking about for years. Food scientists have crafted that essentially that marketing where you can’t eat just one. They’re not kidding because it tricks your brain because it disintegrates. You chew something and suddenly it’s gone. So your brain and your biology are kind of hacked to not know I just consumed more “energy” than I thought I did. And so combining this… And now we’ve also got this construct at the table where we’re eating real food. And also, in a way, by myself being a big foodie and somebody who’s… all of these different diet frameworks out here, they all have their value, but this needs to be inclusive because we all know this, our friends and colleagues are doing a lot of infighting about minutia. 

Kelly: [00:58:31] Artifacts of scholarship.

Shawn Stevenson [00:58:32] Right. One’s like you need to eat more organs and avoid broccoli, the other’s like you need to eat more vegetables and less whatever. And ignoring the fact that literally 70 percent of our children’s diet today is made of ultra processed foods.

Kelly: [00:58:46] And we don’t eat together.

Shawn Stevenson [00:58:47] Point our attention on that. That is the most important factor.

Juliet: [00:58:52] Yes. Amen. Amen, my friend.

Shawn Stevenson [00:58:55] The food construct that I put together, of course you already know how I do it, it’s a bunch of science behind ingredients. And also, I know that we have an emoji culture as well. And so I had this idea that as I’m talking about some of the benefits of say cherries, and cherries being one of the densest source of naturally occurring melatonin in the food kingdom, I’m going to put the sleep emoji right there as we’re talking about this food. I’m going to put some studies about how it affects heart health so you’ll see a heart emoji; metabolic  health will be a little muscle emoji. But now in the recipe section, we’ll talk about how to use this food in a delicious way and you’ll see those corelating emojis. So if your goal is to improve my sleep quality and get some of those good sleep nutrients, because even with our sleep quality, there are key nutrients that build sleep related hormones and enzymes. If we are deficit in these things, we can have the most comfy mattresses ever and still not go through our sleep cycles effectively. 

So it’s really again what are your goals with your nutrition, but also, let’s do this under the umbrella of delicious food. Another big mistake I think that we have in our culture is that we, unfortunately, see eating real food as deprivation and restriction. And I’m so done with that because many of our friends and colleagues have inundated our culture and impressed upon our culture that you’ve got to restrict yourself. And I just saw a study yesterday, and it’s just Captain Obvious, that people who go on restrictive diets, and suddenly they’re told that these foods are off limits, they have radically increased cravings for those foods that are off limits. We know this.

Juliet: [01:00:33] Right. Even if they weren’t eating them beforehand.

Kelly: [01:00:36] Don’t open the box.

Juliet: [01:00:36] Even if they weren’t eating them beforehand. So I’m not surprised that we’re already nearing the end. But one that that I really wanted to talk to you about, since we have shifted into talking about the food part, is what are your recommendations, and again I know it’s extensive, and you won’t be able to get to this in this podcast alone, but maybe some highlights. I think a lot of people, for better or worse, are going to feel like I have a picky eater kid, where do I begin? In fact, we have two kids showing that it’s not always environment, we have one kid who will eat anything, loves all kinds of food.

Kelly: [01:01:11] Sent her to college, but she’s a chef.

Juliet: [01:01:12] And then we have another kid who literally left to her own devices would only eat brown food. And so we have to be on her all the time to make sure she’s actually eating some micronutrients. But what are your tactics/thoughts, and again, people should read this book because it’s so awesome, and there’s so many tools and strategies that go well beyond what we’re able to discuss here today, but maybe just give us a little tip of the iceberg about what people are going to see in this book from a food perspective.

Shawn Stevenson [01:01:37] Absolutely. Again, here’s another big takeaway from this conversation: Our cravings are cultural as well. And what I’ve found is that we don’t crave what we haven’t been exposed to, all right? And so there are people in Cambodia who crazy enough crave eating a tarantula. This is a real thing. It’s a real thing. It’s a delicacy. And there are people who with my mother-in-law, as I mentioned earlier being from Kenya, there are people in her culture, there are many different tribes, like even the Maasai for example, they might crave milk, blood, whatever the case might be. They might crave my mother in law’s culture nyama choma. So barbecued meats, specifically goat. But if we’ve never had that, it’s going to seem weird to us. So as soon as my wife started talking about goats, I’m like aren’t baby goats called kids? That’s a little close proximity. It sets off this pushback, this apprehension, when in reality, again, it’s about exposures. So of course, we do want to give exposures to our children as they’re younger. It becomes a little bit more complex as we get older. But I’m proof positive that regardless of the age, you can dramatically open up a palate and a flavor profile and an enjoyment of food because this man standing here before you, I didn’t eat a salad until I was 25 years old was the first time I ever ate salad. This is a true story. I would gag.

Juliet: [01:03:06] And what was your experience of it at 25? Tell me.

Kelly: [01:03:10] Terrible.

Shawn Stevenson [01:03:10] I mean prior to that, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. Even just cognitively, it didn’t make sense to me. And what happens was I went through… And again, so many of the things that are being talked about today, I’ve done it for years at a time. Whatever diet framework, I’ll test it for years.

Juliet: [01:03:27] Yes, same with us.

Shawn Stevenson [01:0328] Raw food. Raw vegan. Keto. Paleo. Whatever it is, I’ll run the trial on myself and I was putting that in place in my clinical practice as well. Unfortunately, because whatever I was into early in my career, that’s what you were going to be into. But over time, thankfully had the revelation that the most important thing was paying attention to the person and what they need right now. And that’s going to change from time to time. And giving them the tools so that they can adjust as their biology adjusts. And so just being able to implement more flavor experiences early on is important but here’s the real big solution, which is knowing what your kids like and making upgrades to those things. So I know that my family, they love brunch, they love breakfast foods. A lot of families do. Pancakes, for example. And I was just like what can we do to add in some more real food components to make some delicious pancakes. I don’t want these whole wheat whatever that is. I don’t want pancakes to taste like mud. I want pancakes-

Kelly: [01:04:32] Vegan pancakes.

Juliet: [01:04:33] Yeah, you don’t want… Yeah, exactly, grass pancake.

Shawn Stevenson [01:04:36] I don’t want a sponge pancake. I want a delicious pancake with the right texture and all the things. And so I found that sweet potato was a great ingredient to bring together in pancakes. And also, how do we benefit the metabolic health? And so adding more protein to the pancake recipe. And so I came up with these great protein sweet potato pancakes. Ands also with that being said, we’re putting more intelligence into your body versus whatever else that is from a conventional pancake. Not to demonize that, but now we’re getting in these really remarkable anthocyanins that are clinically proven to support your heart health, your cognitive function, and you’re eating a pancake. That’s stacking conditions.

Juliet: [01:05:20] And it tastes good.

Shawn Stevenson [01:05:22] That’s how it should be.

Kelly: [01:05:23] I love all of this conversation. I love this approach. I feel like your book is the most subversive, radical book of the year. For us, the more we get, maybe it’s because we lost one kid to college already, but we really have to look at behaviors that change society at that level and that starts at the household and it starts at the nuclear set of relationships of cohabitation, however you’re defining family, whatever that family structure looks like for you. And the intentionality of it really is, it’s powerful. One of the things that we wanted to do is we wanted Georgia to go off to college and be able to cook, and she could cook for 20 people and it’d be no problem. Sometimes she’d be like, hey, I really want to make soup tonight, do you mind if I cook? And Juliet and I’d be like-

Juliet: [01:06:09] Nope.

Kelly: [01:06:10] You can cook. And the pride that she would have in presenting and serving dinner to us. The first time we saw it, we ran a kayaking camp, a leadership school for kids with HIV and AIDS for 10 years, and we had a lot of kids who had never swam before, a lot of kids of color who had never camped before, who never even floated before. But part of what we did, we said we’re all responsible for each other. And they had to cook and serve. Ad it was the first time many of those kids had ever done that. And the amount of pride that they would take, very quickly within a week. And we had kids come back year after year. And the thinking, the presentation, and it really went home and they were empowered to find the joy in this. Because I think that’s one of those things that’s lost in this conversation of food and nutrients is that it’s really fun to cook and it’s really fun to cook for your friends and family, like you say that love language, that affirmation language, it’s really a powerful, life changing experience. You just have to start.

Shawn Stevenson [01:07:10] And with that love language, physical touch is another one of these. And nothing touching us closer than the food that we eat. It literally, we’re taking things from the internal environment and making them a part of our own tissues. We’re putting it into us, it’s becoming a part of us, living on through us. It’s truly remarkable. And also even in that context, that joy that’s activated when you’re feeding people that you love, there are very few things like that as well. There’s something primal that we know. We’re extending on life to these people that we’re serving. And it’s so special. And to give our kids this opportunity, this experience, to learn that to experience that, of course from us, but being able to do that for themselves. That was another thing I came across in the data was just dwindling with the number of young people, this most recent generation, who know how to cook for themselves as they go off to college. And guess what that’s going to be supplanted with? More ultra processed foods. If they don’t know how to cook for themselves. And so we have to give this valuable life skill and pass it on through the language of flavor, through the language of deliciousness, enjoying the process, eating amazing food.

Juliet: [01:08:19] And connection. Well, I mean Shawn, I just want to say thank you for writing this book. And everyone listening to this should go pick up a copy yesterday. It’s so important, it’s so timely. We are so… I don’t know if it’s because we both turned 50 this year, but we are so in a phase of our lives about trying to-

Kelly: [01:08:39] Think differently about problems.

Juliet: [01:08:40] Think differently and bring things into the home and local community that are accessible and relatable and fun and bring us joy. And man, this book is all those things. So hat’s off to you. Congratulations. This is amazing and it’s so fun to talk to you about it. I mean we could go on. I mean I had another 100 questions for you. So please pick up the book so you can pick up the details. And congratulations again. 

Kelly: [01:09:03] And watch this. I can’t wait to hang out and cook for you, my friend.

Shawn Stevenson [01:09:05] Oh, come on now. That’s what I’m talking about. I want that. I want Supple Leopard cooking for me. That would be amazing. And thank you guys so much.

Juliet: [01:09:14] Yes, you do.

Kelly: [01:09:14] We’ve got an outdoor wood fireplace and we cook a lot outside on the wood coals now. And it’s a little bit slower and a little bit cooler. I can’t wait to blow your mind with some Leopard cooking. 

Shawn Stevenson [01:09:25] It’s already done. It’s already done.

Juliet: [01:09:27] Consider it a date. It’s a date.

Shawn Stevenson [01:09:29] Knowing your level of expertise and how passionate that you both are about this, for you to share that about this project, I know you know your stuff, so that’s really special. And of course, folks can pick up the book Barnes and Noble, Amazon, all the good stuff, their favorite retailer. But right now, by going to, also folks are getting a free ticket to the Family Health and Fitness Summit that we’re doing. And so we’ve got all of these incredible leaders in fitness and health sharing their experience in creating a healthy culture within their household. So it’s not just from me. And the event itself is going to be a ticketed $297 event that people get for free. You get free access to that as a bonus. We’re also doing a big giveaway. I know you guys did one of these too. Huge health and fitness giveaway. So we’re giving away $500 and Onnit fitness equipment, a plunge tub, we’re giving away $500 in Thrive Market groceries to a bunch of people. It’s somewhere in the ballpark of $25,000 in gifts from these companies that are really stepping up to be a part of this movement. And people get entered into that instantly. More gifts, more good stuff. So is the place to go, especially before the book comes out, to grab your copy so you’re one of the first people to get it, plus you get all that good stuff.

Kelly: [01:10:48] And we need you to preorder these books. We need you to preorder these books, people.

Juliet: [01:10:50] Shawn, thank you again. This was so fun.

Shawn Stevenson [01:10:54] Thank you. It’s my honor.


Kelly: [01:11:01] Thank you for listening to The Ready State Podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, check out all our episodes here or at And be sure to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes to help others find our show. 

Juliet: [01:11:11] Check us out and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @thereadystate.

Kelly: [01:11:17] Until next time, cheers everyone. 


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