As an Integrated Nutrition Health Coach, I support one of IIN’s unique theory’s Primary Food and Secondary Food. Primary Food is your relationships, career, spirituality and exercise and is as important in your health and well-being, as Secondary Food, what’s on your plate.
In this blog I am going to talk about a recent experience with spirituality and exercise (Primary Food). I have had a very rewarding, but stressful life as a restauranteur for the past 28 years and prior to that working for a Hotel corporation for twelve years. AT IIN I have been paying special attention to ways of reducing stress. There are several exercises that I have incorporated into my lifestyle from my IIN educational experience.
Breathing exercises to reduce stress (4,7,8), breath in 4 seconds, hold 7 seconds, breath out 8 seconds as an example has worked great especially when getting stressed. Daily meditation has worked its way into my life as well. Morning Pages (Julia Cameron author of The Artist Way) free form journaling after first waking up with affirmations and thankfulness has given me new perspectives and alertness to my daily activities. I am becoming much more mindful. (observant of myself and my surroundings, thinking, inner thoughts, perspectives etc.)
Recently we had a speaker, Taryn Toomey, a mind-body expert and creator of ‘The Class’ that gave me perhaps one of the most mind-blowing experiences yet. Before we get into that experience with ‘The Class’ I would like to provide the reader with some thoughts on spirituality.
What is spirituality?
Here is a perspective on spirituality, notes I have from Joan Borysenko, PhD. This is an except by George Vaillant M.D. from Men’s Sana Monograph 2008, Positive emotions and healing.
“This paper proposes that eight positive emotions; awe, love, (attachment) trust (faith), compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, joy and hope constitute what we mean by spirituality.
Another thought by Jack Kruse (retrieved from jackkruse.com-energy-and-epigenetics-2-the-real-dha-story) ‘Within you lies the sun, the moon, the sky and all the wonders of the universe. At our cores we all come from stardust. When you tug on your own nature, the rest of nature moves in unison.’
Taryn Toomey was a yoga instructor for six years when she realized something was missing, she confessed. There was something inside her that needed to come out. She felt she needed Fire! This unimposing, petit, smiling ever so slightly teacher proclaimed to our class with a growl I need Fiiirrreee!!!
She developed a 75-minute class that I highly recommend (you can find her and a demonstration on YouTube). ‘The Class’ is a meditative, high energy forum designed to hear the inner voice you have. This voice helps you visualize the thing that might be holding you back, may be keeping you from being your true self, keeps you from realizing your true potential. And you need to get it out!!
As best as I can describe, I stood in my office with my eyes closed listening to her instructions as she told us to stand and ground our body with our feet. With music and a Aboriginal tribal beat in the background, our minds became sedated as she asked us to let our arms and hands hang, shake them out, loosen your bodies, bend the knees slightly, get into the music, get into the mind. She instructed us to breathe in and out deeply and after a while, eyes closed we started rubbing our hands together. We did that for several minutes and were told to open our hands and lift our hearts.
Then in a timeless moment, she asked us to visualize the thing in our mind that’s keeping us from what we can achieve? Visualize it, what does it look like? Meditating on this, I followed her lead. I pictured in the center of my mind, a big, dark spikey ball, rotating slowly and I knew that had to be it. With the music and beat in the distant background I envisioned this oddity. As we maneuvered through this meditative fog, Taryn questioned, what will it take to get rid of it? Unable to rid myself of this vision I was led back to where we started, our class lasted 20 minutes of the normal 75-minute program.
For me it was profound. I found a spiky ball in the center of my mind, what the hell was it. Taryn, in her diminutive, calming voice, with her slight smile, as if she knew something we did not, continued to say something that struck me. She mentioned something about running with that same loosening of the hands and body and finding that inner voice and vision. I’m a runner, so my running goal was to get that thing out of me that was saying I was tired, I couldn’t do it, my legs were heavy. All the negative energies needed to be released! And I believed I could do it. My senses were enlightened, I couldn’t wait to go run the next day.
Before my next blog look up Taryn Toomey and check out ‘The Class.’
This topic is to be continued...stay tuned!
The editor of my upcoming book, titled Later Gator, Wendy Beckman (author of 8 Wonders of Cincinnati, Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati and University of Cincinnati College of Nursing: 125 Years of Transforming Health Care) sent me this article by Holly Thomas, ‘Why do vegans attract such hatred?’ (Saturday January 5, 2019). And she just wrote..."Great article."
I read the article and a couple things came to mind. But first let’s examine what all the hubbub in the article is about. Gregg’s, a UK food chain announces the addition of a vegan sausage roll to the delight of some and dismay of others. The roll would quickly sell out by lunchtime, but there were others that deplore, why do we need to change the classic sausage roll?" (including a very vocal, famous T.V. personality and columnist).
1. You can’t preach from an Ivory Tower.
If you decide to become a vegan or move to a plant-based diet, there is a good chance you are going to be different than most of your friends and family. Learn that what may be healthy for you may not be healthy for everybody. If you find, as I did, someone has an interest in a plant-based diet engage them. I lost 30 pounds within a few months by getting off dairy and animal protein.
My skyrocketing cholesterol and high blood pressure went down to normal and my daily acid-reflux disappeared. People I ran into that hadn’t seen me for a while looked at me like, are you OK? You lost a lot of weight, or you are skinny, and I would reply I changed my diet and exercise significantly. This is where you need to be on alert. ‘I got on a plant-based diet’ would be my reply, and then the questions would start.
Q. You don’t eat meat? A. No. Q. How about dairy? A. No. Q. Cheese? A. No. Q. Fish? A. No. I always answer in a non-provocative way, not condescending at all. Then the conversation may go to the person saying, Oh I could never give up cheese, (or meat or fish or dairy) or whatever.
The conversation would end there with me saying it was a good choice for my own health but might not be for you. If you decide to become a vegan don’t be pretentious, do it for yourself and the planet. People will eventually come around and there are plenty of interested folks out there wanting to get healthier. Don’t waste your time with the naysayers.
2. Being a vegan and hanging out with carnivores is not hypocritical or vice versa.
I own a restaurant and we serve animal protein, dairy, cheese, and fish. Am I a hypocrite because I choose to be on a plant-based diet? No, I also added a dozen vegan recipes that tend to get the most positive reviews from my customers. Understand that I am an Integrated Nutrition Health Coach and have studied diets and nutrition thoroughly. One key theory is that one person’s food can be another person’s poison. Diet is based on bio-individuality.
At Allyn’s we buy local Wagyu beef and cage free chicken, steroid and hormone free. I find this to be a step in the right direction of sustainability. I am not running around the restaurant telling people what to eat and I don’t do that in my IN practice. Our growing vegan crowds come in with their carnivore friends and chow down at one table. Restaurant chains are adding Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burgers to their menus.
I haven’t heard it yet “Leave our White Castle burgers alone and keep that fake meat out of our fast food chains- we like our burgers the way they are! And maybe it’s because no big star has chosen to jump on that anti-plant protein bandwagon. The fact is all the people that are employed in the fast food industry are no different than you and me.
* It is wrong to put a label on them and their employment. They have families, bills, dreams, like us. What is interesting is the thought that these companies have the distribution channels to make big changes for the world in the future. The slight change of adding a plant-based burger on the menu has ginormous implications for our planet and food supply. (*Thoughts I got from a seminar by Joel Fuhrman M.D. at IIN)
3. Love the one you're with!
Don’t waste you time and energy hating anyone or anything. Learn to forgive people, even when they wrong you or don’t share the same opinion. Try to understand the underlying issues of someone with opposing viewpoints. Always be yourself and stand up for your values, but don’t preach them. Your overall health may benefit more from this than any diet. Controlling your stress levels is so important in health and wellbeing... (remember my breathing exercise suggestions).
In Integrated Nutrition it’s called Primary Food. It involves balancing your career, relationships, exercise and spirituality and may be more important than what’s on your plate. (Secondary Food) Think positive thoughts, be thankful, grateful, complimentary, be wise, creative, spiritual and don’t get caught up with ridiculous chatter about trivial issues like ‘leave our bloody sausage roll alone.’
Another approach this celebrity could have taken versus attacking the Gregg’s food chain for finding a vegan substitute sausage roll might have been a tweet or blog, “Is it time for a vegan sausage roll or should we leave the bloody thing alone?” To me that is a much better approach than attacking a population or company, but I’m sure it doesn’t stir up people as much, sell newspapers, magazines or newscasts.
What I heard from this T.V. personality in regards to a vegan sausage roll is, I’ve heard this PC sh!t before, I don’t believe it, there’s no proof it’s healthier, I want what I want regardless of those that say it is a better way, don’t placate me or my listeners, don’t mess with tradition, keep your sh!!t ass diet theories to yourself, revolt that’s who I am. But that’s just my opinion.
If you had the chance to wish for anything what would you wish for? It’s something we have all thought about. Perhaps the story of the Genie in the Lamp or Aladdin and the Magic Lamp comes to mind because the story recreated by Disney Studios has dated back almost 3,000 years. But we get only one wish in this case and you can’t wish for more wishes.
The story of the Genie in the lamp has many spins and greedy wishes normally lead to disaster and unexpected peril. Or we can think about the funny TV series I dream of Jeannie, that aired from 1965-1970, staring Larry Hagman, Barbara Eden, Bill Daily and Hayden Rorke. Mostly a show watched by the baby boomers it featured the hilarious adventures of Jeanie (Barbara Eden) and her master Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman) in a modern-day scenario. All of that aside most of us would probably use the wish for fame, riches, or immortality, just saying.
In my first year at the University of Massachusetts, Business 101 instructor, George Odiorne, (1976) posed a question like the above to his hall of 350 students. I believe it was, if you could have anything what would it be. Then he listed wealth, fame, incredible intelligence, great health, immortality etc. This is my first recollection of the concept health and its overall importance to us. The point being why be wealthy, famous, or immortal if you don’t have your health to support it.
Health is important to me and it should be to you. Health and overall wellness are what I am blogging about, but not what I am wishing for in this piece. What about in the grander scheme of things? As members of humanity and the animal and plant kingdom, I believe that we all want to live in peace, be able to enjoy the beautiful planet we live on, be part of family and community, have no wants or fears, have a connection or transcendence with the universe, all that kind of stuff. That’s straight forward. I started thinking about wishes in church and prayer came to mind, go figure. Was that divine intervention? My thoughts focused on prayer, what’s the difference? I probably chose the wrong title for this piece and should have called it a Christmas prayer. Praying is hard, and I know I don’t do it enough. Wishes are easy, I want to win the lottery. Fair enough let’s go with this then.
My First Christmas Wish
I wish that we become more prayerful human beings. I know that I need help in that category maybe you do too. Perhaps that’s like asking for more wishes. You can pray as often as you want, walking, standing, kneeling in your car in your home, but best alone in a quiet space.
The Second Christmas Wish
My second Christmas prayer is for world peace and for mankind to unite to make our world a better, more sustainable place for ourselves, our families, and our children and their children and so on down the line. (Lord why are we such a violent people?) There are a lot of things that can change for the better if we pray hard about it. I am going to continue to pray for lots of things this season and beyond and that’s better than any wish. Peace to all.
This past summer, I decided to accommodate my wife’s wish to write a recipe book. She always wanted me to make the great recipes of Allyn's public. I thought it a daunting task and was never a great writer (although my mom was an English teacher and I probably have writing in my genes to a degree). I was training a new chef at the restaurant and putting in a lot of hours.
Somehow, I made the determination to write the book, thinking an hour here and there would add up. Slowly the chapters started coming together but it wasn’t geared toward the many traditional standard recipes Allyn’s had. It was about the vegan recipes I recently added. I became a vegan abruptly and my voice wanted to tell that story. I started with my childhood and went from there.
Briefly, I lead a normal middle-class life in the sixties and seventies in the beautiful Berkshires. I worked in restaurants in my teens and saw the first McDonalds in our area put Great Barrington, Ma. on the map. (our only chain was a Friendly Ice Cream and Dairy Queen) My life seemed like a typical Norman Rockwell painting. Rockwell’s studio was fifteen minutes from my house. I would also like to send a shout out to another New England artist, Arlo Guthrie who wrote Alice’s Restaurant, a must listen to on Thanksgiving. Looking back, I was lucky to have such a wonderful childhood in a very pristine area.
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts, with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration, I took a job with Omni Hotel and Resorts and several years later ended up in Cincinnati at the Netherland Plaza Hotel. I loved hilly tri-state area snuggled along the Ohio river. My life was to stay put in Ohio and Cincinnati and I opened Allyn’s Café in 1991. When I went to a plant-based diet at the beginning of 2013 I started making vegan recipes. I got several of them down quickly, like jambalaya, chili, red beans rice and sausage and others. I incorporated them into specials and eventually menu standards at the restaurant. We now have about a dozen plant-based recipes. Those are the recipes in the book along with dozens more.
Later Gator is finished, and my editor and I are seeking a publisher hoping to get it to market next year. The project has been fulfilling, and simultaneously I got involved in the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. There is information on this page about what IIN is. My involvement in Integrated Nutrition prompted me to create (with the collaboration of my wife) Allyn’s 21, sustainable, whole foods, traditionally made. Please check it out on our website.
Every day I wake up a joyful person because I feel healthy, my energy is like I was 20 years old again, and my mind stays stimulated. I am very thankful for my family and friends, my staff at Allyn’s and their families, the customers that come in and enjoy what we do at the restaurant, and what the future may bring. I truly wish everyone a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.
Fast Food and Big Food
I have spent the last 28 years trying to make Allyn’s a better restaurant day by day. I have analyzed the details of everything from food and décor to budget. My belief is that you need to change the ambience of the restaurant every five or six years and at the same time keep the place in tip top shape. I have seen restaurants of past keep the same theme and slowly loose market share to the newer more relevant concepts. I emphasis newer because any day in Cincinnati there is a new restaurant emerging. I was talking to a patron a few days ago and he asked me how business was. I told him very good. He made the same point, every time a new restaurant opens everyone tries it out and that must have an impact on other venues. It does have an impact. The pie is only so big, and restaurants are all vying for their piece.
Keeping your restaurant fresh and new keeps patrons interested and coming back. It’s also an ongoing investment. Aside from replacing expensive kitchen equipment, fixing HVAC, refrigeration, (I have over a dozen refrigeration units), faucets, sinks, toilets, grease traps, washers, dryers, doors, windows, tables, chairs, roofs, gutters, etc.…. you also must put aside renovation dollars to keep the image fresh. I analyze the budget as well to keep tabs on prime costs, food, beverage, and labor. We have a third-party inventory the bar every two weeks to maintain a good beverage cost percentage. We watch portioning in the kitchen for consistency and cost. But I never try to buy cheaper ingredients to lower my food cost, never!
Another patron and I were talking about food and health. He is a lean person and told me that he doesn’t drink soft drinks or sugary beverages and doesn’t eat at fast food restaurants. Since he is in the remodeling business I found that unique. He said he was amazed at how crowded the fast food joints were at lunch time. There is always a line in the drive through.
The unfortunate truth is our nation is addicted to inexpensive, non-nourishing food, that tastes great but makes us sick. And when the price of tomatoes goes up the first thing fast food does is remove the tomato from your processed burger. Processed meat on a refined white flour roll, with white fried potatoes and 192 grams of sugar or 48 teaspoons in a 64 oz beverage. Not a prescription for good health. It’s all about the tomato in my opinion. If it costs so much for a corporation to keep a tomato on a burger in times when tomatoes are costly, what the heck. Your customers are numbers to you not patrons. The same goes for larger full-service restaurants with several locations. If produce goes up in price and you must skimp on a cherry tomato, cucumber or for god’s sake a few pieces of avocado, screw you.
Why do our major food companies and fast food restaurants always try to make products cheaper? Shareholders, that’s why. They want a good return on their investment. Ingredients play the major role and the cheaper, the better. That’s good for the investors but not the customer. High fructose corn syrup is a good example and our processed food are loaded with it. It was very difficult for me to find a ketchup for the restaurant that didn’t have HFC in it, but I did. I would think that the big food companies would have our health as their main concern and try to improve what they sell to us in that regard. Wishful thinking at least for now. That brings me back to Allyn’s and being an Integrated Nutrition Health Coach. Perhaps some of the big food companies need a more healthful approach to their mission statements. Next time we will talk about
Allyn’s 21. That is our newest concept for the restaurant that I am trying to make better day by day.
I am starting my blog today with the best intent, and to change the world starting with me. I have a lot going on, things on my mind and a mission from who knows where. So, I gave up meat and dairy six years ago, literally overnight. It started with two documentaries that had a major impact on my life, The Beautiful Truth and Hungry for Change.
I had an Epiphany. At 55 years old, (almost six years ago) having always eaten the Standard American Diet (SAD) I would go to a plant-based diet. What would change was everything. My daily routine, diet of course, the restaurant I owned for 23 years, my body, my mind, my family, my outlook on life, my career, my health, exercise, you get the idea, I could go on.
When we change what we eat, making huge improvements in nutrition the brain gets stimulated. I lost thirty pounds, got a plethora of energy, (my wife noticed immediately) and started training for a marathon. I ran the Flying Pig in Cincinnati in 2014, a very hilly and challenging course. I was able to beat the four-hour mark and was amazed but soar after. When you run a marathon your first thought is I will never do this again. Then you remember the energy of the people lining the street from the beginning to the end, the music from DJ’s to live bands, the banners and signs, the cheering and comradery, and within a few minutes you think, I can’t wait to do this again.
Watching the Beautiful Truth, my biggest impression was that in 1928 Dr. Max Gerson closed the pantry door on cancer. I wondered how can this be? But the film went on to explain in very plain language how deficiency and toxicity are at the core of the problem. My recommendation is to watch the Beautiful Truth or Dying to Have Know (which might be better) on YouTube.
What I am going to do in this blog is talk about what’s on my mind in general, the book I have written Later Gator hopefully to be published in a few months, my training to be an Integrated Nutrition Health coach and Allyn’s 21, which are changes we are making at Allyn’s to make it even better. I will give out recipes and other information that I think everyone will enjoy. Hope you follow along.
Documentaries Mentioned in this Post
The Later Gator Blog
At Allyn's Cafe, we're about so much more than cajun food! Dive into the stories and our journey to going vegan, providing local sourced ingredients, nutritional advice, a sustainable future, writing a book and more with Allyn Raifstanger.
Integrated Health Coach
After several years of studying health and diets, Allyn embarked on a yearlong coarse at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition out of New York State. This course is accredited by the New York State Board of Education.