“Food is Medicine,”
–Chef Allen Campbell
On the last day of January, I was honored to be part of a fireside chat with Chef Allen Campbell—Tom Brady’s former personal chef. To say I was impressed with his philosophy on food—and life–is an understatement.
The Brownie Bites takeaway;
🌾Eat whole foods (not processed)
🥑Eat plants and good fats
🧀Avoid dairy, gluten, alcohol
❄️Eat seasonally and for your environment (such as hot nourishing meals for Boston’s winter)
☀️Trust your intuition: your body knows whats good for it if you slow down and listen
The event took place on Newbury Street in Boston at 28 Exeter, just a stone’s throw from where Brady used to live prior to getting married. It was an amazing event co-sponsored by Vos Fitness.
According to Chef Campbell’s website, “Allen’s culinary education began at the age of 14 in the Boston suburbs. After 20+ years in the hospitality industry, he earned his stripes, crafted his own culinary style, and sought out a deeper meaning of the traditional “chef” position… Allen’s work can be found in The Game of Eating Smart, as well as the TB12 Method and the TB12 Nutrition Manual.”
TB as in Tom Brady— (I live in Boston and grew up here so I can’t help being impressed!).
The foundations for good, healthy food and longevity nutrition according to Allen include: “Whole foods, lots of plants, no refined sugar, avoiding gluten.” He does not include dairy in his recipes. That’s the “Brownie Bite,” but there’s a whole lot more he shared!
From “Out of Control” to Entrepreneur
I must admit I had not read Chef Allen Campbell’s book prior to the event. I’ve since purchased it and hope to become a member of his new AC Kitchen food delivery service. Allen is “just now ready to start scaling” his new culinary service. It is exciting to see an entrepreneur pivot into their exciting new venture, especially one powered by his passion for healthy food!
Back to Wednesday’s fireside chat: The topic of discussion was longevity nutrition: how we can live longer and better with healthy food.
Allen started off the conversation by sharing his journey as a chef. It was quite a journey and one that took a toll. Many years prior to working with Brady, Allen wasn’t thinking about the link between food and health.
Chef Allen became sober after years of being “out of control.” He quit smoking and drinking and did a 180 on his approach to life and health. He spoke about how food is directly linked to health…so if he was feeding people, what responsibility did he have in their overall health? Was he responsible for sickness?
Could he evolve his way of cooking to ensure the nutrients he provided supported a healthy life? He evolved his way of cooking to help fuel people with healthy food, and started working with athletes including Brady.
Now his evolution includes helping people increase their lifespan (and healthspan). Longevity nutrition will likely be one of the biggest trends in food in the next few years. We really are what we eat!
Nothing is “Non-Negotiable” But Trust Your Intuition
When Allen opened the room up to Q&A’s, one of the first questions was how to make healthy choices with food. Allen said the key is to make it delicious! Healthy food can absolutely be delicious…though it might take some inspiration from an innovative chef like Allen.
One of the guests asked Allen about which foods were “non-negotiable;” and Allen said he didn’t think any food was necessarily bad— there are foods that can make you feel bad, or good, and when we start listening to our intuition (and not fighting it), it will guide us in a direction of health. I loved this concept. His philosophy on living a more natural life was fascinating, as was his suggestion to simply slow down.
When we are conscious about what we cook and eat, our perspective starts to change.
“Never Drink Alone!”
-Chef Allen Campbell on ways to change your relationship toward alcohol
We got into a funny discussion about human nature and the fact that if we avoid a food or tell ourselves we can’t have it…we’re likely going to want it more. Wellness expert Laura LeDuc, who runs Vos Fitness (the co-sponsor of the event) told a story about her child’s eating habits and her own aversion to oatmeal!
It’s possible to crave healthy foods. Like a Jedi mind trick with how we perceive things: if we see food as fuel, we may naturally gravitate to foods that provide us sustainable fuel. While not all of us are professional athletes like Brady, we still require sustenance to make it through our days (sustenance is needed in the Boston winter!)
Allen also talked about alcohol and how recent studies have said not even a small amount is good for us—but if having a glass of wine helps you get the courage to go out, or enjoy socialization, then we can weigh the positive benefits of socializing with the unhealthy habit of drinking. Sometimes the power of socializing may be worth one drink.
One tip Allen had for the room was to “never drink alcohol alone!”
Likely a good way to shift your perspective on it from being a “must” when you get home after a hard day to an enjoyable treat with friends.
Another guest asked what to do about nighttime sweet cravings, and Chef Allen said if you could willpower through 3 or 4 days without sugar at night, you can beat the cravings. But if you can’t (or don’t want to), dates filled with peanut butter are a great option. He also mentioned avocado ice cream! Yum!
Fasting and Autophagy for Longevity
Both Allen and our host Laura LeDuc talked about fasting as a way to induce autophagy. For those who don’t know autophagy (which means “self eating”), it is a way to stress the body in small ways so it naturally repairs itself. Some ways to induce autophagy include intense bursts of exercise, cold plunges, and fasting. Autophagy is linked to longevity!
Laura and Allen said it is not neccessary to fast for multiple days at a time. Even the time before your last meal and breakfast (which stands for break fast!) counts as a fast. (Be sure to double check with a healthcare professional before doing a fast!).
I thought this was another great viewpoint–we really don’t need to do these enormous overhauls to see a difference. We can make small changes and get benefits.
“Eat for the Season”–Chef Allen Campbell
Perhaps the coolest thing to me to learn about is his belief system around seasonal eating—for example, even if we can get summer foods right now in Boston, nourishing hearty meals are more appropriate for the current cold weather.
Seasonal—or environmental eating–is linked to Eastern practices, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, where the belief is that when we consume the food we’d find in our natural environments, we remain in harmony with our environment.
That philosophy extends to the belief that when we better adapt to seasonal changes, we have a greater propensity to stay healthy. I started following that type of diet and belief system last year and noticed a dramatic effect with improved health and almost a lightness to my movements. Since I started I have not been sick.
I asked Allen about his favorite recipes for winter in Boston and he said Bison—he’s not a vegan! When I asked what the vegetarians and vegans can substitute, he mentioned a lasagna without dairy or meat. For anyone reading this in the Boston area, he said the Somerville Farmer’s Market is good in the winter—so no excuses not to get amazing healthy produce even now.
Real, Whole, Foods = Real, Whole, Life
Overall, my biggest takeaway was Allen’s presence. He walks the talk. He is calm and collected, and radiates health. His approach to real, whole, foods is a complement to him living a real, whole, life.
It makes sense to me how one of the greatest athletes trusted his fuel to Allen’s cooking!
Chef Allen Campbell clearly lives by the mantra of power of food as medicine, and training our minds to see food as nourishment and fuel.
Start with making your healthy food delicious!
Start Eating Delicious Healthy Food Today
If you’re in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or NYC you can be part of his new AC Kitchen meal delivery. For everyone else, Allen has a new book coming out soon. In the meantime, his last book is on Amazon.