Food, glorious food! Joe Johnson, a holistic health coach, learned how to improve his health by eating well. Through tackling his own health problems, Joe learned how different foods affect his energy level and general well-being.
Joe is a certified Health and Nutrition Coach who provides 1-on-1 health coaching programs to those who wish to change their lifestyles and improve their health. In addition to coaching, Joe also shares interesting information about various foods and their effects on our bodies on his website and blog.
With a deep belief that healthier bodies lead to happier, fuller lives, Joe has dedicated his career to inspiring others to heal themselves. Enjoy!
1.Joe, you call yourself a Health Coach. What does that title mean to you? What is a health coach?
I provide support and accountability to people who want to feel confident and proud of their bodies when they look in the mirror, and to those who want more energy to complete their life’s passions. Too often we get inspired to make changes for a little while, then revert back to old habits. I help my clients make permanent changes by holding them accountable and suggesting healthy foods and habits to add in, rather than focusing on deprivation or giving up things they love. I also help them navigate the confusing nutrition landscape and determine what works for them. In addition to coaching, I give lectures, write articles, and create videos on nutrition and health.
2.You use a holistic approach when coaching clients. How is a holistic approach different from a traditional one?
With a holistic approach, I realize that all of the body’s systems and all parts of a person’s life are connected. Helping a person get out of a toxic relationship or a job he hates might have a bigger impact on health than the food he is eating. Stress at work may cause someone to overeat, or a lack of sleep may create a disdain for exercise. Everything is connected, and it’s important to find the root cause of a problem, rather than the remedy that makes the problem temporarily go away.
3.On your website, you share that your father, Dr. Michael L. Johnson, is a big influence in your life. In what ways did he influence you?
My dad is an incredible example for me to emulate. He is extremely hard-working and has a deep passion for serving others and helping them heal. He currently works with cancer patients and has inspired me to work with them one day. If you or your loved ones are dealing with cancer, you should check out his website at drjcancersupport.com.
4.You have faced some challenges in your life regarding your own health. What led you to focus on investigating the effects of foods on your body through those challenges? Did doctors point you in that direction or did you just stumble upon the ideas as you were researching about your health challenges?
I have been interested in the effect of food on the body for many years, long before I had any health challenges. I’ve always been enamored with the idea that what we eat eventually becomes our cells, our organs, and even our thoughts. I firmly believe that changing what you eat can radically change your life. Unfortunately, I feel that most doctors today don’t understand nutrition or the incredible healing power of food. I am lucky to have a resource in my dad, who is at the cutting edge of functional medicine and chiropractic neurology.
5.What inspired you to begin sharing your knowledge and life story with people around the world and in turn, giving your time to helping others through the same or similar struggles that you’ve faced as a coach?
There was a period about a year ago when I was really unhappy with my life. I didn’t feel like I was passionate about my work, making use of my full potential, or providing value to the world. Being unhappy set me off onto a spiritual journey of discovering myself and my true interests and desires.
I was always hesitant to share my story because I wanted to fit in with everyone else. I was afraid people wouldn’t like me for who I really was. As I started to share myself more and more, I was amazed at how being vulnerable inspired other people and deepened my connections with them. Inspiring a person to heal himself now gives me the most amazing feeling and is my favorite part of being a coach.
6. You mention on your website that leafy greens are THE ONE super food that benefits our bodies the most. Is there any one leafy green that is healthier than the rest, are all leafy greens created equal?
I wouldn’t say that one leafy green vegetable is better than the others – that’s like asking a parent which child they like best. I think the more leafy greens people can add into their diets, the better. Having a variety is great too. The only exception is iceberg lettuce – that stuff’s evil.
7.What is the Paleo diet and what is your opinion about it?
A Paleo/ancestral diet is a way of eating which includes primarily vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, and fruit. It focuses on traditional foods which would theoretically be hunted or gathered. I think it would be a great thing for most people who are eating the Standard American Diet. I like it because it emphasizes whole, unprocessed, real foods and focuses on reducing common food allergens and toxins.
An ancestral diet works well for me because I have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and leaky gut syndrome. The diet stabilizes my blood sugar and is minimally irritating to my gut. However, people are individuals, so it may not be right for everyone. I do believe that everyone, including vegetarians and vegans, could learn lessons from the Paleo lifestyle, like the importance of unprocessed, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods, high-quality sleep, sunshine, and exercise.
8. When you begin coaching sessions with a new client, what are the three most important things you want or need to know about a person before you can move forward?
I need to know how committed they are, the current state of their health, and what health goals they want to reach. Figuring out how to reach those goals is my job!
9. As people begin their journeys on the path to become healthier, what one piece of advice would you give them that would bring them a higher chance of reaching their goals?
Listen to your body. Your body knows what the optimal diet is for you as an individual. It knows exactly what you need at every moment of the day and is trying to send that message to you. The problem is, most of us have forgotten how to listen.
Pay attention to how you feel rather than how you or anyone else thinks about carbs or fat or calories. You can use different tools, such as a food journal in which you record how you feel immediately after eating a certain food and how you feel two hours later.
The other most important part is to reach out for support: a workout partner, an accountability buddy, a coach. You will make much more progress with someone stretching you and holding you accountable. I am currently working with four different coaches and as a direct result have made tons of progress in my health, career, and relationships.
10.You specialize in supporting and coaching young and middle-aged men. Do men and women require need to consume different foods when it comes to living a healthier life? Do they react differently to various foods?
It’s not just men vs. women – every individual person needs to consume different foods to live a healthier life. Each individual person reacts differently to various foods. The optimal food for one person may be poison for someone else. People should try out a variety of different things and use their intuition to decide what is right for them. Part of what I do is help people reconnect to that intuition so they can continue making the right choices after we work together.
So I can’t say that “men” need certain foods because it’s too broad of a generalization – different men need different foods. I work with each client individually to find foods that will make him healthier. I specialize in working with men because I understand their frustrations, constraints, and aspirations. In addition, I can help them more effectively because I have dealt with many of the challenges they are going through.
11.You have dreams of opening a retreat center for cancer patients. Would you share your vision for this center? What inspired you to pursue this dream? What will be your ultimate goal in this dream?
It’s not just a dream – it’s happening. I'm creating a center where cancer patients can come on week-long retreats and be completely transformed. They will be served only the highest quality organic foods and vegetable juices. They will take cooking classes and learn skills they can take back with them after the retreat. I will have someone work with them on exercise, and another person who works with them on emotional/spiritual issues. I will lecture on nutrition and share the overall vision, inspiration, positivity, and sense of hope. I will have infinite positive energy like Tony Robbins and combine it with my passion for the healing potential of food. At the end of the week, the people will be completely inspired to make drastic changes in their everyday lives.
One inspiration is my Grandma Mary, who lived for nine years after beating lung cancer. The cancer eventually returned, and she passed away in 2005. She was absolutely the kindest person I have met in my entire life. I think she would have thrived for many more years if her diet had been different. My Grandpa Joe, probably the second-kindest person I’ve ever met, also had lung cancer and died much earlier than he should have. My dad and the work he is doing with cancer patients is my third big inspiration.
My ultimate goal is to awaken people to their potential to heal themselves of any disease, including and especially cancer.
12.What is your opinion about the old adage regarding food, “Everything in moderation”?
Everything in moderation… including moderation! The problem with that adage is that someone’s definition of moderation might be much different than what moderation really means. I think a lot of people use the adage as an excuse to eat way too much junk food.
In my personal life, I don’t subscribe to the adage. I believe that humans have the innate capacity for perfect health, and consciously choosing something that I know will decrease my level of health just goes against my core being. But it’s important to watch out for orthorexia, where the pursuit of the healthiest food possible leads to lots of stress and worry, making you unhealthier overall. Eating and truly enjoying a little bit of unhealthy food is much better than feeling guilt, shame, or anxiety.
My goal is to help people move to a place where eating the unhealthy food isn’t even enjoyable anymore. Junk-food junkies may think that idea is crazy, but it’s totally possible. As the “good” microflora in the gut are nourished by healthier foods, people’s tastes start to change.
13.If you had to name one food that people should try to avoid at all costs, what would that be and why?
I would avoid soda at all costs – regular or diet. The problems with it are too many to list. I think regular and diet soda play a huge role in weight gain and poor health. People can get caffeine from tea or high-quality coffee and the bubbles from sparkling water.
Coming in second place are the sugar-, gluten-, and rancid inflammatory oil-filled concoctions loved by many: doughnuts...
14.In your mission statement, you mention that you “stand as a beacon of truth in the sea of corrupt government messages, deceitful corporate marketing practices, and plan bad science.” Can you elaborate on that statement and explain what you mean?
I think a lot of organizations value profit over the health of their customers/citizens. Companies doing factory farming come to mind as one example. Companies marketing junk food to kids is another one. These organizations have billions of dollars to spend in influencing people’s opinions, and I feel they often make false claims, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. I feel like it’s my responsibility to figure out what can truly help people be healthier and spread that information.
Joe is a certified Health and Nutrition Coach who has a deep understanding of the healing power of food.