It might be time for a makeover—but not with cosmetics. The saying goes that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet and so the best way to get healthy and stay that way is by what you choose to eat.
After 25 years in the food service industry, Jodi Brown is passionate about sharing how you can improve your health—and yes, waistline, with food.
“Everyone thinks I’m a whack job,” Brown joked.
Brown is a self-taught nutritionist, but does hold a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation at Cornell University. And then there are her years of experience preparing and eating foods from all over the world.
She is passionate about keeping nutrients in food, not counting calories.
“Ask yourself, ‘How much food is in your food?’” she said about healthy eating. “The more we process our foods the less nutrition they have. I’m not suggesting everyone eats a raw, vegan diet, but eat foods with at least 50 percent of nutrient density in it.”
Eating steamed broccoli rather than raw is still better than eating a pizza, Brown said. But when you consume the nutrients in your vegetables, you’re not just feeding hunger, but fueling your body with loads of energy.
When Brown entered back into the food world after a stint in the music business—another passion of hers—she set out to inform people about truly healthy foods with a program she calls Ultimate Kitchen Commando.
“No one responds to people wagging fingers in their face,” she said. “People are confused about all the conflicting information [about food]. I want to help them make a better decision.”
Brown offers varied levels of Ultimate Kitchen Commando lessons. There’s a two-day package, a full weekend intervention and group classes. Or you can sign up for Your Food Makeover retreat scheduled for this weekend at Escape Spa at Wind Creek Casino & Hotel.
The Ultimate Kitchen Commando packages are fairly comprehensive.
“I teach people how to organize their foods,” she said. “When you have time you can half prepare dishes. I show them how to store foods so that when you come home you’re more likely to make that healthy dish.”
Since the program is geared more toward adults who will hopefully pass on their knowledge to children, Brown’s clients have to erase years of unhealthy choices, which isn’t always easy.
“People are forced to look at what they’re doing, it can be un-pretty,” she said.
That’s why Brown calls everyone who signs up for a Kitchen Commando package to assess if it’s the right program for them.
“If they’re not ready for me, I’m not taking them on,” she said. “I’m not taking anybody’s money unless they’re ready.”
Brown recalls one woman who contacted her seeking help for her husband. Sticking to her word, Brown went to their home and met the husband.
“He said, ‘My wife is under the misconception that I’m going to drink this Kool-Aid,’” she explained.
Brown did not take him on as a client.
“I’m good, but I’m not that good,” she said.
An important part of the Kitchen Commando program is learning to navigate the grocery store. Just like any nutritionist, Brown says to shop the perimeters of the store versus the inner junk food-filled aisles. And be weary of labels that boast “All-natural” and “Organic.”
“If it looks too good to be true, it usually is,” she said. “Just because you bought it at Whole Foods doesn’t make it good for you. Look for USDA Organic. Labels also take wide liberties with the word ‘natural.’”
Even the nutrition facts labels can be misleading.
“Labels are done by weight,” she said. “And sugar is broken down into five different sugars. It just takes a little bit of education.”
Brown also shares shopping tips such as buying in bulk and seasonal foods, which save money.
“Every week, buy what’s on sale—it’s what’s plentiful in season,” she said. “Buy berries and freeze them, use them for a shake.”
“I’ve been at my rock star weight”
For those that choose to let the Ultimate Kitchen Commando in their home, the benefits are endless. And Brown is living proof of them.
“I have more energy, my skin cleared up, even some grey hairs went away,” she said. “Since I’ve been eating for health, I’ve been at my rock star weight.”
Brown even indulges in dessert, although it is unconventional.
“There are healthy chocolate desserts,” she said. “I make chocolate pudding with avocadoes, even though I don’t tell my clients what’s in it.”
Brown frequently visits Pensacola and even has her favorite local stops, Ever’man, being an obvious choice, Beach Pops and Flora Bama Farms.
It’s important to note that Brown is still very human. She doesn’t just shop at co-ops and farmers’ markets, which makes her program achievable.
“There are certain places I go for certain items,” Brown said. “I might go to Winn Dixie and Sandy’s farm [Flora Bama Farms]. You can’t afford to eat all organic all the time.”
And just like her clients, Brown finds it hard to completely stray from drinking and rich cuisine. Blame it on her current residence, which is New Orleans.
“I still imbibe very infrequently,” she said. “It’s not easy. Want to be a social pariah? Eliminate drinking.”
Compelled To Help
Brown has always been a lover of food, but wasn’t a proponent of healthy eating until the late 1980s when her then boyfriend had fatally high blood pressure. When she learned to cook food that was healthy and delicious, she decided to share her newfound knowledge.
“I feel compelled to help people,” she said. “I want to be a part of the solution not the problem.”
Because she’s passionate about helping people—her Facebook page is constantly updating with facts, quotes, recipes and shared articles—she’s forgiving and doesn’t give up on her clients.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Brown said. “You have to keep moving forward. If you want to be good at anything you have to practice, pick yourself back up.”
Once you give your body the food it craves, unprocessed foods, you’ll notice it’s easier to than you thought.
“The body wants to be fed what it needs,” Brown said.
Brown explains that when you eat processed junk foods, your body is still craving what it needs, which is why you still feel hungry.
“You actually eat less when you eat healthy,” she said.
Healthy lifestyles usually equate to less medical expenses, too. So go ahead and splurge at local farmers’ markets if you can.
“It all works out in the end since your doctor bills are cheaper,” Brown said.
And just like Brown is compelled to help others, be compelled to help yourself.
“It’s really important to respect yourself,” Brown said. “Treat yourself right.”
YOUR FOOD MAKEOVER
WHEN: September 28-30
WHERE: Escape Spa at Wind Creek Casino & Hotel, 303 Poarch Road, Atmore, Ala.
DETAILS: 855-393-7227 or ultimatekitchencommando.com