Food As Medicine Conference- A Guest Post!

Hi Everyone!

Today’s post is a guest post from one of my best med-school friends Katie.  She and I met a couple years ago and have stayed close friends.  Even though she is a year behind me in school, she is someone I look up to in so many ways!  Katie is part of the Medical School Wellness Committee; we both share a passion for healthy living (and science of course!)  A few weeks ago, Katie was able to attend the Food As Medicine Conference.  I am so excited she agreed to write a guest post about this event- I definitely want to go next year!



Hello there! My name is Katie Hodgdon and I am a second year medical student at IUSM.  I’ve known Andrea for a few years now, in fact she was my MCAT teacher, and she was a fantastic instructor and amazing motivator!!  If you can’t tell already – she is super energetic and always ready to tackle the next project!!  I am very fortunate to call her my friend and mentor both in life and medical school!!!

I recently returned from the Washington, D.C. area where I visited my family and friends as well as attended an amazing conference called Food As Medicine (FAM) sponsored by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine (  When I told Andrea about the conference, she asked if I would write a “guest post” since so much of what was discussed are things that she and I both are passionate about …… eating healthy, exercising, mindfulness, connection with others, taking care in all dimensions of wellness to live a balanced, healthy, full life.

When I first learned about FAM, in addition to the tons of relevant medical and scientific information covered, I heard that the food was YUUUUMMMMY and had fantastic vegetarian options.  I have been a vegetarian for almost 18 years now and despite what some people may believe, there are SO many tasty vegetarian dishes that are relatively easy to make, fill me up, and meet all of my dietary needs!!

The first day of the conference started bright and early with registration.  I was volunteering so it was really fun to meet lots of new people.  Jim Gordon, MD, the founder and director for CMBM, kicked off the conference and from there the information just started flowing!  Everything from discussions on our soil to understanding core imbalances to pediatric nutrition and using nutrition in practice.

And the best part of the day was lunch!!  It was DELICIOUS!!!  Rebecca Katz, MS is the master chef for the conference and has also written several cookbooks, including The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.  Her meals were like a potpourri of flavors exploding in my mouth!!   We had carrot ginger soup with cashew cream, greens, Mediterranean chickpea burgers with tomato mint chutney and quinoa salad with pistachio nuts.  In the afternoon Rebecca also gave a food demo and whipped up some delicious fresh greens and swiss chard.  Later she also made Moroccan Mint Pesto, Mediterranean Gazpacho, homemade soothing Ginger Ale, and lots, lots more!!  Yum!!  You can check out more of her stuff at

When I got home at the end of the day I still had lots of energy from the lunch and the healthy snacks of green smoothies loaded with kale, some pineapple and orange, and a few grapes from Matt at the Vitamix blender demo table.  I was excited to share with my parents and my mom’s oldest brother Uncle Bill, and his wife, Aunt Lu who were in town from Pennsylvania.

My Aunt and Uncle have always eaten very healthy and they live on a farm and still grow most of their own vegetables, some fruits, and nuts.  My aunt makes nearly everything she can from scratch!!  My Aunt and Uncle are both in their mid 80’s (and just to clarify my mom was the youngest of six children by ~20 years) and both of them are very healthy and don’t take any prescription medications (except eye drops for my uncle)!!  Recently my Aunt saw the doctor and he was so surprised that she took NO medications (which is not typical of someone her age), that he called in his colleagues just to show her off!!!   I hope that I can be as healthy as they are when I am their ages!!











The next three mornings of the conference started off with Yoga or Qigong.  If you haven’t heard of Qigong, it is rooted in Chinese medicine and is the practice of breath, movement, and awareness for meditation, exercise, and healing.  I wish all conferences started the day with these activities!!

Each day’s presentations were filled with more and more information on lab assessments, dietary and nutritional supplements, micro and macro nutrients, public health, cancer care, gut issues, vegan and vegetarian diets, food demonstrations, and even edible landscaping. (This inspired me to created my own mini-garden of herbs, peppers, and a tomato mixed in with potato vine and geraniums on my deck at home.)

One of my favorite talks was given by Mark Hyman, MD, chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine and author of several New York Times best-selling books including his latest book, “The Blood Sugar Solution”  (  His talk centered on the growing epidemic of diabesity.  Yes, that’s right….diabesity – the combination of obesity and diabetes, or rather, the condition of metabolic imbalances ranging from mild insulin resistance to end stage diabetes.

In our society today over 65% of Americans are overweight, 1 in 2 American’s will be diabetic or pre-diabetic by 2020, 1 in 5 children entering kindergarten are already overweight, $1 in every $3 of Medicare money is spent on Type II Diabetes, and worldwide from 1983 to 2008 the incidence of diagnosed diabetes increased from 35 million to 240 million!!!!  It is a crisis that must be tackled!!  And Dr. Hyman and many others are working hard to try to reverse these trends.

One of the ways to approach this monstrous dilemma facing our society is to look at the power of our community and how our social networks can influence health and disease.  Dr. Hyman, a “Jewish boy from New York” has recently partnered with Rick Warren, an evangelical Christian pastor of a mega-church in California, and together they created The Daniel Plan to empower that community to strive together for positive, healthy change.  And so far it’s working!!

Dr. Hyman has also traveled with renowned physician Dr. Paul Farmer down to Haiti to help continue creating sustainable health care for the local villages by using the power of the social networks.  It truly is amazing work and I left the conference that day inspired to focus on my own self-care and wellness and eager to make a positive change in my own community!!

At the end of Day 4 of the conference everyone was filled with lots of knowledge, good food, and excited to implement all that we had learned into our own lives as well as the share with patients, clients, friends, and family.

Photo courtesy of Jo Cooper and Center for Mind-Body Medicine.

And though I was sad to depart, I am very excited because next year, for the first time ever the FAM conference will be held in the Midwest, right here in our own Indianapolis!!!!!

So mark your calendar’s now for June 6-9, 2013 at the J.W. Marriott for FAM 2013!!!! See you there!!!

And lastly, though the pictures are not quite as pretty as Andrea’s are — these are some of my own meals I’ve created since attending the conference…a yummy tri-colored pepper, kale, black bean and onion sauté with lemon juice, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, and honey!!!  And a healthy lunch of quinoa, arugula, tomatoes, carrots, fresh parsley, sesame seeds, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil and lots of fresh fruit on the side and water, because I always need to drink more water!!  And lastly, my latest green smoothie, of red kale, blueberries (because they are good in EVERYTHING!!), pineapple, oranges, watermelon, and fresh mint ….  Mmmmmmm!!!!


  1. says

    Katie, we are so happy to see your marvelous post about Food As Medicine! It was a pleasure to have you join us as a volunteer this year- and we are especially delighted to see how the program has inspired you in the kitchen and the garden. Can’t wait to be with you in Indy next year! For readers who are interested in learning more about Food As Medicine June 6-9, 2013, visit us at Sign up for our mailing list, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to learn when registration is open. Midwest, here we come!

  2. says

    Nice article Katie, I attended food as medicine in 2011. Currently a psychologist in Indianapolis and also completed the mind body trainings (working toward completion of the certificate program). Would enjoy meeting you and discussing possible networking opportunities. So glad CMBM will be in Indianapolis 2013.

    • Katie says

      Thanks! That’s great that you attended FAM last year! It would be great to meet with you!! I contacted you through your website, so hopefully we can connect soon!

  3. Chao Li says

    Nice article! It makes me want to volunteer for FAM next year! I love smoothies too, and I give my favorite flavor a beautiful name, “Berry Blossom”. It’s a mix of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mangos and kiwis. YUMMY!!


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