Drew Ramsey, MD on living a delicious life & the joyful creativity possible in food

When we create our stories each week, one of the most agonizing decisions is what to call people. How do you distill a life—in the case of our storytellers, an otherworldly life—into the three or four words of a title scroll?

As we kick off the unofficial start of summer this Memorial Day weekend, our minds turn toward the beach, getting our hands dirty in the garden, and grilling out with friends in the backyard. These timeless American traditions center around food, the outdoors, and all the sensuality that arises from to that first bite of the sweet Jersey corn to that crisp watermelon dripping down your chin on warm summer nights.

It’s the perfect setting to introduce you to Drew Ramsey, MD, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.  He’s the author of The Happiness Diet, and, what might have been the most awesome title of 2013: Fifty Shades of Kale, earning him the coveted title: Kale Evangelist.

His latest is the 2017 Books for a Better Life Award finalist, Eat Complete. Eat Complete is full of gorgeous photographs and delicious surprises that can transform our plates, our brains, and, most importantly, our lives.

In our conversation, Dr. Ramsey talks about Americans being overfed and under-nourished. Reflecting on our huge portions and overpowered flavors we wonder what, exactly, are we trying to fill inside?

So back to Memorial Day, and I’m struggling with the dirty underbelly of this “summa-time, and the livin’ is easy” narrative. In a season of relaxed pleasure, we allow ourselves to “cheat” and “indulge.” But come Monday morning, we bludgeon ourselves into deprivation to work our way back into “beach body” shape. This polarization of “good” and “bad” sets up food as the enemy.  This disconnect robs us of the joy and sensual pleasure of wholesome, healthy nourishment.

This dualistic framework is all too familiar to Dr. Drew.  The same “either/or” mentality kept him from living an integrated life.

Drew spent most of his childhood on farm in Indiana. When he arrived in Manhattan, and went onto become a successful psychiatrist, he tucked that midwestern farm boy away.  And with it, all the wisdom and experience of a lifestyle connected to the rhythms of nature that the farm instilled.

Slowly, and ironically, with the help of his fast-paced Columbia psychiatrist colleagues, he began to realize that integrating his full human experience would not only benefit him personally, it could revolutionize his clinical practice.

He began to bring his farm-bred love and knowledge of healthy eating into his treatments. Now, his first line of defense in helping patients is food, and it’s led them to sharper thinking, mood boosts, even eased anxiety and depression.

Drew’s personal journey lit a fire in him.  I felt it in our conversation, and it is at the heart of Eat Complete. Yes, it’s a cookbook. A health book. And that is important. But there’s something even more.

When, like Drew, you’re given the gift of being part of a professional community that guides you back into an integrated existence, you’ll stop at nothing to help others find what truly makes them Complete.

Learn more from and about Drew at DrewRamsey.com

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