How We Began
Healthy Together Friends is a relatively new organization that began in the fall of 2016. Unlike tech startups that often begin in someone’s garage, Healthy Together Friends began around someone’s dining room table. Jane Thayer and Joni Bell invited neighbors who live in our two rural housing developments to participate in a book discussion of Dr. Michael Greger’s How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. About 10 to 12 people faithfully attended our weekly meetings for 9 weeks. We met around Jane’s dining room table.
In the fall of 2017 Healthy Together Friends met in the Lincoln Township Public Library in Stevensville. That year we built our sessions around the book, The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifestyle Plan for Health and Longevity by John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods; Alona Pulde, M.D; and Matthew Lederman, M.D. This husband-wife team of doctors was featured in the documentary Forks Over Knives. A core group of 15 to 17 people stuck with us through 17 weekly meetings. During the course of nearly 6 months of meetings, a total of about 30 people, including the faithful ones, attended our sessions.
Our logo announces our basic purpose: Social support for healthful living. We believe it is nearly impossible in today’s culture to live a healthful lifestyle without the support of a community of others with the same goals. Dan Buettner found that community was necessary to support the lifestyle that made the Blue Zones thrive.
According to nutritionists and researchers in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and health, Americans live in a toxic environment. That toxicity is not limited to polluted air and water, but unfortunately, much of our popular food is toxic. So many of the things we love to eat are detrimental to our health: pizza, ice cream, barbequed meats, pastries, cookies, cakes, pies, chips—all the fun foods that are part of our social life. Even when we try to make healthful changes in our diet, our family and friends often make fun of us or try to entice us to eat what we know will harm our body and brain.
People who meet with us to discuss a book on nutrition and lifestyle benefit in two ways:
- They learn what it takes to be healthy.
- And together we create a community to support each other in our individually chosen commitments to change.
Healthy Together Friends is still exploring the best ways for people to learn what it takes for good health
and to sustain lifelong changes.
Dr. Dean Ornish, who was the first medical doctor to document that heart disease could be reversed through proper nutrition, says that we are now living in the age of lifestyle medicine. By that term he means that changes “in diet and lifestyle can treat and even reverse the progression of many of the most common chronic diseases as well as to help prevent them.” These changes include:
- A whole foods, plant-based diet like the one described in The Whole Foods Diet book
- Stress management techniques
- Moderate exercise
- Social support and community
We also acknowledge that the God who created our marvelous bodies and brains also created the amazing plants that support our total health.
These are the basic principles which underlie our Healthy Together Friends philosophy.