A Visit With Dr. Andrew Weil!

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Dr. Andrew Weil might change that to “Smile, move, eat, breathe and go slowly.”

I was lucky enough to see Dr. Weil speak last weekend!

Maybe you don’t know who Dr. Weil is. He is a doctor who has dedicated his life to the study of mind, body and spirit. He is a doctor who describe health is a wholeness and balance that allows you to move through the world. The kind that gives you an inner springiness. He wants to refocus medicine by focusing in on lifestyle. He spoke of exercise, nutrition and unprecedented depression here in the US.

Dr. Weil prescribes that you:

• Have Social Connections – He believes we are increasingly heading towards social isolation. Strong social connections are known to make you have better health.

• Move – The human body is meant to move! Many diseases we have in the modern world are related to our sedentary life style. I couldn’t agree more. While I don’t do organized exercising, I go out for a walk, practice yoga or bike ride. I always feel better, more creative and more inspired after some kind of exercise. Moving creates energy. Get your kids out exercising too!

• Have Good Nutrition – Get back to the roots of your food as much as possible. He wants to get us “back in the kitchen” cooking simple foods. He prescribes an anit-inflammatory Mediterranean diet with a little Asian flair thrown in. Here’s his own food pyramid.

He believes in this so much that he has co-created a restaurant called True Food, which is coming to Denver later this month. He has also written a cookbook of the same name. Here’s his take on this anit-inflammatory diet.

“There is strong evidence that chronic inflammation is a major driver of many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, digestive disorders and certain cancers. Taking advantage of all the current data on nutrition and its impact on inflammation, the anti-inflammatory diet is based upon dietary patterns found in traditional Mediterranean and Asian eating habits. The diet is designed to replace inflammation-triggering foods with nutrient-rich micro and macronutrients that fight inflammation.”

It’s all about taste and variety, too. Try to bring good nutrition into your household. If you have a picky eater, at least set an example of healthy eating. In the long run they will probably eat as you do, not necessary as you say.

P.S. He really recommends adding the spice turmeric to your diet! It is the miracle spice. Studies show that turmeric has been known to help cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s patients.

• And lastly, Breathe: He said if we make one change after seeing him that night it’s BREATHE! Breathing is something we do unconsciously and shallowly. We should be more conscious. He taught a Pranayama Yoga breathing technique called 4-7-8 breathing. (Prāṇāyāma is a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the prāṇa or breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life force”). Dr. Weil recommends practicing it every day, twice a day. It will be a tool that you will always have with you. If something upsetting happens, use this breathing. Use it to help you fall asleep. Use it for anxiety. He cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it. I’ll be teaching it to my kids.

1. Put your tongue touching the roof of your mouth just behind your two front teeth.
2. Breathe in for 4 seconds. Hold for 7. Breathe out for 8 seconds.
3. As you breathe out make a noise with the air. He recommends doing this 4 reps, twice a day.

I’ve been trying it for the last week and it is calming and has helped me to sleep. He said that if you follow his breathing recommendations, your life won’t be the same in 6 months. He demonstrates the breathing technique in the following video.

“Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
~ Andrew Weil, M.D.

For addtional information on the anti inflammatory diet, I enjoyed this Epicurious article: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/healthy/news/diet_antiinflammatory

and about Tumeric: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03001/Three-Reasons-to-Eat-Turmeric.html

Please check out http://drweil.com for more information, too. Images came from this site.

Some of his books I recommend:

His cookbook:

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This entry was posted in Changing Ourselves, Inspirational Movie Monday, Simplifying Life, Zen Meals and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to A Visit With Dr. Andrew Weil!

  1. Vidya Sury says:

    I was looking out for this, Betsy! I’ve read a lot of Dr Weil’s articles and think he has some fantastic tips. I’ve heard about that breathing technique too. In fact, it is amazing how different kinds of pranayama can completely change one’s life and help recover from many health issues.

    Activity and proper nutrition are without doubt, fundamentally important for a healthy lifestyle, which, in turn, promote long term health. Add large doses of laughter and fun 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this. That food pyramid is interesting!

    Love, Vidya


    Betsy Reply:

    Yes, you can’t leave out the laughter and fun!! I’m going to continue to research different kinds of pranayama. Any suggestions?
    Glad you enjoyed the food pyramid. And do you have a lot of Turmeric in Indian food? That was interesting to read about that spice.


  2. Betsy this was just great info. I learned his breathing technique from a friend some months ago, and haven’t really been a good practitioner, but having read your post I’m going back to the drawing board on this. Intuitively I know that how we breathe makes a huge difference to us, mentally, physically and spiritually.

    No need to say anything about what we eat…we all know the reality about that. Seeing the food pyramid just reinforces it all for me.

    I’m grateful for the reminder.

    Love Elle


    Betsy Reply:

    So glad you enjoyed Elle! I haven’t been very good about breathing techniques either but this is one I seem to be able to do. I’ve been doing it for a week now. It really does help me to go back to sleep at night. (I can have a little insomnia at times.) Yes, we all know the reality of eating. That’s why I really like his nutrition guide. I love that it’s all about taste so you would not feel deprived. I may have to get his cookbook!


  3. I do love Dr Weil 🙂
    How neat you got to see him speak live.

    I had this breathing technique given to me for panic attacks and it worked well. Especially with daily practice, not just on demand – it doesn’t work quite so well when trying to use it on demand without creating the foundation. Love it!


    Betsy Reply:

    It was really great to see him talk. He is very normal, almost like it’s a small group when he’s talking to a large one. Interesting that the daily practice makes such a difference. I’ve been doing it now for about a week. It’s easy for me to practice!
    Thanks for the comment Aileen!


  4. Ashley Slupe says:

    Thanks Betsy,
    My Oncologist trained with Dr. Weil and I’ve learned these techniques which has helped throughout my cancer. I take turmeric every day and now don’t have to take so much Advil for pain and stiffness.
    Ashley Slupe


    Betsy Reply:

    I’m so glad to hear that your oncologist trained with him! So helpful to have the mind body technique throughout your treatment. You’ll have to tell me more about the turmeric. I’m really intrigued!


  5. Fran Sorin says:


    I have some of Andrew Weil’s books in packed up boxes in Philadelphia. He was the first individual in the media who made a significant impression on me. He opened up a world that I didn’t know existed except at a superficial level. What he offered to the public is what Dean Ornish and Amos Oz have built their careers – which is a good thing.

    He has a sensibility like Ram Dass – but in his own area of expertise. I’m delighted that he is opening the restaurant – True Foods.

    Thanks Betsy for bringing his philosophy to the forefront. Seeing the food pyramid is a strong reminder of what healthy eating is. It’s so easy to slip into ‘sloppy’ eating habits. xxoo-Fran


    Betsy Reply:

    I, too, read his books about 15 years ago. He made a big difference to me with his book, 8 Weeks To Optimmum Health. He seemed to disappear (at least in my circle) and I’m so glad to reconnect with his philosophies, esp the breathing technique. I think I’ll put his pyramid up on the fridge as a reminder if I’m tempted with other foods!!
    Thanks for the comment Fran!


  6. Lucy says:

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing this information with the blogosphere. And Of course, I could always use a reminder. I love this food pyramid so much, I am printing it to share with my children. As usual, loving your blog.


    Betsy Reply:

    Thanks Lucy! So glad you enjoyed the post!! We need reminders all the time, even though we know very well that something is good for us. My two older children would love the food but my youngest …. very picky but healthy. I guess I should just model good habits then he’ll pick up the same. Glad to read your comment Lucy!! Always happy to see your name.


  7. You will love the restaurant. We have two in Scottsdale. woot woot!


    Betsy Reply:

    Hi Tess,
    Glad to hear it’s a great place. I thought there was one or two down your way. It opens in two weeks. And I have a coupon for a free appetizer. Woo hoo!


  8. Wonderful post!

    Yes, I’ve heard about Dr Weil, though never really seen his videos so this was informative. And yes, yoga and meditation are well known for their healing powers, and so is turmeric that we use in our dishes every single day!

    Prayanam is something my Dad practices and yes, there are many versions of the breathing techniques. I’ve also recently started up with these and it is wonderful.

    I am glad we follow a healthy lifestyle that includes eating more of fruits, vegetables, and grains in our meals, though weekends everything goes haywire. That’s alright I guess when you have kids around who want their share of fast food too. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  9. What a fabulous breathing technique! And I love the detail of the food pyramid. Definately something to share with my kids. Thanks!


  10. Vidya Sury says:

    Turmeric – a pinch of it goes in everything we cook, Betsy (except sweet dishes – unless it is lentil based). 🙂 It has antibiotic properties. Minor hurts, burns and cuts are treated with turmeric too – for its antiseptic properties. Besides this, turmeric has its place in worship. Offering a little piece of it along with vermilion (you know the dot on my forehead) to women is considered very auspicious. (Just realized I could go on and on with this).

    By the way, in green juicing, they always add a piece of fresh turmeric to the mix.


  11. Isn’t it wonderful to find such inspiration (and support).

    Thanks again for sharing.



  12. Hi Betsy,

    Great article. I’ve always like Dr. Weil’s work as well. The breathing technique is new for me, so great to know about that. Sounds very helpful.


  13. JennyBean says:

    I LOVE Dr. Weil! I get his newsletter … But what’s with this 1-2 glasses only of red wine??? I suppose it means you should switch to white wine after that?

    Oh, and what is up with you peeking in the bathroom?

    xoxo, Jenny


  14. Galen Pearl says:

    I have two of his books–very inspiring. I’m pleased to see that I eat most everything on his pyramid, although not in the suggested quantities.


  15. Pam says:

    Thank you for sharing this information and video. I deeply respect Dr. Weil and have started my 6 month breathing practice based on this!

    Looking forward to more your posts!


  16. Evelyn Lim says:

    I have heard of Dr Andrew Weil but have not got a chance to read more about his work. It is nice that you are introducing me to what he does here. I like that he has a holistic philosophy. And I so agree with having an anti-inflammatory diet.

    Perhaps what is also interesting is that he has a tip on “social connection”. The simple instructions on breathing exercise is also very helpful.

    Great coverage, Betsy!


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