Group aims for health

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, March 8, 2018

A meeting between friends and a delicious meal are the foundation of a recently-founded program that encourages people to switch to habits that could better their health.

Jordan Whiley is the founder of the group, “Meals that Heal.” The group meets Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. at Farmville Baptist Church. Group members share a meal made primarily of whole foods and participate in a discussion about plant-based cooking.

Whole foods and plant-based foods include fruits, vegetables, greens and legumes, Whiley said.

Email newsletter signup

“We’ve enjoyed foods from a variety of cultures, such as Egyptian koshari, Thai noodles and vegetables, sweet potatoes and lentils with sautéed, balsamic Brussel sprouts, spicy southwest chili, and roasted cauliflower with carrot and pea curry and a mango chili salad,” Whiley said in an email. “Each menu is designed to demonstrate that a meal with a variety of fruits, vegetables, greens, and legumes can be filling, nutritious, inexpensive, and delicious.”

“I use little to no oil, no animal products, and no refined or processed ingredients,” Whiley said.

He added that he was inspired to start the club after noticing an uptick in chronic diseases among his congregation at Farmville Baptist Church, and wondered if there was a correlation between nutrition and prevention of chronic disease.

“Chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes kill hundreds of thousands Americans every year, yet these deaths are largely preventable through changes in our lifestyles,” Whiley said. “I was getting tired of hearing name after name being added to our church’s prayer list for diseases which might have been prevented. So I decided to invite anyone who would listen to come, for free, and enjoy a whole-food, plant-based meal and hear about how they can make positive changes and improve their health outcomes.”

He said approximately two dozen people attend the meetings.

“Some are folks that have battled, or are battling, one or more chronic diseases (like 50 percent of American adults),” Whiley said, “many have known someone who has been impacted by chronic disease, and others are looking for information on how to get and stay healthy and minimize their risk of chronic disease.”

Beverley Klein said she attended last week’s meeting and made scrumptious oatmeal raisin cookies. The cookies were unique in that they were made without butter, sugar or eggs.

“Jordan and I are good friends, and he knows I am very interested in good nutrition,” Klein said. “He had spoken to me a year ago about wanting to help others and inform them of what he has learned in his food journey. My family was excited about him reaching out to our church family and the community. My granddaughter has celiac disease and she is on a strict diet. Her mom and dad and older brother also are interested in hearing Jordan’s words of wisdom.”

Whiley said the group aims to provide alternatives to what he called the “Standard American Diet,” which he said is a diet consisting primarily of animal products and processed foods.

“The most rewarding aspect of this group has been, for me, the opportunity to educate people and help them make informed decisions about what they put into their bodies,” Whiley said. “Doctors spend little, if any, time educating their patients about what medical research says about the food we eat, partly because they themselves get very little training in nutrition at medical school. There are literally hundreds of studies out there that show that animal products are bad for our health and that whole plant-based diets reduce mortality, but most Americans are unaware of what the science says. In addition, we are continually bombarded by the media with messages about how we “need more protein” (we don’t) and that “carbs are bad” (not always). We are a nation obsessed with carbs, fat, and protein, when what we should be focused on is food.”

To learn more, visit the Meals that Heal group on Facebook.