Community Highlight: Jeanne Rosner, MD

Jeanne Rosner is a medical doctor with a passion for teaching her community about a balanced approach to health, wellness, and nutrition. After a near 20 year career in pediatric anesthesiology, Jeanne transitioned into nutrition education. She now teaches middle and high school students in the Bay Area about the importance of eating food closest to the source, making good food choices, and eating in a moderate way.

She is also the founder of SOUL (seasonal, organic, unprocessed, local) Food Salon, a digital and event-based platform to share ideas, gain practical knowledge on healthy cooking, and create confidence in living a healthy life and ensuring a healthy planet. Through SOUL Food Salon, Jeanne is currently hosting a Food Challenge where participants are encouraged to discover and explore a new seasonal ingredient each week, courtesy of her weekly newsletter complete with recipe inspiration. To join this educational and inspirational project, sign up here

We love Jeanne’s evidence-based and practical approach to nutrition.

How did your nutrition journey start?

I am a trained physician, and I practiced pediatric anesthesiology for nearly twenty years. I’ve always led a relatively healthy lifestyle, or at least endeavored to. I exercise and eat well, though I now know that my diet hasn’t always been as healthy as I thought it was.

When my son was in the fifth grade, I approached his teacher and asked if I could teach a health and wellness class, emphasizing nutrition. She agreed, and I committed to teaching eight lessons that year. You would think that, as a highly educated doctor, I would be well equipped to jump right in. But, what many people don’t know is that there isn’t extensive nutrition training in medical school. You learn about certain elements of nutrition, like biochemical pathways, but not about which fats are considered to be healthy and why they are needed for optimal health. The more I learned about nutrition, the more I was inspired to dig deeper.  

Ultimately, I left the world of anesthesia, and now I spend my time learning more about health and wellness, and spreading that knowledge throughout my community.  

What do you find the most rewarding and the most challenging about being in charge of your family’s nutrition?

The most rewarding is absolutely when I see my family making healthier choices on their own. For example, we never have soda in the house - and I gave up soda nine years ago - but sometimes my kids will have one when we are out at a restaurant. Recently I’ve noticed that my kids will order water with some lemon, instead of a sugary soda or energy drink. It makes me happy to know that by setting a good example, I have helped my kids develop healthier habits.

What’s most challenging is not being judgemental when they don’t make the healthiest choice. Sometimes they do choose the soda or the energy drink, and I can’t harp on it. Hopefully, over time - and with positive reinforcement - their tastes will consistently gravitate to the healthy options.  

How do you nourish yourself and your family?

I do my best to lead by example - at home and in my community - and to live a healthy lifestyle. To me, that means one that is in balance and harmony. I exercise regularly, and I eat nutritiously most of the time. But, I do it in a balanced way where I allow the occasional dessert, and I don’t look at food as all good or all bad. I put a lot of effort into creating a healthy environment to grow - both for myself and for my family. This means promoting better sleeping habits, growing a vegetable garden, cooking at home and engaging my family in the process. It’s important to me to emphasize a cleaner way of living and a healthy balance.

 What role do supplements play in your approach to nutrition?

I endeavor to get all or most of my critical nutrients through food. However, there are some exceptions where supplements can play a role.

What are your go-to daily supplements?

Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important, especially if you don’t eat a lot of fatty seafood. My kids and I don’t consume a lot of fish, so we all take a daily Omega-3. Vitamin D is also important, but you can’t really get it through food. I would love to get it from the sun, but we all know that too much sun exposure isn’t good for us. So, that is a nutrient that I supplement. I also take a probiotic; it’s especially important to remember if I have to take an antibiotic. Lastly, I take vitamin B12 because I am a vegetarian and, therefore, I don’t get enough of it from my diet.

What dream nutrition product do you wish existed, but you can’t seem to find?

I don’t believe in a dream product or a quick fix. A dream “nutrition solution” would be a health-minded and well-balanced way of life. I wish we could all eat more foods that are close to nature, avoid foods that are processed, and enjoy daily exercise. I believe that you have to do the work to see the benefits!

We are interested in exploring nourishment at the intersection of food, family, and community. Can you tell us a story about an especially nourishing meal that you had alone or shared with others?

Family dinners are vital to me; we have them 4-5 times a week. I think it is really important to unwind, connect, and share. But, one particularly special meal that stands out was one that we shared with friends over a recent Jewish holiday. I put together a simple meal of roasted vegetables - some of which I had never before prepared in this way - and a gorgeous, fresh salad. The sugars in the veggies caramelized beautifully, and the flavors were bursting in our mouths. It was super delicious, but also healthy. I loved having the opportunity to show my guests that healthy doesn’t have to be “blah”. Healthy can be delicious, good for you, and incredibly nourishing.

What books have influenced your personal nutrition education the most?

I am very much an evidence-based consumer. So, you can imagine that I gravitate toward books written by scientists, PhDs, MDs, and other health practitioners. Some of my favorites are Dr. Walter Willet’s - Eat, Drink and Be Healthy - The Harvard Medical School Guide to Eating Healthy,  Dr. Andrew Weil’s Eating Well for Optimum Health, Drs. Justin and Erica Sonnenburg’s The Good Gut, and Marion Nestle’s What to Eat.

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