By Aubrie Davis
We all know that eating well and exercising go hand-in-hand with living a healthy life. Essentially, food is your body’s fuel, and what you put in your body determines how well it “runs.” It’s no surprise then that many chiropractors have taken their chiropractic knowledge from the adjustment table to the kitchen table. TCL sat down with some true DC Gourmands to talk about food and how they developed a taste for cooking.
Haley Day, D.C.
Day works with her husband, Richard Day, D.C., at Great Day Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Erie, Colo., as a chiropractor and nutrition specialist. After studying Chiropractic and taking culinary arts classes, she knows just how closely related Chiropractic and culinary arts can be.
Day grew up in Overland Park, Kan., and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Pepperdine University. During her time at Pepperdine, Day worked as the office manager for Brandon Goldstein, D.C., where she observed what Chiropractic has to offer as a form of alternative and conservative health care. “While I was in college, I started having back issues of my own, mostly due to poor posture and sitting in class all day,” Day says. “I had not had any prior experience with Chiropractic, but learned a great deal about wellness and how Chiropractic could improve my own health. Goldstein saw me for a few months and his care, along with home exercises, had a huge impact on the way I felt. I slept better, stood up straighter, and I was able to sit in class for long periods without the pain I had been having before.” For Day, after experiencing the power of Chiropractic, she felt a deep connection to its philosophy of caring for the body in order to live well. “It made so much sense to me,” Day says.
After graduation from Pepperdine, Day chose to pursue a growing interest in culinary arts. As a chef’s apprentice at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and a chef at Zin Restaurant in Kansas City, Day became enamored with the dynamics of food and nutrition, but she was still unaware of what career path she wanted to take. “With a business degree and a few years of cooking under my belt, I was still unsure of what career I wanted to choose, and Chiropractic was something I found myself coming back to,” Day says. “I was intrigued by the philosophy of Chiropractic and the role of nutrition in overall health, so I decided to try one class at a time, and if I liked it, I’d stick with it.” Day earned her Doctor in Chiropractic degree from Cleveland Chiropractic College (CCC) in 2008, and during her four years at CCC, she worked at Your Wellness Connection as a chiropractic assistant and personal chef, specializing in whole food and gluten-, casein- and sugar-free diets.
Day and her husband receive regular chiropractic care, work out several times a week and stay active in their daily lives. “Motion is life,” Day says. “Movement increases blood flow and encourages the processes and functions of the body. I utilize Chiropractic to help my patients move well so that they can enjoy life, whether it helps them work their job, take care of their kids or take up a new hobby. Activity is vital to life.”
For the Day family, nutrition is equally important. “My husband and I eat well every day,” she says. “I design and create meals just like I did in Zin Restaurant, but with an increased focus on choosing healthier ingredients such as fresh produce, fresh herbs and lean meats. For our meals, I serve each of our dishes and leave the rest for leftovers. We do not have seconds, and each person’s plate is portioned according to their body size and nutrient needs.” This is often the same advice she gives to her clients.
Day says there is a direct connection between culinary arts and Chiropractic. “It’s impossible for people to realize their optimum health if they aren’t eating foods that contain the nutrients important to the health of the body,” she says. “The two are definitely related.”
Harry Heeder, D.C.
Heeder, who owns Growing Chiropractic in San Diego, Calif., has been taking culinary classes since high school, and just last year he completed his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. He notes that there is a strong correlation between cooking and Chiropractic that most people may not realize.
Heeder grew up in an Italian family and credits his mother for his interest and love for food. “My mother was a great cook, and my whole life had been centered around food,” says Heeder. This sparked Heeder to take cooking classes, and in 1990, he began studying culinary arts at Newbury College in Boston. “I took the requirements, but didn’t finish and earn a degree. It wasn’t important,” says Heeder. “It was important to get the knowledge, and that was enough to get me the jobs I had been refused before.” From there, Heeder worked in a market and restaurant for five years and then went on to work for several golf resorts, hotel chains and small bistros.
After working in the culinary arts industry for nearly 20 years, Heeder chose to focus his sights on a new career path. “Honestly, I felt like chefs were disposable,” says Heeder. “They could all go away tomorrow, and we’d still be OK. I wanted to feel like I was needed more.”
Heeder took an online test to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses and determine a fitting career to pursue. He says that Chiropractic was one of the options listed, which immediately sparked his curiosity. “Chiropractic is so fundamental that it’s an indispensable position,” says Heeder. He began studying Chiropractic at Life University and graduated in 2010 with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
In his studies, and with one year of practice under his belt, Heeder sees the similarities in cooking and chiropractic care. “I’ve learned that Chiropractic is a lot like cooking,” says Heeder. “For one, you work with your hands, and you get to teach people. But, more than anything, the most satisfying part is turning people on to something they’ll love.” Heeder says that not many people are familiar with Chiropractic, or they don’t fully understand its function and purpose. “When you adjust someone for the first time, a light turns on,” says Heeder. He notes that informing people about chiropractic is much the same as when you teach someone about ingredients in cooking—their eyes are opened to new tastes and flavors.
Mejstrik has been a well-known executive and personal chef for more than 15 years. He currently practices as Chef 77, a personal gourmet chef in Lakewood, Ohio. Mejstrik believes that when you eat better, you feel better, and his cooking philosophy embodies the famous Hippocrates quote, “Let food be your medicine.”
Mejstrik says his love for cooking began at a young age. His father worked as a chef in Munich, Germany, and Mejstrik thought that working as a chef would open several doors giving him an opportunity to travel the world. Mejstrik’s combined interest in food and traveling prompted him to pursue a degree in culinary arts, and in 1995, Mejstrik graduated from a culinary arts school in Prague, Czech Republic. For several years post-graduation, Mejstrik cooked in Prague’s finer restaurants and even opened his own restaurant in Germany. In 1999, when Mejstrik was only 22, he chose to travel to the United States to further his career.
Mejstrik made his home in Ohio and began his career in the U.S. working in several of Northeastern Ohio’s best restaurants. In January 2006, Mejstrik opened his own personal chef service in Lakewood, just outside of Cleveland. As a personal chef, Mejstrik prepares healthy and tasty meals in the comfort of his clients’ homes. His services are perfect for dinner parties or other special occasions, and Mejstrik even offers cooking instruction for those wanting to learn new recipes or cooking techniques.
Through his experiences, Mejstrik understands how important it is to cook healthy meals for his clients and himself. “It’s been proven that what you eat affects your health,” says Mejstrik. “Several books and studies show that the better you eat, the better you feel, and I aim to do this for my clients.” Mejstrik also noted that a chiropractor once told him to think about what he’s eating and categorize it as “garbage” or “nutrition.”
In addition to eating healthy, Mejstrik believes it’s important to get adjusted regularly. Chiropractic has had a huge impact on his life, and Mejstrik aims to visit his chiropractor every couple of weeks. This is extremely important for Mejstrik and chefs alike, who strain their bodies standing all day. “For anyone who wants to eat healthy, it’s still important to visit a chiropractor to keep your muscles and bones in good shape,” says Mejstrik. “I go and lay on the table, and every time I leave, I feel so good. Without [Chiropractic] you can do everything healthy, but you won’t be able to keep up. You need a chiropractor to get you back.”
Mejstrik has a holistic approach to life in general. He believes that eating well, working out and regularly visiting a chiropractor are key to living a healthy life. “You can’t do one without doing the others,” he says.