TEDxOttawa – Natasha Kyssa – Let Food Be Thy Medicine

TEDxOttawa – Natasha Kyssa – Let Food Be Thy Medicine

Translator: Robert Tucker
Reviewer: Valeria Lacovara 25 years, exactly half my life ago, I looked a very different world. It had its exciting moments: jet-setting around the world; globetrotting between Tokyo and
New York City, London, Munich and so on; working on location
in exotic, faraway lands, and getting paid
ridiculous amounts of money to look good and wear
the latest fashion; and, of course, the socializing, hobnobbing with artists,
musicians, actors, eccentric barons
and other beautiful people; living the glamorous life. It’s every girl and
her mother’s dream, right? But modeling came with a price,
a personal price. Did you know that the average model
weighs 23% less than the average woman? Or that eating disorders
have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses? The pressures to look thin,
young, and beautiful, having to lie about our age
and weight at auditions, “cattle calls” we called them. Fresh stock lining up in front of
middle-aged clients, mostly men. Our portfolios scrutinized, our bodies ripped apart with criticism as if our feelings didn’t count.
As if. And, of course, being told
to lose those 10 pounds, day after day after day. Living — on black coffee,
sugarless gum, strong cigarettes, uppers,
and other stimulants, including the occasional line of cocaine
in the dressing room, desperate to squeeze into
that model sample size — that’s a size 0, ladies. And before I knew what hit,
I was catapulted into a less glamorous place, one filled with loneliness,
depression and shame, anorexia and bulimia, as if one eating disorder
wasn’t complex enough. Oscillating between starving myself
for months at a time, hmm, until I hit 85 pounds
and then, of course, the pendulum swinging
in the opposite direction, bingeing completely and utterly
out of control. And if it wasn’t for
the handfuls of laxatives and the use for my middle finger
thrust down my throat to purge the copious amounts of food,
the anger — hmm — and humiliation I had stuffed down,
I would have been obese. But I was too vain for that. And for 7 years I struggled with the vicious cycle of bingeing,
purging and starving myself, landing in and out of hospitals
and treatment centers, doctors, therapists, shrinks,
all stupefied with my condition, unable to help me
with my core issues. Instead, the solution was to prescribe
the latest drug out on the market. And there were a lot of them.
My collection of pills grew, as I spiraled downward through a drug-induced haze
and hitting my rock bottom. Waking up one morning
to the smell of my own vomit, barely able to recognize myself
in the bathroom mirror, I realized just how synthetic
my life had become. Looking down at the diet soda bottles, the chocolate Ex-Lax wrappers,
candy wrappers, antidepressant, Valium, I decided right then and there
to remove all the chemicals from my life, starting with the more lethal ones, pharmaceuticals that my doctors,
my drug-pushers had prescribed me. I followed my mother
and the wholesome diet that I’d been raised on. My Austrian mom made
everything from scratch, always using natural ingredients. We didn’t have junk food at home,
we didn’t own a microwave, and we were the only family on the block
that didn’t eat sliced white bread. Instead we had dark rye
with our meals, and dessert wasn’t
apple pie and ice cream, but fresh fruit. When we were sick,
we were given natural remedies, chamomile tea for stomach aches,
ginger and garlic for colds and flus, and buckwheat honey for sore throats. Thinking about my childhood
at that moment, something in me shifted. I finally recognized that
it was up to me, and only me, to take responsibility of my health. So, I went on a cleaning rampage, clearing out all the low-cal this,
no-fat that, so-called food items
I had been existing on, and replacing them with whole, fresh, unprocessed foods. It wasn’t easy, believe me,
there was an ongoing battle. Addictions are hard to break,
especially five at once. It was pure hell at times, but I pushed through it,
never giving up. Without realizing it,
I became a raw foodist, nourishing my body, not depriving it,
with nutrient-dense plant foods. Fresh fruit, vegetables,
nuts, seeds and legumes. I’d done a lot of damage
to my body those 7 years, but one thing was for certain, the closer I ate to nature,
the better I felt. It was that simple.
I had more energy, my depression diminished naturally, my weight stabilized,
and so did my eating patterns. I even began to like myself, and accepted my body. I became passionate about life
and about life-giving foods. I felt better on every level. So, why don’t the doctors tell us this?
I’m not here to bash the medical industry, however, my doctors
treated me only with drugs, yet it was a natural lifestyle
that saved me. Have you ever taken a good long look
at the supermarkets lately? 95% of the foods on our shelves
come in a box, can, jar or bag. In other words, they’re processed,
highly processed. Meanwhile, the produce section is tiny,
including at the health food stores. We’re living in a fast-paced society,
where everyone wants everything quick, easy and delicious,
and convenient. Who has time to prepare
meals any more? Anyone? Unfortunately, the majority of us today
are living on processed foods laced with chemicals, additives,
preservatives, artificial flavors, food colorings, sodium, saturated fat,
etc, etc. These foods, if we can call them that, come from a factory and are
completely devoid of nutrients. Do we even know
what we’re eating anymore? Can we actually pronounce
the long list of chemicals that we’re putting into our bodies? Or how these chemicals affect our health? What’s for lunch mom?
What’s wrong with this picture? We are a very sick nation, with diabetes, heart disease, cancer,
and childhood obesity, all on the rapid increase. These are, for the most part,
lifestyle diseases that can be prevented and reversed
through dietary changes. Not with refined junk foods, but with fresh, whole, unprocessed foods
found in nature. Real foods, rich in
the essential vitamins and minerals required by our bodies
for optimal health. They come with no preservatives
or additives, nor do they come
in fancy, cleverly marketed packages — fresh whole unprocessed foods. Fresh, whole unprocessed foods,
repeat after me. Fresh, whole unprocessed foods,
these are the foods that healed my body and saved my life. In 1995, after the birth
of my son, I began to study at various natural
health institutes, where I met
hundreds and hundreds of people, from all walks of life, with remarkable stories of healing, reversing incurable diseases,
including various forms of cancer, purely by adopting
a healthier lifestyle. One woman I met from France
had such crippling arthritis that she could not open her fist. After only 6 weeks of cleansing
and nourishing her body, with fresh alkaline plant foods,
her hands began to open, her acute pain diminished, and she was able to drive a car
for the first time in 10 years. I promised myself that,
should I ever fully recover, I would continue to help others. I’ve since written a book, and launched
my business, Simply Raw, helping hundreds and hundreds
of people around the world improve their health one meal at a time. Transformations of my clients
are truly rewarding, and help keep me on my path. Now, 25.5 years later,
still doing covers, but in the raw, reflecting on my journey,
I’ve come to realize that the body is resilient and forgiving. The human body is also self-regenerating,
we only need to give it what it needs. So, when you’re planning
for your next meal, please think about where your food is
really coming from. Are you mindlessly grabbing
for some boxed meal off the shelf that was fabricated
in some factory years ago? Or are you consciously choosing
to nourish your body with nutrient dense plant food, the same foods that
our grandparents ate, grown in a field by a farmer? Let food be thy medicine
and medicine be thy food. Thank you. (Applause)

About the author


  1. ‎Natasha Kyssa is a wonderful inspiration! She is the *real deal* She is not a trend seeker, she is a trend setter. If you want to learn anything from the world of holistic health, starting here is a brilliant place!
    Your rock Natasha!

  2. Great job Natasha! your authenticity shines through. We need more people like you in the health and raw food movement. Way to go!

  3. Such a wealth of information Natasha is…Thank you for teaching the world to eat healthy Just look at how beautiful you are at 50. You look just as you did as a teenager. That's proof right there that you really are what you EAT.

  4. Thank you for having the courage to share your story! This video moved me to tears. I am blessed to have you as both a friend and a mentor. You are living proof that living foods save lives. Let's get the message out there 🙂
    Raw food is real food for real people.

  5. At EasyGreen, raw food expert Natasha Kyssa rocks our world with her courage and commitment to helping others. Download some of her wonderful recipes on our website by googling "EasyGreen" and clicking on "Best of the Best Spring Detox Recipes"!

  6. Takes a lot of guts to speak from your heart, to share your own story, and a personal one at that, only, ONLY, for one reason – to help others. I know Natasha first hand, and she is the real deal – she walks-the-walk she talks, period. Her desire to help others to restore their health is unique and refreshing. I love you, Nat. You nailed this talk like a real raw star! <3 xxx

  7. I have been following you on twitter since I liked your tweets and found them inspiring for the most part, and funny in others. Now, I watched the video, I knew why you are an inspiration. Great work 🙂 THANK YOU.

  8. At 3:46 "All the pharmaceuticals that my doctors ( MY drug pushers ) had prescribed".

    She doesn't pull any punches !

    Sharp and witty talk…definitely one of the more memorable videos from Ted Talks

  9. Raw foods, JUICING in particular with some herbs CURED my 10+ years of chronic deep depression which spiralled into serious alcoholism. Within three months i was feeling better, about 1 year i felt completely cured, during which my digestion improved significantly, i no longer need my ears syringed every 6 months, the stretch marks on my back gone. I now run marathon and do triathlon and am studying naturopathy.

  10. Natasha said- ''I felt better on EVERY level.''
    AMEN to that beautiful lady. Me too. Ha. Although it's scary in many ways to truly see people literally kill themselves slowly with their lifestyle choices, their dietary habits are shocking.

  11. I know so many "health professionals" that say what you eat does not effect your health. What close minded fools these people are.

  12. Thanks. How do you think i feel ? My life is far from plain sailing though, lots of people, freinds and family still struggle with the new me and would rather i was the old me, ha, never going to happen. You then start to realise just how predictable people are. I often feel their thoughts are not their own,, hmm.

  13. Good shit homie. I had a similar thing with narcotics rather than alcohol. Keep on spreading the good word. There's a lot of people stuck in that place that we were at. Life remains a struggle, but its really good to have your physiology on your team.

  14. Hey Joseph. THANKS ALOT ! I live my life is a total state of gratitude because of what happened to me. I am so grateful to truly feel like I have been saved. I look around the world though and it troubles me, it is a very dark place, the human race has a very low level of conscious operation of which I know about more than most. I try to tell people, inspire if poss with my every waking breath, THERE IS A BETTER WAY. We deserve better, if you feel not right, you usually are seeking a healing.

  15. Hell yes brother. People can only learn things as fast as they learn things, we all want everyone to be happy starting today, but its gonna take time. Keep your patience man, and you'll carry your message for all of your days.

  16. they should all go to jail, they are criminals. who? the food industry people. they lie to us and sell us poison for their own profit. 

  17. Oh yea! Whatever you decide to do with your food – only eat from your own kitchen and remember what you eat is what you bring into your home. Avoid ALL processed sugar and simple carbohydrates and you've won most the battle already. It's that simple… really. Eating habits can be changed. If this lady could do it so can the rest of us. Good TED talk!

  18. Same story here, minus the modeling and over/self medication. I never believed in that in the first place. Now i grow food and eat as organic and unprocessed as possible.

  19. No, bitch, having a job where Im only valued for my body has never been my dream, thats a nightmare! Im going to use my brain and be a nurse and Japanese translator. ✌

  20. became vegan out of compassion, n as i was opening a secret garden lots of miracles get out n healed my body too

  21. Thank you Natasha for such  an inspiring story. I'm sorry you had to go through what you did but now you are such an inspiration to others. I enjoyed your talk and will continue fighting for a better and healthier life!

  22. Liking yourself…who would have thought? Natural is good and organic is better. Thank you for sharing your story. My health issues have led me to want to be the healthiest I can be. It is a learning journey for sure. The truth is we must love ourselves enough to want better for ourselves. Will try to make it out to your store.

  23. I'm not even half way through and I just have to say how much I admire this woman's honesty! A beautiful person inside and out. Thank you! And now I'll continue to listen…..

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