Listen to my latest podcast episode:

TMHS 793: Strengthen Your Mental & Emotional Fitness Through the Power of Creativity – With IN-Q

TMHS 736: The #1 Toxin in the U.S. Food System & How To Protect Your Family’s Health

When you think about improving your health, you probably consider implementing daily habits like preparing nutritious meals, adding more movement to your routine, and getting quality sleep. But before you can make lasting changes in those areas, you’ll have to cultivate the mindset and the environment that makes those healthy changes not only possible but natural.

On this episode of The Model Health Show, you’re going to hear my interview on Sway in the Morning to promote the launch of The Eat Smarter Cookbook. You’ll hear how changing your mindset can upgrade your health and why changing your environment is the best way to make healthy choices automatically. You’re also going to hear some of my personal stories, including the evolution of my career and my own health journey.

This interview contains powerful conversations on transforming your mindset, how ultra-processed foods are harming our health, how to approach health in a balanced way, and the important role that connection plays in dictating our health outcomes. I’m honored and excited to share this interview with you.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • How I became interested in health.
  • The power of having an audacious goal.
  • Why empowerment is a key factor in changing your life.
  • The first domino in creating a change.
  • How your environment influences your health outcomes.
  • The major differences in food quality in the US vs. other countries.
  • What ultra-processed foods are.
  • How the healthcare industry and processed food companies profit from sick people.
  • What to consider about filtering water.
  • Why the term BPA-free is misleading.
  • The critical role sodium plays in the body.
  • What percentage of the average American’s diet is ultra-processed foods.
  • The role of epigenetics in determining your health outcomes.
  • Why eating with your family can have powerful effects on your health.
  • How to create a culture of health and connection around the dinner table.

Items mentioned in this episode include:

Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!


SHAWN STEVENSON: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is nutritionist and author of the USA Today national bestselling book, Eat Smarter Family Cookbook. Yes, we did it. We're the number one new release cookbook in the United States, and I'm so grateful to be able to share that news with you. And more importantly on this episode, I'm going to share one of the most incredible interviews, one of the most powerful moments that I've ever experienced with you today. This was an interview on the iconic show Sway in the Morning at SiriusXM headquarters in New York City. Sway in the Morning, AKA Sway's Universe is truly a legendary place where cultural icons from LL Cool J to Dave Chappelle, to Missy Elliott, speak openly and unfiltered to the people. To have the opportunity to sit in the very same seat where all of these legends sat was truly one of my greatest honors.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Now, a very, very special shout out to Tracy G, who co-host the show with her beauty and brilliance who helped to make all of this happen. And I got the opportunity to bring my family along with me, my wife and my two sons were in the room with me. And to be able to provide some empowerment and some insights and some education to our community to really help make a shift in what's been taking place in our society recently with these epidemics of largely preventable chronic and infectious and mental health conditions. We can turn this around, but it starts with education, it starts with awareness. And so that's what this conversation was all about.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Now, before we get into this incredible interview, I wanna share what I had before heading into the show that day. Even when I'm traveling, I always bring along my four Sigmatic think coffee blend of organic coffee and dual extracted chaga and lion's mane mushrooms. I travel with their little travel packs and at home I'm making the full coffee grounds and the drip, it's a whole vibe that I do each morning for my wife and I. Especially when I'm traveling, I wanna make sure that my cognitive function and my immune system is on point. But it's really about immunomodulation and that's the power of these dual extracted medicinal mushrooms. They're clinically proven. We're talking mountains of peer-reviewed data affirming that they have immunomodulating capacity to help to uplevel or increase the activity of our immune system if needed, or to help bring down our immune system activity to make sure that it's not hyperactive. And in particular, Chaga mushroom has been shown to increase the production of something called superoxide dismutase, a super antioxidant in the human body that's really influential on the health and performance of our immune system.


SHAWN STEVENSON: But also for that cognitive performance, lion's mane is pointed out by researchers at the University of Malaya where they discovered that it is able to increase the activity of something called nerve growth factor in our brain. Nerve growth factor is essential in the regulation of growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of various brain cells. That is powerful stuff. In a study published in biomedical research, test subjects with a variety of health complaints, including anxiety and poor sleep quality, were given lion's mane or a placebo for four weeks. The participants who use lion's mane significantly reduced levels of irritation and anxiety than those in the placebo group. The researchers stated, "Our findings show that lion's mane intake has the possibility to reduce depression and anxiety." There are solutions out there. But again, we don't know, we don't know. It's all about education. It's all about empowerment.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Head over there, check them out. It's That's Check out their incredible blend. You get 10% off storewide, by the way. And in addition to their coffee blends, they also have a wonderful hot cacao or hot cocoa blend that has reishi mushroom in there. They also have elixirs themselves. So if you're not a big fan of coffee, you can get the lion's mane itself, cordyceps, chaga, and many other wonderful things. So again, head over there, check them out, for 10% off.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Now, onto this epic interview on Sway in The Morning. During this interview, we dove into why changing our mindset is the number one key to changing our health. How to shift your environment to make healthy choices easier. Why certain foods in other countries don't have negative effects, but eating those same foods in the US tends to make people sick. And also, you're going to hear a freestyle that I had no idea was about to happen that was co-created by my oldest son Jordan, who whispered into Sway's ears, Sway is the host of the show, whispered into his ear, my dad can freestyle.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Now again, we're talking icons come on the show and do freestyles. I didn't come there for that. All right, but I stay ready. And I thought the interview was over actually. And I was sitting back, smiling, relaxing, but Sway started getting really hype. And if you see the video version of this episode, which I highly encourage you to check out, you'll see a distinct, "what the hell is going on?" look on my face. But they put on a track. And off the top of my head, I did what needed to be done. And it was such an incredible moment, and I'm so grateful to be able to share this with you. And thank you so much for all of your love and your compassion and support during this process of getting the Eat Smarter Family Cookbook out to the world, providing another incredible resource to help to empower families. And without further ado, let's dive into this special interview on Sway in the Morning.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Like your thoughts are literally creating this change in your biochemistry.




SWAY CALLOWAY: Your thoughts are literally causing this change in your biochemistry. I just told somebody last night that was joking and being self-deprecating to themselves to stop doing that. And they said, "well, it's only a joke. I'm joking with myself." I said, "at the time you said the joke, the mind didn't know the difference. Stop doing that." This is really important, man. We got a guy who we had a chance to speak to during the pandemic when we were all locked up. And from that one conversation, I remember we were discussing it. I was very enlightened and very inspired, and I just really kind of just liked the dude. I felt like if I meet him in person, we can hang out.




TRACY G: Yep, yep, yep.


SWAY CALLOWAY: And he's someone that Tracy speaks extremely highly of, and when he first came on the show, Tracy kind of gave me some intel. And I'm really proud and we're really lucky to have him here today. Tracy, could you do the honors? 


TRACY G: Yeah. I mean, this man is one of the easiest recommendations I can make to anyone who is trying to explore, upgrade their mental health, their physical health, their spiritual health. He is a health expert's favorite health expert, I must say. He is the host of the number one health podcast right now that has almost a thousand episodes.


[automated voice]


TRACY G: That just...


SWAY CALLOWAY: Ooh, been working.




TRACY G: Listen, every corner of this industry, he's a bestselling author. He's a father, he's a husband, he is a stellar human, and he is here to promote “Eat Smarter The Family Cookbook.” Shawn Stevenson! 




SHAWN STEVENSON: Let's go. Let's go.


SWAY CALLOWAY:  We got him! We got him! 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Yes, yes, yes.


HEATHER: Welcome, welcome, welcome in person.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Thank you. Amazing.


TRACY G: And his podcast is called the Model Health Show.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Wow. Shawn, how did this all begin for you? Were you like this as a kid? When did health become a priority? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Oh, man. You want to take it back to the beginning beginning? 


SWAY CALLOWAY: Let me tell you why. All right. A lot of us are at our beginnings.


SHAWN STEVENSON:Yeah. That part, yeah.








SWAY CALLOWAY:  How many times do we come to the beginning and tried...


SHAWN STEVENSON: Twice born. Third born.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Third born. What was it that made you take health so seriously? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. Yeah. I grew up in a culture similar to a lot of people listening, and we're just inundated with poor health. That's all we really knew, just kind of living in what we call today this kind of glorified food desert. But even when you say food desert, I think it's a little, it sounds a little bit exotic still.




SHAWN STEVENSON: It's not exotic at all. I think it was like a Jodeci video or something in the desert, but...




SWAY CALLOWAY: Damn, you went deep. Shawn, dog and a crate.


[overlapping conversation]


SHAWN STEVENSON: You know, waters run dry. It's not like that kind of desert. This is a desert where we're deprived of real food and access to wellness. When I made this transformation personally, I was living in Ferguson, Missouri. And I was trying to get my degree, the first person in my family to go to college, let alone graduate from college. Thank you.




SWAY CALLOWAY:  Congratulations.


TRACY G: Excellent.


SWAY CALLOWAY: That needs to be acknowledged.


SHAWN STEVENSON: And at the time, there's no gyms in my neighborhood. There's no access to real healthy food. I'm surrounded, thanks to zoning laws, they allow all these ultra processed fast food companies to just be inundated in the community and also liquor stores on every corner check cash in places, just people that are taking advantage of the community. And I was just engulfed in it because that's all I knew. And so at the age of 20, I was diagnosed with the so-called incurable spinal condition. So, my spine was deteriorating rapidly. And actually at track practice, I was an aspiring athlete, I ran a four five, right around 14, 15? 


TRACY G: Did you do that, Sway? 


SWAY CALLOWAY: Yeah. Go ahead. Brothers.




SHAWN STEVENSON: But actually, as I track practiced, I was doing a 200 meter time trial and my hip broke just from running. And so that was speaking to how low my bone density was. That's crazy, right? 




SHAWN STEVENSON: As a kid breaking their hip.




SHAWN STEVENSON: And so, finally at 20, I get this diagnosis when I'm living in Ferguson, and my life just spiraled downward, man. I was definitely struggling with my mental health, I was struggling with my physical health, I was in a lot of pain. But ultimately I decided to get well, I decided to get well because I'd been pointing the finger asking, "why me? Why won't these doctors help me? Why won't my family... " Whatever the case might be, I was pointing the fingers at all these other people. And finally, fortunately I looked within and I made a decision to get well. Most people never do that. It's more like wishful thinking like, "See what happens, I'll give this a try." When you decide something, you cut away the possibility of anything else but that thing. I was going to get well, and not only that, I began to have an audacious goal, which I encourage people to have. So, think beyond what's even comfortable. I asked myself, how can I be the healthiest person in the world? I went from, "why me? Why am I so sick? Why won't anybody help me?" To, "how can I be the healthiest person in the world?" And it changed my perspective, I started to see all these things in my environment that were there the whole time. Because lowkey, there was a farmers market in Ferguson the whole time.


SWAY CALLOWAY: The whole time.




SHAWN STEVENSON: And the good part of Ferguson, a lot of communities have a good part. And it was just like five minutes from my house, it was next door to the police station. So, I might've just kind of had tunnel vision...


TRACY G: The association.




SWAY CALLOWAY: You wasn't on that frequency. You probably walked by it a thousand times.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Kept seeing it. My family is sitting right over there. We started to have this practice of going to farmers market together.


TRACY G: Beautiful.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Every week. And my kids being able to talk to the farmers and to get little treats and make this kind of a family affair. And long story short, with that transformation within a nine month period, when I got my scan done on my spine, I had regenerated the spinal tissue.




SHAWN STEVENSON: My two herniated discs had retracted L4-L5-S1. But I didn't look like a person who just kind of lost weight. I looked like a person who was healthy. And so people at my campus just kept coming up to me. They were like, "what did you do?" I was like, "was it a problem or something?" "No." They were like, "you look so healthy. Can you help me do what you did?" And so that was the birthing of my career.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Jesus, my gosh.






SWAY CALLOWAY: Wow. That's amazing, man. The power of the mind. Why don't we, and I don't even have a question for this, but why is it that we're not, why do you think we're not in tune to that power when... It was something you utilize, found on your own, and actually have results? Why isn't this taught more as we grow up in public education, or? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Man, you already know why. The system that we exist in is not about empowerment. There's a lot of farming of sick people and just keeping people in a condition where we don't understand our power.


TRACY G: Farming of people.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. And truly, our mind is the first domino in anything. Whether it's making choices about what we're eating, our movement practices, sleep, wellness, all that stuff, it starts with the mind. And so if we're not taught about that... And what I used to do, I worked as a nutritionist for many years, so people would come into my practice and we were very good at what we were doing, helping people that coming in on lisinopril and metformin, all these things, all these kinds of conditions, and helping people get well. But a lot of times, I would recommend behavior changes for people, but then send them into a culture that was fighting against them to be healthy.




SHAWN STEVENSON: Right? And that was the problem. It's kind of like I was helping them to treat a symptom, like this conventional system was doing and not addressing the root cause. And so I had this revelation to, instead of trying to get them to change their behavior, how about I help them to change the culture around them? In particular, their microculture in their household. And so we can make healthy choices easier. So I stopped working with people and I started working with families. Right? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: And I stopped working at individuals at businesses, and I started working with the business itself. Right? So now I'm going into like these major corporations and all this other cool stuff that I would have never thought possible. And from there, I started to see this incredible ripple effect. And then that landed me with book deals, and the number one health podcast and all these other things. But it's because I stopped thinking about helping people to change individually and making the culture around them, making healthy choices easier, if that makes sense.


SWAY CALLOWAY: That makes sense. Man, a round of applause every time he speaks.




SWAY CALLOWAY: I just invited Torch on my guest pass to Equinox. I'm kind of walking in the same footsteps as Shawn. Right, Shawn? That's what you're saying, right? We're going...


SHAWN STEVENSON: Team up. The buddy movie. Let's go.


SWAY CALLOWAY: I have a friend who goes to, who mainly goes gluten-free here in the US 'cause she's severely intolerant. But when she goes to other countries, she's able to relax a bit and eat glutinous foods and not have the same effect.


TRACY G: Yeah, ain't that something? 


SWAY CALLOWAY: What's going on? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: I could share... There's a couple of reasons, but I'll share one major one with you. So I'm from St. Louis and Monsanto is a home base there. And, they would come to the job fairs at my college all the time.


SWAY CALLOWAY: You gotta explain who they are.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Okay. I mean, they're a multinational corporation that are involved in our food system. Deeply involved in our food system. A lot of genetic engineering, and pesticides, and things like that to help to grow crops. All right. So I'm just gonna give them an efficacious intro. So they would come to the job fairs and I went to work there. It was one of my like top jobs, to get a good job in Monsanto. And one of the studies that was actually published in this new Eat Smarter Family Cookbook, by the way, there's over 250 scientific references in a cookbook. It's never been done before.


SWAY CALLOWAY: In this one cookbook that's available now, Eat Smarter Family Cookbook. All right.


[automated voice]


SHAWN STEVENSON: And with that being said, but it's also delivered in a way that we're talking like right now, in a way that's entertaining, that makes sense, that's fun. And so a study that was conducted and published in the Eat Smarter Family Cookbook was done by the WHO, who's got a lot of press the last couple of years. And they affirmed that one of Monsanto's products called glyphosate is a class 2A carcinogen. So that means it probably causes cancer in humans. In the Environmental Working Group, they did an analysis of products on US store shelves, of all the grain products, and they found that 80% to 90% are contaminated with glyphosate. Again, this causes cancer. Probably, probably causes cancer, all right? Not 100%.




SHAWN STEVENSON: All right. So this is part of the problem with the grains. It's not just the gluten itself. It's also how it's grown and the contamination with all of these other toxicants. And so this is why when people go to other countries and their grains are not grown like that, their wheat isn't grown like that, they can eat it and they don't get sick. So that's just one of the reasons. And I could break down a couple more, but that's one of the primary things.


TRACY G: Yikes.


SWAY CALLOWAY: So when I travel outside the country, I see a lot of foods here that are banned in other places in the world. Banned.




SWAY CALLOWAY: You can't even sell it legally in a grocery store and it's everywhere here in the United States.




SWAY CALLOWAY: What is that? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: I mean, there's a whole plethora of foods that are like that, in particular, certain additives that we use in the US, like certain food dyes are outlawed. Many of them have been found to contribute to ADHD in children and also carcinogens. And also there's this new category of contaminants that we have a lot of data on now called obesogens. All right, so these are obesity-causing agents. And so our food system, because... And here's the overarching reason. So have you guys talked about the difference between ultra-processed food and processed food before? 


SWAY CALLOWAY: I was gonna ask you that part, too, but go for it, yeah.


SHAWN STEVENSON: All right, so humans have been processing foods forever. All right. Cooking a food is processing the food. Baking a sweet potato, cooking a steak, cooking some spinach, and by the way, I just thought about how that big box of spinach goes to that tiny little mouth when you cook it. But you're changing the chemical structure of the food. Processing has been done by humans for a long time. Taking the olives and pressing the oil out, or coconuts pressing the oil out. So processing is not the issue. You can still tell where those foods came from, right? When you press the oil out of a coconut, it's like, oh, okay, that came from the coconut. That's processed foods.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Ultra-processed foods, these are foods that when you see a field of corn or a field of wheat and somehow that shit becomes Pop-Tarts or a bowl of Lucky Charms, right? Or Funyuns, right? It's so far removed from anything real, you can't really even tell where it came from. If I was to present a bag of Funyuns to a hunter-gatherer tribe, they'd be like, "where did this come from?" They would look at you like you're crazy like, "That's not even food." And so we have that starting point plus all the additives and preservatives and toxic food dyes and all these other, I mentioned with glyphosate, the list goes on and on.


SWAY CALLOWAY: But why are they allowed…. Why is our government allowing this to happen? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. All right, so I'm gonna just tell you straight up.


SWAY CALLOWAY: I'm asking you.




SHAWN STEVENSON: So... And of course, I asked this question. And I really... The thing, the thing about me is I try to remain in a place of neutrality.


SWAY CALLOWAY: That's fine.


SHAWN STEVENSON: And I try to see the best in things, right? 






SWAY CALLOWAY: Do that because I don't want no target on you.




TRACY G: A dead a**hole.




SHAWN STEVENSON: So an analysis that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at how this is happening? How can we go to Jack in the Box and get two for 99 cent tacos? But an avocado cost $3. One avocado that falls off a tree costs more than two cost-intensive tacos, including all the meat, all the so-called vegetables.


HEATHER: Vegetables. Right.




SHAWN STEVENSON: All the processing of making it, the wrapping, the marketing, all that stuff is very cost-intensive. How does that cost less? And what it is is because of government subsidies.


SHAWN STEVENSON: So this study found that the US government had contributed about $200 billion over this 15-year time span to companies, processed food companies, essentially, that are making products that end up coming through the drive-through window and then processed foods. So genetically modified wheat, corn, soy. Because when we go to the grocery store, it looks like a whole bunch of diversity. But it's a lot of that's made from the same sh*t. And so our government is literally funding this issue. And then this other analysis found that, they looked at who's consuming these government subsidized foods. They found that in particular low-income communities. And people who had the highest intake of government subsidized foods had a 30% greater incidence of having obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, all these things.




SHAWN STEVENSON: And then that by nature, and this is another one of the things that's proven in science, when we reach these states, it's more difficult to make it out of poverty. And so it becomes this vicious circle.


TRACY G: Yeah.


SHAWN STEVENSON: And so The truth is the system that we have allowed to be built is profiting from our sickness. It's profiting from our ignorance. It's profiting from our pain. We have a $4.2 trillion health care system and we have the sickest nation in the history of humanity. Something's not adding up. And so I'm a big fan of looking at the results. We're not doing okay because we're allowing people to take advantage of us and that shit is over now.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Come on. Shawn Stevenson is here.






SWAY CALLOWAY: It's all a part of the... You just made the correlation of health insurance.


TRACY G: Diabolical, yeah.


SWAY CALLOWAY: So the food is making is sick the health insurances...


HEATHER: Give you the pills.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Give you the pills that don't heal, that keep you sick, and then we pay health insurance every month. And the moment you try to stake a claim, it's like they pack up in the building disappears.


TRACY G: Ain't that something? 


SWAY CALLOWAY: I've seen buildings disappear.


TRACY G: Yeah.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Man, Shawn Stevenson this is... I don't want to hog my brother. Anybody that try...


TRACY G: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course, of course, of course... I mean, yeah.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Okay. Well, let's do this, let's do this. Let's play a song. We're gonna come back.


TRACY G: Do it.


SWAY CALLOWAY: And take some calls too.


TRACY G: That's the one.


SWAY CALLOWAY: You can't pay for this y'all.


TRACY G: This is the one.


SWAY CALLOWAY: There's nothing more important f*ck a bag. Chase your health. There's nothing... What you gonna do with the bag if you don't have good health. How many rich people who are sick wish they could be poor with great health? So if you're tuned in, if you look at this man's book, he has his entire family. He has an amazing family.




HEATHER: And very easy recipes to follow, that's what I loved about it.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Eat Smarter Family Cookbook and he included his family on it.


TRACY G: Yes. And it's healthy twist on old classics. So these are dishes that we are more than familiar with.




SHAWN STEVENSON: Got a quick break coming up. We'll be right back.


SHAWN STEVENSON: I've got some very bad news for you about vitamin C supplements. Most people have no idea that typical vitamin C supplements are made from corn syrup or corn starch derived from GMO crops. The synthetic ascorbic acid found in most vitamin C supplements is structurally similar to naturally derived whole food sources of vitamin C, but they are not the same thing. Whole food and whole food concentrates of vitamin C have hundreds of other bioactive cofactors that make vitamin C work miraculously in our bodies. While synthetic vitamin C is the very definition of a one-trick pony. In fact, by being devoid of essential cofactors Synthetic vitamin C supplements can be outright harmful to your health.


SHAWN STEVENSON: For instance, a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal medicine found that participants taking synthetic vitamin C supplements had twice the risk of developing kidney stones. Another study from researchers at USC found that a daily dose of synthetic vitamin C thickened the walls of participants' arteries two and a half times faster than those not taking the synthetic supplement. This is absolutely insane because, number one, it's one of the most popular standalone supplements in the world and commonly found in most multivitamins. Number two, whole food based, whole food concentrates of real Vitamin C are remarkably effective in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease even in people engaged in high-risk behaviors like smoking.


SHAWN STEVENSON: A randomized placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Cardiology had 20 smokers Consume a whole food concentrate of vitamin C in the form of camu camu berry daily over the course of a one-week study. And it led to significantly lowered oxidative stress and lowered inflammatory biomarkers. What's more there were no changes in these markers in the placebo group who received an ordinary Synthetic vitamin C supplement. Because of the damage humans have done to the soil microbiome Levels of vitamin C are notably lower in typical foods. That's why I've been utilizing a whole food vitamin C concentrate blend of camu camu berry, Acerola cherry, and amla berry for years.


SHAWN STEVENSON: And I'm on a mission to spread awareness about this and get people off Synthetic vitamin C supplements. The essential C complex from Paleovalley is all organic, no synthetic ingredients, and no fillers. Plus it has a 60-day 100% money-back guarantee, so if you aren't absolutely thrilled with it, you'll receive a full refund. No questions asked. Go to right now, and you'll automatically receive 15% off of your order at checkout. Vitamin C is critical for our immune system health, but also the health of our heart, our brain, our skin and so much more. Target organic whole food sources of vitamin C, and if you're going to supplement, make sure it's a whole food concentrate and not synthetic vitamin C. Go to That's right now for 15% off. And now back to the show.




SWAY CALLOWAY: Yeah, man, we're talking soul food. Shawn Stevenson, the author of his new cookbook, Eat Smarter Family Cookbook. It's 100 delicious recipes to transform your health, happiness, and connection. I'm glad folks are calling up to ask this man questions. He's truly a guru. Before I throw this to Heather and Tracy, we handed you a bottle of water. [laughter] And I wanted to see your reaction to this water.




SWAY CALLOWAY: You look like you cringe to sip this water. So let me ask you a water question. About water, because we see these high pH bottles of water like Smart Water or...


TRACY G: Essentia.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Essentia. And they are selling this. I got a five-step filtration system at my house. But it doesn't have... It's not a reverse osmosis system. What are your thoughts on water? I heard that all of these plastic bottles of water that we are drinking, it's actually not good for us.


SHAWN STEVENSON: All right. So number one, if you don't have a filter, you become the filter. So having any type of filter is gonna be helpful.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Okay. Damn. Think about that.


SHAWN STEVENSON: But here's the thing. All right. So, yeah, when I received this water, I blessed it. I was grateful that my brother gave me this water to quench my thirst. And I know that, yes, this water has... And by the way, I'm not just saying this because it sounds good. One of my colleagues is a board-certified toxicologist.




SHAWN STEVENSON: All right. In the lab studying this stuff and the way that plastics, these are fossil fuels. All right. So we're talking about the same stuff that is put into your gas tank, coming from the same source. And what we're using, when we had the discovery. There's naturally occurring plastics, by the way. But when we discovered the ability to take these fossil fuels and turn them into basically anything, what had to be done was to use plasticizer chemicals that soften it to mold it. And some of those are BPA, BPS. There's so many. There's dozens of them. And what these plastics are, these plasticizer chemicals, they are clinically proven to be something called xenoestrogens.


SHAWN STEVENSON: So these are estrogen-like compounds that come from external from your body that fit into estrogen receptor sites in your body and turn on programs that mimic estrogen. So this could lead to the increased incidence of breast cancer. This could lead to the development of breast tissue in men. The list goes on and on.


TRACY G: Talk about it.


SHAWN STEVENSON: So there's many differences...




HEATHER: That's why I got titties.


TRACY G: I'm feeling myself.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Instead of the bra, you get yourself a bro.


HEATHER: A "brozier"


TRACY G: Bras for the bros.


SHAWN STEVENSON: And here's the thing. So a lot of plastic bottles now will say BPA free. But that's really just a kind of health washing. And maybe they're trying to take an attempt. But the reality is, again, there's BPS. There's, again, dozens of other plasticizer chemicals. This is really inappropriate to put water in because, and here's the bottom line, plastic doesn't biodegrade like other things. It photo degrades. So even light being on this plastic bottle breaks it down faster.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Into the water? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Into the water. And water is called the universal solvent. So anything that it touches, it integrates with. So you're drinking plastic tea. You're definitely drinking micro plastics and nanoplastics if you're drinking water from...


SWAY CALLOWAY: Hey man, give me that water. Take mine.




TRACY G: So Shawn, when you go out...


SHAWN STEVENSON: Listen, what about this? Hold on. He just passed me a paper cup that would come from a nice Starbucks. This is paper. Why isn't this sh*t melting when the water's in it? Because it's plastic lined in the cup.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Oh, give me my cup back.




SHAWN STEVENSON: And last piece. And I'm not trying to be the bearer of bad news.


SWAY CALLOWAY: No, no, we need to hear this.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Last piece. So what happens when you put a hot liquid into that paper cup at Starbucks? 


TRACY G: You find out Santa Claus is not real.




SHAWN STEVENSON: Ho ho ho. So here's what we found. Again, toxicologist peer-reviewed study, you're consuming about 25,000 microplastics per serving of hot coffee. All right. And our cells are not very good at metabolizing these plastic compounds. It's a newly invented thing. And so my question to you is, since you are what you eat, you are what you drink and we're becoming more plastic. Are we becoming like Barbie and Ken dolls out this month? 


SWAY CALLOWAY: Damn, you look like a Ken doll, the way your body is. I see what you mean by that. I could have...




TRACY G: The Barbie movie was...


HEATHER: So Shawn, this is not a commercial for anybody. It's not a commercial for any company, but let's just say you're out with your family. Something happens. You left the water that you carry in a car. You're walking around New York City, it’s 90 degrees. You go into a store, you see the 15 choices. What would you buy? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah. Great question. So ideally we'd get, if we're buying water out somewhere, get it bottled in glass. That would be great. Stainless steel is good as well. By the way, the main thing is we want to approach this with some grace. We don't wanna be crazy neurotic about it. Because again, I just took a sip. There was a time again when I found out the science, I was like, "I'd rather not," and we went on a long-ass flight and we got off and I couldn't get access to water. I was crazy dehydrated. And so it's just understanding cost-benefit analysis. It's better to be hydrated with the water that's been purified or sourced from a spring. And that's the other point, too, is getting a water filter at your home is the best option. Like he mentioned, reverse osmosis would be good. But what that does is it creates a water that is essentially a blank slate.


SHAWN STEVENSON: It's eliminating all the naturally occurring minerals as well. And so here's another truth is that there isn't any pure "H2O" in nature anywhere. All right. And I put that in quotes because that's what we're taught in school. H2O. Drink your H2O. Bobby Boucher. You drink your hot water, your water. The reality is we will not find water...


SWAY CALLOWAY: Nobody got that water boy quote. I'm just letting you know...


SHAWN STEVENSON: My man. I saw you though. I saw you...


TRACY G: Touched it. I smiled.




SHAWN STEVENSON: But you're not gonna find pure H2O anywhere in nature by itself because water is a universal solvent. It's always integrating with what's in its environment. And our ancestors would always set up our tribes, set up our communities where the water was. All right. And water is going to be naturally presented in certain environments, namely through springs. That was a primary spot. Now we can also, we have the technology to create wells.


SHAWN STEVENSON: And so we're drilling down, basically their underground lakes are called aquifers and in the aquifer when the water is coming out in the spring is basically going through the earth's filtration process.




TRACY G: Right.


SHAWN STEVENSON: When you buy that water filter, they're just replicating what the earth does naturally.




SHAWN STEVENSON: Okay? So they got like the sedimentary layer, charcoal, all that kind of stuff. And so when you drill down into a well, there's gonna be a lot more minerals that, maybe it's too high in minerals, right? Something called TDS or Total Dissolved Solids. And so you need to filter that water as well. Because that water is well, it's well...


SWAY CALLOWAY: I get it. I got that.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Right, right, right? 


TRACY G: Yeah. Oh, yeah. [laughter]


SHAWN STEVENSON: But ideally, spring water...


HEATHER: Spring water is best.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Bottled in glass. Or get your own filtration system at home, and add minerals back to the water so that the water has structure. Alright, so when we drink water, it's not just automatically nourishing our cells. There's an interface between our cells and the water itself. And there are these little protein bridges. They're called aquaporins. And so, basically, if the water doesn't have structure from minerals, it's not going to have that kind of access pass to get up here in the building to get across and get into your cells, if that makes sense. So you can be drinking a lot of pure water or distilled water and not really get your cells hydrated.


HEATHER: Hydrated.




SHAWN STEVENSON: In a way that they naturally would. So I hope all that makes sense. Bottom line...


HEATHER: So what do you add to the water then, Shawn? You said if you had spring water, what would I add to it? Or is it just safe to drink the spring water...


SWAY CALLOWAY: Some people add Himalayan salt.


TRACY G: Himalayan salt. Yeah.


SWAY CALLOWAY: What is the thing with Himalayan salt? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Okay, there's so many different types of salt again. Our ancestors, there's even the word salary is derived from the word salt as well, because people's getting paid in salt. So valuable. And the animals in nature, you ever saw those goats that like to climb up on the side? 


TRACY G: Yeah. Side. Yeah.


SHAWN STEVENSON: They're trying to get some salt, that has them doing that kind of behavior.


SWAY CALLOWAY: To make the salt of the mountain. Yeah.


SHAWN STEVENSON:: Because of the minerals.


TRACY G: The electrolyte, yeah.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Electrolytes, you just said the magic word. So what are electrolytes? These are minerals that carry an electric charge. And these minerals enable your cells to communicate. So something called signal transduction, among other things. So basically, the trillions of cells that make you up, Sway, can't talk to each other efficiently if you're deficient in electrolytes. And these are just really salts. Alright, so there's sodium salt, there's potassium salt, there's calcium salt, there's so many different types of salt, but we looked through this tunnel vision of just sodium salt.


TRACY G: Right.


SHAWN STEVENSON: And also it's villainized when... One of the studies that I cite in the book for example is from researchers at McGill University and they found that sodium functions as an on-off switch in the brain for turning on neurotransmitters that protect your brain from neurodegenerative diseases. We need sodium. And there's also another study from researchers at Harvard that found that having too low sodium intake increases insulin resistance. So this makes you at much higher risk of developing diabetes, excessive belly fat, the list goes on and on.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Shawn Stevenson is here. No, hold on. We got only a little bit of time left. I want to get the callers. I want to get Tracy. And I think you're overselling right now. Let him buy the book. 'Cause I'm trying to buy the book right now.


TRACY G: There's a lot of books that you can buy.


SWAY CALLOWAY: He got a lot of books, but the new book is East Smarter Family Cookbook, 100 Delicious Recipes.


HEATHER: And again, I just wanna stress, a lot of times people are afraid to buy cookbooks 'cause they feel like, "I don't have those ingredients, I can't get this." You guys, citizens, this is super easy to follow. You did a great job, Shawn, with breaking down the recipes.




HEATHER: I love to cook at home. This is so easy to follow, seriously.




SWAY CALLOWAY: We got Brian on the line from Oakland. We're gonna take a few callers. B, go ahead. What you wanna say to Shawn, real quick? 


TRACY G: Yeah. B.


BRIAN: Oh boy, I just got a salute. I worked 10 years in plant-based meat and that's just with the intent of feeding people, not turning people vegan, not this or that. And it's coming at it from an inclusionary perspective. We're trying to do hand-to-hand combat and feed people most effectively. Shawn, you're on the same mission. I got all the love. Thank you for putting this book out.






SHAWN STEVENSON: I receive that, man.




TRACY G: Yeah. Salute.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Yeah, man. And listen, this book is inclusive. He just said it's not necessarily about converting someone to veganism or vegetarianism. From all ends of the spectrum, From vegan to carnivore, everybody's included into this party. Because people that are really about their life, we're infighting about minutiae. We need our citizens eating real food and less ultra-processed food, which here's the punchline for what I shared earlier. According to the BMJ, British Medical Journal, one of our top tier journals, American adults' diet is now 60% fake food, ultra-processed food.


SWAY CALLOWAY: We're eating fake food.


TRACY G: 60%


[automated voice]


SHAWN STEVENSON: But it's worse for our kids. This is the first book publishing this new data. This is published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. They looked at childhood ultra-processed intake for 20 years. In 1999, our kids' diet was 61% ultra-processed food. By 2018, it's almost 70%.




SHAWN STEVENSON: All right? We're making our babies' bodies out of fake food. And this is why in the same time period, by the way, childhood obesity is almost tripled. We have to stop this. And again, Heather said it. Thank you so much for that acknowledgement. We're taking hood classics. We're taking real food. We're taking things that we grew up with. And we're just making it with real food ingredients. That's it. It's just the upgrade.


HEATHER: It's so easy to follow. My gosh.


SWAY CALLOWAY: We got Brian. Thank you. You're a citizen, Brian.


HEATHER: Sweet morning.


SHAWN STEVENSON: I'm gonna take one more. Alfie in Baltimore. Go ahead. What would you like to say? 


TRACY G: Hey, Alfie.


ALFIE: Hey, good morning, y'all. How y'all feeling today? 


SWAY CALLOWAY: Excellent. Go for it.




ALFIE: Alright, quick thing. This interview hit me hard because I'm just coming through, I'm just coming from the doctors. I've been going through the same thing from my C3 down to my C5 and C6, hemorrhage bulging. So I've been going through the same thing with spine deterioration and everything.




ALFIE: I changed my diet, real heavy in 2020. I stopped eating meat in 2017, but in 2020 I was at my best. But I've been just... Now, all of a sudden, my diet, I end up slipping, eat more sweets and things like that. So to make things shorter. I've been going now, it is like reverse now from after I did have my surgery. And listen to what you're saying and everything, man, I need to get this book because it hits me hard. It hits me to what I'm going through. And I called them before to talk to Tracy about imposter syndrome.


ALFIE: Because now, going through this, I feel like I'm not the person that I was because, with the nerve pain and things like that. So it goes down to a lot of things I've been doing like podcasting and things like that. It feels like I don't feel like doing these things anymore because I don't... The stress from not being strong as I used to be, it trickles down.


SWAY CALLOWAY: You wanna talk to them about that.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Absolutely. Yeah. So just a huge acknowledgement to you, man. I know how much pain that can be, and a lot of people don't understand it because sometimes you can look okay, but if something's wrong with your spine, like it is a lot of suffering. And so he just mentioned, being able to upgrade your diet because you're providing the raw materials to make new tissues. And if you give your body the raw materials, it knows what to do. We just sometimes gotta get out of the way. And also, he mentioned, kind of slip and falling off, but this isn't like, this isn't something that we can't upgrade as well because we have to treat ourselves. We have this innate desire as human beings to seek tasty things. That's not the problem. Food manufacturers have manipulated our desire to eat tasty things. That's the problem.




SHAWN STEVENSON: And so, even, like I mentioned, [chuckle] living in Ferguson, Missouri, if I got up in time, I get to McDonald's, get the hotcakes and sausage. So my family also, we love brunch, so we put together these delicious sweet potato pancakes to upgrade that. So you hit that sweet note.


SWAY CALLOWAY: You still hit that sweet note.


SHAWN STEVENSON: To get that deliciousness, but in a much more advantageous package because that sweet potato is gonna provide these anthocyanins that are found to improve your memory, also improve your gut health. The list goes on and on.


SWAY CALLOWAY: I'm gonna eat that. Okay.




SHAWN STEVENSON: So this is what we're doing. Again, we're just upgrading foods that we already love. And also we got snicker bites in here.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Okay. In the book? 




HEATHER: Well, that's the thing that's surprising about the book is that you would think, "oh my gosh, well, he's a health guy, I'm not gonna like this food. I can't, there's no bread, there's no meat. There's no this." And that's not the case here.


SWAY CALLOWAY: That's not what it is.


HEATHER: Yeah. It's good food.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Tracy, you wanna jump in? 


TRACY G: Yeah. I mean, citizens, you already hear it. We're in conversation with a master, Shawn Stevenson, like all the salutes in the world are not even enough. What I love about this book is you get so many different health benefits, like emotional health benefits. Because what I've noticed with families, we don't have dinner together. So even the connection and cooking together, learning together and appreciating our time. Also, you touched on, bruh, the cognitive benefits because your memory, the amount of scientific facts and these like really crazy terms that you're able to just spew out in a second is so impressive. And so I wanna know a bit more about that as well as when it comes to families, the adults, food can also impact your libido, your sexual health.


SHAWN STEVENSON: That part. That part. Yeah.


TRACY G: Speak on that. 'Cause I think a lot of folks don't realize it.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Nobody wants that. Nobody wants that. So thank you so much for that acknowledgement as well. I'm not innately just some kind of superhuman. This is the capacity we all have.


TRACY G: Yeah.


SHAWN STEVENSON: I was not this person 20 years ago. And the reality is again, just by providing the right... Food isn't just food, it is information. Providing ourselves with a different quality of information is literally changing what our DNA is doing. It's changing the copies that are getting printed of us. We have this new field of epigenetics. That's really where science is now. Determining how our genes are expressed. And so, one of the most remarkable... And when we started this show, I mentioned changing the micro-culture. And this is one of the biggest takeaways for everybody. And this is the reason I wrote this book. So changing the micro-culture really has to do with our family and the people that we love. And we've been fractured. We've been fractured as a people, we've been fractured as families. We evolved. If we go all the way back, we evolved in tribes, then we started to kind of parse out and we had communities, but we still live close by to extended family. Now we moved to a place where a lot of us don't live near our mothers, fathers, aunties, that kind of thing. And then now we have a place where even inside our own household, we're all separated because of our devices.


TRACY G: Exactly.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Our devices have divided us completely.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Our video games, our phones...


SHAWN STEVENSON: All of this cool technology. Shout out to all those things. I love them. But we need real face time. And the science has found this. So researchers at Harvard found that families that eat together on a regular basis consume significantly more real food and by nature, significantly higher intake of essential nutrients that prevent chronic diseases in those family members. And less processed food, ultra food, ultra-processed foods. And I was just like knowing from my practice that people want change, but they often don't want to change that much to get it.




SHAWN STEVENSON: I was like, what's the minimum effective dose? How often do we need to eat together to get these benefits seen in the data? Two studies. One was published in pediatrics looking at kids, and another was for adults, which I'll get to in a second. The one published in pediatrics found that eating together with your family three times a week dramatically reduces the incidences of obesity in those children and dramatically reduces the incidences of eating disorders in those children, three times a week at least.




SHAWN STEVENSON: And you could pick what those days are, align it to your lifestyle. It could be Monday, Wednesday, family dinner, and then brunch on Sundays. That's kind of how we roll actually.




SHAWN STEVENSON: Alright. Fit it on your lifestyle. But here's my objective for everybody. Schedule it, put it on the calendar. We put all this other sh*t that's not as important as our family on the calendar instead of putting the thing. And I would ask people in my practice, "why do you want to get these benefits? Why do you want to improve your health?"




SHAWN STEVENSON: And they would often say, "it's my family. My family's the most important thing to me." But then we look at their calendar and it doesn't really match up.


HEATHER: Reflect that.


SHAWN STEVENSON: There was a mismatch. And so schedule it, make it real. Put some permanence on it. And last one I'll share with the adults. This was conducted by some tech workers at IBM. And they found that when they were able to have family dinners consistently, regardless of how stressed they were at work. And I know work can be stressful 'cause my man over here dropping sh*t right now. [laughter], I was just like, he was like, "what's going on?"




SWAY CALLOWAY: Live on air.


SHAWN STEVENSON: So work can be stressful. But they found when they were able to make it home for family dinner consistently, their work stress stayed negligible if they were able to neutralize it, essentially, their work morale stayed high and productivity stayed high. But as soon as they were prevented from having consistent meals with their family work, morale plummeted, productivity went down and stress went up. Why does this matter? This is published in JAMA as well. Upwards of 80% of doctor visits today are for stress-related illnesses. Stress is killing us. Because as we started off with, your thoughts create chemistry in your body. All right. So this is protective, eating together with the people that we love.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Last thing, one minute, I'll tell you why. When we're together like this, our chemistry changes. Because we know each other. Its oxytocin starts to get produced and oxytocin has been found to neutralize cortisol, all right? So that's number one. Number two, this is a switchover from our sympathetic fight-or-flight we're always in to parasympathetic. Rest and digest. That's the nickname of that part of the nervous system, and the last part is the psychological part. Because we get to see each other. We get to actually see the people that we love because a lot of our communication is not verbal. It's non-verbal. And also there's energy as well. So I could see my kids, I could see my wife, I could see where they are in life.




SHAWN STEVENSON: I can let them feel seen and acknowledged, which is a deep psychological human need. I can go on and on, but that's why it works.


SWAY CALLOWAY: You're doing an amazing, Shawn Stevenson.




HEATHER: Thank you.


SWAY CALLOWAY: This is such a great...


HEATHER: And follow him. I just followed you on IG, Shawn. He's at Shawn Model, S-H-A-W-N model, M-O-D-E-L.


SWAY CALLOWAY: And the book is available where? 


SHAWN STEVENSON: Everywhere books are sold.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Hey, Shawn Stevenson, Shawn Model. Follow him there. You did an excellent job today. I wanna say thank you. I knew we were cut from a similar cloth. We played soul food and he was trying to name the different members of Goodie Mob. And right then and there, it was just like an electrolyte. [laughter] Just sends a program to one of my cells that went straight up into my mind. And in my mind, I felt like he was a hyena. I knew he was a hyena in my mind.


HEATHER: With bars? 




TRACY G: Healthy hyena.


HEATHER: Health bars.


SWAY CALLOWAY: DP, drop a beat on, man. I feel like he's a hyena right here. We got Shawn Stevenson on the mic by special request.




SHAWN STEVENSON: Wow. Okay.I can't believe this is happening.


HEATHER: So in the morning.


SHAWN STEVENSON:Yeah. Yeah. Listen to me. Okay. I can't believe this.


HEATHER: Smart mass early in the morning, let's go.




SHAWN STEVENSON: You want to freestyle, the style ain't free. If you're trying to get healthy, you should come see me. Rolling with my son, Jordan E, spelled with an E and my little son B. Ooh, we, we in here with Sway, all the ledges come here to stay. Oh, I'm getting kinda hungry. Get this cookbook, won't be hungry. You won't be tungry. That's tired and hungry and angry and mungry. I just made up a word. F*ck it, that's a turd. That's a turn. That means I'm the sh*t. About to get with my fam, have to be, let's go. Tracy G, we're up in here doing it live. Oh my God, I can't believe they let us outside. We crazy in here. Eat Smarter Family Cookbook this year. Get it.




SWAY CALLOWAY: We've got a hyena. We've got a hyena over here.


[overlapping conversation]




HEATHER: Healthy hyena.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Let's go, let's go. Health bar.


SWAY CALLOWAY: Follow this man as Shawn Model. S-H-A-W-N M-O-D-E-L.


TRACY G: Yes. And subscribe to his podcast. That's how I got introduced to Shawn. You can hear him speak about this. And as well as, with other experts too. So, the Model Health Show. Subscribe to it today.


SWAY CALLOWAY: What's it called? 


TRACY G: The Model Health Show.


SHAWN STEVENSON: Thank you so much for tuning into this very special episode. And I've got a question for you. What are some of the things that you are going to do personally to implement a culture of health and connection in your family? Our culture around the dinner table is very important because the dinner table truly is a unifier. It's a place of education, it's a place of connection and being able to explore and to create different perspectives and to be able to flesh out even new talents and to be able to exercise our brains in different ways. And even the capability to have a moment like that, to freestyle on this iconic show. This is something that's a part of my family's culture. Many times after dinner we ended up getting, at one point, we pass around like a spoon or something to use as a microphone.


SHAWN STEVENSON: We ended up getting like a little kinda echoing microphone or whatever and we'll pass that around the table and everybody will spit some bars, freestyle and to be able to exercise those mental muscles, but also to express creativity. And it's a wonderful way for us to connect and also a way to anchor in very intentionally this powerful dopamine loop. So we've got dopamine driving us towards behaviors, but we need to have some satiety, some satisfaction, some reward. So making it very intentional, some benefit, some reward of having those family dinners. And so our brains know that there's going to be a celebration of some sort. This could be family game night, this could be singing, this could be doing some art. This could be, everybody just popping over and gaming together, literally breaking out a gaming console.


SHAWN STEVENSON: But something that is creating that feedback loop that, yes, we dine together, we connect, and also we have a spirit of play and connection. Or it can even be things that are more serious, having really important conversations. Talking about some of the things going on in the world and being able to perspective take and the list goes on and on. We've gotta find that recipe that works for us and also give ourselves grace to be able to change and adapt as time goes on. So again, thank you so much for tuning into this episode and most importantly, let's put some things into place for ourselves and build a healthy family culture with intention moving forward. If you have to do so, make sure to pick up your copy of the Eat Smarter Family Cookbook at your favorite online retailer or your favorite bookstore now. And we've got some epic masterclasses and world class guests coming your way very, very soon. So make sure to stay tuned. Take care, have an amazing day and I'll talk with you soon.


SHAWN STEVENSON: And for more after the show, make sure to head over to That's where you can find all of the show notes. You can find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you've got a comment, you can leave me a comment there as well. And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome. And I appreciate that so much. And take care, I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in

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The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Family is Health

When you gather your family around the table to share nutritious food, you’re not only spending quality time with them - you’re setting them up for success in all areas of their lives.

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