Amanda & Merrill

The Wellness Trend That Merrill Stubbs Counts on to Stay Sane

January 10, 2018

We're asking real people for the little things they do to stay sane and feel good amidst an overload of often confusing health-related information. And who better to start with than our co-founder, Merrill Stubbs? (Find Amanda's answers over yonder.)

Could you summarize your approach to health in a sentence or phrase?
Every day is a new opportunity to live the life you want.

What does "living a healthy lifestyle" mean to you? It's fine to be broad/vague/funny or totally unsure.
Honestly, it means something different every day. Sometimes it's about eating high-quality, largely unprocessed foods, other days it's about spending more time with my kids or getting more sleep, and sometimes it's just about making it to the finish line (i.e. bed) in one piece!

Sometimes it's just about making it to the finish line (i.e. bed) in one piece!

What's one health/wellness trend you wish would go away immediately?
I think juicing has gotten a little out of hand. I don't want it to go away completely, but it's taking up a whole lot of real estate.

And what's one that you're glad is here?
Meditation apps. We all need help feeling grounded and in touch with the present moment as our roster of obligations and interests continues to expand; the fact that I can use my phone to do a 10-minute meditation while I'm on the subway is—yes, I'll say it—a game-changer.

How has the way you've thought about health and well-being changed since you were growing up?
When I was growing up, the public discussion about health was mostly focused on diet—more specifically, on the evils of fat. Caring for both your body and your mind at once wasn't really a thing. Wellness trends will always exist (how else would people make money off of them?), but I think we all benefit from the more modern, holistic approach to health so I hope this trend persists.

What's something "healthy" that you've been doing (or eating) since before it was cool/popular/mainstream?
Having grown up in Manhattan, I've always been a big walker; car culture never resonated. Living and working in the city, I'm always on the move and rarely need to make much of an effort to hit my step tracker goal of 10,000 steps per day. I realize this isn't as easy for people with a more suburban and/or desk-bound existence, and I feel lucky that most days I don't even have to think about it.

Where do you get your information about health/wellness? What sources do you turn to and who do you trust?
I look to news publications (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Slate) for the science behind the trends, but I find great ideas in all sorts of places (Medium, Entrepreneur, lifestyle blogs) to help me prioritize better or learn a new relaxation technique or fun games to play with my kids.

What's one thing you do to make yourself feel better when you're feeling down or just sort of bleh?
When I'm feeling listless or low energy, I go for a brisk walk (or in the summer, a swim). If I need to relax I'll take a hot bath with lavender bath salts or do a 5-minute breathing exercise.

When I need comfort, I revert to nursery fare.

What do you cook to make your body feel better? After you've eaten one thousand cookies or a series of rich meals?
When I need comfort, I revert to nursery fare: grits with a poached egg or grilled cheese. If I've gone a little overboard, I drink lots of water and wait until I'm truly hungry before eating again, even if it means missing the next mealtime. Then I'll have what I feel like having (sweets aside), making sure to eat slowly and savor every bite. I don't believe in routinely eating salad to offset the after-effects of a heavy or rich meal—unless I really feel like having salad.

Any little remedies you swear by?
At the first sign of a cold, my friend Amy finely chops a couple cloves of garlic and tosses them back with a big swig of orange juice. I've always found this pretty disgusting so I don't do it every time I think I'm getting sick, but whenever I do it seems to help ward off or minimize the cold.

This post originally ran in May 2017, and we thought it was especially fitting to run again to help kick off the new year.

What precautionary measures do you take when you feel a cold coming on? Spill your secrets in the comments below!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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18 Comments

Lynne G. June 29, 2017
At first sign (throatscratch) double up on Nikken's organic Lactoferrin (from New Zealand; no antibiotics, no mad cow) from 1 to 2 per day; double up on Immunity (14 mushrooms in a capsule) from 3 to 6 a day. Warm salt water gargle; Chicken soup (homemade) unskimmed. You will begin to feel better next day but don't stop for 4-6.
 
Mrs B. June 15, 2017
Might one ask what meditation app or apps you recommend? Many thanks.
 
susan G. May 20, 2017
In general, back to the ancients for 'moderation in all things.' Then, variety (now expressed as 'eat your colors,' vary your grains, etc.), and quality, fresh and non-modified.
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 24, 2017
Yes!
 
BocaCindi May 18, 2017
Terrific article. What I loved about it was nothing made me feel guilty. Still pondering the garlic and orange juice remedy. Hoping to not have to try it out. 😉<br />
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 24, 2017
Thanks! I'll also keep my fingers crossed you don't need to try it. ☺️
 
Abs May 16, 2017
Amen, sister. ;) I love that you are writing about this on Food52.
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 17, 2017
:) xo
 
Solson May 16, 2017
Your friend Amy sounds like a smart lady.
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 17, 2017
She is!
 
ChefJune May 15, 2017
I drink tons of water and double up on my Saccharomyces Boulardii.
 
Westcoasty May 15, 2017
Raw honey with garlic (if you have a local provider) - add a tablespoon of honey to a mug, add the juice of half a squeezed lemon, top with boiling water. Drink. Repeat as often as you can.
 
mrslarkin May 15, 2017
Gargle with warm salt water. Chicken soup with garlic, turmeric, ginger. And keep hydrated! lots of H2O.
 
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 17, 2017
Yes! I always forget about salt water gargling but on the rare occasion that I remember to do it I'm so glad I did!
 
Whiteantlers May 15, 2017
Extra zinc, extra C and extra B complex.
 
Virginia P. May 15, 2017
Elderberry tonics help ward off colds-or fire cider.<br />
 
Nancy M. May 15, 2017
Tell me about elderberry tonics. Do you make this, and if so, how?
 
emcsull May 16, 2017
I use elderberry juice, unsweetened,