Ashley Koff – Who Else Wants to Be a Qualitarian?

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Ashley Koff

Jonathan: Hey, everyone, Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Very, very excited about today’s show because we have a woman with us, a registered dietitian, who I think is just pointed in exactly the right direction. She goes so far as to call herself a qualitarian a.k.a. she is just looking at food quality. She’s not trying to preach any dogma; she doesn’t treat it like it’s a religion.

She just says, Hey, let’s break this down and let’s just say, What are the highest- quality foods we could be eating, and how could we eat more of those and, in fact, so many of those that we’re too full for the other stuff. She’s a registered dietitian, she’s all over the media. You’ve seen her on Dr. Oz and all the other kinds of mainstream media. She’s got a wonderful new travel kit she’s put together. She is none other than Ashley Koff. Ashley, welcome to the show.

Ashley: Thanks for having me.

Jonathan: Ashley, I forgot to mention, too, in your long list of accomplishments, you are also a contributing editor at Prevention Magazine, correct?

Ashley: I am. I’ve been with Natural Health Magazine for a couple of years and now Prevention, and I love it because Prevention is all about what I’m all about, which is prevention. And then also the integrative approach. As you were just saying, it’s not saying no medications, it’s really saying, Let’s see how we can best understand how the body works.

The other really fun part is that I get to collaborate with a lot of people that I’ve worked with over the years: Dr. Andrew Weil and his team over at the Integrative Program in Arizona, Victoria Maizes, and Tieraona Low Dog, and Dr. Oz, and Travis Stork. It’s just such a fun group in terms of all of us kind of coming together. I think the most exciting thing for your audience is that we all agree on nutrition across the board. We might have moments where we disagree, but that’s usually about our favorite sports team. We’re actually really in agreement.

Nutrition is pretty simple these days. It is that paying attention to what you put into your body is so critical today, even more so than in the past. We know what the body needs. We know the body needs to recognize what it’s getting, not get too much of it, to get a range of macronutrients, to get most of our nutrients from plants, so we call that a plant-based diet. When you accessorize with animal, you just have to learn what is better quality.

I’m really excited. I think this is an amazing time to be doing what I’m doing. The only thing I might or those that know me might disagree with in your introduction is I try not to get preachy. I like to use humor. But I definitely often feel like I’m out there preaching the good word. The good word is how important quality is, for sure.

Jonathan: Ashley, I think you hit the nail on the head there. Because it’s that quality piece that… Something you said that I just violently agree with is it seems like there’s so much similarity here. There are these slight differences, maybe. Like it’s all red, but they are slightly different hues of red. Sometimes it seems like people get a little bit tripped up on those nuances which, again, may not even be right or wrong. If I’m a 23-year-old female CrossFitter, I probably need to eat different things than if I’m a 65-year-old post-menopausal woman; right?

Ashley: Well, it’s super interesting that you would ask that. I think that on the one hand, what is really making sense is to pay attention to life stage. But I also know 63-year-old menopausal women who are doing CrossFit. There could actually be more commonality there than, say, somebody who is not active or somebody who has maybe an autoimmune disease or other things. What’s really interesting when we look about, certainly there are variances in terms of what people need in their food consumption.

I like to point out to people that number one, health is never something that you get to achieve. It’s not static. We don’t get to do it, check it off of our list and move on. It’s something that we’re always working on. The other point, and the point that should let us exhale, is that health is — there’s no perfection. There’s no 100% right answer. What there is, is a need to understand what your body needs at that time.

When you say a woman in her 60s who is menopausal and a 23-year-old who’s a CrossFitter, depending on what they’re going through on a physiological level, they may actually be extremely similar. When I wrote the book Mom Energy, I wrote it for women. The word “mom” wasn’t a, Oh, I just had a two-year-old and I’m 30. It really looks that today’s world where “mom” is defined from the moment you decide to have a child.

That could even include having a dog mom, it could be you’re a stepmother, you’re deciding to take care of a bunch of kids during the day. There’s so many ways to define this. It’s about the idea of you’re giving your energy out. If we don’t work on replenishing our energy, then we end up at a deficit. When we look at what somebody needs from a nutritional standpoint, we really need to just have a snapshot of who they are in that moment. Too many of the…

You know, I used to work in advertising, actually, before I became a dietitian. We used to have these crazy demographic target audiences. So this cereal is for women 25 to 45; this bar, we want it to reach women from 31 to 70. We have these age ranges. You might say, okay, college educated, or you might say has a certain amount of money, or you might say is busy. These things are so not helpful from a nutritional assessment. I still know companies are doing that today.

When I get involved with working with them from a consulting standpoint, I will turn around and come back to them and say, Hold on a second. I was just talking to a company about this the other day, and I just said, Look, we need to figure out what similarities and differences your audience will have from a physiologic level. That is going to depend really on how they’re spending their days, how their health actually is, but also their perception of their health.

The really important point, and especially if you’re reading a magazine, watching a TV show, reading a book — and I have contributed in all of these spaces. The really important thing to know is that those are just guidelines. Those are not personalized information. We can help you personalize. It’s important to me — a lot of times, the media gets a little frustrated with me because I won’t give a one-size-fits-all answer.

In my book, I did a survey that I wanted you to do before you started to read about things and recognize that there are different types or there are different issues. You might fall into the different — you might be different people at different stages in your life, or even in a week. I might have a day where I’m super active and I might have a day where I’m travelling, like these things.

There’s so much — this is a really, really long-winded answer of getting at what I think is actually the most pivotal point in our health-nutrition relationship, or what I call nutrition for optimal health. That is understanding that you have to know physiologically where you are in the moment. You have to also have a sense of what are your perceptions of your health, or your concern.

The two questions I always ask people when they’re coming in — they fill out a form for me, a pretty long form. It asks a lot of questions about their health, What medications are you taking, et cetera. I also ask what makes them laugh. I ask what makes them scared or nervous. It’s really interesting in that information that I do get, number one, I get great information. I find out they’re nervous because their mother or their friend just died of cancer. Or they’re nervous because their husband doesn’t eat as well. Or they’re nervous that they’re not being a good role model to their child. That’s going to really impact with their nutrition as much as where they are physiologically in the moment.

Then the laughter part really helps, because if I see somebody listing a bunch of late-night TV shows as what makes them laugh, unless they are DVRing them and watching them at 10:00 in the morning while they’re working out, I know they’re staying up too late. Then we start off talking about sleep.

If they’re struggling to figure out what makes them laugh or if they remind me what makes them laugh and we’re able to integrate that into their health plan, then that’s also really helpful. So a lot of answers for you on a very simple question, but I really do think you hit on the crux of the core-nutrition issue, which is how do we judge what we actually need for nutrition for optimal health.

Jonathan: Ashley, what you touched on there really, I think, takes that quality point to the next level in the sense that we need to monitor the quality of what we’re putting into our body. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the quality of our output or just the quality of our life, how we feel, is in many ways a great gauge for the quality of what we put in our mouth.

The reason I say that is because you made the good point that when you read a magazine, read a book, listen to a podcast, we provide guidelines. At the end of the day, it’s been my experience that unless we really look at the quality of our life and the quality of how we feel, and use that as a very important input into that which is quality for us, we may always find ourself conflicted because, again, we’re looking somewhere other than within ourselves. What do you think?

Ashley: Right, yes, I think it’s really important. Just in the same way that you would never go to — let’s say you would never go into your friend’s medicine cabinet, I hope, and take their medication, their prescription. So you might say, Hey, isn’t that funny? We’re both taking the same medication. You go to a physician to learn what the dosage is; and even if you were taking the exact same dosage, it may not have the same thing.

I give my clients an example all the time: If you think that a medication hits an individual even at the same dose the same way, talk to my mother about Benadryl. My mother learned the hard way that Benadryl knocked out my older brother and was a dream drug for aches and pains, for the things that she needed to use it for for him. And for me, it made me so hyper that I was running around the room and climbing the walls. It took one time and she was like, Okay, I just learned a huge lesson. Number one, I’ve got to find another medication for you and, number two, you just can’t make that assumption. You can’t read the back of it and say, Hey, you guys are both taking the right dose for your age. This should be okay for you. I think that that’s so critical, those insights. Intuitively, we know them, right? It’s just that sense of coming back to having a level of confidence.

This is what I think is so exciting about the media, shows like yours, the online space today which is, well, it can be dizzying, and I will get to that in a moment. The upside is we really do have at our fingertips the ability to understand nutrition and be aware of this so that we can ask. We can investigate things, we can ask questions, and we can work with our intuition. Now, what can happen is the availability of all this information can be incredibly dizzying or overwhelming.

I like to remind people that I have chosen for this to be my profession. What’s interesting is I am often sometimes less concerned or – I shouldn’t say less concerned – less focused on nutrition than many of my patients or writers or people who are contacting me. I am interested in music, I like to read up about politics, I am obsessed with basketball. I have hobbies and things that I like to investigate. For me, my career is nutrition. I do not need a population of nutrition experts.

The challenge is that our marketing endeavors, the fact that every single food product out there has a marketing agency behind it, we are in a way attempting or at least almost setting the standard that you should be, if not a nutrition expert, at least close to. I want great teachers out there, I want people who are experts in construction, I want people who are experts in politics. I want people to be able to be expert and to eat the food that makes them feel good so that they perform and enjoy food, but not have to be a nutrition expert.

My mission is actually really just to simplify nutrition again for everyone; to remind people that it is actually extremely simple, and the body is actually extremely simple. The easiest part, we can put those two things together, when we give the body what it recognizes — this is where my qualitarian piece comes in. When we give the body what it recognizes, the body performs efficiently and effectively. It’s brilliant that way.

The irritation, the challenges, the inflammation presented by giving the body things — we can use the circle-square analogy or we can use the wrong key for the lock, any one of these. When the body gets frustrated like that, and certainly if it’s happening on a regular basis, that’s what confuses the body, that’s what irritates it, that’s what makes, quote, unquote, nutrition complicated. That’s something I am staunchly opposed to.

I really try to intervene on the marketing side to make sure that messages are not communicated that way. That was why I actually created the Ashley Koff approved evaluation program about five years ago. I’ve audited over 50,000 products at this point, a huge number of which are dietary supplements which really nobody is auditing in this way. What I do is I make sure that — I want better-quality products, so that begins with better-quality, recognizable ingredients.

The second part is that I also look at not just where we’re sourcing it from and is it better quality for that category of goods, but also is the marketing message that’s being communicated appropriate. When a group of moms, I think they were a pair of moms, sent me their organic fruit snack, and the marketing was, Sometimes it can really difficult, we know organic matters, and sometimes it can be really difficult to bring the fresh oranges to your kid’s soccer game, but you want them to have organic fruit; here’s our product.

Well, the product that they were presenting to me for evaluation had the exact same ingredients — it was organic, it was not a fruit product, it was the exact same ingredients as many of the fruit organic candies that I have approved on the market, the Yummy Earths and the Surf Sweets and a bunch of these companies. The challenge that I had was that this was not an appropriate marketing.

I told them, I said, I can’t approve you for that. They said, Oh, we recognize, but when we say candy, people think the wrong thing and they think that it should be on an infrequent occasion or that sort of thing. And I said, No, no, no, that’s right, you are absolutely right; you can’t tell people that your product is fruit, that’s my problem here. I think that that marketing piece becomes really important on that.

If you go to my website, there are a bunch of free tools, one of which includes my nutrition plan. I’ve tried with this idea of keeping everything simple to communicate everything that you need to know about nutrition on one piece of paper. It is there, it’s called the Nutrition Plan. It shows the four tenets, the four pillars of nutrition for optimal health: That’s quality, quantity, nutrient balance and frequency. You will see that calories do not exist on there but, you bet, quality, which means non-GMO and no artificial sweeteners. Yes, quantity we do have to pay attention to it; it’s on there.
Then showing what foods in order to achieve nutrient balance; we have to know what is a carbohydrate, what’s a protein, what’s a healthy fat. Then I actually add a fourth food group, which are your non-starchy vegetables, to make sure that people recognize it and that they actually are a food group that we need to incorporate in at every eating occasion. We tend to focus on these macronutrients as just carbs and protein and fat, and the vegetables are really important.

All of that information is there on one page. That one page is all you need to know, whether you are a menopausal woman trying to figure out how to eat, a 23-year-old CrossFitter, a newly-pregnant or a newly-nursing mom, a man trying to put on weight, a man trying to lose weight, et cetera. Obviously, it needs to be — The goal, as we were talking about, personalized nutrition, the benefit of working with someone or figuring out what your physiologic needs in the moment are, is really important.

All of the information is there, as well as a link to the Ashley Koff approved list, as I was mentioning, of the 50,000 products. You won’t see 50,000 there because not so many of them have actually made my list. You will only see the ones that are on there. Again, these are both free things, because it’s really important for me that people can access this information without having the influence of either me being paid and/or the influence of them having to pay for it.

Jonathan: Folks, that’s Ashley, there were a few points you made that all kind of came together in my brain, and I want to get your thoughts on this. You mentioned that we all shouldn’t have to be professionals, we all shouldn’t have to have Ph.D.s simply to not get sick or to avoid obesity. You mentioned that when we do give our body that which it needs, a.k.a. actual food, high-quality actual food, it behaves as it is intended to, which is to be disease free and high energy.

It becomes complicated once you start veering off that path. Just like if you were to try to prescribe medicine for yourself, that is pretty darn complicated because you are doing — you are trying to manipulate the body. You are not doing what is the natural course of things. I haven’t thought this through all the way, but I am trying to think of another analogy. You gave a couple great ones. That is are these edible products, are these food products — you mentioned you looked at 50,000 products; you didn’t say 50,000 foods.

Are edible products a bit like lying to our body? Here’s why I use the term lying, because if you lie in real life, things get complicated really quickly, because you have remember what you said to this person. And if I lied here, then I have to lie again and I have to do this to counteract that. Whereas the truth is just really simple, you just always tell the truth. It might not always be possible, but it is really simple.

Could we say something similar about food, where the truth is whole, nutrient-dense foods that are found directly in nature and as long as you live, that truth, it will stay very simple. Once you start diddling with 100-calorie snack packs and drinking sodas, there are chemical things that are happening that are lying to your body and it gets really complicated to stay healthy when you are lying to your body. What do you say?

Ashley: Right. I keep using the analogy, and it’s kind of like for how long will your car run efficiently? First, if you start using cheaper gas, it will run. It will say, Okay, this is gas, but it might cause buildup, you might have to take it into the shop more often, this kind of a thing. Now, if you stick a dirty sock in it, it doesn’t run.
Or if you put nail polish remover into your car, it doesn’t run. One could be like, Well, but they are both like liquids that you can put in there, they both have a strong smell, they both light on fire. It doesn’t matter. It just isn’t the same thing.

We are in this world right now with genetically-engineered foods, and it’s a really big one, like how in the ‘90s our government just said, Well, if a soybean looks like a soybean on the outside, it must be a soybean on the inside, regardless of genetic modification, that is insanity to me. The challenge with that is maybe both soybeans are fine in our bodies. I don’t think so, but maybe they are, but we don’t know. The issue that we have is we have so many diseases.

Every day — this is the part that makes me so sad. When I say I am out there, whether it is the activist or the preacher, I am out there talking about this. Because every single day, I have people walking into my office in utter confusion. I have doctors calling me in utter confusion. How is it that a healthy 30-year-old went to bed on Friday, on a Monday morning woke up and any food she puts in her mouth makes her skin literally feel it’s lighting on fire?

How is it that I have people that have been healthy their whole lives and now they put food into their mouths and it causes their bellies to blow up in pain looking five months pregnant? How is it that we have kids that literally can’t construct –you know, I struggle… I will work to the ends of the world to try to make it work, but I struggle to get them the nutrients that they need from actual food because they are so intolerant to so many different foods.

That’s the stuff where we know these two things, these unknowns about what some of these chemicals or these, I call them — I put the whole class under chemistry lab projects. I mean, I loved chemistry class. Chemistry lab projects, I mean, I almost blew up my lab, I almost blew up the kitchen. I did actually set the kitchen on fire when we were playing around with stuff. But when that stuff happens, that is super cool there. That doesn’t belong in our body. What needs to go in our body is the stuff that our body recognizes.

The challenge that we have already today is that we have an aging soil, we have an aging planet. Some parts of our planet have been really well protected but, unfortunately, whether it’s man-made or environmental or just natural disasters, there have been unnatural influences that even, despite protection, have occurred in those places. In other places, we’ve just done it wrong. We farmed improperly, we haven’t rotated properly in our land, we’ve put things that are making the soil lose nutrients and water as opposed to retain it.

Because of that, even when we are eating healthy, we aren’t getting as much nutrition from our food as, say, our ancestors were. In the best-case scenario, in the healthiest of my eaters and the healthiest of my clients, I still have them probably taking a multivitamin, multi-mineral, really emphasizing the minerals, maybe taking a supplement of essential fatty acids or drizzling hempseed oil or chia seed oil or that sort of thing, making sure that they are getting it in, you know, having some sort of a prescription to your daily food consumption.

And that bothers me; I wish that didn’t have to happen. I have countless clients who come back from a week or two, or a whole summer, either in Europe or in a different part of the world. They are like, I don’t understand, I lost weight, I feel better, I look better, my energy is like — all of these things; and I ate, quote, unquote, worse than when I’m home.

That is the answer, the answer of when our food quality has been as compromised as it is in the U.S. And when our disease, unfortunately, and our health is as compromised as it is in the U.S., those two things do go together. People tell me all the time, Well, the science isn’t there. You’re right, the science isn’t there.

We can’t apply our legal system to our food system. This idea of innocent until proven guilty cannot apply to things we are putting in or on our body. It just can’t. We need to prove things safe. If we don’t have long-term safety studies about things, then we should not be putting them into our body, certainly unwittingly. If you want to choose to put something into your body, you are going to pay the consequences for it.

That’s a smoker, or that’s someone who does drugs or this sort of a thing. Usually, there is even an awareness level there, something that they are trying to work on in terms of recognizing that this is — it does frustrate them on some level that they are putting something not healthy into their body. But we are beyond frustrated because we don’t even know half of the stuff that’s going into our body. That’s really scary.

I’ve lost too many friends and clients and colleagues to diseases super-young. I know accidents happen, but these diseases and these debilitating diseases that challenge our modern medicine, they are not — I can’t say they are 100% preventable, but they shouldn’t be happening at the levels and rising with exponential increases annually, for sure.

Jonathan: Ashley, I so appreciate how sensitive and heart-wrenching this issue can be. Because what I also see is, you give the analogy of putting nail polish or kerosene in your gas tank, and you might be able to drive your car around for a while. We have this perception sometimes that health may operate linearly. People definitely think this with weight loss, really. I will lose one pound today, one pound tomorrow, and it’s too linear. Or that if that I am doing something wrong, I’ll see it and I’ll be able to stem the tide.

The analogy I like to use is imagine you have a glass of water sitting on a piece of tissue paper, so it’s held up. If you ever played Don’t Break The Ice, it’s a little game that kids sometimes play. So you have a piece of tissue paper and you have a glass of water sitting on top of it and it’s suspended over concrete. Over time, you drip little drops of water into that glass, and you drip little drops. Up until one point, everything’s fine. At some point, the weight of that cup becomes too great and it rips through the tissue paper, it falls to the concrete, and it shatters.

At that point, the glass is shattered and the water is spilled. Right before that very last drop, there was really no indication that you were doing anything wrong. One thing that I just — especially some of the younger listeners, I would encourage you to be sensitive to, is just because you are doing something and it’s not doing anything bad right now, that’s not a good reason to keep it up.

Because once something bad happens, once that tissue paper rips, once your pancreas breaks, once your hypothalamus becomes inflamed, once your gut bacteria becomes destroyed, it’s not always too late, but you don’t want to reach the breaking point. It’s not always linear. That’s why you have to be proactive and look at food quality continuously. What do you think?

Ashley: Well, first of all, I think that your younger population here, listeners, if they are anything like the young people that I meet around the country, college campuses that I do a lot of talking and interact with, and through espnW and a lot of these; our younger population is actually more attuned to this today, I think, and not feeling they can, quote, unquote, get away with stuff, et cetera, than when I was their age. I think part of that reason is, unfortunately, they are unhealthy, or they know people who are unhealthy, or they see firsthand, even at a young age, either their parents’ debilitating health or they are experiencing health issues.

I used to deal with IBS and digestive issues, sort of the onset of them and significant problems for women in their early 30s. Now, I deal with it at 18, 19, 20. I used to deal with diabetes in the 30s, 40s, 50s. Now I deal with it in the six, seven, eight, ten, 15-year-olds. Our biggest concern was not looking great with braces and acne, I think, when we were teens. Today, I have ulcerative colitis; I have celiac patients; I have the Crohn’s disease; Crohn’s disease in boys, especially, very significant in that teenage range; a lot of kids with depression. So the issue is that I don’t think anyone feels that they can rest on their laurels. I do think that — or it feels safe, I should say.

I do think that a lot of people are confused. I think that there’s a lot of stuff that is being marketed and targeted through the marketing to this age group. Even like if we look at the whole Red Bull and this whole space, and now how they are marketing it and saying that, whether it’s Red Bull or 5-Hour Energy or any of these other ones, because they got their hand slapped or more severe, saying that, We actually don’t even have as much caffeine as coffee.

You still haven’t resolved the problem. That problem is that your product is negatively contributing to the health and healthy livelihood of these individuals. And your stance is to just correct your communications. That’s not — while it’s important to start there, the question is, Do we need you? And I’m so sorry, but we don’t.

I was watching TV last night and Coca-Cola did this amazing campaign about childhood obesity and nutrition and how they kept saying — you didn’t even know it was an ad for Coke. It just was talking about how calories, every calorie counts, and how we need to consume less calories. But at the end of the — they are doing their effort, but at the end of the commercial, the point that they made is completely the wrong point and that is that, Here at Coke, we’re looking to reduce your caloric intake, you know, to be more responsible.

Okay, so you are reducing the portion size, but you have missed the biggest message that is out there today. That message is not all calories are created equal. So thank you for reducing your portion size, but until you recognize that the quality of the calories, especially in your high-fructose corn syrup that you are providing to individuals, is not a quality that the body finds acceptable for regular consumption, or I would say for any consumption, but I certainly will say for regular consumption, especially when we are building the foundation, especially when you are building the foundation of somebody’s physical and mental health, this is unacceptable.

Then you realize that your commercial is completely wrong. What your commercial is trying to do is to get people to feel better about drinking smaller amounts of Coke. Okay, that could be a start. But at the end of the day, the quality of the Coke is still the problem.

I think we keep coming back to that point, which is, unless somebody recognizes and unless we teach our children at a young age that you need to put into your body what your body recognizes, so in the same way, just in the way as you were saying, you would not build a roof made out of tissue paper in a climate where there is ever rain or extreme heat.

Because in any of those spaces, your tissue paper is going to not withstand the first puff of air or drop of rain. We can’t build foundations that are unequal or insecure or not strong enough to support a healthy body. Otherwise, we are setting up a life of consistent repair. That consistent repair, we also can’t afford, because we can’t afford the medical on it. It becomes this self-fulfilling or this vicious cycle, I would say, that is really frustrating. But I will not be a Debbie Downer; I always come back to the huge opportunity. Better quality is available and is increasingly available.

I mean, I am so excited. I just did an article for Prevention Magazine that in the past couple of years I have said no to. Several magazines had approached me about doing a roundup of what you can eat in fast-food establishments around the country. And I was like, Hold on, I will now do this.

Because I just did a road trip across the country, and I was able to — thank goodness for Starbucks, thank goodness for Triple A, thank goodness for Panera.
I was able to find things that while I was driving across country — and by the way, thank goodness for 7-Eleven. I could find things in every part of the country that my body will recognize.

Now granted, I had to close my eyes to a lot of stuff. When you are hungry and you are tired or you’re bored, any of these things, there are a lot of things that can factor in to making it a harder choice. Economically and physiologically, which means nutritionally, I was able to make those choices. Suddenly, I said You know what? I can do this. Gone are the days of the last two decades where I just said, You have to bring your own everywhere.

Jonathan: Well here, here, Ashley. I think it is obviously a hopeful time to be alive. There are certainly challenges, but there’s much hope. In fact, speaking of travel, in addition to just checking out your general website which is, which has a bunch of great free resources as Ashley mentioned, you also, specific to travel, have put together an Ashley Koff approved travel kit, correct?

Ashley: Exactly. I think that was borne out of — first of all, I travel. I logged over 50,000 flying miles this year; I don’t even know how many in cars and trains and cruise ships and these sorts of things through my work. It’s really important to me, I don’t care where I am, I want to feel good. The biggest issue is that when we travel, especially if we’re traveling for fun, but certainly also for traveling for work or for not-such-fun circumstances, we don’t want to arrive feeling worse than when we got there.

If you are coming home from a trip, it does not help to not feel great when you arrive. It can surely cast a shadow over an amazing trip and vice-versa. If you arrive somewhere not feeling great, it takes you a day or two to recover, and that can make a big difference in how exciting and fun your trip is. In addition, because many — I work with, quote, unquote, celebrities. I say “quote, unquote” because to me that runs the gamut out there.

Sure, it can be actors and actresses or heads of studios or musicians. I also look at my sculptors that I worked with, or my presidents of countries and kings of countries and this sort of a thing. These individuals have said to me, When I get off the plane I’m usually photographed. When I get off the plane I am usually — or sometimes even as I land, I am a part of a meeting. Or now, because you can Skype and do all these other things, it’s always important that I look good, and it’s always important that I am able to perform.

And if I get fitted for a dress in Los Angeles and I arrive in New York and I can’t fit into that dress because I am bloated or I look like I have back fat, or I am arriving somewhere and I have to run into the bathroom before I can actually do my business meeting, any of these things that happen to all of us anyway, these were things that I had to take on.
So I took to making personalized travel kits for a lot of my clients. I would usually create them and then have their assistants to fill them and then make sure they were available either on the plane or they traveled with them, that sort of thing.

Between the ones I would make for myself and make for others, I know I am always stopped on my flights with — even the flight attendants, I am often sharing that, like, Well, here’s a packet of this; here’s a spritz of this; yes, I have my own towel; yes, I have my own fork, knife and spoon; yes, I have this tea bag; yes, I have all these things.

And they are asking me questions. And I wanted everybody to be able to have access to that. At or on my website, you can have access to it. It’s a kit that you can then fill in terms of getting all the products through either Amazon or your Whole Foods or GNC or all these stores afterwards.

It’s a $65 value and it’s available at $20. It’s kind of a fun one to at least to check out. I like to tell people it’s like having an appointment with me, too, because inside of it you get all of the reasons why I selected each product. That’s important, too, because say you don’t like the flavor I picked or the color of what I picked, or you just don’t like the food I picked, at least you can find something that matches those nutritional requirements.

Jonathan: Certainly looked at through a lens of quality, which is excellent. Ashley, thank you so much…

Ashley: I am a qualitarian.

Jonathan: She’s a qualitarian. Absolutely excellent. Well, Ashley, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I so appreciate your passion and your positivity and your qualitarian nature. Thank you for all that you do and continue to do.

Ashley: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I look forward — I’m always on social media. So I’m at Ashley Koff on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest. So however you are digesting information these days, you can certainly find my information.

Jonathan: Certainly your digestion and many other things will be improved by digesting that information. Her name is Ashley Koff. You can find out more about her at That’s K-O-F-F. Ashley, thanks again. Listeners, thank you. Remember, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Talk to you soon.

All right, Ashley, that was awesome. Thank you so much.

Ashley: Thank you. It was really fun. As I said, I can get preachy and I can go on, but I really enjoy the topic and I hope it is a fit for your readers or for your listeners. Definitely, keep me in mind for the future.

Jonathan: Absolutely, I definitely will. One other thing I was going to mention is just, giving the focus on quality, I’m going to send you a quick thank-you email, and that will also provide you a link to a — we have a non-profit effort, and we were able to get some wonderful angel funding to produce a very high-production value animated educational video.

It’s really completely focused on what you said in our interview in terms of a calorie is not a calorie, and identifying key factors that differentiate a calorie from a calorie, and framing that in a fun schoolhouse rocks kind of a way. You might dig that. Feel free to check it out. I’ll send it over to you.

Well, thank you so much, Ashley.

Ashley: Oh, cool; yes, for sure, thank you, perfect. Great. Well, I’m going to jump off. We’ll talk soon.

Jonathan: Sounds good. Talk to you then. Bye-bye.

Ashley: Okay. Take care. Bye-bye.

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