New support system growing for those with chronic illness

by | Aug 1, 2011 | Nutrition & Diet | 9 comments

There’s an epidemic going on right now.

  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Dementia
  • Heart disease, and
  • Depression

These are only a few of the common afflictions of modern life that are sapping our nation’s vitality.

Individuals are overwhelmed with complex health complaints that spill over the artificial boundaries between medical specialists.

And as devastating as this epidemic is for those afflicted with these illnesses, the effects spread far more widely – all of us face challenges.  All of us, no matter how healthy we seem to be on the surface, enter our middle years with fear of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and dementia.

And our nation’s health care coffers are exhausted.

A different type of answer is desperately needed.

Rather than fight each of these diseases separately, wouldn’t it be better if we could identify some of their common features and tackle them en masse?

Or better yet – prevent them from occurring in the first place?

Dorothy Mullen

Building on her background as an addiction counselor, community activist, health and environmental advocate, and garden educator, Dorothy Mullen has spent the past twelve years tending the soil from which a new type of answer is growing.

Hasn’t your doctor (or your own common sense) told you to eat better, reduce stress, and exercise? The solutions are simple, but for most, they are not easy to follow.

Our number one national addiction is not cigarettes or alcohol. It’s food. And the national menu of processed foods is so addictive that many of us have lost the taste for foods that support life. They also sap our strength and rob us of mental and physical energy. That makes the standard American diet a gateway to obesity, diabetes, drinking problems, and numerous mental health issues.

– Dorothy Mullen

The Suppers Programs

It’s easy to sketch out positive health changes on paper, but devilishly hard to carry them out consistently.

But what if you had a support group – a posse of friends with a similar purpose – to help you and encourage you along the way?  That’s why Dorothy began the Suppers Programs.

Here’s more from the Suppers Programs site:

The Suppers Programs are table-based support groups for people who are oriented toward prevention or who would like to use a whole food and lifestyle approach to address chronic health challenges. There are no fees but the price of your own groceries.

The Suppers Programs are an outgrowth of Suppers for Sobriety, a table-based recovery group for alcoholics and their loved ones who are ready to make diet and lifestyle changes to support more comfortable sobriety.

It quickly became clear that any of the “health relatives” of alcoholics (people with obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety and learning issues) would benefit from the programs. Why? Because the underlying biochemical and environmental causes are virtually the same.

While the details of the individual nutritional needs and toxicity issues vary greatly from one person to another, the general recommendations are essentially the same: eat closer to nature (whole foods), use simple assessment tools to determine what foods best suit your highly individual biological needs, manage and reduce stress better, and get into the habit of meaningful physical activity.

 A Many-Faceted Program for Complex Health Challenges

You’ll learn the practical skills like:

  • Preparing healthy, mood-stabilizing meals from single, whole, fresh ingredients, including easy one-pot meals that take less than a half hour to prepare
  • Making them delicious
  • Getting and giving support as you learn to make accurate observations about how you relate to foods and drinks
  • Getting and giving support as you re-shape your palate for nutritious foods
  • Getting and giving support as you identify specific needs for you and your family: cooking to support recovery, stabilizing blood sugar, or accommodating to allergies or other specific needs
  • Getting and giving support as you establish new habits of mind and body, like setting doable goals for exercise and stress management
  • Restoring the habit of eating at a family table

 For Chronic Illness, Medical Treatment is Not Enough

Medicine and therapy are not adequate to the task. As a culture, we need to shift our priorities to identifying the biochemical and environmental causes underlying our obesity, or struggles with recovery, or mood misery, etc. This is not something we can accomplish just in medical settings; it’s something we accomplish at home with our friends and families. While drugs may be necessary while you identify the sources of your problem, they don’t resolve the chronic health conditions that result from unhealthy lifestyle. They provide relief as long as you take them. We’re grateful they do! Up to a point.

And here is the point: To the extent that drugs or therapies allow you to mask symptoms so that you don’t change your diet, stress management and exercise habits, it is to that extent that the drugs or therapies perpetuate the problem.

Sometimes, in the case of diabetes or severe depression, medication must be included in a person’s plan. Still, there is no substitute for healthy living. The person with type-2 diabetes is likely to reduce dependence on medications with a stabilizing diet coupled with exercise. In addition, people with type-1 diabetes may be able to reduce the amount of insulin needed to stabilize their blood sugars if they can establish the right habits.

Logical Miracles

The motto of the Suppers Programs is “Logical Miracles.”

Many, many people have taken huge strides toward recovery from chronic illness by instituting simple lifestyle changes with the support of the Suppers Programs.  It can seem like a miracle.

Yet the programs are rooted in the scientific logic of food, brain chemistry, behavioral psychology, and the value of social support.

Are you ready to be delighted with the degree to which your health and mood challenges improve with diet and lifestyle support?

The Suppers Programs are for you.



Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Logical Miracles – the Suppers Program Handbook

Personal story of Compulsive Eating Disorder

Organic food labeling

Making sense of fibromyalgia and chronic pain


  1. Audelle

    For the past year, I’ve been eating a plant-based diet to treat and defeat my Type 2 diabetes. I have experienced the Logical Miracle and have reduced my need for medications significantly. Equally important, I found the support I needed to continue with this lifestyle because of Dor and Suppers. I can’t recommend the program enough!

    • Ron Lavine, D.C.

      Thanks Audelle for sharing your experience.

  2. Alisa Ugalde

    The Suppers Program is exactly what I’ve always needed and was lucky enough to find. For me it’s about learning how to prepare nutrient rich foods that actually taste amazing! Spending time with like minded people is so much fun. I just started a lunch group in Hillsborough, NJ the first Thursday of every month.

    • Ron Lavine, D.C.

      Thanks for your comment, Alisa. Hope your group in Hillsborough thrives! Ron

  3. Karen Rose Tank

    Great article Ron!

    Living with type 1 diabetes for the past 15 years has taught me the value of focusing on my health using whole foods that are low in carbs. Thanks to my involvement with The Suppers Program for the past 4 years and the amazing gift in the kitchen that is Dorothy Mullen… I now totally enjoy a vast array of delicious, tasty veggies and proteins that help me balance my blood sugars.

    Plus, the support I give and receive at Suppers is invaluable for keeping me on the healthy and nutritious path in a world surrounded by processed carbs on every corner. It is also a place where I have built some of my best friendships with those who understand the daily challenges I face to balance my food, mood, insulin and blood sugar.

    I help Dor run the weekly Wednesday Lunch Suppers meeting that focuses on blood sugars, diabetes and weight… as well as the once monthly Monday Night Insulin-Dependent Diabetes meeting. Always happy to have new folks join us!

    • Ron Lavine, D.C.

      thanks for weighing in, Karen. And thanks for the support you’re offering to others.

  4. Doreen

    Eating whole foods has allowed me to have more energy and be more clear headed. I love cooking with others and sharing the meal. Looking forward to creating a program in my area!

  5. Susan Roth, BA, NTP

    The Suppers program is wonderful. God Bless both Dorothy and Karen for getting this wonderful program going. It is so needed in all aspects of our life style today. Families eat fast food in the car as they are rushing off to the next game or band practice. The idea of the Family table and simple, healthy, delicious food can help with so many issues. I believe it is vital for staying sober, as well as managing other sugar issues.
    Thank you for featuring this wonderful program.


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