Meet the Woman Who Was a “Wellness Influencer” Way Before It Was Cool

Photo: Diana Stobo
Before grocery stores carried plant-based everything, before probiotics were popular, before there was a Lululemon in every mall, Diana Stobo educated people on gut health and inflammatory foods. In the 15 years since Stobo released her first book, Get Naked Fast, she's written 14 (!) others, launched a probiotic nutrition bar, and started creating wellness retreats in Costa Rica. Impressive, right?

Now, she's adding "Well+Good Guest Editor" to her long resume. This month, Stobo will be sharing her wisdom on the site and taking over our Instagram. Get to know more about our new guest editor (including the diet that changed her life!) from our interview with her below:

Well+Good: I'd love to learn more about your wellness journey. What started it all?

Diana Stobo: It started 15 years ago because I was really sick. I had a bleeding ulcer and the doctor gave me morphine and other pills to treat it. I remember looking at my nightstand and there were four different pill bottles. I was only in my 30s and thought that was crazy! I started doing research into how I could heal my body with food.

The first thing I did was look into gut health, and that led me to the Body Ecology Diet, which focused on the importance of probiotics. Then, I started looking into The China Study [a 2004 book detailing decades of comprehensive nutrition research] and the effects of eating meat and dairy. But really what I realized was the importance of avoiding inflammatory foods.

That's when I decided to go on what was essentially an anti-inflammatory diet, cutting out dairy, meat, wheat, caffeine, and alcohol. It didn't take much time at all for me to [help] heal my body by living that way. After a year of eating like that, I became a raw food-ist for a while, though I no longer believe eating only raw foods is the best way to live.

WG: A lot of people want to try an anti-inflammatory diet, but it can seem really overwhelming to cut out so many foods. What has been key for you to sticking with it?

DS: Smart substitutes. Nothing is going to be sustainable if you can't have foods you enjoy; you just have to find ways to have them. What's so great about the wellness movement is that there are so many healthy substitutes readily available. There's almond milk, vegan cheese, plant-based meats... I have a culinary background, so I started writing cookbooks to show people ways they could still have all the foods they love.

And you don't have to eliminate everything all at once. You can eliminate dairy first, and then meat, for example. Doing it in steps.

WG: Your approach to wellness is a mix of science and spirituality. How would you say the two go together?

DS: I studied quantum physics, which is science but also spirit; it's the science of spirituality. It's all about energy. When you think about science and spirituality, your body is really following your mind, and your mind has emotions. How we think or feel causes reactions in the body.

Here's an example: I had a pain in my shoulder throughout my entire marriage. I went to a physical therapist regularly and eventually he told me that he couldn't help me. But after I got divorced, my shoulder pain went away. I realized it was a physical response to how I was feeling in my marriage; like a caged bird who couldn't fly.

WG: Are there any wellness trends you're really into right now?

DS: I love that plant-based foods are more accessible. I don't think that's a trend that will go away. And while I'm not exactly all for full-on keto, I do like that healthy fats are popular now—such a far cry from the '90s when everyone was scared of fats! Gentle ways of moving your body, like with yoga and Pilates, I'm also really into. I hate to even call that a trend, but 15 years ago if you did yoga, people called you a hippie. Now, there's at least one yoga studio in every town. I love that!

Note: This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.

Speaking of wellness trends, here are the ones Well+Good predicts will totally take over this year. And if you're interested in trying an anti-inflammatory diet, here's how to build the perfect meal.

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