Dan Churchill – Nutrition, Movement and Mindset Tips To Win The Day

Content by: Dan Churchill

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Dan Churchill to the podcast. Dan is an Australian born New York-based celebrity chef with a focus on good food as the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. With a master’s in exercise science, he’s also the co-founder of the restaurant Charley St, but it doesn’t stop there. He’s a TV host, best-selling author of multiple titles, and the host of The Epic Table podcast, where he connects with some of the world’s most remarkable thought leaders. In this episode, we discuss the best way to start our clean eating journey, the ingredients that could derail you, and a whole lot more. Over to Dan.

Audio Version

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher Questions asked during our conversation:

  • What does good health mean to you? (05:56)
  • Where would we start if we wanted to ‘clean-up’ our diet? (08:57)
  • Are there any particular ingredients that you tend to avoid? (13:25)

Get More of Dan Churchill

If you enjoyed this, then we think you’ll enjoy this interview:


Full Transcript

Stu

00:03 Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.

Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products, too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of superfoods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180Nutrition.com.au, and take a look. Okay, back to the show.

This week, I’m excited to welcome Dan Churchill to the podcast. Dan is an Australian born New York-based celebrity chef with a focus on good food as the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. With a master’s in exercise science, he’s also the co-founder of the restaurant Charley St, but it doesn’t stop there. He’s a TV host, best-selling author of multiple titles, and the host of The Epic Table podcast, where he connects with some of the world’s most remarkable thought leaders. In this episode, we discuss the best way to start our clean eating journey, the ingredients that could derail you, and a whole lot more. Over to Dan.

Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Dan Churchill to the podcast. Dan, mate, how are you?

Dan

01:33 Mate, I’m very well. As we were touching on earlier, this is not the first time we’ve actually met.

Stu

01:39 No.

Dan

01:40 It’s good to see you again [inaudible 00:01:41].

Stu

01:42 Exactly, right. It may be a decade or so, but we’re still doing what we’re doing, which is great, which is great.

Dan

01:48 Exactly, mate, exactly.

Stu

01:50 Mate, before we get into the conversation, first up for all of our listeners who may not be familiar with you and your work, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about what you do.

Dan

02:00 Yeah, sure, Stu. So, I’m a naturally born in Australia, been there most of my life, and about five years ago, I moved over to the States as a chef and author, and fortunate to get on to the media circuit here in TV, and evolved a, I guess, a brand in the performance chef game. So with my background, I’ve got a master’s in exercise science, so being able to tie that together with athletes from a cooking and nutrition standpoint was pretty unique. And that allowed me to be in partnerships with the likes of Under Armour and their athletes, and then other athletes along the way in the NBA, the NHL. And then throughout all this, part of what I do as being a chef is I have a restaurant with the intention of growing it and making the Australian, I guess, the Australian way of life and a lot of the mission driven stuff that we’re doing is more expose the world, you know, fly a flag if you will.

But yeah, I guess if you were to sum up what I do, I’m a performance chef who has a podcast and is involved in creating awareness for brands that I think is just that are doing some game-changing, innovative things.

Stu

03:09 Awesome. Fantastic. Well, I’m very keen to ask you your questions on the podcast later on as well, but I want to rewind to your, so master’s in exercise science. So clearly you’ve got a huge interest in that space. So why the shift for food? Where does that passion for food come from?

Dan

03:29 Yeah, I mean, mate, I think you can understand this in watching Jamie Oliver. My family used to do that just religiously, and that was always like a, I guess, a love, a love for the family together, a love for that engagement between all of us, despite our different hobbies. But then growing up, I was really, growing up on the Northern Beaches, Sydney heavily involved in sport, loved my rugby, but understanding the science behind how we move and our bodies and everything. At the time it sounded like I was really into it, but now knowing what I do now, it’s exceptional to be going into a whole new world, mate.

But essentially the time came when I finished my master’s degree and I was working with a couple of NRL teams, and they were struggling to kind of, well, the athletes were, when nutritionist sat down with the athlete and athlete was like, “Well, what are you talking about by getting this and this together, like this amount of carbs amount of protein?” And I was sitting there and I’d done my master’s degree, so I knew what the nutritionist was talking about, but I also knew what they were trying to get across, and being a young bloke, I knew how to talk to an athlete and make it relatable. So that’s what I did. I essentially made these recipes for these athletes make it more relatable. That’s how Dude Food came up and that’s how you and I first got acquainted.

And then from there it kind of evolved, mate. So I really understood that there’s a unique way to speak to not just athletes, but individuals. And so I think I started out more in the guy space, helping them cook more, making that an empowerment to have a dude through that cookbook, essentially be a figurehead for something that is such a lifestyle, a skillset that we should have.

And then it evolved probably more so into the food that I genuinely was cooking. So, rather than go straight into healthy cooking for guys, I made it so that the first barrier was cooking, so get guys to cook, and the second next level is to understand how to actually cook in a ways that’s probably better for us, and that’s what I loved, because I was taking a form of cooking I loved and I didn’t think was done yet, and then creating in a world is much more relatable. And so I evolved through my credibility in my studies to more of a chef figure, but it took me understanding the success of the first book to realize, well, I need to actually, backed up my credibility with the science side, now have to backup my credibility in the kitchen, and so I had to go and then work in kitchens, which was what I did for some time.

Stu

05:56 Brilliant. So, I’m intrigued to understand what good health means to you then, because you come at it from the exercise science perspective and the nutritional perspective, and you run a podcast as well, and I’ve looked at some of the guests that you’ve had in your podcasts and it’s wild and wacky from longevity, psychology, mindset, all that sphere, which I guess feeds into the holistic picture of health. What does it actually mean to you and how do you tackle good health?

Dan

06:29 Ah, great question, man. I think health in a way is evolve, well, it definitely has evolved from, to things being paleo to gluten-free to starting to take out refined sugars to now I think looking at health in a way that studies are supporting, really weedy science essentially for making it really, again, that authentic relatable nature.

So for example, health to me is a combination, I always says, combination of your social, your physical, your mental, and I guess your psychological, your happiness, all working together in that happy cycle. So ultimately if you’re happy, you are healthy. So I don’t want to take that away from the science that people do, and to be honest, the articles and the stuff that I read, but ultimately I think that’s the everyday individual, that’s a good way to look at how healthy you are, because if those things are working quite well, you’re pretty happy, because you can see a bodybuilder and they may look healthy because they have very minimal fat. They look very, obviously, strong, but they’re very unhappy inside due to the course of a work they’ve just put in and and sacrifices. And that’s a perfect example. Obviously want the win, but they may not be the happiest in the world despite what their body’s telling them.

And the other side of it, the very weedy side is what you’re talking about. I get guests on the show who talk about circadian rhythm, we talk about sleep, the way that our brain works and functions, and that, to me, is the extent, like the far extent of health, and the reason why I get them on is because if we hear that side, then we can break it down to a point where it meets in the middle of everyone to kind of understand. That’s what I love to do. So hearing about how these specialists are saying we should be in bed for nine hours so we have eight hours of sleep, it’s like, well, I know me. I’m a pretty. I’m an extremist when it comes to health. I’m not doing that. But I know that hearing that helps us motivated to realize what we should be doing. And sleep’s a big factor, mate. As, obviously it relates to circadian rhythm, but understanding our brain health, and the second brain with the gut and the gut health and all these kinds of things, mate, it fascinates me. And I know it sounds so intense and in a way it’s kind of intimidating, but I guess that’s what people like yourself and myself are there to do, to help break down barriers for people, right?

Stu

08:50 Totally. Well, health can be the deepest rabbit hole, right? It can just take you into so many different tangents.

Dan

08:56 That’s it.

Stu

08:57 And with so many bright thinkers, I guess, in any given sphere, whether it be sleep, longevity, nutrition, paleo, vegan, the list goes on. And so I’m keen to understand how that relates then to the ingredients that you use when you cook, and your, I guess, your mindset in taking what you’ve learned and the information that you’ve accumulated and continue to accumulate via the podcasts into your recipes, because right now, as a nation, we could be fearful of sugar. We’re fearful of gluten. We’re confused about whether we should be eating more vegetables or whether we should be eating more meat, vegetable oils, polyunsaturated, and fatty acids, and things like that now are being shown to be questionable, good fats, healthy fats, and all you want to do is create beautiful recipes that people love and enjoy. Where do you start?

Dan

10:01 Makes it a challenge, doesn’t it?

Stu

10:01 It does.

Dan

10:02 Yeah, look. Oh, wow. It’s funny, because I grew up in a world where it kind of was transitioning into that period of, well carbohydrates were then seen as the enemy. And so I evolved in this low carb Palaeolithic kind of thing when I first started coming out as a teenager. and now you’re right, it’s kind of changing, and not necessarily in a bad or good way, but if there’s one thing that I, well there’s two things that I always lead with this question. It’s one, and it’s such an annoying thing to answer with, but we are all different, because there’s two parts of us. We’ve got our genotype and phenotype. So, obviously we’re born with our genes. We can’t change that. But there’s studies, there’s guy had on by the name of Tim Spector. He’s an epidemiologist and certain studies genes, and he talked about that despite, twins, he studies the thing with the twins registry in the UK,

11:00 Okay. You talked about genes. Now you said you can be a twin and obviously have the same genes as your brother or sister. But if you studied both those individuals over a course of time, they will develop different firstly physical features and also gut microbiome, and that’s the result of what they eat and their lifestyle choices.

And so it’s very interesting to note that our bio-individuality is so important when it comes to taking account what’s good and bad for us. Some people, and I have this with athletes, they want to be plant-based, but unfortunately, through what we’ve seen with their gut, they cannot perform as well if they are completely plant-based. So we do as best as we can to be what they want while still getting the same effects. Conversely, we see athletes that don’t do very well who are not plant-based and want to not be plant-based.

So I think for me, the answer is our gut is so complex and is made up of all these fantastic microbiome that we should support, but also understand and comprehend, at the end of the day, we ourselves have this beautiful colony that, despite what we want, we also have to support what it wants and that’s what helps dictate a lot of our essentially our brain function, our cognitive function as a result, what our physical abilities are. So that’s part one.

The second part is that whilst we have the bio-individuality, I think there’s always going to be evolving studies on something. And so when we were looking at low carb, then high-fat to now the gluten free versus everything, I think the one thing we have that has, without a doubt, been shown across every study for me, I haven’t seen one that doesn’t, is that plant diversity is the key.

So it doesn’t matter if you eat meat or don’t. Just make sure that throughout your week you have a lot of diversity of plants, and that is what supports your gut. You got microbiome, the bacteria, the good bacteria that eliminates the bad bacteria. And then in turn provides, what we call short chain fatty acids, which are important for so many different things like [inaudible 00:02:16], which does a number of different things. But ultimately two things, bio-individuality and to have plant diversity. Whether or not you eat plants or not, that’s the two key things to remember.

Stu

13:25 Brilliant. Fantastic. And so pointers then if we wanted to clean up our diet. We decide, you know what, I’m going to make a vested interest just to try and get healthy. What would your key points be in terms of where to start and maybe some ingredients just to dodge, throw out?

Dan

13:43 Yeah, definitely. And I think this is great with what you guys do, mate, minimize refined sugar. If anything, cut it out completely. Stick to the whole foods as best as you can. I think there are two key ones to work on. As I said, plant diversity is key. And then the third one is always, as I said, kind of listen to your gut and work out what works for you. I have found that personally, I can have a lot of plants and it does wonders for me, but I still just due to my body type, if I at least have a really nice wild caught fish or a nice farm-grazed, beautifully-harvested chicken, it does wonders for me.

Now, I don’t have to have that every single day, but ultimately for me, I think that comes down to the key of bio-individuality. So if you want to try and be healthier, remove refined sugar, eat with plant diversity and plenty of color, and then think about what works for you. And this is the same, the dispute whether people can actually digest chickpeas with the component of lectins. Now you can. Some people can’t. And that’s just simple, but you’ll know that after you have hummus or an extra serving of chickpeas, whether you’re having an upset stomach or whatever.

So as I said, when you go shopping, just to relate to that, you obviously want to minimize going through the aisles as best as possible. You want to make sure that in your trolley, you’ve got probably 70% or 75% is colorful ingredients, and that’s the best way to look at it or whole food based.

Stu

15:15 Awesome. So run us through a typical day of eating for you. So you’re springing out of bed in the morning, no doubt, 5:30 in the morning with a skip in your step.

Dan

15:27 Okay, mate, yeah.

Stu

15:29 What do you do? What do you head for?

Dan

15:31 So there’s two types of days I have. There’s days when I’m intermittent fasting, and there’s days that I’m not. Now, I don’t intermittent fasting every single day of my month. I generally intermittent fast maybe four to five days of a month. And those days I’ll still probably eat the same amount. I’ll just squeeze it into a 11:30 until 7:30 cycle. I will have a black coffee on those days. But typically, like right now, first day back today, New York City opened up gyms at 33%. So I’m back to my old routine prior to COVID. So I’m technically back into a new routine.

So today, got out of bed, gym at 5:30. I had a black coffee before I hit the gym. And then post-workout, I’ll have a smoothie that I’ve got flaxseed, spinach, banana, oat milk, chia. What else did it have in it? Almond butter as well. Give that a whirl. Get to the restaurant, and I’ll probably eat my first whole foods, which are some sort of egg situation at about an hour after that. If you’re not intermittent fasting and you’re eating, particularly after a high-intensity interval training, I’m a big fan of getting as much energy into you whole food-wise as quickly as possible that you can stomach.

Then after that I’ll have another coffee. And then probably about two hours later, I’ll have a beautiful bowl of some sort of protein or chicken or just a completely plant-based with all the seasonal farm greens we get for the day from the restaurant. And in the afternoon, I’ll probably smash. I’ve been smashing lately. We have this yogurt, this coconut-based yogurt, which is so good. And that’s with a, we’ve got this granola that’s seed based. And so I make that. And then dinners, generally speaking, what about tonight? I’ve got turkey meatballs, I believe [crosstalk 00:00:17:23].

Stu

17:23 Fantastic. I like the sound of that. You’re making me hungry. And you mentioned getting up. Gyms are open or at least to a capacity as well in your training. What sort of training are you doing?

Dan

17:37 Yeah, look, interestingly, right now I’m usually training for a marathon. I usually train for the New York City Marathon. So I’m usually getting a little bit skinnier, but right now the New York City Marathon has been canceled. So I’m taking advantage of this time of year to be big.

Stu

17:53 Getting big. I like it.

Dan

17:55 Yeah. So I’ve got a 12-week program right now where, for fun. I’ll do at metcons. So I’ll do some CrossFit metcons, but generally speaking, I’m starting to put on a bit more heavier mass, which my skillset isn’t in strength from adding weight to a plate situation. My skillset is my engine. So I’ve got a really good engine, but I’m not strong. So that’s a challenge for me. So I think I’m not keen to be strong. I’m more keen to just see that I … Well, I’m not keen to be strong for a certain reason other than I want to be strong for once in my life and see if I can actually lift some certain weight.

Stu

18:31 Brilliant. And I always reference a quote that a longevity specialist shared with me on a podcast as well. And he said, “Muscle is the organ of longevity.” And I love that. And it kind of makes sense. Strong in some way, shape or form, I think equals resilience, and we all want to be resilient, right?

Dan

18:52 Absolutely. Was that David Sinclair by any chance?

Stu

8:56 No it wasn’t David Sinclair. It was Frank Shallenberger.

Dan

18:58 Shallenberger. That’s great.

Stu

19:01 Yeah. I know. He is a bit a … No, I’ve read David’s book, and I see that you’ve had him on the podcast as well. And he’s definitely a mover and a shaker in that world.

Dan

19:15 Yeah. They’re always interesting individuals. David’s a great, great individual. And the work that him and his team are doing is just fantastic, but you’re right. It opens your eyes to their way of thinking, which opens your eyes to what you may have thought in the past. And the same with the thoughts of, should I be intermittent fasting more, or have I been looking at my muscle purely from a strength perspective and not from a longevity perspective? You think muscle, most people think protein strength. To be honest, that’s what everyone thinks, but there’s so much more to it, which is exciting for you and I had to kind of dive into in the work that we do.

Stu

19:51 Oh, I love it. I love it. And do you have any other health hacks that you dial into? So you’ve spoken about fasting, strength training. What about the other bits, like maybe meditation, sauna, heat and cold therapy, things like that?

Dan

20:09 Yeah. Big on those kind of things. So for me, the ideal situation for me was I’d get a place in New York City that would have my own sauna and cold therapy. I’m working towards it at some point. Give me a year or two, but yeah, look, I’m big on both. I think when I was doing my master’s degree, cold and hot therapy was always seen in recovery, but we only kind of touched the surface on it. We looked at it as like, well, you jump between the two. So you use the blood to remove the toxins and help with the lymphatic system.

What we know now is the effect that cold therapy does on providing laser-like focus by upregulating epinephrin and other forms of testosterone and things like that. And adrenaline, all that what’s going on, which is really exciting. On the other side of it, and obviously there’s the brown fats that they activate and shiver to increase your metabolism. So really big on that. So I’ll definitely jump.

So we’ve got an ice machine at the restaurant, so actually part of my workout will be carrying two buckets of ice I’d say about 800 meters to my house and up five flights of stairs because I live in a New York City apartment in Soho that there’s no elevator. But I’ll chuck it in the bath, and I’ll do some submersion in there.

So I’ll do cold therapy, and then conversely on days I’ll jump in the sauna at the gym. And I’m really big on understanding the benefits of the heat on the body, how that can help with heat shock proteins and preventing Alzheimer’s and those kinds of things as well. I’m huge, particularly right now, on sleep and understanding sleep and how to best practice sleep. And sleep and breathing are two things that are so free to us, but have equally

22:00 … clearly such a big impact on our health and wellness. So to breathe correctly, and I had Patrick McKeown on, he has a book called Oxygen Advantage, and learning to breathe correctly is so impactful for our development, for, obviously, oxygen we need for energy, but also having a lack of energy for what we’re actually producing can impact everything, from our brain and obviously the catalystic reactions that has.

But, for me, the sleep and the breath are just huge. Having the right amount of sleep, going into sleep the right way, not having a very hot room, being in a black state, avoiding blue light, having blue light blocking glasses, and then getting up in the morning, and walking over to my window, and just staring into the daylight. Even at 5:30, I’m trying to get as much light as I can, and if I don’t have that, I use an infrared.

So hacks for me, yeah, cold therapy, sauna, heat shock protein benefits, and then also making sure that I’m optimizing my sleep preparation as best as possible, and then getting up in the morning and getting to sunlight, if not infrared light, as quickly as possible.

Stu

23:12 Mate, that’s fantastic advice, and I completely agree with everything that you’ve said. I’ve got an infrared sauna out in the back garden, and I sit in that probably five out of the seven days. I track sleep with an Oura Ring, looking at things like HRV and a few other metrics, and when I jump in the sauna the night before, normally do 30 minutes at 60 degrees, it typically gives me an extra hours’ deep sleep, and you wake up in the morning feeling reborn. It’s just an amazing feeling.

So there’s so much to that, and again, it’s all just little hacks. That, into cold shower, back into heat, timing with food. You mentioned sleep routine, as well, which is so important because many of us can just be staring at our phones till we nod off, telling our bodies that it’s still daytime because of the blue light that’s shining in our eyes. But, yeah, it can be profound, and ultimately, my end goal, and it sounds like your end goal, is long-lasting health, right? We want to be healthy until-

Dan

24:19 Mate, honestly I’m so stoked to hear you’ve got your own infrared. First, I’m very jealous. Next time I’m back home, I’m coming over.

Stu

24:27 Come up, mate. Come up.

Dan

24:29 Yeah. But you’re right, and it’s not just lifespan, it’s health span. I learned that from David. David talks about that very specifically. It’s not just living for a long time, but it’s having a healthy life for a long time. So there’s no point living to 100 if you’re only able to live it to 80, and then in the last 20 years, you’re not really able to do much. I want to live to 100 and have a health span of 100 years old.

Stu

24:51 Totally, absolutely. So the podcasts, so again, dial back masters in exercise nutrition, fully into food, you’re, like, published author, you’ve got restaurants galore, and you’ve got everything going on this health space, and then the podcast, again, takes you on a tangent. So what can people expect from the podcast, The Epic Table?

Dan

25:14 Mate, it’s interesting. When I post to social media, it’s definitely a different type of audience, and I think I’ve always loved that medium of creating recipes, flavors, tastiness, in a very short method. But if I’m trying to get this kind of conversation across in a longer-form manner, where I’m going into the weeds on understanding our health and wellness, I couldn’t do that on that platform, but I can on a podcast.

For so many years, people didn’t realize that I love this space this much. They just thought I was someone who’s very active and loved being in health, and obviously being a chef is healthy, and that’s totally fine. But for me, I love having these conversations, when I had … sitting down with some of the best experts at the coffee shop, and I was able to talk to them, in the weeds, and I’d learn. I’m like, “People have got to hear this.”

So I started the podcast for that reason, so I could have these longer-form discussions, and that’s where I get … The podcast, The Epic Table’s, all about how I can bring people from around the world, and they can provide resources in how we can improve our human performance. So whether it be experts as performance coaches for Formula One drivers, and hearing what they do, versus neuroscientists, circadian rhythm experts, people who have developed technology, such as Will Ahmed, who’s the founder of WHOOP, who are quite in a world the same as Oura Ring.

To me, it’s fascinating, and I get people hitting me up … Here’s what’s exciting. In the world that we live in, most people are drawn towards weight loss. That’s a fact, that’s totally fine, that’s what initially drives a lot of people. But after weight loss, I think people are starting to go, “Well, I’ve lost weight, but I want to learn more about,” as you just said, Stu, is, “having a longer healthy lifespan.”

So these are the key factors, in my opinion, where we can now control to be part of; sleep, breath, understanding temperatures that we’re putting our bodies in, obviously the food that we are eating, and that’s what this podcast is all about, mate, and yeah, it’s exciting.

Stu

27:22 Love it. Yeah, it is so exciting, and oftentimes, I’ll come at it from a purely individual standpoint, in terms of, I’m going to use this as a vessel to understand what I want to know, because I know what makes me curious. I can share that to my audience and they’ll get something from it, too, but-

Dan

27:41 I think that’s one of the best things, Stu. I generally get people on the podcast, selfishly, for me. I’ve had David Sinclair. I’m like, “I want to know about longevity, so I’m going to get him on,” and I just had a chat with him. That’s the best part, isn’t it?

Stu

27:41 Yeah, totally.

Dan

27:55 It’s like, generally, you are interested in chatting about something, so I’m like, “All right, I’m going to get this person on.” It just so happens that thousands of other people want to hear it as well.

Stu

28:04 Exactly right. Exactly right. I love it. So, any particular podcasts guests that have stood out above others, in terms of the advice that they’ve given, that have made you think, “Oh, wow. That piece of advice is a game changer”? I’ll give you an example of one for me, and this was Bruce Lipton, who wrote a book called The Biology of Belief, who perfectly illustrated the way that the power of our thoughts could actually influence our biology, to change chemical reactions that could actually make us healthier, just by the thoughts that we’re thinking. He explained it far better than I ever could, but I just thought, “Wow, that actually makes sense.” Then I started to get it. Yeah, positive mindset, it does change things.

Dan

28:56 Absolutely, and that fascinates me. Look, every individual I have on the show, I’m blessed to have, and I think I always take away … Everyone says, “What’s one thing you learned from this?” but I’m like, “I learned so much. It’s amazing.” Things that are coming to mind, though, Dr. Andrew Huberman is a neuroscientist out of Stanford, and the work he is doing is groundbreaking. Him and his team are looking at how you can potentially repair damaged neurons in eyes, so that’s really exciting to me.

But what he talks about, and probably similar to what you were just touching upon, was how the perception … So how our brain works is the perception. We have thoughts, feelings, we have all the senses, but the perception of what we have has a profound impact on our state of mind, and that’s something we can control. So when we perceive, and he used this as an example on the episode, when we perceive the excitement that you are walking down to a coffee shop and you’re ready for your morning coffee, that perception unleashes so much positivity through your hormones, your endocrine system, and has you prepared, has your body prepared, in such a positive state for the next phase of that morning.

He talks about, conversely, the perception you have for walking towards the cafe in a negative frame of mind, going, “Oh, I’m trudging to get a coffee,” and how that has such an adverse reaction, negative impact on the hormones. It’s exactly what you were just talking about. The perception of how we see life can have such a profound impact on our health, and I find that so fascinating.

So you look at, this as an example, if you’re an optimistic person, generally speaking, you’ve got … you generally feel healthy because you look at life in the half glass full, and that’s a perception that you control. Conversely, those people who are a bit more negative and pessimistic, they struggle with certain things, struggle to handle situations, struggle to handle problems and speed bumps. That’s totally fine, because they have other ways to overcome that.

But that’s one area, I was just like, “Wow, that is so fascinating.” The human brain is so complex, yet we have the ability, just by our own perception, to alter that. That was awesome. I will say, you will also learn a dramatic … I learned so much, like a student, from Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, who’s The Gut Health MD.

Stu

31:27 Dr. B., I had him on the podcast about three months ago, super passionate, and yes, it opens up just another question mark, at least in my mind, as well as, oh, my word, there’s so many possibilities to change our health, just by the food that we put in our mouth.

Dan

31:48 It’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s absolutely crazy.

Stu

31:50 It is. It is. Wow. Fantastic. So given podcast guests, everything that you’ve gleaned from that, what have you taken from that and pulled into your day, that I would deem it to be a non-negotiable, something that you have to do every single day, whether it might be the open up the curtain, staring at the sun, reset your circadian rhythm, all that kind of stuff. What-

Dan

32:17 Yeah, that’s a great question. I said coffee, right? I’ve got to have coffee.

Stu

32:21 Yeah. Fair enough.

Dan

32:26 Let’s see. I definitely think plant diversity is huge. Sleep. Look, I cannot tell you how I used to be a sleep when you’re dead kind of person. I would have done so much better in high … I did pretty good in high school, and I got to the degree I wanted to get, but I could have done so much better, knowing to not cram and then sleep two hours before an exam, because now I look at sleep with so much more respect, to the point that I’m now preparing for bed two hours before bed, and I’m eating

33:00 … well before bedtime. I’m making sure my workouts aren’t too late. So I think that’s definitely had a profound impact on my life and, yeah, definitely plant diversity. They’re the two big things I would say because they’re two controllable things really well.

Stu

33:12 Yeah. Look, fantastic. And I think if you get your sleep right, then everything else tends to fall into place because you’re not governed by making the wrong choices during the day because you’re on an insulin roller coaster because you’re sleep deprived and you don’t feel like exercising because you’ve got no energy and you’re perhaps thinking gloomy thoughts. But you just don’t feel positive when you feel jet lagged.

Dan

33:41 Oh mate.

Stu

33:45 I went through a period where I got my exercise programming so wrong and this was early CrossFit days and I’d burned out my adrenals and I could not sleep for about a year and my life fell apart. And so that really led me down the rabbit hole of understanding exactly what we need to do to fix that and stay on top of it and then just keep optimizing that from this point forward.

I’m mindful of the time but, before we go into some wrap-up questions, I’d love for you just to take us through your sleep routine, because it sounds like it’s very similar to mine, but I think these little hacks and habits and tips and tricks are game changers.

Dan

34:28 Yeah, I’m more than happy to share this. It’s been really helpful for me. I don’t have an Oura ring. I’ve got Whoop. But I’ve heard Oura does a really good job of understanding sleep. I wouldn’t know and Whoop is really good at truly understanding HRV but, irrespective, I use a lot of my Whoop to help determine my recovery. So what I’ll do, I’ll make sure that a workout does not finish later than 7:00. And if that workout goes a little bit past that, it’s not intense. I’m eating by 7:30 at the absolute latest. And as of lately, which is very challenging with the NBA playoffs on, I’m in bed by around 9:45, 9:30. I’m very fortunate that once I go horizontal, I’m very good at falling asleep.

So there’s oftentimes where my lovely partner and I, she’ll put on a movie and we’ll be on the couch and I’m like, yeah, ready to go, be so good. And then I’m lying down on her lap and all of a sudden I’m out.

Stu

35:44 You’re gone.

Dan

35:46 So I’ve just got this … I’ve actually got a resting heart rate of 31.

Stu

35:49 Wow.

Dan

35:50 Yeah, it’s crazy. So it doesn’t take long for me to chill out. I can tell you that much. But to that point, I can go to bed around 9:30 and know I’m going to be going to sleep around 10:00.

Stu

36:03 Do you stay asleep? Are you good at … like can you go through?

Dan

36:07 Yeah. Looking at my studies, I would say I think everyone does wake up that you don’t know, but like I don’t go to the bathroom. I know I drink a ton of water but, for some reason, unless I’m sleep walking and don’t know it, I don’t need to go to the bathroom which is good. I generally am going right through unless, and this is the rare occasion, I know if I’ve … It’s not alcohol because I rarely drink. And on the occasions I do drink, it doesn’t affect me too much. It’s just my morning hangover. But the ones that really affect me, I think if I’ve had something, it’s like dairy. I can stomach dairy, no problem. But for some reason, I wake up in the middle of the night, not knowingly, but my Whoop tells me it does when it’s digesting it any time too late which is very interesting.

The other way is if I have to get up super early for something and my brain won’t switch off knowing that if you do not get up early. It generally happens every time before a morning show, a GMA or something where you have to be there super early. And if you don’t get your alarm, you’re screwed. So my brain’s not ticking off. That’s probably what happened.

Stu

37:20 Got it. Brilliant. And strategies maybe for addressing the monkey mind because like you’re clearly a busy guy, right? You’ve got businesses and books and podcasts and all of the other requests that are put on you, demands left, right and center. You must be thinking about things a lot. How do you switch that off?

Dan

37:43 It’s very interesting. So before bed, I’ll have a notepad. I have a note pad. I carry my note pad everywhere. If I have an idea, I write it down and that just helps. So before bed, I don’t have blue blocking sunglasses or glasses, but if I needed to I’d wear them. I just make sure I don’t leave this with me any time. That’s why I use a notepad, but the notepad helps me because I used to have so many ideas and so many crazy things and that’s why I’m a creative. So I have an idea and the hardest thing for me is saying … the challenging thing over time is saying no. Right? And so like writing down the idea, at least I know I can remember it for the morning.

I will say that I’m fortunate to now have people around me like a team that can support me in keeping things on track and also like the restaurant, I’m up there as much as operationally which is great. I’m helping grow the creative vision behind it. For the content side of the podcast and everything. I’ve got a team that helps coordinate a lot of things there but, ultimately, the notebook is massive for me because whilst I can have all these people around me, unless I shut down my monkey mind through notebook, meditating and then also just watching … Honestly, I look after my brain by watching sport or watching a movie or hitting the gym, something that’s going to turn my brain off.

Stu

39:03 Yes.

Dan

39:04 And, honestly, watching sport does that for me and sometimes it’s honestly looking up news on sport. That’s honestly what it is. I just go on to the tangent and it just relaxes. But there’s still times in a day, like today I had a day where I was so active yesterday with a bunch of different projects that today, when I finally got to sit down and look at my computer, I’m like I’m blanking because I’ve got so much stuff going on. So it still does happen. But I would say meditation, notebook and getting … What do you call it? Brain … I’m having a brain dump now thinking about it. Sorry, brain fog thinking about it but essentially brain dead movies or-

Stu

39:41 Totally, totally. And there’s a lot of science behind that as well, and I think it’s called visual overwriting and I use it like I watch trash Netflix and that’s just great. I don’t have to think and it just shuts me off. It shuts off the thinking brain because you’re literally just absorbing and it works wonders for sleep.

Dan

39:59 Mate, I’ve got a question for you. Have you ever been in that state where you’re like you’ve been thinking and being analytical all day and then you sit down with your partner to watch Netflix and they decided a show, a documentary. The documentary, it’s something you have to listen to. You want to but you know it’s not the right time and you have to be like, “I actually would love to watch that although I’d rather watch Entourage or something dumb right now.” Not dumb because I love Entourage. I’m friends with Adrian so that’s a great, great movie, a great show. But like essentially something that’s going to make me brain dead for an hour or two.

Stu

39:59 Totally.

Dan

39:59 Has that happened to you?

Stu

40:36 Totally. Oh, like all the time, all the time. And I always gravitate to Cramp on Netflix because if I do put on anything that requires any semblance of thought, it just doesn’t go in because I’m processing other stuff at the time. So yeah, I will gravitate to like sci-fi, shoot ’em ups, car chases, all of the above. Yeah. I just love it.

Dan

41:01 Coming soon, Stu’s top 10 Netflix to be brain dead for a while.

Stu

41:05 Exactly right. Fantastic. Well, mate, we are almost done from a time perspective. So I’m really keen to understand what’s next. What have you got in the pipeline?

Dan

41:18 Well, mate, we’ve got restaurant expansion which is pretty exciting. So we’re pretty close to signing a second lease and, interestingly, it sounds like a crazy thing to do during COVID but we’re being bullish because rent’s cheap right now. So we’re taking advantage of the benefits long term, but also I’m launching a product. Mate, you’ve done this. I’m excited to be a part of the family of CPG finally, but we’re launching a whole food plant-based product, which is essentially to promote how good plants are and not to be an alternative, but just to demonstrate how good plants are so you can start the day wit my Instagram because that’s coming soon. And yeah, I’ve got another book coming out and you should see more shows and all the rest of the stuff that I do on content and the podcast. So yeah, stay up to date with all of them.

Stu

42:08 Boy, you need to watch more Netflix. That’s for sure. You’ve got too much going on. And for everybody that wants to find out more, wants to dig deep into the podcast, buy the books, learn more about you and your journey, where can we send them?

Dan

42:23 Mate, best is probably Instagram. So dan_churchill. You can always head to the website, just danchurchill.com, and the podcast is The Epic Table. So just like where you listen to this awesome podcast, just type in The Epic Table or Dan Churchill and you’ll find it there.

Stu

42:38 Fantastic. Mate, really enjoyed the conversation. Hopefully, we will meet up in person again in another 10 years. So all of us, 2030, we’ll put it in the calendar.

Dan

42:49 Yeah, that’d be fantastic.

Stu

42:49 [inaudible 00:42:51].

Dan

42:50 Look, mate, honestly, I’m holding you to that.

Stu

42:55 Okay. Thank you so much, mate. Really appreciate your time.

Dan

42:58 It’s been awesome. I appreciate it.

Stu

42:59 Awesome.

 

Dan Churchill

This podcast features Dan Churchill. He is one of the world’s most exciting celebrity chefs. Now based in New York, Dan is regularly featured on Good Morning America, on ABC’s The Chew and on The Food Network. As a result he has reached an audience in excess of 10 million... Read More
  • Share:

    Want More Articles Like This?

    Sign-up for the 180 Nutrition mailing list to receive the latest news and updates.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *