Houston is home to the latest trend in fashionable eating – unrefined. It is an approach to eating that eliminates foods that have been highly processed such as sweeteners, flour, salt, caffeine, dairy, and processed fats. Victory Meals was one the first retail outlest in the world offering unrefined meals, Before the opening, Victory Meals was a wellness service exclusively serving corporation Founder, Joan Ifland, a Doctor of Nutrition, was startled to hear that virtually all clients reported reductions in cravings, fatigue, grogginess and swelling. She expected to see improvements in blood pressure and blood glucose and she did. But then she also saw improvements in mood. “Clients were reporting that they were calmer, more patient and generally happier. I knew I had to make our meals available to the public and not just exclusively to workplaces.” Screen_Shot_2013-02-13_at_1.01.30_AM

Ifland now works with a variety of health goals including weight, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain, and irritable bowels. Ifland says, “whenever someone asks me if eating unrefined will help a particular problem, I just say, ‘let’s see!’ Almost inevitably, our clients report some improvement in health.”

Ifland started her own journey to an unrefined food plan in 1996 when she eliminated sweeteners, sugars and flour from her diet. Within a few weeks, her cravings and fatigue stopped and she started losing weight without being hungry. Then her allergies improved and finally she realized that she was no longer losing her temper. That got her hooked on a mission to find out what had happened to her.

“Basically, what I now believe is that I was addicted to refined carbohydrates in combination with caffeine, processed fats, salt and dairy. I believe it was a classic addiction similar to addiction to alcohol. I had the key characteristics of an addiction, i.e. cravings, eating more than intended, failed attempts to stop overeating, eating when I wasn’t hungry and eating fattening foods even though I was overweight.

She published the story of her first three years of recovery from refined carbohydrates in 1999. Sugars and Flours: How They Make Us Crazy, Sick and Fat has been in the top 3% of Amazon.com ever since. In the course of speaking about the book, Ifland developed a lay education practice for clients who wanted to eliminate refined carbohydrates from their diet. She began to see a pattern in the release from cravings, brain fog, irritability and depression. In 2004, Ifland went back to school to earn her PhD in ‘addictive nutrition.” She attracted a doctoral committee from both university faculty in both nutrition and addiction. With her committee, Ifland went on to publish the first diagnostic and clinical descriptions of refined food addiction in the academic press. Yale University and Georgetown Medical School have requested chapters for books edited at those schools. Her next paper will be on the topic of the role of cravings in driving food decisions.

Ifland is focused on cravings as the reason why people choose refined foods. She found research showing that cravings are easy to trigger and that they are powerful enough to overwhelm rational thought. It became apparent that helping people stay away from sources of triggers would also help them control poor food choices. So Victory Meals are delivered in insulated bags with ice and sensitive clients can take meals with them to avoid triggering food environments.

Ifland put her academic research to work in founding Victory Meals. She earned her MBA from Stanford in 1978 but hadn’t used it for many years. The education has come in handy and Victory Meals is thriving.

A huge asset of the company is its Chef, Jessica Lynn. Lynn earned her BS with a concentration in Hotel Management from Texas A&M and her degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, New York. She is also a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Her passion has been stirred by the challenge of making 5-Star meals without refined ingredients. She says, “Salt, sugar, flour and dairy are used to enhance flavors in traditional culinary work. At Victory Meals we allow the natural flavors of wholesome foods to shine through without the interference of refined ingredients. I love cooking this way.”

And the clients love it too. One client says, “This food is so beautiful; I forget I’m eating it because it’s healthy!” Entrees include traditional Fajitas and Stir-Fry but also gourmet creations such as Indian Shrimp with Sweet Potatoes. Victory Meals is positioning itself as a full-service Wellness Center with workshops, cooking classes and private coaching. Victory Meals is located at 300 Shepherd just north of Memorial Drive. Hours are 8-3p Monday through Thursday and other times by appointment. Call 713 446 3663 for more information.