Seamus Mullen: Health as a Choice

6 years ago by

Sometimes to find your health you have to almost lose it. That’s what happened to Seamus Mullen, the renowned New York chef who nearly died of an autoimmune disorder after years of ignoring his body’s subtle signals. He is my guest today and I can’t wait for you to hear him speak passionately of food, culture and health; three things he mixes with passion in his new book, Real Food Heals.

[podcast_episode episode=”264480″ ]

On growing up in a rural environment…
We didn’t have a toilet until I was 16. It was a pretty rustic existence. We had an outhouse, which is basically a shit house in the woods!

On wishing he had a more suburban life…
Growing up in a really rural environment, I got Thrasher magazine and was yearning to be a skater and live in California. Here I was riding a skateboard down a gravel road because there was no pavement anywhere to be found!

On the importance of growing up around animals…
We were very involved in everything. There is something really amazing about growing up that closely with animals. You have a real sense of what it means to be a part of that cycle of life. There’s a responsibility that comes with it. I don’t know any farmer or hunter who actually enjoys killing animals. There’s no joy.



On how his grandma influenced his path in life…
I had an amazing moment with my grandmother. We were going on a wine tasting trip and I always heeded her advice. She told me, “You should cook, Seamus, that’s what makes you happiest. Figure out a way too cook and focus on being the best cook you can be.” So I made a decision I was going to be a chef.

On the deterioration of his health…
My body started breaking down in my late 20s and then in my early 30s, I felt like shit all the time. My hands were swollen all the time, so were my feet. It got to the point that I was having really serious medical issues. I had a really big tumor in the back of my neck. My body hurt, my bones ached, I had a headache all the time, my vision would be blurry, but the worst was that every couple of weeks, I’d have an attack in one of my joints and every time I would have to go to the emergency room.

On he coped after finding out about his health…
I felt very sorry for myself, like a victim, and I was really angry. And I was angry for a long time. The next few years were really very hard. I was in severe chronic pain for years, and that in and of itself erodes your being and feeds anger.

Seamus Mullen: Health as a Choice

On how a functional medicine doctor finally helped him change his life…
He told me “You’re going to have to do all the work, Seamus, it’s going to be on you. You have to get up everyday, think about this, make every decision based around trying to be a healthier person, but I’m going to give you some rules and guidelines and coach you along the way. But I’m not fixing you, you’re going to fix yourself.”

On the empowerment of responsibility…
It put the responsibility of getting better on me, or getting sicker. I held some power, had some autonomy over my own health. That was really empowering and the most positive thing that could have happened to me. That was the moment I stopped thinking of myself as a victim.

On knowing you’re not alone…
The single most important thing that I can put out into the world is a sense of hope that we can all make positive changes in our lives through the decisions we make, the behavioral choices we make. And that if you’re suffering, you’re not alone, there are people who are going through the same or similar situations.

Seamus Mullen: Health as a Choice

Other Things Discussed…
Don Quixote
Jean-Georges Restaurant
Dr. Frank Lipman
Burgos, Spain

Special thanks to the Freehand New York and Studio. Be sure to check out Seamus’s restaurants, Tertulia and El Colmado, both in NYC. His latest book, Real Food Heals: Eat to Feel Younger and Stronger Every Day, is out now, and for regular updates, check out his Instagram and Facebook!


Add yours
  • First off — GOOD MORNING!! That is one dashing man with a mission! Secondly, as a person with a family full of auto immune disorder it is good to see someone fighting back effectively. Your health, within bounds, should be your religion.

    I’m putting his restaurants on my list when I return to NYC in November…

    Thank you for the great and passionate Monday morning interview!

  • Sunny Side February, 5 2018, 10:19 / Reply

    C’est archi frustrant et trop vague ! Ces conseils sont passe partout, tellement américains, yeah on va le faire ! c’est agaçant. On ne sort pas d’une telle maladie uniquement avec des pensées positives. ceci dit bravo d’avoir traversé cette épreuve . Sorry si je suis aussi “picky”!

  • The way he methodically tested his diet by removing certain elements at a time is much more reasonable than just deciding to eliminate whole groups of foods because it’s the trend.
    Another excellent interview, with really insightful questions that allowed for equally deep and thoughtful answers.

  • Bonsoir, merci pour ce partage ! Je regrette mais comprends que ce soit difficile de traduire mais mon anglais est vraiment très très moyen et je ne pense pas avoir tout compris, est-ce que vous pensez à une solutions bientôt ou ce n’est pas envisageable ? En tout cas un grand merci pour toutes ces rencontres “virtuelles” qui ouvre au monde ! Laure

  • Jorge Alexandre Teixeira February, 6 2018, 2:30 / Reply


  • DebraKim1956 February, 6 2018, 5:42 / Reply

    Interesting article about which I need to reflect further.

    On a more superficial level could we have links on where to buy the divine pullover and trousers Garance is wearing?

  • Seamus is a great man, I’m going to get his book and see what this nutritious deliciousness is all about! Would also love to know G’s outfit details!

  • Veronique Toffolon-Tessier February, 6 2018, 8:45 / Reply

    It was absolutely delicious, deeply inspiring and a huge great help.
    Thank you seamus and Garance

  • La vie est rarement parfaite, mais c’est toujours vachement bien !
    Réapprendre à s’aimer, reprendre le contrôle et prendre ses responsabilités vis à vis de soi même. Votre lutte fait partie de votre histoire !
    Merci pour ce partage !

  • Great post !
    If you don’t have your health , not much else matters.
    Dress The Part

  • The link will n iTunes doesn’t bring you to the website … on all of this year’s pardon my french and pocket pardon my french podcasts … Sometimes to find your health you have to almost lose it. That’s what happened to Seamus Mullen, Garance’s guest today and the renowned New York chef who nearly died of an autoimmune disorder after years of ignoring his body’s subtle signals. You’ll hear him speak passionately of food, culture and health; three things he mixes with passion in his new book, Real Food Heals. For photos visit Pardon My French is released every Monday on iTunes. not … oops !!!

  • Veronica February, 9 2018, 5:35

    thanks for bringing this to our attention! working on getting it fixed. x

  • Dont goopify yourselves please, though I know that is the intention here. Can we talk about health insurance and teaching people who cant afford expensive produce to be able to afford fresh food that hasnt been sugarified? We need to get off this privilege horse! Of course successful driven people fall sick and have lives like everyone else. One thing money cant do is stop your body from aging and suffering, but what it should also do is use its power to work for those who really need it.

  • Garance, I love everything you do, but pleeaaaase stop interrupting your guests so often!!!

  • Great interview, Garance. Wish we had the opportunity to ask questions. I’ll add Seamus Mullens’ book to my list of books to read for this year. Thanks!

  • This episode was hard to get through. Almost fifty minutes of his background? I listened up to twenty minutes and then started skipping until he started talking about his medical issues. Even then there wasn’t much info. He changed his diet by cutting things out and then mentioned supplements but didn’t elaborate. Didn’t speak more about leaky gut. It would have been interesting if they discussed more of his health issues and how all of these changes he made help heal him. It seemed to me like Garance was interrupting him to get him on track and provide more to his story, but all he could do was ramble.

  • This is the best thing I have found on this site in a very long time. Straightforward, no drama. He is a very nice fellow and it was pleasant to listen to him while waiting for the info on nutritions. I have found his website and will try some recipes. I also enjoyed hearina about Garance’s father.


  • Tommy Talbot March, 21 2018, 4:46 / Reply

    Can you give details on Garance’s cable knit sweater?

  • Yes! Please tell us about Garance’s sweater! I want to try and make one :)

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