Father's Day Interview with Dr. Weil

Father's Day Interview with Dr. Weil

Dr. Andrew Weil, co-founder of Matcha.com, is a Harvard-educated doctor, best-selling author, and pioneer of integrative medicine. While many people know him from his books and many accolades, I know him simply as Dad.         

Father's Day interview with Dr. Weil

I’m often asked what it was like to grow up with Dr. Weil as my father, but the thing is, Dr. Weil wasn’t my father, Andy Weil was. He was the dad who would dress up as Santa Claus for Christmas and the dad who would pretend not to notice when I crawled under his desk trying to sneak up on him. He was also the dad who would play elaborate April Fool’s Day jokes on me every year. He’s always had a little bit of the coyote trickster in him.

In honor of Father’s Day, we thought it would be fun to show a more private side of our lives as father and daughter. Here’s a snippet of a conversation we recently had about being a father, his advice to new parents, and hope that young fathers still prioritize their own health.

You had me in 1991 when you were a little older. You had a full and adventurous life before having me, to say the least. What was that like?

I was 49, so you know that’s later in life than most people have children. I had not thought I wanted to have children until a few years before that, and I don’t know what changed, but I suddenly felt I really wanted to have a child.

Was it hard because you had had such an interesting life before? Did having a baby slow you down, or were you ready to slow down?

I think some of both. I had gotten married, which was a big change, and there were stepkids, so it was a family situation; I was definitely tied to that more than I had been. But yes, it slowed me down some, but it was a time in my life when that felt right. I remember the first night after you were born when you were crying and all of a sudden, the reality of having a baby dawned on me, and I thought, “Woah, this is going to be different.” I can remember that very distinctly.

I’m about to have my first baby (who will also be your first grandbaby), and I’ve come to you for quite a bit of advice already. We obviously want what’s best for this little boy and to keep him as healthy as possible! What advice would you give to new parents? I know you’ve recommended that we avoid dairy with our son until he’s a bit older and that you also had me work with an osteopath when I was a newborn.

Dr. Fulford, the osteopath who worked with you as a baby, believed all newborns should have a prophylactic session of cranial therapy, which we did for you. So, if you can find someone who does it, that’s not a bad idea. I think it’s also helpful to have kids supplement with an omega 3 as it’s so important for brain development. Other supplements you may want to consider are vitamin D and iron, and maybe a multivitamin specifically designed for young children. 

Diet-wise, if you’re not giving your kids any dairy, the only milk substitute that has adequate protein is soy milk. I’d also recommend introducing as few processed foods as possible. I know this can be difficult sometimes, so just do your best!

Your father, my grandfather, died when I was so young. I don’t remember him very much sadly. But I’m curious: did he influence your approach to health and wellness at all?

You know, not really. He would go to the doctor for regular check-ups and was physically active, which I think both positively influenced me, but otherwise, not so much.

How to have healthy kids

What are three pieces of advice you would give to fathers who want to raise healthy children?

I think modeling healthy behaviors is probably one of the most important things you can do as a parent. This also requires that you are taking care of your own needs, which can be very difficult as a parent. One of the best ways we can take care of our kids, however, is to prioritize our own health. I also think encouraging kids to be independent and to learn how to take care of common medical things on their own. Instilling the idea that the body is capable of healing itself in young children is really powerful. It helps them feel confident in their bodies. One way to do this is to show them how cuts heal on the surface of the skin and that this is going on all throughout the body.

Getting kids to eat their vegetables can be really tough. Do you have any advice for parents who are trying to get their kids interested in food, especially healthier options?

I think not forcing kids is important. I do think involving them in food preparation and cooking is a good strategy. Make them excited about preparing food and knowing where food comes from. Try to avoid the all-macaroni and cheese diet. I think broccoli- stuffed potato is a good idea, as is broccoli pasta. Try soups and other pureed vegetables. It seems like the trouble starts when you introduce solid vegetables to kids. It’s the texture that puts them off. There’s also a great deal of individualization with taste sensitivity. Some people taste things that other people don’t. Beets and Brussels sprouts are a great example. There’s are taste in those that some people find horrible, and you want to pay attention to and respect that. Some people might taste things differently. Avoiding processed foods and sweet drinks is probably the most important thing and just keeping things as fun as possible.

Did becoming a father change your perspective on anything?

Yes, it made me more aware of my responsibility to care for others, which I think also came into play with my work as a doctor.

You’re about to become a grandfather! How does that feel? What are you most looking forward to?

You’ll have to ask me again next year! Everyone I know who has grandchildren tells me it’s great so I’m very much looking forward to meeting him.

Were there any traditions or practices from your own upbringing that you wanted to pass down to me? One thing we’ve always loved doing together is cooking. Those are some of my favorite memories together.

Agreed. Reading together, listening to good music, enjoying meals together, traveling, etc., have all been traditions that were important for me to pass down to you. 

You never pushed wellness or a healthy lifestyle on me, but I’ve definitely followed in your footsteps. How do you think you were able to do that?

I think the most important thing has been modeling good behavior for you, and I’m thrilled that you’ve followed this path.

Father's Day

We wish you all a very wonderful Father’s Day!