Whole Food Plant Based Nutrition — The Missing Puzzle Piece

Mary Jo Costello

Mary Jo Costello, MPM, RDN

Wynk, Nutrition Knowledge
Pittsburgh, PA

All of my grandparents were Italian immigrant farmers, so I was raised in a family centered on food from the earth. Our meals were made and served with care and love. I remember being fascinated by nutrition when I was in high school; and especially being confused by the infiltration of processed foods. I knew then, it was not a match for real food. In the early 1980’s, I was studying Dietetics at Drexel University, and my professor was discussing The China Study. He described it as being the largest demographic nutrition study ever done, that it would take years to complete and nothing like it had ever been done before. I was curious.

In 1982, my career started like most Registered Dietitians. I worked in hospitals, clinical, food service management, and eventually got into food sales, sales management and distribution. My roots tugged at me my entire career with things like hospital food, school foodservice and military menus, insane dieting crazes and the amount of good and bad information that hand-held the public into total confusion.

In 2006, I took my newly released copy of The China Study to the beach for a weekend by myself and devoured it. Until Colin Campbell, PhD presented this science, nothing could seem to help or support moving the correct nutrition message forward. And ultimately, he named it. Whole Food Plant Based Nutrition was truly the missing puzzle piece for me.

In 2011, once my children became independent, I gave six months’ notice to my employer, and promptly started my own nutrition education business. I could no longer stand by and watch the American public be duped by excessive misleading information, declining health, and frightening well-being. It became my calling and moral obligation to move nutrition education forward, even if it was one person at a time.

My business: “Wynk, Nutrition Knowledge”:  stands for what you never knew, which evolves into what you now know upon completing my classes and understanding Whole Food Plant Based Nutrition as a lifestyle.

My curiosity persists with an enormous appetite for the truth about Nutrition, always fine-tuning diet information based on good science. After working 30+ years in the Food and Nutrition business, and 22 years in the Navy Reserves, I always knew in my heart our message was all wrong. Although we did not have the profound science until recent years, we still had enough science many years ago to know that health professionals were being led down a shady path of incentives in all the wrong places.

I thank T. Colin Campbell for his commitment to science and his courage to challenge the world on untruths about human nutrition and greed. He is my ultimate mentor, and I believe that there is not a more important message to our world than the one we, WFPBN educators, are teaching. Along the way, I have absorbed and fully appreciate the knowledge, wisdom, and the countless years of tireless work by Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall, Alan Goldhamer, and many others passionate about the profound significance of nutrition on human health and well-being.

Others rising to the challenge, and heightening awareness are people like Scott Stoll, Susan Benigas and Tom Dunnam, who are the creators of the Plantrician Project. They have built a rock-solid launch pad for this WFPB rocket to soar.

The teams at Forks Over Knives & PlantPure Nation are also sowing the seeds for this WFPB community garden to flourish.

I uphold the philosophy that optimal health is primarily the result of our most important life skill: eating right. What I teach saves lives, prevents, prolongs and reverses chronic disease. Students recognize their ability to manage and control their health, they feel empowered, and they naturally feel, move, sleep and live better. Biometrics dramatically improve. They healthfully head toward a normal BMI. Often, they spiritually soar. At bare minimum, heightening awareness of what you eat matters, is enough for students to make change based on nutrition truths they’ve never received.

I received my BS in Dietetics at Drexel University and Master’s Degree in Public Management at Carnegie Mellon University. I am a retired Lieutenant Commander after 22 years in the US Naval Reserve, Medical Service Corps.

I am widowed, and I have 2 amazing children. My daughter is an industrial engineer and Master Trainer with Amazon. My son is a student at Robert Morris University after 5 years in the US Marine Corps. Home is Pittsburgh, PA. Favorite Food? High quality pasta with greens, beans, tomato and garlic—but, of course, I’m Italian!

We each, individually, have our part to play in this movement; but, together, we are a powerful force for change.

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