NEW: Plant Yourself merch designed by my daughter, Yael Zivan.

What if Peanut Butter Cups Had Never Been Invented?

When I was a kid, there was this incredibly annoying TV commercial for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

This cute (for the early 1980s) young guy is walking down the street, Walkman headphones on, eating a bar of chocolate clearly meant for a family of 8. His contribution to the plot is a hip swagger and the immortal dialogue, “Mmm, chocolate.”

A vivacious and attractive young woman walks in the opposite direction, also oblivious to her surroundings courtesy of headphones, while eating peanut butter out of a carton with her fingers. She intones the parallelism, “Mmm, mmm, peanut butter.”

According to the structure of theatrical spectacle developed by Aristotle, this comprises Act One: Setup.

It raises the provocative question, “What will happen next?” (Spoiler alert: I'm about to tell you.)

Act Two (Conflict) explodes dramatically as these two witless paragons of 1980s pop culture bump into each other, his chocolate bar plunging into her open carton of peanut butter. (Innuendo, anyone?)

The dramatis personae engage in the following memorable lines:

Both: (simultaneously) “Hey!” “Oh!”

She: “Hey, you've got your chocolate in my peanut butter.”

He: (interrupting) ” – got your peanut butter in my chocolate.”

Both: (smiling, removing headphones) “What?”

And now for Act Three: Resolution.

Both: (Taking a bite, and saying reverentially and in unison) “Delicious!”

At which point a creepy older dude peers very closely over their shoulders and waves a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup two-pack at them while they gaze into each other's chocolate bars. The scene ends with them gently bouncing up and down, possibly doing some sort of “boogie” as they consume the rest of the chocolate and peanut butter.

A Thought Experiment

Have you ever considered how tenuous the invention of the peanut butter cup was, if this commercial is an accurate historical portrayal?

I mean, what if they had been paying attention as they sashayed down the busy urban street, and so managed to completely avoid one another?

What if he had been holding a packet of Mint Milanos, and she a jar of anchovy paste?

What if, instead of rudely eating the other person's food without asking, they simply apologized and slunk away, ashamed of their lack of situational awareness and very strange public eating behaviors?

The peanut butter cup as we know it might never have existed!

And Now For Something Completely Different

I don't want to talk about the invention of the peanut butter cup. That would be a completely waste of time.

Instead, I want to talk about two worlds that haven't yet collided:

Value-based healthcare, and lifestyle medicine.

Value-based healthcare is a group of very smart, very good people who believe that the healthcare system is a complete mess largely because of misaligned and opaque incentives. Some examples:

  • That doctors are paid to see patients for just a few minutes at a time.
  • That patients with high deductible plans are discouraged from getting early treatment that is inexpensive and effective, and instead encouraged to wait until they have a serious condition that requires expensive interventions.
  • That health benefits brokers typically get paid by the health insurers as a percentage of the total cost to customers, and so make less money if they negotiate a good deal for an employer or individual.

Lifestyle medicine folks believe that most chronic diseases do not need to exist in the first place. They assert:

  • That pharmaceuticals should be a last resort after diet and lifestyle interventions, rather than the first and only thing we do for sick patients.
  • That a diet rich in whole foods of plant origin is a more powerful therapeutic in the fight against heart disease than any statin, ACE inhibitor, or beta blocker.
  • That physical activity is the world's most useful intervention for just about every condition, from autoimmune disorders to depression.

Can you see how these two groups are pulling in the same direction, toward a more rational and cost-effective healthcare system?

Yet they live, by and large, in two completely separate worlds, never bumping into each other, and never inventing a delicious and synergistic approach.

Introducing Today's Podcast Interview

On today's podcast, I talk with Olivia Kelly, CEO and co-founder of WellStart Health.

She's the first person I've met who lives in both worlds.

Now, as co-founders of WellStart Health, we're shipping them hard. (Forgive me if this is unfamiliar usage of the word “shipping,” which the Urban Dictionary defines as “the act of shoving two fictional characters' heads together and yelling, ‘NOW KISS!'”)

What if the 6-sigma system improvement wonks understood the profound power of lifestyle to affect health destinies?

What if the plant-based clinicians grokked the systemic disincentives to rational policy and care?

It would be far more delicious and life-changing than a freaking peanut butter cup.

Here's our conversation


PS If you'd like to experience the WellStart Health Improvement Program for yourself, there's new cohort starting this coming Monday, June 3. Sign up by Friday and get a free bluetooth scale and blood pressure cuff (almost $100 value). Learn more and register here.

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, my team and I are studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, with the goal of introducing it into our health coaching training.

If you're interested in experiencing the magic of memory reconsolidation coaching with me or a member of my team trained in the process, click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab. Someone will get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.

Leave a Reply

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