Be What You Eat

By Beth Goulart
Photography by Bill Albrecht

You’d never guess that Michelle Schreiber is 39 years old. She looks a decade or so younger, and says she’s felt better in the past few years than ever before. “It’s all the good food,” she says, matter-of-factly, without even a hint of smugness.

Schreiber is many things: an acupuncturist, a live foodist (more on that later), a practitioner of Chinese medicine, a Certified Nutritional Consultant, and more.
Yet as someone who practices a lifestyle to which most of us at best aspire, her attitude is refreshingly down-to-earth. It’s not surprising that Schreiber’s business at Central Family Practice is thriving.  

With every new client, Schreiber draws on a variety of tactics from her extensive arsenal of training “to see what’s really going on with the whole person,” she says. Utilizing Chinese medicine, she examines the color, texture and coating of the client’s tongue to gain clues about internal systems, and gleans additional information by feeling the pulse at different finger placements. She asks most new clients to keep a food diary for about a week. “I tell them to be completely honest,” she says. “Often I’ll ask them to write down how they feel after they’ve eaten.”   

According to Schreiber, much of our well-being boils down to diet, and she thinks that some clients might not even need acupuncture if they’d just change the way they eat. In her opinion, the typical American suffers from eating far too many processed foods and “the whites” (white flour, white sugar, white rice and milk), and not enough vegetables, especially dark leafy greens.  

Half Jewish and half Italian (“ethnicities that make really good food,” Schreiber notes), she grew up with home-cooked food as the norm. In college, she gave up eating meat, then eliminated dairy and eggs several years later. Currently, Schreiber is vegan and eats only what she calls “live foods,” which include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and sprouted legumes. Nothing in her diet is heated above 115 degrees.

With such a watchful palate, is there anything Schreiber really misses eating? “I do miss pizza,” she says without pause. In fact, she indulged in a soy-cheese-topped slice recently. “It was very heavy,” she says, her tone observing but not judging. “It made me feel sluggish.”

How clients feel after eating is telling to Schreiber. She encourages diet modification in response, though she notes varying degrees of willing compliance. That’s okay with her. “I feel like everyone should kind of do their own experiment,” she says. “I don’t try to get people to be vegetarian. I don’t try to make them eat vegan. I don’t try to make them eat raw.” She does ask them to pay more attention to what they’re eating, though. “I tell people to eat food in the whole form, if possible. Try to eliminate anything that’s processed or in a package,” she says. “Or, if it is in a package, at least take a look at the label. If it has a bunch of ingredients in there you’ve never heard of, you probably don’t want to eat it.”

Schreiber recalls a tip journalist and author Michael Pollan proffers in his newest book, In Defense of Food:  “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” “I think that’s great,” she says. “Just be aware of what you’re eating and where it came from and why you’re eating it.”

The broader mantra Pollan offers—“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”—seems personified in Schreiber, too, especially the “not too much” part. “I’ve found that the longer I’m doing this, the less I need to eat,” she says.

You may contact Michelle Schreiber at Central Family Practice,
512-968-2615, or go to .