Becoming Pain-Free: Chef Ron Stewart On How to Alleviate Chronic Pain

An interview with Maria Angelova


Changing to a whole food, plant-based diet is one of the most effective and healthy ways to help reduce chronic pain. This type of change in diet can provide numerous health benefits that not only help reduce chronic pain but also contribute to long-term overall health.

So many people suffer from chronic pain. Often people believe that they have tried everything, and that there is no real hope for them to live pain-free. What are some things these individuals can do, to help reduce or even eliminate their pain? In this interview series, called “Becoming Pain-Free: How to Alleviate Chronic Pain” we are talking to medical professionals, pain management specialists and authors who can share their insights and strategies about how to alleviate chronic pain. As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Ron Stewart.

Chef Ron Stewart has been a chef for over 20 years in Beverly Hills, Cabo San Lucas, The U.S. Virgin Islands, New York, and The Netherlands. He has personally worked with celebrities including Josh Brolin, Diane Lane, Barbara Streisand, and Tony Bennett, to name a few. Chef Ron is now focused on enriching the community’s health and wellness through nourishing, delicious, plant-based food at

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I have wanted to be a chef for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I watched Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet and was mesmerized. This may sound a bit cliché, but my first influence was my grandmother. She was from the South (Arkansas), and every meal was from scratch, super delicious, and made with love. I used to spend summers with her and my grandpa, and we would pick produce from their garden, gather fresh eggs from the hen house and quail pen, and I learned how to butcher rabbits, chickens, and goats when I was about seven years old. I have a picture of myself and Daw (my grandmother) baking a cake when I was two, and I was wearing a chef hat.

Traveling and experiencing different cultures blew my mind from the start. My first experience as a future chef away from my home in Santa Barbara, California was when I moved to Hyde Park, New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America. The differences in restaurant culture and cuisines were dramatic. I knew then that I needed to keep experiencing different cultures to fully understand the craft.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

After I finished culinary school in New York, I was fortunate enough to secure an apprenticeship at a fine dining Italian restaurant in The Hague, Holland. Coming fresh out of a prestigious school and having completed a two-year apprenticeship at a 5-star hotel in California, I thought I was the next Paul Bocuse. I wasn’t. Europe had its own rules, and I didn’t know them. It took a while to get used to the new cuts of meat, the different available products coming in (live snails, eels from the North Sea, etc.), and the hierarchy in the kitchen. I needed to learn fast and earn respect. I also came to the realization that no matter how experienced or successful I may become, the only path to true growth is to remain humble and learn every day from everyone I meet. These lessons gave me an edge throughout my career.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first returned from my apprenticeship in Europe, I was blessed with the opportunity to open a fine dining restaurant at a young age. In my mind a successful chef/restaurateur had one focus — to be creative in the kitchen and serve fantastic food. With my training, I achieved this and ran a very successful operation. What I had yet to learn were the inspirations of health and wellness through cooking that I could have in the community. I was trained in classic French cuisine and techniques and that meant using lots of butter, heavy cream, and rich meats. I also wasn’t up to speed on the impact I could have on the environment or animal welfare (fois gras, etc.). As I progressed in my career, educated myself, and especially after having a son, these things became more and more important to me, and eventually became a focus of how I spend my time.

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I am currently working on the launch of a hearty vegan broth (Super Mineral Broth) which offers all the health benefits and nutrition of bone broth, with none of the animal products or preservatives. The organic ingredients are sourced from small farms in the Pacific Northwest.

I initially developed the broth for a friend undergoing chemotherapy who had no appetite but wanted something packed with minerals and nutrients that is vegan, tasty, and easy to drink. Just a couple of cups a day kept her nourished and energized. She loved it. I then decided to make it available to everyone.

Sipping broth has immense benefits that include reducing inflammation, fostering gut health, and facilitating liver function. It’s long been assumed that those benefits are only achieved through bone broth, but that isn’t true anymore. You can reap all the amazing benefits of sipping broth without the harm animal products have on the environment.

A Harvard Medical School study reports, “Compared with meat eaters, vegetarians tend to consume less saturated fat and cholesterol and more vitamins C and E, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals), such as carotenoids and flavonoids. As a result, they’re likely to have lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure and lower body mass index (BMI), all of which are associated with longevity and a reduced risk for many chronic diseases”.

Let’s jump to the main focus of this series. For the benefit of our readers, can you please tell us why you are an authority on the subject of chronic pain?

I personally suffer from chronic pain in my lower back as a result of many years of working on my feet in fast paced kitchens. Since my initial diagnosis, I have researched ways to alleviate the pain, as well as stop it from progressing. I have looked at physical therapy and stretching, traditional medicine, and naturopathic remedies. One key thing I learned is that when it comes to chronic pain, one of the most important things is to reduce inflammation as much as possible. This can be done by avoiding processed foods and eating a diet rich in whole plant-based foods. These foods not only provide essential nutrients that help to heal and protect the body, but they also contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to reduce inflammation and pain.

My wife has also been a tremendous resource as well as she has a master’s degree in Biotechnology from the food Industry University in Kiev, Ukraine where she gained extensive knowledge in food and nutrition. She has a very scientific approach to healing through food.

Can you please share with us a few of the most common causes of chronic pain?

Chronic pain is a common but debilitating health issue that affects millions of people worldwide, and many are often unaware of the multitude of potential causes. While chronic pain can present itself as an isolated symptom, most cases originate from an underlying medical condition or injury.

The most common causes of chronic pain include muscular tension, joint damage and inflammation, nerve damage, degenerative diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis, fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), cancer-related side effects such as chemotherapy-induced neuropathy (CINP) or radiotherapy-induced myelopathy (RIMP), infection such as shingles or Lyme disease, spinal disc compression caused by herniated discs or sciatica due to skeletal misalignment in the spine area. In addition to these medical conditions, poor posture while sitting at a desk for extended periods of time can also cause muscular tension in neck and shoulders leading to various forms of headaches and migraines.

Chronic stress is another significant factor contributing to overall low well-being which then leads to physical manifestations including musculoskeletal pains which ultimately become chronic. Stressful situations often lead to increased cortisol hormone levels which contribute further towards aggravating existing pain symptoms due to its catabolic effect on our body’s natural biological processes leading up cellular degeneration in muscles and other tissues over time when neglected for long periods. This disruption usually causes muscle fatigue resulting in soreness throughout the body after physical activity as well as tightness even during non-physical activities; hence needing interventions like massage therapy for example for providing some temporary relief from discomfort associated with this condition until underlying issues are addressed at their source accordingly.

There are many different types of pain that people struggle with. Which specific form of pain would you like to focus on in this interview? Why that one?

I was originally diagnosed with lower back arthritis in 2014 and was told that if I was diligent with a proper plan, I could maintain the chronic pain at its current level, and prevent it from progressing, but it would never go away. This was devastating news, especially for someone in my line of work, so I can relate to anyone with the same or similar disorder.

Here is the main question of our interview. Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey toward becoming pain-free? Please give an example or story for each.

1 . Change your eating habits to a whole food, plant-based diet.

Changing to a whole food, plant-based diet is one of the most effective and healthy ways to help reduce chronic pain. This type of change in diet can provide numerous health benefits that not only help reduce chronic pain but also contribute to long-term overall health.

A whole food, plant-based diet focuses on eating only unprocessed or minimally processed foods which are free from animal products such as dairy, eggs, and meat. The food you include in this type of diet should be predominantly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes as well as grains like oats or rice. The biggest benefit of this kind of clean eating is an improved intake of vitamins and minerals through the nutrient-dense plant sources for your body to heal itself optimally.

It has been clinically proven that adopting a whole food plant-based diet can address many root causes related to chronic pain since it helps improve inflammation levels within the body due to its high antioxidant content from fruits and vegetables. Additionally, eliminating processed sugars from your daily meals helps lower serotonin levels which reduces fatigue making it easier for you to move around with less discomfort. Furthermore, the dietary fiber found in vegetables can help maintain healthy glucose levels throughout the day providing sustained energy instead of sudden spikes due to highly processed snacks. Subsequently this balanced energy consumption allows you to stay productive throughout most of your day with minimized side effects like chronic aches and pains caused by lifestyle stressors that may worsen existing pain conditions.

Overall changing over into a whole foods plant based lifestyle is surefooted steps towards reducing inflammation while improving overall nutrition helping manage symptoms associated with various types of chronic pain including; fibromyalgia, endometriosis ,rheumatoid arthritis ,migraines etcetera. Accomplishing this requires patience & practice while transitioning away from unhealthy habits. However, it’s worth trying out due to all the potential physical & mental health benefits over time.

2 . Exercise regularly.

Regular exercise has been found to be incredibly beneficial for individuals who suffer from chronic pain. Exercise helps reduce the intensity of chronic pain in a variety of ways.

First and foremost, regular exercise can help reduce inflammation in the body which can result in long-term effects on your health and wellbeing. Exercising regularly increases blood flow to affected areas, allowing more nutrients to reach them which are essential for healing any type of chronic pain. Furthermore, research has shown that physical activity reduces cellular damage in cells caused by various types of stressors due to improved circulation and circulation-related mechanisms such as increased oxygen delivery which results in less oxidative stress being produced by those cells.

Additionally, exercising releases endorphins into your system -endorphins are hormones that naturally provide us with feelings of happiness or euphoria when released into our bodies; this means that even if you feel like you’re having a bad day as far as your chronic pain goes, engaging in physical activity could give you an instant boost! Endorphins also act as natural analgesics meaning they can ease discomfort associated with many types of chronic pains including fibromyalgia flare ups.

Finally, exercise strengthens core muscles which can help support your back/joints so it’s easier for them to maintain their posture hence helping with managing your overall aches and pains throughout the day. Studies have demonstrated that combination exercises like swimming or Yoga may be even more effective at relieving musculoskeletal aches than strength training alone.

Overall regular physical activity is an important component of living with chronic pain since it helps improve circulation along with reducing inflammation levels while providing natural boosts to overall mental wellness. With these benefits combined it’s no wonder why it’s become increasingly recommended among medical professionals dealing with individuals who suffer from conditions such as Fibromyalgia or arthritis related pains.

3 . Eliminate alcohol.

Eliminating alcohol is an excellent way to help manage chronic pain and can make a dramatic difference in your overall well-being. Alcohol, even in moderate amounts, has been linked to increased inflammation and poorer pain tolerance in those who suffer from chronic pain conditions. When I made the move to give up alcohol the improvements in my levels of pain, and ability to be on my feet longer came quickly and made a significant difference.

Alcohol often has indirect effects on sleep since most people drink late at night only to discover their quality of rest suffers because of it causing sleepless nights due to their ongoing discomfort caused by chronic pain sensations experienced while lying down or trying different sleeping positions all night long (among other things). As a result, eliminating alcohol helps improve quality of restful sleep which also lowers muscle tension related specifically with certain types of aches & pains everyone faces after extended days full of activities; otherwise known as tired muscles often causing additional stiffness/discomfort making it harder day after day because not enough recovery time was available due to poor sleep patterns.

4 . Manage stress.

Managing stress is one of the most powerful tools we have to deal with chronic pain. Stress is known to be a major trigger for persistent aches and pains, whether they’re caused by an injury, illness, or just everyday wear and tear. But learning how to manage your stress can significantly reduce chronic pain symptoms.

The first step in managing your stress is understanding what it is and how it impacts you. Our bodies are highly responsive to our emotional states; when we feel stressed out, anxious, depressed or overwhelmed our body begins producing cortisol–a hormone associated with increased inflammation which can exacerbate existing aches and pains. Identifying situations that cause us undue anxiety or feelings of overwhelm can help us identify potential triggers for our pain so that we can better manage them.

When faced with a stressful situation there are various ways we can respond–each has their own unique benefits and challenges depending on the situation:

• Problem-solving: This involves analyzing the problem at hand and breaking it down into manageable chunks so that solutions may be found more easily.

• Relaxation Strategies: Relaxation methods such as mindful breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation techniques or listening to calming music are effective at reducing tension in the body which reduces overall inflammation levels.

• Reframing Negative Thoughts: It’s important to recognize negative thinking patterns (such as self-blame)which lead us down roads that ultimately do not help relieve stress–we need instead practice more positive thoughts/attitudes like gratitude lists which help shift our mindset from negative thought loops.

By combining lifestyle changes with proactive approaches towards managing stressors when they arise, one should hopefully notice significant improvement over time in terms of reducing/managing their chronic pain related symptoms.

5 . Educate yourself.

With chronic pain, knowledge is power in that gaining a better understanding of the condition can help individuals improve their quality of life. By educating yourself on your specific condition, you can learn about different treatment options and lifestyle modifications to consider.

Understanding how the body works and what triggers a painful response can help people take proactive steps towards controlling their pain. This includes learning about different types of therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or physical therapy that could benefit them or finding out practical ways in which they can manage their daily activities like stress management techniques or setting up an ergonomic workspace at home to reduce strain from computer use. Additionally, knowing more about triggers for flare-ups such as certain foods that should be avoided for symptom relief may prove beneficial as well as understanding how physical activity may help with pain control by releasing endorphins to reduce tension and discomfort.

Gaining a comprehensive education on one’s particular health issue also can have emotional benefits too by helping individuals feel like they have more control over their own situation since they know what will work best for them based on personal experience rather than relying solely on doctors alone who may not always be able to provide maximum relief from symptoms due to various reasons outside their expertise and knowledge base. Ultimately, having adequate knowledge surrounding your condition will enable you better cope with living with chronic pain so that you feel empowered enough make lasting changes towards improving your overall quality of life moving forward — both mentally and physically!

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would introduce the world to a whole food, plant-based diet. As the world continues to transition towards a more plant-based lifestyle, the importance of understanding how a whole foods plant-based diet can bring an array of health benefits has become increasingly popular. Eating whole foods refers to consuming food as close to its natural state as possible and avoiding processed ingredients. A lack of heavily processed ingredients helps ensure that your body is getting natural sources of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients required for optimal wellness.

A well-planned whole food, plant-based diet offers numerous health benefits. It is naturally low in saturated fat and high in fiber which helps reduce levels of bad cholesterol while increasing levels or good cholesterol. This type of diet also tends to be lower in salt than traditional animal-based diets since it eliminates processed meats such as cold cuts or bacon — both which are high in sodium content resulting in an increased risk for hypertension and heart disease over time if consumed long term without change.

Many studies have linked increased consumption of fruits and vegetables with fewer chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke etc., all leading causes for premature death worldwide.

Not only does this type of eating offer physical benefits but many report mental clarity when eliminating animal products since plants contain essential fatty acids — linolenic acid (omega 3) & linoleic acid (omega 6) — critical components for regulating hormones responsible for balanced moods. Also, certain vitamins found abundantly within plants have been reported to aid sleep regulation such as vitamin B6 found within potatoes or nuts ; vitamin B12 & iron -found predominantly within legumes like lentils; while magnesium rich greens like spinach can help alleviate stress induced fatigue due its role binding nervous system receptors located throughout our bodies sending calming signals back into your brain promoting relaxation & restful sleep cycles necessary maintaining our overall wellness aiding alertness during daytime hours .

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

You can see what I am up to and read blogs and recipes at You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Internet sales of my vegan broth will begin this Spring, and we will be launching some interesting new whole food, plant-based products in 2023 as well.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl. As a disruptor, Maria is on a mission to change the face of the wellness industry by shifting the self-care mindset for consumers and providers alike. As a mind-body coach, Maria’s superpower is alignment which helps clients create a strong body and a calm mind so they can live a life of freedom, happiness and fulfillment. Prior to founding Rebellious Intl, Maria was a Finance Director and a professional with 17+ years of progressive corporate experience in the Telecommunications, Finance, and Insurance industries. Born in Bulgaria, Maria moved to the United States in 1992. She graduated summa cum laude from both Georgia State University (MBA, Finance) and the University of Georgia (BBA, Finance). Maria’s favorite job is being a mom. Maria enjoys learning, coaching, creating authentic connections, working out, Latin dancing, traveling, and spending time with her tribe. To contact Maria, email her at To schedule a free consultation, click here.



Maria Angelova, CEO of Rebellious Intl.
Authority Magazine

Maria Angelova, MBA is a disruptor, author, motivational speaker, body-mind expert, Pilates teacher and founder and CEO of Rebellious Intl.