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Interview with John O'Leary (Sacred Pathways)
January 9th 2005

Sacred Pathways: What do you consider yourself primarily? A whole foods cook, a health care counselor, an entrepreneur, or all of the above?
David Snieckus: Wow! All of the above! My main mission now is making every kitchen a wellness center! To do that I teach others how to make their kitchen a wellness center and in order to do that I have to teach people how to be "whole foods cooks", health care counselors, and entrepreneurs themselves! My main focus now is teaching myself how to market, and teaching others to be healthy and learn how to cook.

Sacred Pathways: What does the phrase "whole foods" mean?

David Snieckus: Whole foods MEANS exactly what it says, eating the whole food. In the world of grains, instead of eating a grain that's being milled or stripped of all its nutrients, like white flour or white rice, one eats whole grains like organic brown rice, whole wheat, whole barley, whole millet, and whole quinoa. In the world of land vegetables, one eats the whole carrot without peeling, the whole onion, the normal part and the skin for soup stock, etc.

Sacred Pathways: And why are whole foods beneficial?

David Snieckus: For me, from an intuitive psychological perspective, whole foods are beneficial for individuals seeking wholeness, completeness and satisfaction in their life. People eating only part of the food are not experiencing that total energy inherent in every whole food. They are looking for something else all the time. Our society is constantly looking for something else - another this, another that, constantly consuming things - products and services - that are meaningless, and eating more partial foods. All in a seemingly endless vicious cycle. All to complete the unwholeness and dissatisfaction they have created in their bodies! People who eat whole foods are more satisfied, more in tune with nature, more wholistic in their thinking. They are seeing wholeness in everything! They are seeing the whole cycle of life rather than a snapshot of life.

Sacred Pathways: How did you get into this way of cooking, eating, and living?

David Snieckus: In 1977 I was selling life insurance with New England Life, and I had come across the macrobiotic philosophy from my then wife, Marcy, who was having anxiety attacks. She went for a consultation with Bill Spear of Middletown, Connecticut and brought home The Book of Macrobiotics, by Michio Kushi, and placed that on the reading table. While she began some of the cooking she learned, I began to delve into that book Ð which was serious philosophy! I knew what I was reading was true and made sense, but I couldn't explain it to anybody because it was too far out. It was about wholeness and not about dualism. It was about nothing being right or wrong. The Book of Macrobiotics was saying everything was okay, that everything had its place in nature and that everything changes! This was totally new to me! I had been brought up to believe that things are right and wrong, and good and bad. I was brought up in a dualistic society, and this wholistic thinking was like a breath of fresh air! But I didn't fully get it for about 7-8 years!

Sacred Pathways: How did you eventually get it?

David Snieckus: I eventually got it by eating and experiencing whole foods, listening to tapes, going to lectures by Michio Kushi and others, reading and actual study over a period of time. And, most importantly, selecting, cooking and eating whole foods. I think a biological change was occurring. My wholistic thinking came about after eating whole foods, especially cooked organic brown rice!

Sacred Pathways: What free advice might you give the readers of Sacred Pathways if they want to begin to eat a more healthy diet that would help support their spiritual practice?

David Snieckus: Two lines in a poem, called "Pain's Soliloquy", would benefit Sacred Pathway readers who are living their lives in accordance with various spiritual practices. Give your body food and air and water fit to build its every member, fit to nourish every function.

Sacred Pathways: That's pretty concise.

David Snieckus: It's like the free advise you always see on TV: Eat well and exercise! What does that mean? People tell me the strangest things about what they consider to be healthy! Granola bars! Processed sugary oat cereal! Some of these things are detrimental, while others are not. But without some principle or philosophy we are doomed to eat what the advertisers want us to eat!

Sacred Pathways: What are some concerns we should have about the typical American diet?

David Snieckus: We should be careful about food items that are in the extreme, or far out of balance. Cold, sugary dairy products like ice cream are a big concern. Meat, white flour, and refined sugar are others - and drugs. People are taking drugs today like food! Alcohol, cigarettes, coffee are all extreme.

Sacred Pathways: What is the best food for us?

David Snieckus: Of course, the best foods are whole foods that are grown in sustainable nutrient-rich soils. I believe that the best one of them is cooked organic brown rice with Celtic Sea Salt, though it's not a cure-all.

Sacred Pathways: And what is the best exercise?

David Snieckus: And as for exercise, anything can work. Individuals would do best to investigate what works for them: yoga, cleaning the house, walking, running up and down the stairs, everyday activities, working out in a gym, lifting barbells, or walking on a treadmill. Even digging a ditch or shoveling snow!

Sacred Pathways: You mentioned macrobiotics a few times. What does macrobiotics mean to you?

David Snieckus: Macrobiotics to me is a philosophy applied to food. It is a belief system that makes sense to me that can be applied to my food selection, cooking and eating! Macrobiotics, the word, comes from the Greek terms macro meaning great, long, or large and bios meaning life. There is a wholeness to this philosophy for me that includes all disciplines. Macrobiotics describes the way nature works - a difficult idea to describe simply.

Sacred Pathways: So macrobiotics is more than a diet!

David Snieckus: Yes, much more. It's part of what I teach in my classes.

Sacred Pathways: What are some of the services you provide?

David Snieckus: I provide private consultations, group cooking classes, Friday night dinners, Sunday brunches, a take-out service, Thursday evening teleconference calls, and I host retreats.

Sacred Pathways: All here in the Boston area?

David Snieckus: Yes, all except the retreats - which are in Maine, on a beautiful island called Orrs Island, in an old family house with a porch overlooking Harpswell Sound.

Sacred Pathways: Where can people reach you?

David Snieckus: People can reach me at my home telephone, 617-964-2951, or my website:

Sacred Pathways: You talk a lot about drugs, pharmaceutical drugs.

David Snieckus: Yes, probably because I am so familiar with the problem personally. Drugs are creating dependency in human beings. Drug companies are doing a great job of convincing us how effective they think drugs are. However, recent studies are raising serious questions about the safety and effectiveness of more and more drugs! It's a good time to consider reducing our dependency on drugs and studying the laws of nature. One thing particularly interesting and actually astounding is that doctors try to use one treatment for all problems.

Sacred Pathways: I've heard you say drugs don't work because they treat symptoms. Could you explain a little more about that?

David Snieckus: Certainly. Symptoms should be allowed to come out of the body. Symptoms like acne, rashes, sneezes, and stuffy noses etc. are actually discharges from the body trying to heal itself. Symptoms can be useful. With a change in thinking, doctors of the future can see symptomatic pain as a friendly indicator to a more systemic issue rather than something to just bombard with chemicals.

Sacred Pathways: A closing comment?

David Snieckus: I would like to emphasize that I show people how to re-evaluate the way they look at their health!

Sacred Pathways: Do you see that as a paradigm shift?

David Snieckus: Most certainly. I suggest everyone rethink their approach to life and well-being. Drugs are a quick fix, alcohol a quick high, coffee a quick buzz. Not one of them lasts for long. Macrobiotics on the other hand is an enduring, ancient philosophy and practice with lasting effects.