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CAF cook uses his skills to help veterans

Food fuels our bodies, brings people together and according to Chef Cody Lindsay “food is morale.” Believing food to be both morale and medicine, Lindsay started the Wellness Soldier, an informative website to help veterans suffering from Operational Stress Injuries heal through healthy living.

Lindsay’s journey in the culinary world began right out of high school when he decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps and join the military in 2001. He decided to be a cook thinking it couldn’t be that hard. Looking back, Lindsay says, “I couldn’t have been more horribly wrong.” Being a cook in the military required long work hours and was physically demanding. However, Lindsay found his career in the military rewarding as he learned from those around him.

Though he was in the army, Lindsay served his entire seven-year career in the navy. Lindsay went on two tours, the second one in Afghanistan. He had two weeks to prepare for his tour to Afghanistan and believes his lack of preparation contributed to his OSI. Lindsay says when he got to Afghanistan he was missing the required training, required medical shots, dessert combats and much more.

Being unprepared caused Lindsay to come home with anxiety as an OSI. His condition deteriorated as he entered a dark time of his life, including excessive partying and drug use. Lindsay was eventually medically released from the military.

Now that Lindsay was no longer in the military he decided to continue with the one skill he had carefully developed: cooking.

During his time in the military, his was trained in large quantity cooking, small quantity cooking and butchery all providing him with the basic skillset he needed to be a chef.

“I held on it to it. It was my one skill I learned in the military, so I was holding on to it, and I held on quite well,” said Lindsay.

Lindsay earned his Red Seal Chef’s papers and became a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation of Chef’s and Cook’s and the World Association of Chef’s Societies.

At the same time, struggles with PTSD hit close to him when his mother was diagnosed with the illness after more than 30 years in the military.
The news made Lindsay realize he needed to share with other veterans the tips that helped him manage his own condition.

“The way I used cooking in the military is that food is morale. You give a guy an extra shrimp on his plate, and that could make his whole week. So I realized with mom she was on harsh medications, and I said, 'if you want any chance of those medications to work you have to start fueling your body with the proper things it needs to be fueled with,'” recalled Lindsay.

And so, the Wellness Soldier was born. With his wife as photographer, he made a website following YouTube videos.

The Wellness Soldier is a compilation of original healthy recipes, workout videos and information for veterans with OSIs. The culinary expert does not advocate any fad diets but rather focuses on eating real, clean whole foods and making small changes to improve health.

“That alone will set your body to a regular position, regular weight, and a regular sleeping schedule. It will improve your health and well-being immensely,” explained Lindsay.

The chef tries to ensure all his content is original, so he is a trustworthy source of information.

Lindsay’s desire to help veterans paid off and soon people started to reach out to him. Recently, he decided to host a dinner to share information with a wider audience and meet the people he had been in touch with.

“I wanted to move from faceless email help to one on one direct help… just to put it out there and do something grassroots and get straight to the veterans and right to the people who needed it,” said Lindsay.

Held on Nov. 17, Lindsay informed his audience of over 50 people about resources in the community, like the Trauma Healing Centres.

Ultimately, Lindsay hopes that one day he can offer a meal service to deliver healthy pre-cooked meals to veterans with impairments so they can also benefit from healthy living.

“Food is medicine. Food can drastically increase your morale, your body, your creativity, mindfulness, happiness, everything,” said Lindsay.

Canadian Military Family Magazine is excited to welcome Chef Lindsay to the team as their new Galley Contributor. Look for his original recipes for comfort food in our upcoming Winter 2016 Issue.

For more information about the Wellness Soldiers visit the website.  http://thewellnesssoldier.com/

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