Financial advisor works for “wealth of health” through lifestyle medicine

Cheryl Mothes, Edward Jones financial advisor, natural health nutrition counselor and co-owner of Fresh Healthy Café in Cape Girardeau
Photo by Jasmine Jones

Cheryl Mothes, Edward Jones financial advisor, natural health nutrition counselor and co-owner of Fresh Healthy Café in Cape Girardeau, was getting ready for work one morning in 2019 when she overheard Gayle King talking about a new study linking fried foods and breast cancer in women on “CBS This Morning.”

The story struck a chord with Mothes not because it was new information, but because it was old. The day before, she had been reading the book “How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease” by Michael Greger, M.D., and, had come across a study in it that linked fried foods to breast cancer. Rather than being new, however, the study was 37 years old, from 1982. Realizing how long this information had been around and how few people knew about it signaled to Mothes the urgent need for educating people about nutrition.

It’s this desire to educate the public about health that inspired Mothes to earn a PhD in holistic nutrition from the College of Natural Health in 2020. As a nurse in her first career, she says it was “tragic” how little she was taught about nutrition during nursing school; she believes it is through educating physicians, nurses and other health care professionals about lifestyle medicine and the healing power of food that individuals’ lives and the health of the larger community can be transformed.

“I love helping people in my career as a financial advisor; that is truly my passion. But I’ve also had this desire all my life to help folks with wealth of health, and they’re not mutually exclusive,” Mothes told B Magazine. “Nutrition is the foundation of our health. … That transition of getting cleaner and cleaner and healthier and healthier is really our purpose and to help people learn how to do that.”

Mothes’ own journey toward better health began in her early 30s, while working on her family’s farm in Kansas raising cattle. It was then she decided she would no longer choose to eat animals for humane and health reasons, and a few years later, she decided to give up eating dairy products, too. After making these decisions, she says she couldn’t believe how much better her body felt. It’s a lifestyle that speaks for itself: Mothes says she has not had a sick day in 26 years.

Along the way, she continued to learn more and more about the ways the foods people eat impact their bodies negatively or positively. As she and her husband, Rick Hetzel, began eating cleaner and cleaner, they found themselves limited in options for dining out in Cape Girardeau. That’s when they decided to give the community another option for healthy eating and to use the restaurant as a way to educate the community.

So, they opened a Fresh Healthy Café franchise adjacent to Fitness Plus at Saint Francis Healthcare System in January 2019. The restaurant’s goal, Mothes says, is to help people eliminate unhealthy foods and replace them with healthy ones.

“Nutrition is our business. That’s our whole purpose,” Mothes says. “The only reason for [Fresh Healthy Café] is to give people options. Some people need transitional foods. For example, giving up meat is sometimes easier if you have a Beyond [Meat Plant-Based Patties] burger. Then, you can go to the bean burgers, then you can go to falling in love with salads, because that is a key. We need greens and everything that goes with it.”

As Mothes got more involved with the company and its mission, she found she wanted to write for Fresh Healthy Café and for Saint Francis Healthcare System, to teach people about the ways the foods people choose to eat can either heal or hurt their bodies. This led Mothes to her PhD program.

While in her program, the book “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People,” by Dan Buettner, made a profound impact on her. The book discusses the similarities between five places in the world where people live longest — Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, Calif. — featuring a diet rich in vegetables, nuts and beans, with less of a focus on meat, dairy and alcohol; a strong social network; adherence to daily rituals; a healthy physical environment; and a sense of purpose. The book also maps out plans to help American communities become Blue Zones Communities.

Mothes has a bold vision for the health of Cape Girardeau County: She wants the community to become a Blue Zones Community. She is doing her part to make this goal reality by speaking to groups about nutrition, sharing health tips on KHIS Radio each morning and virtually attending the International Plant-Based Healthcare Nutrition Conference held in Palm Springs, Calif., each year, to bring the knowledge she learns back to the community. She donates six books about health each month through her book ministry, leaving the books in random places throughout the community with a note on them directing people to take and read them.

Recently, she has also been working to educate health care professionals about lifestyle medicine, to help them implement it in their practices to prevent and reverse disease. These efforts can be as simple as replacing candy and chips with fruits and vegetables on a food cart in order to promote cell healing while patients are in the hospital, to having a physician ask patients to commit to reducing their meat and sugar intake and walk 30 minutes a day. In addition, Mothes and Hetzel are opening a second Fresh Healthy Café location at the intersection of Mt. Auburn Road and Kingshighway Street in Cape Girardeau in July; this location will feature a drive-thru window.

Mothes says financial advising and nutrition counseling go hand in hand. Wealth, she says, is more than financial and includes health; having financial freedom doesn’t mean anything if one doesn’t have the health to enjoy it.

“I just don’t want to miss an opportunity to share with people what their lives could be like by something as simple as choosing the right foods,” Mothes said. “[Think about] how miraculous our bodies are and how miraculous foods are that God gave to us in this format, just this way. And it’s perfect the way it’s made for us and easy and low-cost, and so I’m passionate about sharing that.”