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Catherine Price      

Award-Winning Author, Journalist & Diabetes Patient Advocate

Hailed in The New York Times as "the Marie Kondo of brains," Catherine Price is an award-winning science journalist, speaker, and author of "How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life" (Ten Speed Press), among other books. Her newest book, "The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again" (Dial Press) will be released in December 2021. As a speaker, consultant and workshop leader, Price helps individuals and organizations create healthier personal and professional relationships with their phones (and other devices), and establish best practices to encourage creativity, productivity and mental health. In other words, she helps people scroll less, live more, and have fun.

"How to Break Up With Your Phone" has been published in 30 countries and featured in scores of high-profile media outlets around the world, including NPR, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Wired, Vox, Refinery29, BBC World News Service, and many others. A New York Times article about Price and her 30-day program titled "Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain,” went viral, receiving more than 2 million hits in less than a week.

Price is also the creator and founder of Screen/Life Balance, which is dedicated to helping people learn how to scroll less and live more. Screen/Life Balance is part of Price’s continued mission to create evidence-backed resources to help people around the world design lives in which they control their technology, rather than the other way around—with the ultimate goal of increasing happiness, productivity, creativity, health and wellbeing.

Price speaks, consults, and leads workshops on how individuals and corporations can set better boundaries with — and best practices for — their devices in order to maximize creativity and productivity, improve mental health and brain function, reduce burnout, spend more time doing the things that actually matter to them...and have more fun! Her engagements can be customized based on audience size and area of interest, but they are always compelling and actionable, chock-full of what Price calls "science-backed self-help."

Speech Topics

Vitamin Myths

Everyone knows about vitamins, and yet most of us know nearly nothing about vitamins at all. Worse, the assumptions we make about vitamins and nutrition have the potential to seriously harm our health. In this talk, appropriate both for the public and for nutrition- and medical-oriented gatherings and classes of all kinds, Price challenges some of our most commonly held beliefs about vitamins and nutrition, including the idea that humans have the knowledge necessary to engineer nutritionally complete foods and supplements, and that anything considered “natural” must be safe. Covering subjects ranging from the original discovery of nutritional deficiency diseases to the emerging field of epigenetics, this talk uses the fascinating history of vitamins to caution us against thinking that we’ve got everything about nutrition figured out.

The Protective Diet

In this talk, suitable both for the public and for medical and nutritional students and professionals, Price explores why Americans are so drawn to dietary trends, and explains why the vague and boring nutritional advice that we all know we should be following – consume more produce, avoid overly processed foods – is actually the most cutting-edge, scientific way to eat. To do so, she tells the story of a 1920s scientist named Elmer McCollum, a popular columnist and one of the discoverers of vitamins A and D, who came up with the term Protective Diet to advise his readers on how to design their families’ meals. McCollum’s recommendations were born from necessity: at the time he was writing, no one was able to precisely calculate the vitamin content of food. Today, nearly 100 years later, our analytical tools have improved, but uncertainties surrounding human nutrition still remain – in fact, if anything, they continue to increase. In this talk, Price argues that instead of obsessing over nutritional details – or feeling paralyzed by uncertainty – we can use a modern version of Elmer McCollum’s Protective Diet to help us decide what to eat. The result would be an approach to food that is simple, scientific, enjoyable – and which has the capacity to provide a sense of nutritional identity that Americans in particular seem to crave.

Nutrition “Facts”: A Guided Tour of Food and Supplement Labels – and What All Those Numbers Actually Mean for Your Health

In this talk, which is appropriate both for the public and for nutrition- and health-related professional conferences and educational settings, Price takes listeners on a guided tour of Nutrition and Supplement Facts panels, exploring the largely untold history of America’s nutritional recommendations and the many mistakes we make when trying to apply them too directly to our lives. Counter-intuitive and at times shocking, the back story of our Nutrition and Supplement “Facts” speaks both to the continued uncertainties that surround human nutrition and the importance of not taking nutritional information – whether on product labels or newspaper headlines – too personally.

How to Talk So Your Patients Will Listen and Listen So Your Patients Will Talk

Medical professionals who deal with diabetes – whether they’re primary care doctors, endocrinologists, nutritionists, dieticians or certified diabetes educators – are all devoted to improving the lives of their patients. And yet there is often a profound disconnect between caregivers and their patients, with the caregiver feeling as if the patient is ignoring his or her advice, and the patient feeling discouraged, frustrated and ashamed. This is an enormous and concerning problem, given that an estimated 12 percent of American adults already have some form of diabetes, and an additional 37 percent are thought to be pre-diabetic. Why does this happen? How can it be stopped?

In this talk, which is suitable for gatherings of primary care doctors, endocrinologists, nutritionists, dieticians or certified diabetes educators, Price uses her experience as a person with type 1 diabetes to explore some of the reasons that these interactions can be so unsuccessful, and suggests ways to make them more satisfying and productive for both sides. The ultimate message is one that is applicable to medical conditions beyond diabetes as well.

This talk is also extremely appropriate for an educational setting – for example, as a speech for incoming medical students – to emphasize how important it is for tomorrow’s doctors to understand their patients as people, not just as problems to be solved. For this audience, Price calls upon her experience participating in a program at the University of Pennsylvania medical school called LEAPP – Longitudinal Experience to Appreciate Patient Perspectives – in which incoming medical students are paired up with a person living with a chronic disease. Over the course of two years, the students attend some of the patient’s doctors’ appointments, speak with their patient on the phone, and do at least one home visit. The point, as Price illustrates, is to train tomorrow’s doctors to prevent the disconnect and depersonalization that often happens between patients and their medical caregivers, with the hope of both improving the relationship between doctors and their patients, and preventing medical caregivers from becoming too frustrated, disenchanted and burnt out.

How to Design Websites, Products and Tools That Patients and Customers Will Actually Use

In this talk, Price uses her experience being diagnosed and living with type 1 diabetes to help non-profit health organizations and medical and device companies create websites, interventions and products that their customers and patients will actually use. Doing so requires taking a patient-centric, bottom-up approach to design, with a commitment to usability and a sensitivity to patients’ and customers’ emotional states and needs that is currently too often lacking. In this talk, Price emphasizes the need to include customers and patients at every step of the design process, gives practical tips on how to do so, and explains why more features and information is not always better.

This talk can be customized based on audience and interest – for example, she can consult with a product, design or marketing team about a particular diabetes-related project, or she can use diabetes as a case study to discuss the importance of patient centricity and usability more generally (and for a larger audience).

Freelance Survival Guide

To many people, being a freelance writer (or freelance anything) sounds like a dream job: no boss, no set hours, the freedom to do whatever you want. In reality, surviving as a freelancer takes an enormous amount of organization, persistence, attention to detail and self-made structure -- and often an alternate source of income! In this talk, Price humorously debunks some of the common myths about life as a freelancer (e.g. it’s a good idea to stay in your pajamas past noon). She provides tips on how to determine whether pursuing a career as a freelancer really is the life for you and, if so, how to do it. (Some of the talk is based on an article she wrote on the subject for Salon.)

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“Vitamania”: The Strange and Surprising Story of Nutrition’s Most Powerful Word

Everyone is familiar with vitamins – many of us have taken them since we were children, after all, and marketers often use the presence of vitamins as proof of the nutritional quality of their products. But what, exactly, is a vitamin? Where did the word come from? Does the presence of vitamins mean that something is healthy? And how has the word’s popularity affected our overall approach toward food?

In this talk, which is suitable both for the public and for nutrition- and health-related professional conferences and educational settings, Price argues that, as both individuals and a society, we’ve been seduced by a word. She reveals the fascinating history of the word “vitamin,” including its surprisingly recent coinage (it was made up in 1911 by a Polish biochemist named Casimir Funk), its early use by food marketers, and the many ways it is used to manipulate our buying choices today. Along the way, she demonstrates how we’ve come to associate vitamins with near magical powers, and how, despite having no precise scientific definition, the word “vitamin” laid the foundations for our current detail-obsessed philosophy toward nutrition. She also reveals how “vitamin” has been brilliantly used by marketers and the supplement industry to come to stand in for the much larger category of dietary supplements – leading to a regulatory situation that both threatens the public’s health and defies common sense.

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