With a top-notch health food resume behind him, chef Frank Giglio plans to share his food-as-medicine skills in a series of cooking classes starting Thursday.

Giglio trained at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, known for its emphasis on local, sustainable food, and later studied at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City, a leading school for diet-based health counseling.

While working as a chef at a health food store, he was introduced to raw food preparation. He then did a raw food apprenticeship at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona and adopted a raw vegan diet for a number of years as a sort of extended detox.

“Raw food was a huge trigger for me to get in control of my health,” said Giglio, 32. “I went 100 percent vegan and gave up coffee and alcohol. I’m so grateful I got into raw foods and vegan foods, because it helped me cleanse.”

Three years ago, he began integrating animal foods back into his diet by carefully choosing unprocessed meat, dairy and eggs from sustainably and humanely raised animals.

The series of six cooking classes that kicks off tomorrow at the Public Market House in Portland will emphasize nutrient-dense whole foods and provide food preparation techniques that maximize nutrition and flavor. Called the Maine RealFood Project, the classes will run through the end of September.

“Food is medicine; we need to use it as medicine,” Giglio said. “The point of these classes is to get people inspired so they realize that cooking is fun.”

Giglio, who lives in East Waterboro with his wife, Camille, and newborn son, Wilder, is open to and knowledgeable about a wide variety of diets that emphasize health, from the animal-based diets advocated by the Weston Price Foundation to the plant-based diets advocated by David Wolfe.

“It’s all about what feels best to you,” Giglio said of his approach to diet. “If eating a piece of cheese makes you feel satiated, just find the best-quality cheese. We have to become educated.”

Like ayurvedic and macrobiotic practitioners, Giglio feels that food is best when matched to the seasons and a person’s health status and constitution.

“The blanket statements for any food have to be thrown out the window,” Giglio said. “It has to be so individualized.”

As an example, he said that in winter you’re going to eat fewer raw foods. “But once the summer comes around, you may naturally eat 80 percent raw food and 20 percent cooked. Some things do better when they’re cooked. We need to get back in tune with our bodies and the seasons,” Giglio said.

The Maine RealFood Project will help you do just that.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter at: Twitter.com/AveryYaleKamila