You are what you eat! Making the time to talk to your patients about food and nutrition can help them achieve lasting health.
I have a passion for health and wellness, and specialize in preventative medicine, with a focus on the reversal of diabetes and obesity.
50% of American 65-year-olds have abnormal blood sugar levels; prevention is critical. Making the switch from processed to real food takes planning and support.
After many years supporting patients transition to better eating, here are my top tips for talking to your patients about food:
1.) Don’t blame the victim.
Understand that most people have already tried everything they can think of to maintain a normal weight. Nobody chooses to be overweight.
2.) It is a fundamental misconception that obesity is an overindulged state. If that were true, then diets would work. Diets only make things worse, and that’s because obesity is due not to overindulgence, but rather to malnutrition.
3.) Teach your patients that the key is to understand the difference between real food and manufactured calories. Real food nourishes you. Everything else entertains. It’s not that you can never eat treats, it’s that they don’t nourish you. Fun is fine, it’s just not food.
4.) The good news is that your brain can tell the difference between real food and entertainment. Imagine you went to the movies, ate a big box of candy, and then went to dinner. But what if the movie theater sold roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and salmon? No one would go out for dinner afterwards! Despite the 300 calories of sugar from candy in your stomach, your brain knows it wasn’t nourished yet, and it’s still hungry.
5.) When it comes to carbohydrate, decide whether they are intact, whole, colorful carbs, or stripped carbs. The former include vegetables, beans, fruits and whole grains. These are food. The latter include white flour, white rice, corn starch, corn syrup, fruit juices, and beer. These are entertainment.
6.) When it comes to fat, encourage your patients to eat nourishing fats like avocados, olives, dark chocolate, deep-sea fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. Fats invented in the 20th century, on the other hand, like soybean, corn, cottonseed, and vegetable oil, cause marked inflammation and are best avoided to the greatest extent possible.
7.) When it comes to protein, the name of the game is quality. You are what you eat, so whenever you eat anything that ate a substandard diet, you concentrate it up the food chain, right into you. Yes, it costs more money to eat better quality meats, poultry, dairy, and eggs, but in the long run you’ll spend less money at the drugstore. And if that means you’ll eat it less often, that’s fine, too. You have other options.
8.) A great source of protein that is both nourishing and inexpensive is beans. Beans are the only food that is high in both protein and fiber at the same time. You don’t have to become a vegan, just eat more beans. Lentil soup, hummus, edamame, and peanut butter. White beans, black beans, green, or red beans. If you make a pot of chili, put in twice the beans.
9.) You don’t have to do it perfectly. You just have to do it better than you used to. It’s not just about food. It’s also about making time to take your brain off the rails, take a few deep breaths, walk a few more steps.
10.) Trust your gut. You don’t get to decide what you want to weigh. But you do get to make hundreds of choices every day that improve your nutritional status.