I love this article that shows a shift in healthcare from treatment of disease to prevention. I practiced primary care for many years, caring for both adults and kids. When I saw kids for well-visits, I started asking them to name 5 vegetables that they like to eat. Not surprisingly, they often could not. I encouraged them to pick a new vegetable to try at each grocery shopping trip until they could come up with five. Out of curiosity, I started asking my adult patients if they could name five vegetable that they liked to eat. Remarkably, many of my adult patients could not name five either! I shifted my questioning in practice from “Are you eating a healthy diet?” to the more specific “Do you eat 3 servings of vegetables daily.” Many patients who said they eat a healthy diet, when asked specifically, report that they do not eat a minimum of three servings of vegetables daily, which would constitute a healthy portion of vegetables.
As I pressed further, it became clear that one of the major limiting factors for a healthy diet was that people did not cook real food at home. In our very busy lives, many people feel that cooking at home is too time consuming, and choose a box, a frozen or processed meal, or eating out for convenience. These processed foods often contain sugar, excessive salt, and unhealthy forms of fat that make us unhealthy and contribute to other health issues. I discovered that if I problem-solve with patients by discussing meal planning, recipes, food preparation tips, they were grateful and then felt confident to start to change their eating patterns.
In my current practice, reviewing recipes and cooking tips and techniques inspires my patients and gives them confidence in the kitchen. I have loved the opportunity to teach cooking classes and nutrition as part of my medical weight loss program, and I am thrilled to have Chef Dee Iraca as part of my Team to create fast and flavorful recipes that are also healthy. We love to hear when patients and participants in the class tell us with pride how they made the recipes from the class to the delight of their family and friends. As a physician, the other great reward of helping people learn to cook fresh whole foods to improve their nutrition is that they become healthier and live better. After changing their diet, my patients quickly report decreased pain and increased energy, their blood pressure and blood sugars go down, and I can decrease or take them off medications! Food is medicine, offering prevention and treatment both!