I’ve been hearing more and more about a whole food plant-based diet. There’s definitely data out there that shows this lifestyle is the key to longevity and protective from illness and disease. My curiosity first started when I had our first child. It was important to me to learn more about nutrition because I wanted to learn how and what to prepare food for my kids. From this curiosity, I stumbled upon a book called Genius Foods. Then, I listened to the Audible version of The Obesity Code. Most recently, I’ve been embracing How Not to Die and Eat to Live.
Am I vegan? No. Am I a vegetarian? No. Am I here to save the animals? If saving the animals is a positive side effect, then absolutely! My main goal is to have the l o n g e s t quality of time with my kids as well as teach them how to incorporate nutrition into their lives. As a parent, I want to make my kids’ lives easier, more meaningful, and more fun. Aside from financial freedom and responsible parenting, the next best gift I can give to my kids is the power of nutrition. I wish I knew this information when I was a kid and grew up knowing what was helpful to fuel my body.
I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions. Why? Because I used to make a list of 10 things and NEVER got any of them completed. My goal these days is to constantly re-asses my goals daily. Every day is a new day to accomplish something or try something new or go outside your comfort zone. So, this year, my husband and I both want to work on our nutrition. It’s more evident now (we’re in our 40s) than ever before that we really take responsibility not only for our own health, but the health of our littles. Therefore, this is a top priority for both of us. The more we learn about nutrition and what to put into our bodies, the more we can teach our kids the importance of health and nutrition. I hope this knowledge continues to transfer down into our kids, grandkids, etc. The gift of good health is more valuable to me now than before. The older I get, the more I see my parents/family aging. Luckily, my family has good genes are have lived into their 90s. However, I want to take what I can into my own hands and make sure it stays that way. I come across so many patients who either have bad genes, poor diet, poor access to nutrition, lack of knowledge of nutrition and exercise, or simple complacency with an “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do” attitude.
Three Books that I’m tackling this year:
Fit Men Cook by Kevin Curry: 100+ meal prep recipes for men and women — we got this book as a gift from my mom who is a great healthy example of nutrition and exercise. This book is very approachable!! Originally, my hubs and I wanted to just dial in a few meals to be able to cook during the week. But the more we read this book, the more we love the idea of meal prepping and eating healthy at home and work. So far, I’ve cooked one dinner and one breakfast and they are delicious! Our almost 11month old loves the foods as well!
The Obesity Code by Jason Fung — I purchased this on Audible as a recommendation from one of my anesthesia partners. It’s been a great listen and actually uses large scale studies done on humans (not animals) to really discuss nutrition. So far, it’s a great listen!
This past weekend, we went to my mom’s for Mother’s Day. It’s always a treat to be able to catch up with the fam. Both my aunt and my mom are extremely health conscious. My aunt has been practicing a very healthy lifestyle since 1999 when she had a health wakeup call. My mom has more recently adopted a health-conscious lifestyle probably in the last 8 years when she moved out to California. Nutrition is my aunt’s passion — any chance she gets, she’s always interested in educating me about eating whole foods. I feel like I’m pretty healthy, but I certainly make my food mistakes: preferring quick and easy to wholesome nutritious, craving sweet and/or fatty foods over better choices to satisfy my craving, and stress-eating without hunger. Sure we all do it. But, I got to thinking that now is a great time to really educate myself on nutrition and taking care of my family. I don’t know why it was such an epiphany, but now that I’m responsible for a tiny human… I’d really like to educate her on good food choices. So, it starts with me… leading and setting a good example for my daughter. It’ll be a bonus when the whole family jumps on board.
There’s a ton of nutrition info out there as well as recipes. Recently, I came across a gal’s website on nutrition: JSHealth. She has a very relatable story regarding her relationship with food. I think what she’s trying to accomplish is fantastic, and it should be a goal of not only girls and women, but anyone we love in our lives. Food is something that will be with us for life. There are so many fad diets out there. Some claim quick results — hey, who wouldn’t want to drop 10lbs in a month? But is it sustainable through life? If not, then you’ll just yo-yo back and forth and continue to look for “diets” instead of a “lifestyle”. Plus, look at the health gains or losses from a diet vs. whole food lifestyle. Will this be easy? Probably not. I will be changing the way I’ve eaten for the last 39 (eek) years of my life. But, it’s important, and I wish I knew and started sooner.
I was shocked to see that the NHS could ban surgery for the obese and smokers. That’s socialized medicine. You take a conglomerate group of people (the UK) on a limited budget for healthcare… and basically find the cheapest most cost-effective way to deliver healthcare. But in a way, it’s empowering patients to take responsibility for their own health. Smoking, for sure — I agree 100% that surgery should be banned for this population. Obesity is a bit trickier — there’s genetics and environmental factors at play in this one. I don’t think anyone chooses to be obese. But, people do have the power to change their eating and exercise habits. Despite these efforts, there are some people who are still obese…. and these people should not be faulted.
Why single out the obese and smokers?
Smokers and the obese have elevated surgical risk and mortality, which means more cost to treat and hospitalize and provide ongoing care.
I think the NHS is on to something here. They’re opening doors to moving the liability and responsibility away from physicians and towards patients. This is a plus. Outsiders may see it as separatism and elitist to only provide care for people who are healthy. But look at the facts and the data…. obesity has a lot of co-morbidities associated. Smoking has a lot of co-morbidities associated as well. Why should physicians be penalized for re-admissions, poor wound healing, longer hospitalizations when the underlying conditions themselves are already challenging enough? In fact, I would urge insurance companies to provide incentives to patients/the insured with discounted rates for good and maintained health and wellness. With all the technologies, medications, and information out there, it’s time patients take responsibility for their own health. I take responsibility for mine — watching my diet, exercising, working on getting enough rest, maintaining activities to keep my mind and body engaged, meditating for rest and relaxation. It’s not easy, but my health is 100% my responsibility. I refuse to pass the buck to my husband, my family, my physician, etc. I do what I can to optimize my health and future — and if that doesn’t work… I call for backup.
Patients need to change their mindset re: health. It is not your spouse’s responsibility to track your meds. It is your responsibility to know your medical conditions and surgical history. The single most important (and thoughtful) thing a patient can do is keep an up-to-date list of medications, past/current medical history, surgical history, and allergies to bring to every doctor’s appointment and surgery. This helps streamline and bring to the forefront your conditions and how these will interplay with your medical and surgical plan and postoperative care. Please do not forget recreational drugs, smoking habit, and drinking habit in this list. It is very important to know all of these things. Also, your emotional history is very important. Depression, anxiety, failure to cope, etc. This all helps tie in your current living situation with stressors and your medical history.
Links for educating yourself in taking responsibility for your health:
I came across this blog post and was really struck by it’s honesty regarding the nature of medicine and death/dying. Back in 2011, I was faced with a very real scenario regarding my father’s health. Throughout medical school, we are taught to do no harm. However, there is a fine line between living and just barely surviving. Even as an MD and having been trained to deal with death and dying, I had to eventually come to grips with what was best for my dad. It has been said that medicine is both an art and a science. Practicing the art of compassion and empathy, I have learned a great deal from patients and their families as well as my own. Despite all of the advances of modern medicine, nothing helps more than listening to the patient.