I spent at least half of my time this week in my preventive cardiology clinic answering one of two questions from patients across the country. The first question is: “Why have I never been told that I could improve my health by changing my diet?” The second is: “It’s OK I have added meat and butter back into my diet since my heart attack, right?”
The lack of nutrition counseling in the medical system is a huge deficiency that must be addressed by as many practitioners as possible. However, there is no need to wait for your health care provider to acquire and share nutrition knowledge. Here are five simple steps to start today and follow for the next month to see how your health upgrades quickly
1) Study recommended food plates
There is universal agreement about the valkue of eating recommendations shown in “food plates” suggested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Harvard School of Public Health, government of Canada and others since 2011. The guides show rational food selections for optimal health by eating from 4 groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins that can be found in plants or a few animal foods.
2) Watch a health documentary
Since 2011, the documentary “Forks Over Knives” has been educating and inspiring the public to connect food choices and health and has been a catalyst for change for so many. I have had hundreds of patients walk out of my clinic with a copy of the 90-minute DVD or a reminder note to watch it on demand. (See two-minute trailer below.)
Once you have viewed the movie, visit the website for inspiring stories of healing, educational pieces and recipes, as well as a meal planner. Other documentaries I recommend are “What the Health” (2017) and “The Game Changers” (2019).
3) Use three simple recipes
Simplicity and flavor will win the day as you make changes. You needn’t attend culinary classes to plan for success. Here are three recipes you can master and use repeatedly for an instant upgrade:
Overnight Oats with Chia (breakfast)
Chickpea and Baby Beet Salad (lunch)
30-Minute Vegan Chili (dinner)
4) Emphasize hydration
Drink filtered water, tea and black coffee in glass or stainless-steel containers. Omit fruit juices and sodas (avoid sugar substitutes).
5) Stay a student of health for life
These steps are all you need for a health makeover — a new path and a 100% health upgrade in 30 days. The most important determinant for your health and longevity is the diet you choose, followed by absence of smoking and obtaining regular fitness and walking.