McFarland Clinic

Food is Medicine: A Guide to Good Health and Nutrition

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Food is Medicine: Scott's Extraordinary Story

When Scott found out he had Type 2 Diabetes, he knew he had to change what he ate. With the help of his McFarland Clinic his physician Dr. Michael Bird, Scott lost weight and reduced his medication.

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At McFarland Clinic, we feel proper nutrition is a vital part of your health care prescription. This includes weight loss, if necessary, and eating a balanced diet. Some general principles to consider are as follows:

What to Eat

What to Eat

  • Think of food as medication. It is the single most important thing you can control when it comes to your health. For most patients eating properly is more important than any medication your doctor will prescribe.
  • Eat vegetables and fruits. Vegetables are a great source of protein (vrg.org) and carbohydrates (good carbs). They have little if any fat. They are also a good source of dietary fiber. Both fruits and vegetables contain many phytochemicals (micronutrients that can reduce the risk of cancer). Eat whole fruit rather than drinking fruit juice. Vegetables and fruit are much less calorie dense than meat and dairy products.
  • Carbohydrates typically make up a large percentage of our daily caloric intake and are not bad in and of themselves. Eat carbohydrates found in fresh and cooked vegetables, nuts, lentils beans, raw fruits, and whole grain pasta and bread.
  • Fiber is a critical nutrient that is severely deficient in most American diets -- 97% do not meet the recommended goal of 31.5 gms per day. Fiber improves stool bulk and promotes regular bowel movements. In addition, fiber has been reported to reduce risk of colon cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It is important to note that meat, dairy products, and eggs have no fiber. Good sources of fiber include:
    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Legumes
    • Certain fruits

Resource for Sources of Fiber

 

What to Limit

What to Limit

  • Limit meat (poultry, pork, beef, and fish) intake especially processed meats like salami, hot dogs, ham, beef jerky, and canned meat. The World Health Organization has categorized processed meats in Group 1 (same category as tobacco smoking) because there is “convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer.” Overall, meat should represent a relatively small proportion of your daily caloric intake.
  • Limit refined carbohydrates found in candy, desserts, boxed cereals, non-whole grain pasta and breads. These are not health foods and should be severely restricted in your diet.
  • Limit salt and sodium intake. Sodium is an essential mineral for the body. A common form of sodium is table salt which is a combination of sodium and chloride. Table salt and sea salt have the same basic nutritional value and contain comparable amounts of sodium. High blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease are associated with excessive salt intake. Salt weighs about 2.5 times more than sodium. Recommended intakes for salt and sodium are as follows:
    • Salt -- 3.75 to 6 grams per day (6 grams of salt = 1 teaspoon)
    • Sodium -- 1.5 to 2.3 grams per day

 

Make a Plan

Make a Plan

  • Many different eating patterns can be successful. You may need to try several of these to find something that works for you. Choose a plan to be a lifelong change rather than a crash diet for several months but not sustainable. Consider some of the these options and specific recipes:
  • Discuss with your doctor what diet/nutrition plan is best suited for you. Certain medical conditions and medications limit your options and need to be reviewed with your doctor. If you are taking diabetic pills or insulin or blood pressure medication, these may need to be reduced with changes in your diet and changes in your weight. Please discuss with your doctor how your medications should be adjusted.
  • Be mindful of the food you are eating. Eat to care for and fuel your body. Use a resource such as amIhungry.com for mindful eating programs and training.

 

Be Active

Be Active

  • Exercise is a crucial part of maintaining good health. It is important even if weight loss is not necessary. Exercise can help control blood pressure, reduce risk of diabetes, and improve cardiovascular fitness. At minimum you should do something that makes you “huff and puff” for 30 minutes 3 times per week. Daily exercise is best.

 

Track Your Success

Track Your Success

  • Maintain or lose weight by knowing what your body needs. Most of us eat more than we think we do. It might be surprising, but most adult women only require 1500-1800 calories per day to maintain weight. Men would be closer to 2000. This depends on activity level.
  • Keep track of calories. Most people don’t like to count calories. If you are mainly eating a plant based whole food diet, then you do not need to keep track of calories. However, most people will find it useful to do some type of record keeping in regards to calories.
  • There are several good applications for computers and mobile devices to help you set goals and keep track of calories and will give you information when shopping. These include:

Remember this quote from from author, journalist, and food activist Michael Pollan:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.”

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