My Introduction to a ‘Food is Medicine’ Way of Life
What would make me pump the brakes on over a decade of study, hundreds of thousands of dollars of college fees (still owing), not to mention innumerable hours in a hospital and clinic? What would make me quit a well-paid, highly respected profession in a GP speciality with no Plan B?
To help answer your questions, let me ask you some questions.
- Did you know in 2014-15, 50% of Australians had at least one of eight chronic conditions including arthritis, asthma, back problems, cancer, COPD cardiovascular disease, diabetes or mental behavior conditions?
- Did you know that in the same year, 1.2 million Australians had diabetes, 11 million adults were overweight or obese, and, even more frightening, one in four children were overweight or obese?
- Did you know that from 1982 to 2016 the number of new cancers doubled from 47 000 to an expected 130 500?
If debilitating illnesses, decreased quality of life and early deaths are not enough there is also the financial burden both to the individual and the economy. From 2015-2016 the total spending on health in Australia was 170.4 billion. 6 billion higher (3.6%) than the year before.
Given the above figures, what do you think a day in my life as a General Practitioner looked like?
Let me fill you in.
The Nitty Gritty
Picture me. Little brown me, in my bright red jacket, with Michael Jackson shoulder pads, working as a General Practitioner. Desperate to make a difference. Surrounded by, no drowning in physical sickness and mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. You name it, I saw it. Every 15 minutes I would see at least one patient with a vast array of ailments. Patients would have so many problems and ailments that they would have to write a list to make sure they didn’t miss anything when they came to see me! In this small window of time I would try to come up with a solution to solve their overflowing barrage of health concerns. Often overwhelmed, under pressure and time poor, I found myself reacting to diseases with medications without having the time or the resources to address the root course. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes were “controlled” with medications. My patients rarely got better. Often, over the years they would deteriorate.
Obesity and overweight patients abounded. A huge amount of diseases were directly related to this. Patients themselves were desperate to lose weight. Often, they would follow one faddish diet after another. Losing weight, only to put it back on again.
Patients were exhausted and fatigued, but most of all confused with contradictory health and nutritional information. Most of the time I found people eager and motivated to change their health but lacking the knowledge about where to start.
I became very aware that I was failing.
I was giving out medications that were controlling symptoms or at best stalling diseases, but NEVER curing the disease. Often there were side effects to these medications which would significantly affect one’s quality of life. I became desperate for a better way. I wanted to embrace a new paradigm that focused on preventing and reversing disease rather than just suppressing symptoms with drugs. Surely God did not create us to live like this. Reacting to illness instead of addressing the cause.
A Food awakening
Believe it or not, one of my patients recommended a documentary called “Forks over Knives.” I watched it the whole way through with my husband. After a few days, I watched it again.
I was compelled, but not convinced. After all I had done nearly a decade of study and had not been taught about this. Could nutritional medicine be this powerful? I began to research the Whole-Food Plant based diet. I started to read about Doctor John McDougall and other doctors practicing plant-based medicine. I began to read testimonial after testimonial of his patients who had lost huge amounts of weight, REVERSED their heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and much more by eating this way. Thousands had come off medications. Forever. Others had avoided heart surgery. Could this be true?? I started to get excited.
From there I read the China Study by Doctor Colin and his son Thomas Campbell. I began to read book after book (see the resources) and listen to podcasts. I read the websites of nutritional doctors and read testimonial after testimonial of how peoples’ lives had been positively changed. I found there is a huge amount of research and dynamic books written on the topic. The evidence and testimonials are insurmountable.
The China Study was extraordinarily helpful. I found this book and Doctor Campbell’s lifelong work of research to be revolutionary in its implications.
While I am not yet medically and nutritionally convinced, I am very compelled. What if moving a little closer to a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet is the powerful preventative tool we have all been searching for? What if it is the way to permanently lose weight and optimise our health that we have all been searching for?
Here is the bottom line:
If you are serious about changing your health and your life I want you to research and read yourself. I have created a list of the resources that I loved and helped me the most. This is a change that I believe could possibly alter the course of your health. But I urge you. DO NOT DELAY. Don’t waste another moment. Do not change the subject. You have time for this. The implications will change your life.
Start with ‘Forks over knives.’ It is free on Netflix and only takes just over an hour. You have no excuse.
Start to work through my resources. You don’t have to read all the books but pick one. I recommend the China Study. If it is the only book you read, let it be this one.
If you read and research perhaps you too will become compelled and intrigued. Perhaps what you learn will empower you to change the way you eat and the way you think about health.
I will not spoon feed you.
If a short and quick weight loss plan is what you are after or you are unwilling to change your eating habits permanently then may I suggest that this may not be for you. To be frank, if you want a ‘quick fix’ or are happy to ‘quieten’ your symptoms with medications then this is your prerogative. To change the way you eat and live requires long-term commitment. It requires you to seriously consider what you are getting into. It requires you to take time to do some research so that you have the knowledge to empower you to make the change. More importantly, you will believe in what you are doing rather than simply trusting in another person’s knowledge and blindly following their instructions.
Read some books! Study the resources I discovered. Learn something. Download my free Plant-Based cookbook and give a meal a try! Your health is NOT your doctor’s responsibility. It is yours! I’m putting the ownership of your health back onto you!
I am not exclusively Plant-Based, nor do I expect the world to be. Whilst I do believe it is better for our health and for the environment, it is unrealistic to expect the whole human race to live entirely on plants. Hence I lean toward an 80/20 balance (80% Plant-Based), where we take care of our health, but are not inflexible or intolerant of a variety of food experiences. This is much more accessible and sustainable for the general population.
I continue to work in the medical field, but have moved to an educational approach within hospitals around Australia.
You deserve better.
- You deserve to get off your medications and gain control over your health.
- You deserve to lose weight and keep it off.
- You deserve to age gracefully.
- You deserve to prevent heart disease, diabetes, alziemers, and strokes.
- You can choose to learn about nutrition and implement changes that will transform your health.
- You have a choice to prevent disease.
- You have a way to optimise your weight.
I believe that what you eat is the single most important thing you can do to optimise your health.
I no longer work as a General Practitioner trying to control the symptoms of poor nutritional and lifestyle choices. Instead, my goal is to prevent disease and optimise health by putting you in the Driver’s seat to take control of your health. I want to help you to transform your health, your diet and your life.
Leave some feedback if you can, and chew on some of the helpful resources below.
The Healthy Hiccup
Forks over knives: https://www.forksoverknives.com/the-film/#gs.LJAQtM4
Here are two short Ted talks to whet your appetite:
“I love Nutritional Science” Dr. Joel Furhman.” https://youtu.be/E4katnfHzXA
“Plant-strong & healthy living”: Rip Esselstyn” https://youtu.be/AAkEYcmCCCk3.
The Forks over Knives Plan How to transition to the Life- saving Whole Food, Plant- Based Diet.
This was written by Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman. It is by far the best book I have read in terms of practicality and clarity. Written by two doctors, it does not incorporate any negativity towards the medical profession. It is my top choice as a read for you to get started and to learn more about this way of life.
The China Study revised and expanded edition. T Colin Campbell, Thomas M Campbell
This is a GREAT book if you want the most comprehensive study of nutrition. It will help to answer every question and provide ALL the evidence you will need. A hugely recommended read for everyone, but especially if you have a very analytical mind and need hard rock-solid evidence
The China Study solution: the simple way to lose weight and Reverse Illness using a whole food plant- based Diet. Thomas Campbell
This puts the China Study recommendations in to practice. I found it was a practical way to incorporate what was written in the China Study.
The Plant-Based Journey: A step by step Guide for transitioning to a healthy Lifestyle and achieving your ideal weight. Lani Muelrath. 2015 BenBella Books Inc
This book can be read once you are convinced about a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet. It will help you to know “Where to from here?”
Engine 2 plant strong
https://engine2diet.com is an excellent source for resources, recipes and even a seven-day jump start to a Whole Food Plant- based life. It started after a Fireman called RIP Esselstyn (from meat eating capital Texas) convinced the staff at the Fire Station to go plant-based. He did this after one of the firefighters became seriously ill with heart disease. After a 28 day trial of a whole food plant-based life, they experienced dramatic health changes and none of them looked back.
Dr Mcdougall Health and Medical Centre.
https://www.drmcdougall.com This is another great website to look at in your plant-based journey. Doctor Mcdougall has been using plant-based medicine to treat and reverse disease for over 44 years. He has treated thousands of patients with heart disease, autoimmune illnesses, obesity and a vast array of other “incurable” diseases with Whole Food Plant-Based Diet. He has seen most people come completely off their medications as well as shed large amounts of weight and keep it off. The testimonials will inspire you, the evidence will overwhelm you.
References for health statistics above :
National Health Survey: rst results, 2014–15. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS