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Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Food on a Bus

In Food and Health, Junk Food, Organic Food on August 29, 2011 at 11:52 am
Apple photo on doctorfoodtruth

I Tweeted about this last week but have been thinking about and discussing it since: Fresh Moves.  Know about it? Steve Casey, a big-hearted entrepreneur in Chicago, started Fresh Moves in 2006.

According to their website, Fresh Moves was founded in 2006 after Mr. Casey and Mr. Jeff Pinzino became aware that much of their city had been designated a ‘food desert.’  From their About page: “In the city of Chicago,… entire communities have severely limited access to fresh fruits and veggies, and therefore suffer from significant health issues related to poor diets.”

This realization was the start of something unique and powerful.  Today, their converted bus roves the streets of south side Chicago, offering organic produce to people who have literally no access to fresh vegetables and fruits.

I learned about Mr. Casey’s efforts from a blog I follow, healthbreaksloose.  A post from early August related a story of a 14-year-old boy tasting his first apple.

An apple!  At age 14… that breaks my heart.  I love apples and keep them at the office and at home for a quick, satisfying snack.  I’ve occasionally let them go bad from neglect and reluctantly thrown them away.  Hearing that a teenager less than 3 hours up the road from me had never even tasted an apple?  Gives a guy pause, you know?

What kind of economy have we made for ourselves when soda pop and McDonald’s are everywhere but eating a simple apple requires a hero in a bus to deliver?  Wow.  America, we have a problem.

Insult to Prevent Injury

In Diet and Weight, Excercise, Family Doctor, Mindful Eating, Self Image on August 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm

He was proud but still mad.

One of my favorite couples came in together to see me recently. One of the things that has struck me as a Family Doctor is how closely some couples’ health tracks with each other.

I usually get to see lab tests before I see the person for their follow-up visit. I often get a glimpse into how the past few months have gone for people by seeing how much their blood chemistries have changed. Liver tests look good or go wild in someone I know struggles with alcoholism, cholesterol levels may suddenly jump for a lady who had told me she feared for her job, that sort of thing.

A few years ago, I had a couple who had been very stable with their diabetes suddenly both have terrible blood sugars. I knew immediately something was wrong and when I asked, found out that the husband had been diagnosed with lung cancer a few weeks earlier. They had both completely stopped their medicines and diets out of stress and grief. Since then he has done great and both of them are back on track.

The couple last week was different. Once again I had seen a change in the blood tests but this change didn’t match: the husband was suddenly much improved but the wife right where she had been. Why?

Two months ago, I had sent the husband to see a cardiologist (heart specialist) for symptoms that concerned me for a coming heart attack. I was relieved to get the other doctor’s letter saying he didn’t believe the symptoms were heart-related and that he had recommended exercise and diet change.

I usually start family visits with the person who has the most issues or most pressing needs. I turned straight to Bart (pseudonym) and said, “What’s different?”

“Well, I lost some weight.” That much was obvious.

“Good, but why are you mad?”

“Cause that heart doctor you sent me to told me I was fat and lazy! He said the only thing wrong with me was that I needed to lose some weight, that my heart was fine.”

Oh. I pick my specialists carefully and I picked this one because he does more testing than his partners and I thought Bart needed a certain test. I hadn’t warned Bart that this doctor can be pretty blunt sometimes — oops.

“But, I’m glad he did, though I’m still mad at him. I haven’t felt this good and had this much energy in years!”

Sounds like I may need to add therapeutic insults to my medical bag of tricks!

Woohoo!

In Uncategorized on August 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Have you heard? My book Food Truths, Food Lies was just reviewed by an Internet heavyweight, Dr. Val Jones of GetBetterHealth.com

And she liked it!

Everyone needs validation now and then, even DoctorFoodTruth.   I’ve had some good one-on-one time with some very successful patients recently, watching people heal their diabetes and stop their medicines as they lose 40, 50, even 75 pounds.  Each of them has become a local spokesperson for my book, telling near-strangers about it and challenging them to read it and try the changes I suggest.

Even with this kind of positive feedback, not having Oprah feeding my book sales has been a bit of a setback 😉

So reading Dr. Jones’ take was a real shot in the arm, let me tell you.

She says: Food Truths, Food Lies, written by family physician Eric Marcotte, M.D., may be the most refreshingly evidence-based diet book of the decade. You will not find a single mention of super-foods, magical berries, or supplement “must-haves” in the entire book. What you will find is the cold, hard truth about why many Americans are overweight, and what it takes to become a healthy eater.

See her entire review here.

front cover of Food Truths, Food Lies for doctorfoodtruth

Food Truths, Food Lies

Her site is a welcome relief from the bad information and outright lies most people find on the Internet about their health.  Check it out at GetBetterHealth.com!

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!

More of the Same

In Diet and Weight, Gluten-free, Junk Food, Mindful Eating on August 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Wow, speaking of up-sizing (see Monday’s post Up-Sizing America) check this out!

Dr. Mary and I go out of our way to find restaurants with gluten-free menus, so we walked to the newest one in our area. It is a “family pub” right on a pretty walking path we enjoy using so it sounded perfect.

The three-mile walk got our appetites up but we resisted an appetizer and placed our orders (bison burger rocks!)

As we sat there rehydrating before eating (being thirsty at the start of a meal is a great way to over-eat) I saw table after table being served the appetizer we resisted. The menu calls it Monster Nacho or something like that and says it serves 2-4 people. Holy cow! I finally got up and interrupted some random strangers’ meal so I could get a close-up. I told them I’m a food blogger but neglected to mention I’d be panning their choice. 😉

In fairness, the four of them barely made a dent before they sent it away in exchange for their much healthier-looking dinners. Other tables around us ate far more with fewer people then dutifully cleaned their supper plates too.

Wow. How many calories is that?!? Nobody knows and too few care. That’s why I write all this. Until we start to care about our food, our health will continue to suffer.

I’d like to hope that restaurants will stop offering Monster Nachos. Unfortunately that seems unlikely since I saw more of those ordered than any other appetizer. This place seems rather proud of their calories too, claiming their most famous dish is the Triple-Bypass Burger.

No, the only way things ever change is one person at a time. When I decide I won’t eat factory-farmed beef or chicken, I make a change for the better for my health and the world. For you, maybe it’s deciding to stop drinking soda pop and fruit juice. The calories you save could save your life; the plastic bottles your decision saves can only help the environment.

Maybe those people will reconsider ordering the Monster Nachos next time, helping them avoid their own triple bypass and avoiding the food waste such huge servings can cause.

Everything matters, every decision counts. Make yours healthier ones!

Monster nachos on doctorfoodtruth

Up-Sizing America

In Junk Food, Mindful Eating on August 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Dr. Mary and I were enjoying a sunny afternoon in one of our favorite places, a quaint little tourist town in southern Indiana when I spotted this antique.

Coca-Cola memorabilia has gotten popular and valuable, so I’m sure this old Coke machine would cost a fortune to buy.

I snapped a picture because this rusty old machine represents much of the work I do as a family doctor. Its also much of my motivation as a writer and speaker.

A long section of Food Truths, Food Lies is about the liquid calories that have fattened America. Another is about up-sizing, the gradual increase in serving size food companies use to have bigger profits.

This innocent little antique is probably loved by it’s owner. Most passers-by seem to give it a silly grin. I used to think fondly of begging my dad for a quarter so I could get a Coke.

Now? It kind of makes me mad to see these quaint reminders of why two out of three Americans are overweight.

The change in our thoughts about soda pop and serving size has made some big companies a lot of money. It’s also made us the most obese group in history.

The little 8-ounce bottles that machine dispensed are as antique as it is now. Instead we have the 12, 20, and 24 ounce containers and 44-ounce fountain sizes. Every one of these sizes looks like it’s for one person and is usually drunk that way. I have patients that drink 2,000 calories a day of pop! How can anyone be healthy when this seems normal?

Enough ranting for today. I’m glad that one machine won’t glow anymore. Too bad it’s modern cousins are out there by the millions, adding to the obesity epidemic.

Drink Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!

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Everything Matters

In Diet and Weight, Food and Health on August 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm
attributable causes of early death on doctorfoodtruth

What to blame early death on

I re-tweeted an interesting post on death  yesterday from my new friend over at Health Habits, Doug Robb.  Doug is a huge (check out his picture!) health and fitness buff and personal trainer from Toronto who posts interesting and provocative pieces regularly.

This post is about a 2009 Harvard study of the top U.S. causes of preventable death.  The researchers came up with a list of 12 that account for early deaths of various types, even being so kind as to describe the kind of death I could expect if I picked a particular bad habit.

The details are interesting (if you’re a medical nerd like me) or revolting (if you’re anyone else) but all come down to what one of my professors told me at the beginning of medical school: Most of the health trouble people have is caused by their choices.

Smoking, poor food choices, and being a couch potato adds up to cause most of these early deaths.  In my experience, most of the illness and feeling bad people suffer also comes from these choices.

The good news?  As I like to tell my patients, it’s never too late to change.  Our bodies can heal amazingly well.  Years of body abuse and bad choices can be turned around and health can be improved.  All it takes is a decision to change.  All you need is dissatisfaction with how things are and the desire for better health.

Then little choices for health can start to add up: putting down the cigarettes, pushing away from the table, walking around the block.  With a little effort and determination weight can come off, medications can get stopped, and health problems like diabetes and high cholesterol can go away.

Don’t wait for this list to be your epitaph — Change Your Habits, Change Your Life!

School Food (could) Rocks!

In Diet and Weight, Food and Health, Junk Food on August 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm

“I’ve had countless discussions over the past year with adults about school lunch. Not one adult has been against nutritious and sustainable food options for kids.

But the same adults who want better school lunches for kids are crushing triple stack burgers during their lunch break and take medication for nutrition-related diseases. Apparently the adults don’t believe in nutritious/sustainable food enough to partake themselves.

School lunches won’t change until we (adults) make a genuine change.”

From The Lunch Box blog, via Ann Cooper:
http://www.thelunchbox.org/community/lunchbox/2011/8/1/ryan-andrews-lunch-lady

This quote is from a passionate school food advocate who’s been there, done that.  Mr. Andrews worked the lunch line at a middle school for an entire year and apparently didn’t need to be medicated or hospitalized afterwards!

Seriously, this is absolutely worth a read. His take on what’s wrong and his real, (mostly) doable solutions are a breath of fresh air on a topic that too often gets political like everything else in this country. I stole this cartoon from his post and plan on posting a copy above my workstation at the office. How true!

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!

nutrition cartoon on doctorfoodtruth

Social Eating

In Diet and Weight, Mindless Eating on August 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm

In an earlier post I warned that there would be much more to come from Dr. Brian Wansink. His book Mindless Eating is a great read – I keep picking it up, shaking my head in amazement, laughing a few times, then blogging on it.

Chapter 5 is about the social cues of eating, called Mindless Eating Scripts. Wansink: “When we’re with people we enjoy, we often lose track of how much we’re eating. We eat longer than we otherwise would, and we let others set the pace for how fast and how much we eat.”

Come on, really? Isn’t that what you’re thinking? I’ve doubted and then been converted in each of the four previous chapters. Each time he throws out a “come on, man” statement then goes on to prove it and does it again here.

Apparently this “more table mates, more calories” thing is so well known that one of his colleagues has a math formula to calculate just how much more I’ll eat! Professor John DeCastro calculated the table below, showing how much more food people eat as the number of friends at the table climbs.

Unfortunately this makes a lot of sense. Who wants to be the rude one to leave first? Who can keep track of how many rolls or chips or buffalo wings they’ve eaten when the conversation gets loud and fun?

He talks about other studies where people are influenced by even total strangers to eat as much and as quickly as they eat. He describes a study by two of his colleagues that staged lunches of pizza and soda. They measured how much people ate when alone then compared it to later lunches when there would be a larger group present.

Of course, some people ate a lot and others ate less when alone. When placed in a group, though, the power eaters cut back to nearer the group average in pizza slices eaten and the picky eaters ate more to try to fit in!

Peer pressure is in our genes, people! Actually, this is one of his “take home” points for this chapter. We can’t fight the peer pressure every time but we can use it to our advantage. He recommends:
1) Pace your eating to the slowest person at the table
2) Be the last one to start eating
3) Decide before ordering how much you will eat then make that amount last the whole meal

Great stuff here, as always. I can’t say enough good things about this book and will keep coming back to the treasure trove for more healthy tips. In the meantime…

Change Your Food, Change Your Life!

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It’s Hard to Admit this But…

In Family Doctor, Food and Health on August 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm
Blueberry on doctorfoodtruth

Michigan rocks!  As a Buckeye fan by marriage, Michigan doesn’t have a good name in our house. (Random college sports crap, skip ahead.)

After this week enjoying the northern portion of the LP, both Dr. Mary and I both have to admit that Michigan rocks.  The Leelanau Peninsula and the M-22 road around it are personal favorites.  We loved the amazing restaurants in Traverse City too (as did Bon Appetit according to the brag pages we saw around.)

One of the very best things about summer in Michigan is the roadside stands with cherries and blueberries.  I ate both until my anti-oxidant-o-meter was on maximum, I think.  Blueberries are widely considered one of the most healthful fruits and according to Michigan’s cherry growers, cherries aren’t far behind!  (Though I haven’t seen that in the science press…)

Anyway, our long-awaited full-week vacation was truly great and leaving was hard, but we made it home just in time for a new EHR system being installed at my office.  EHR means electronic health record and is what every doctor is supposed to use instead of charts in the very near future.  My office is transitioning from a very bad one to a so-so one starting tomorrow!  Any doctors reading this will know I say truly when I say that this is REALLY BAD.

So, my posts may be a little spotty in the next few weeks as I wrestle a new software system into submission (my sixth change in my career, I should be getting quicker at it!)  Please be patient while I get my groove back.

In the meantime, get yourself some Michigan blueberries and cherries while they’re in season – you won’t regret it!