Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

But Does It Work?

In Diet and Weight, Excercise on December 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm

doctorfoodtruth picture of blood pressure cuff and stethoscope

All day I badger and cajole my patients to take better care of their bodies:

“We really need to get some of this weight off, Mr. Jones.”

“This blood sugar level means diabetes is right around the corner – it’s time to get serious about changing your diet, Ms. Smith.”

“This blood pressure reading tells me that you’re not getting enough exercise, Bill.”

I’ve got pills for everything, it seems.  I just wish I didn’t have to use them!  So when I get a great success story like I had recently, I want to share it.

Gary came in several months ago because the nurse at work had found a very high blood pressure reading.  I looked him over and did a few tests on his heart and immediately started him on the blood pressure medicine I thought would work best for him.

When I start a new medicine like this for a long-term problem, I always make sure to tell my patient if I think they have any way of fixing the issue and stopping the medicine.  In Gary’s case, I thought it was pretty clear that he had neglected his health and was starting to have consequences from that.  The good news, I told him, was that he could turn back the clock and fix his blood pressure and other health issues.

Since we had just met, I wasn’t sure how seriously he was taking his health or whether he really meant it when he said “I’ll fix this.”  As I got to know Gary over the next few months and see his blood pressure come down to the safe range, I found out that he had truly taken my challenge.  Just yesterday, we both realized that he beat it – we stopped one of his blood pressure medicines and made plans to come off everything in a few more months!

“I’m eating healthy and walking at least once a day,” he says.  “Nothing fancy, just stuff I knew I should have done but never did until now.  And I feel great!”

He ought to feel proud too.  In five months, he’s lost over 30 pounds.  The diet and exercise he’s done, while nothing crazy or difficult, has been made up of good choices day after day.  Gary’s good choices have made his heart stronger, his sugar normal, and cut his cholesterol by almost 40%.  All this in 5 months, while still enjoying life and working full-time.  And the best part?  Now I know Gary well enough to recognize that glint in his eye when he told me, “This is permanent.”  I have no doubt.

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!



In Food Truths, Food Lies on December 20, 2011 at 11:59 am
Food Truth Food Lies book by doctorfoodtruth

I am almost speechless right now.  I just got a heads-up email from a blogger-friend over at SweetFatLies.

Danielle is an insightful blogger I’ve enjoyed reading for some time now.

She decided to read and dissect my book Food Truths, Food Lies which made me a little nervous, I have to admit.  From what I’ve seen she doesn’t pull her punches.

Well, she just posted her review and  – wow!  She cut right to the core of my thoughts on food and wrote a great ‘Cliff Notes’ version of the book.

First, I think her site is a great add to your RSS feed, so add her.  Second, once you’re there, read her review.  Her opening sentence shows her laser focus on truth about food, diet, and weight:

I recently came across a Midwestern family physician who calls himself “Dr. Food Truth”  who offers up an often  funny, sometimes in-your-face look at the typical American diet and what it really means to your health.

Thanks Danielle!  Keep writing and teaching the “food truth” –  it can be hard to find out there…

Write it Down

In Diet and Weight, Excercise, Food Truths, Food Lies on December 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm

running on doctorfoodtruth

I was right!!

My wife Dr. Mary likes to keep track of those other times, of course.

But this time, I was right.

Just today a study hit the news that telling teens how many calories a soda had was useless. Telling them how many calories that soda was as a percent of their total for the day wasn’t much better.

But telling them how many minutes of running it would take to get rid of the calories? That worked!

In Food Truths, Food Lies I write about why exercise alone usually won’t lead to weight loss:

“Most people take 30 minutes of fast, sweaty walking to burn off one can of Coke…. Want to burn off a pound worth of calories? Better pack a lunch (which just puts you further behind) because that will take 10 hours on the treadmill!”

The moral of this story? Think about it before it gets swallowed. Once it’s down the hatch, it can take a very long time to get burned off again.

Change Your Food, Change Your Life!

Do Drink the Water

In Diet and Weight, Family Doctor, Junk Food on December 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

reflections in water glass on doctorfoodtruth

Something made me pause yesterday.  I filled a glass of water at the sink, something I’ve done who knows how many times.  A rare glimpse of winter sun made the water look like it was something special.

I realized how fortunate I am to be able to just turn the handle and get water anytime I want.  Billions of people don’t have such good fortune and taking it for granted is easy.

Of course, as soon as the moment of gratitude had passed, my mind went straight to nutrition as usual.

Several times a day I need to remind a patient that what they drink matters.  Choosing water instead of their favorite soda or flavored tea or sports drink or juice can save hundreds of dollars and thousands of calories a year.

The carbonation in soda pulls calcium out of bones and can cause kidney stones.  The sugar in juice (yes even the natural sugar!) causes cavities, weight gain and diabetes.  The sodium and sugar in sports drinks can help a marathon runner finish the race but is way overboard for what most of us do in a day.

How much less obesity and unhealthiness would we have if this miracle liquid from the faucet was our main drink?

Change Your Drink, Change Your Life!

Much Ado about Juice

In Diet and Weight, Food and Health, Junk Food on December 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm
apples on doctorfoodtruth

The apple juice scrum Dr. Oz started a few months ago came roaring back to life last week.  The original kerfuffle got the FDA to write emails, issue statements and even be interviewed by the Dr. Oz show according to his website.

Like most ‘crises’ this one faded quickly when some celebrity got arrested or engaged or whatever.  The debate got louder again last week when Consumer Reports published lead and arsenic levels in 10 national juice brands.  Dr. Oz may be a bit sensational but not many would accuse stodgy CR of exaggerating.

Buried in a then-unnoticed article from Consumer Reports, I found this little tidbit:

China now has become the world’s major exporter of apple juice concentrate, with America as its largest customer. Imports from China now account for two-thirds of the U.S. apple juice supply.

It turns out that China uses pesticides the US has long outlawed to grow their apples.  Seems like we just won’t learn: China has proven over and over that it isn’t a safe source for drugs (heparin), dog food (melamine), milk (also melamine) or even toys (lead).  Why would China be a good place to buy apple juice??

A different and probably louder demographic group is now lit up about apple juice, demanding government action to “protect our youth.”  Twitter (at least my little corner of it) has been buzzing about all this, stories flying around and looking more grim with each go-around.

I have an idea to bring a little sanity and safety to our grocery shopping.  Ready?


To quote this smart doctor I know (well, actually it’s just me…)

Yes, juice has vitamins – but so does the fruit! Yes, juice even has minerals and those antioxidants – but so does the fruit! Know what else juice has? Juice has more calories per ounce than Coke. Juice has more sugar than soda. Juice is easier to package and store and ship and sell than fruit. Juice is much sweeter than fruit so it’s easier to get kids to like it.

How do any of these things make juice good for you? They don’t – it’s not! Juice is good for the food and drink companies…. Let me repeat: Juice is not good for you!  Food Truths, Food Lies, pp. 33-4

Let’s skip the apple (and orange, grape, etc.) juice and eat the fruit instead.  Apple concentrate can make it across the ocean just fine, so our Big Food companies trying to make a buck will keep buying it wherever it’s cheap.

Apples?  Buy a bag and it likely came from no further away than Washington or Michigan.  In my town, I can buy apples most of the year that grew in my zip code.

Guess what?  That (American) apple is good for my digestion, waist line, world, and wallet.  Trading up from apple juice to an actual apple would be good for yours, too!

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!

A Breakthrough!

In Diet and Weight, Family Doctor, Food and Health, Mindless Eating, Self Image on December 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Just a few days ago I sat down with a patient and then nearly jumped back up again in excitement.

“Ms. J!  You’re doing it!”

“I know,” she said with a shy smile.

You have to understand, Ms. J and I have sat down opposite each other for more than a few appointments where nothing has really changed.  She usually beats up on herself for it, I usually ask her not to pick on my patient.  Then we talk again about motivation, about her pre-diabetes, about her family’s health, the usual.

What I can’t remember ever talking about is success like this!  She has steadily dropped a pound a week for the last 3 months (the pace I usually recommend.)

Even better, her blood work has come back to normal just that quickly.  Seeing a genuine smile on her face and not hearing a single negative word about herself was great, let me tell you.  Seeing a new determination and understanding that she is in control was even better.

Best of all?  Knowing the long-term effect her better choices could have on her family.

According to Dr. Brian Wansink, Ms. J is a nutritional gatekeeper.  In our culture, Mom is often the one who plans, shops for and prepares meals and snacks.  This means that when Mom gets motivated to choose healthy foods and habits, everybody at home finds their eating habits moving the same way.  I love it!

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!