Sunday, 25 August 2013

You are what you eat

It is one thing to say ‘start eating healthy’ to a patient, and a totally different thing whether the patient understands what that means. I have heard some interesting "healthy eating" strategies. For example, having peanut butter and banana smoothies for breakfast, lunch and dinner (not healthy or likely to result in weight loss). I have heard even more excuses as to why a patient is not eating healthy. For example being on the road or not knowing how to cook.

As a family doctor I think it is important to take the time to counsel patients on healthy eating.  Some physicians get their patients to make food diaries – and then make frequent follow ups to debrief and see how they are doing. Since a bad diet increases an individuals chance of acquiring chronic diseases – ie high blood pressure and diabetes (just to name a few) – there is definitely merit in encouraging good eating habits. 

Here are some general healthy eating tips that I may discuss with patients:

-BMI (body mass index) is a good place to start to determine what your goal weight may be. Calculate your BMI here. Normal is between 18.5 to 24.9.
-Take it slow. You do not want to lose 10 pounds in your first week – that is just not healthy. The optimal rate of weight loss is 1-2 lbs/week
-Fad diets do not work to KEEP the weight off. You need the right balance of nutrients –Canada’s Food Guide is a good place to start. Print it out and put it on your fridge.
-PORTION CONTROL. PORTION CONTROL. PORTION CONTROL. After finishing a plate of food instead of going straight back for seconds have a glass of water (or red wine). It may take a second for your brain to remind you that you are actually full.
-Minimize sugary food and drinks (and alcohol).
-Remember keeping weight off is a lifestyle change that takes perseverance.

Trip to the Calgary Farmer's Market today - some delicious fresh blueberries...
and as a treat Vanilla Bean and Salted Caramel Ice Cream (made by marcus)


  1. A referral to a Registered Dietitian may also be appropriate for clients who need/want more in-depth nutrition counselling.

    - RD-in-training

    1. I completely agree, and I have made many of these referrals. I am lucky enough to work with a team that includes a dietician. It is definitely a great resource to have!

  2. Heartening to know that you take the time to ask your patients about their eating habits and provide counselling in addition to making referrals. I've worked with clients whose doctors don't seem to do any of these things - so unfortunate!

    - RD-in-training