Over the weekend I flew home to the Philadelphia area to help care for a family member who had recently undergone a triple bypass. The bypass was further complicated by diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney damage all brought on by years of inordinate stress, over eating and smoking which they had quit several years prior the damage however had none the less been done. As a health coach and personal chef, I had been asked to come and make a series of meals “to get them started” that would promote a healthier lifestyle given this individual’s new reality. A low fat, low sodium, plant full world.
This is the type of work I absolutely love to do! What could be more exciting than helping someone create their own path to optimum health and wellness? Who wouldn’t want to lose weight, feel great and have more energy all of the time? The truth is and we all know it, change takes time regardless of whether you welcome it into your life or fight it tooth and nail. The job before me was no easy task as this individual in question had made it quite clear that they were unwilling to make any dietary changes and that the bypass by virtue of the wonder of modern medicine had resolved the problem by replacing three arteries-problem solved!
With the exception of a small percentage of cases, heart disease is a largely preventable disease as is type 2 diabetes, hypertension and subsequent kidney damage. Through a balanced diet of whole natural foods, a reasonable amount of physical activity, adequate sleep and stress management a bypass, insulin and a whole host of diseases would be a thing of the past.
As a health coach and nutrition educator, I was horrified to learn that the hospital despite its many wonderful nurses, doctors and dieticians, offered up chicken salad, omelets and Jell-O as acceptable menu items for those with heart disease awaiting bypass surgery. It boggles my mind that when there is significant well publicized and validated research available explaining the correlation between saturated fats found in animal protein and high cholesterol and heart disease plus further research explaining the benefits of a plant based diet on the prevention and reversal of heart disease, why vegan meals wouldn’t be the only option on the menu! Try to get between me and a grass fed grilled hamburger and you might have a fight on your hands but then again I don’t have heart disease and am blessed with low cholesterol.
For the last several days I have been cooking like crazy making nonfat, dairy free, vegan, low sodium, low glycemic treats such as custards, puddings, muffins, soups, snacks, meals and breakfast burritos all full of flavor and beautiful to look at each of which has been turned down. This comes as no surprise, as most people including “My patient” and his nurse are less than knowledgeable on the benefits of whole natural foods and that all foods are not alike. “My patient” is fighting his new lifestyle tooth and nail, demanding Chinese food from the local Chinese restaurant, roast chicken and lean cuisines arguing that I am no cardiologist. While I am in fact not a cardiologist I have however spent the last several years studying dietary theory and the research of many renown doctors, researchers and cardiologists such as Drs. Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., and Neal Barnard who present compelling findings on the benefits of a plant based diet for people dealing with heart disease and diabetes. With this knowledge I have built a business educating and cooking for individuals dealing with both chronic and life threatening disease who are interested in using food as a means of healing.
There is no telling what path my “patient” will choose to take, the decision will be up to him but one thing is for sure, his family will be equipped with knowledge and expertise on how to prepare meals that enhance and enrich a healthier lifestyle full of flavor. The option to live a healthier more fulfilling life is one that is available to everyone and doesn’t require a personal chef. Choosing whole natural foods over processed, drinking more water, getting a good night sleep, finding proactive ways to combat stress in your own life and spending time participating in acitvities that feed your soul are a good place to start.