Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Beginning: Using Food to Heal: My Journey

Today I was searching on the web for recipes to do some cooking on one of my rare days off.  If I don't cook and get organized today, it'll be another week of the occasional emergency take-out punctuated by leftover soups that my husband and I cooked last week.  Its now or never because during the week, neither of us have any energy to attempt creative cooking!

Don't get me wrong.  I love Green Pea Soup, Lentil Soup, Butternut Squash Soup and the ever outstanding Lentil and Barley Soup.  The Lentil and Barley Soup is a creation of my husband, aka The Happy Nurse, because according to him "anything with barley tastes amazing!"  I totally agree but after two weeks of tupperwared soups with varying veggie options, I need to branch out.  

I decided to start this blog because tonight, as I searched for recipes (and found an AWESOME blog of a librarian who shares my food philosophy: The Healthy Librarian ), I discovered how little organized, easy to access information there is out there on healing yourself with food.  Google searching turns up a lot of options that look good, but then if you read closely, most of the food has things I can't and shouldn't eat if I'm going to feel good!  So I'm going to do my best to provide you with organized resources, recipes and ideas to truly feel healthier!!  I'll also share some snapshots of my life as a rehab doctor and some HIPPA-compliant sketches of some of my patient's experiences.

I realize that most men and women searching for recipes may have some dietary restrictions that limit their options, but my husband and I have a few more restrictions when we eat.  We are getting "radical" and choosing to treat our health issues with food rather than needing cardiac surgery, cancer treatment or a cupboard full of meds in the future.

Huh?  I know, I'm an M.D. talking against the idea of piling on the meds!!  My patients are always surprised to hear that I'm not big on the traditional, let me pull out my prescription pad, cut you off from talking and send you out the door, brand of medicine.  Granted, I'm still in my final stages of training in my specialty: Physcial Medicine and Rehabilitation but I'm a fairly passionate person once I find a cause, so I doubt I'll be changing my medical approach anytime soon! But, stay tuned to this blog and I'll let you know!!  As a side note, I'll share more about my field later, and yes, we are doctors (MD's or DO's), we went to medical school and Physcial Medicine and Rehabilitation is a medical specialty just like cardiology, orthopedic surgery or psychiatry!  

For the last two months my husband and I have been eating a no-oil, plant-based Vegan diet according to the Cleveland Clinic's Dr Caldwell Esselstyn's program from his book, "How to Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease."  Our program is well-supported by clinical and scientific research (including such notables as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and more).   We started the plant-based diet because my husband has heart disease--intermittent atrial fibrillation--which lands him in the hospital every other year or so.  We are making a choice to change our lifestyles to prevent disability (stroke, cancer, angina, arrythmias) and to live longer, more active lives.

I add my own twists to the plant-based Vegan diet based on a twelve-step program I have been working for four years to recover from obesity and overeating behaviors.  I also fold in some anti-inflammatory diet practices to treat my chronic low back pain and acute neck pain following a car accident a year ago.

I can hear you now....wait Dr. Cat, no meat???????....(I can hear you wailing from here!)..but give me a chance and keep reading....take what you like and leave the rest.

I truly believe that eating this way has given me a new lease on life.  I've lost nearly 100lbs in the last four years.  I've gotten off all daily anti-inflammatory and pain medications.  I no longer have allergies or sinus infections.  Since transitioning to a no oil, plant-based diet I no longer have the GI issues I struggled with for years.  I have more energy.  I laugh more because I don't hurt as much.  I am a better wife and a better doctor.  

Remember, I'm not your doctor and if you follow any ideas I present on this blog, you understand that I will not be held liable for anything I share or recommend.  That said, I can't wait to get started!  Next post will be on what I eat, why I eat it and how you can too!

A great movie I can recommend that captures the power of the plant-based diet:
Forks Over Knives

Some great resources:

The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.  Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. The Happy Rehab Doc expressly disclaims responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.  By visiting this site you agree to the foregoing terms and conditions.
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