Dr. Vash describes a healthy diet, one that prevents disease and promotes health.
When many of my patients first meet with me they ask me, “Well doctor, what’s a healthy diet?” And I try to ask them what do they mean and they don’t have an understanding. So I say in my perspective, from a medical point of view, a healthy diet is one which prevents disease and promotes health.
It should be a logical, should be a rational, cost effective and one that does not promise a quick, easy, magical cure. So it’s something that’s tangible like “Gee, I don’t have to buy certain specific foods. I don’t have to spend a lot of money,” and if it’s logical, meaning that I don’t have to go through many steps to get something, I understand that I can do this myself. That’s the first important point – yes, you can get on a healthy diet. One, that’s going to promote your health; it’s going to help you prevent chronic disease and one which is readily doable by your own hand.
This question about the healthy diet reminds me of the patient who has asked me about this and she was using a food combining technique where she couldn’t eat certain foods without the foods carbohydrates and proteins because it would somehow not be absorbed, and I told her that the stomach really absorbs all foods very quickly and very efficiently, that they didn’t need to go out of their way to have a special type of eating plan and that the healthy diet is one that you can use everyday foods in everyday manner but following certain guidelines.
So other patients ask me about some of their specific diets and I find that many of my patients wind up spending a lot of money for diets based on some magical, non-medical concept that really doesn’t pan out. I try to have them not spend a lot of money, go back to some basics, work with a medical professional who knows how the body works and just accept that responsibility and have a hope that they can make those necessary behavioral changes should cause them to lose weight.
I don’t think I have ever met a patient who couldn’t lose weight because the dynamics are very easy; it’s calories in and calories out. Many patients don’t want to hear it because it’s so obvious and they have been promulgated with that so many times that they get offensive. “Don’t tell me it’s just calories in and calories out. I have had it all my life. It doesn’t work for me.”
One day they have almost a Zen moment where they understand that “If I can do this I can control my life.” I tell my patients, when you control your caloric intake you control your weight. When you control your weight you have a sense of controlling your body weight. As that goes down you have a sense of enlightenment which leads to empowerment. When they understand that you have a totally different patient.
About Dr. Peter Vash, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Vash is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Center for Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is a Board Certified Internist specializing in Endocrinology and Metabolism, with an emphasis in obesity and eating disorders.