What diet doctors should recommend

by Christina on July 25, 2014

Just watched this short video by Michael Greger on Kaiser Permanente’s publication last year about physicians recommending a plant-based diet.

Check it out:

“Too often, physicians ignore the potential benefits of good nutrition and quickly prescribe medications instead of giving patients a chance to correct their disease through healthy eating and active living…

“Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity…

“Despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, including studies showing a willingness of the general public to embrace them, many physicians are not stressing the importance of plant based diets as a first-line treatment for chronic illnesses. This could be because of a lack of awareness of these diets or a lack of patient education resources.”

And my favorite line:

“Further research is needed to find ways to make plant-based diets the new normal for our patients and employees.” (emphasis mine)

I also really like the paper’s recommendations for related performance-driven measurable outcomes such as:

  • the percentage of physicians who have completed a course on nutrition that includes a discussion of the benefits of a plant-based diet and exercise;
  • the percentage of our hospitals, cafeterias, and physicians’ meeting facilities that serve meals that are consistent with a plant-based diet;
  • the percentage of patients on a physician panel who are obese and who have completed a course on weight management and nutrition that emphasizes a plant-based diet; and
  • the percentage of patients in a physician panel with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or cardiovascular disease who completed a course on nutrition that emphasizes a plant-based diet.

Kaiser is now providing patient education on plant-based diets — hopefully other providers will follow their lead.

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Benefits of prenatal yoga

by Christina on July 24, 2014

While Ashtanga has been challenging for me lately, I’ve really loved going to prenatal yoga and now that I’m done with residency I’ve been able to go several times a week. It’s pretty awesome being in a small room with over 40 very pregnant ladies – such amazing energy!

If you live in the Bay Area, Jane Austin is by far my favorite class. Jane is a great teacher, knowledgeable about pregnancy and labor and birth, is hilarious, and attracts pregnant women from all over the bay area into her packed classes. She has really great tips for many of the complications and discomforts of pregnancy (flipping breech babies, carpal tunnel, back pain, sciatica, anxiety, sleep issues, and more).

While I still like doing some more intense exercise other days of the week (long walks, strengthening exercises), prenatal yoga offers something I can’t get anywhere else. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is, but some combination of the following:

  • Connecting with a community of women all going through the adventure of pregnancy
  • A time to mindfully connect with our bodies and our babies inside of us
  • A focus on strengthening the shoulders and opening the hips, particularly important for pregnancy
  • Learning and practicing labor positions
  • Focusing on our breath as practice for labor
  • Strengthening and releasing the pelvic floor in preparation for birth

Jane Austin also does a prenatal partner workshop – we took it a couple weeks ago and it was the best birth-prep we could have asked for. I cried and laughed as we went through massage techniques, ways to raise oxytocin levels, and practiced different labor positions.

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Post-residency recovery

by Christina on July 14, 2014

It is taking me some time to recover from residency. I’ve been out for almost two weeks now and am slowly beginning to see parts of myself return.

The first few days it was challenging to have such little structure. For the past 8 years I have been constantly busy with studying, assignments, night shifts, calls, back-up, emails and projects. There was always something to distract me. That suddenly all stopped July 1st.

Then my friend sent me this article on the importance of doing nothing.

“Slacking off and setting aside regular periods of ‘doing nothing’ may be the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health…

We associate it with irresponsibility, wasting our life. Most of us feel guilty if we don’t have something to do. On the other hand we get a buzz when we feel really busy. Distraction-inducing behaviours like constantly checking email stimulate the brain to shoot dopamine into the bloodstream giving us a rush that can make stopping so much harder…

The danger is we may lose our connections, not just with one another but with ourselves. If we don’t allow ourselves periods of uninterrupted, freely associated thought then personal growth, insight and creativity are less likely to emerge….

Our frenetic activities in cyberspace – a world of multitasking and hyperactivity – help us to delude ourselves that we are productive. The reality is that social media is very reactive but not very original. It contracts creativity and can impact mental health.”

Wow. Yes. Now that I am out of it I can see even more clearly how the long medical path can really suck the creativity out of us — sleep deprivation, stress, constant busy-ness, protocol-driven practices, lack of creative expression makes it really hard to keep those parts of us alive.

So in this post-residency recovery period I am working on getting my creativity back. A few specific steps to help foster this include:

  • Sleeping. I have been sleeping a lot in residency recovery/baby growing mode, but I would like to start getting up earlier and using the early morning hours for some reading and writing pre-yoga practice.
  • Baths. I have restarted my nightly bath ritual. Warm bath with epsom salts as an end to the day.
  • Getting space organized. I can think much more clearly and creatively if my desk and office space is uncluttered.
  • Vision board. For me this is a tack board with goals and inspiration that I re-hung up by my desk.
  • Carry blank notebook around. My sister recommended this and I started doing it this week. It’s helpful for the random ideas that come while waiting for things.
  • Setting up creativity corner. This is a small corner of our home currently with art supplies and a keyboard. I haven’t used it yet but at least the potential space is there.

Please share any other ideas!