What to eat

by Christina on April 8, 2012

Look what I found sweetly hanging around our hospital walls:

A step in the right direction!

Unfortunately though, my diabetic patients have still been getting served french toast, syrup, orange juice, skim milk & cereal for breakfast… but hey, baby steps.

As I’ve been moving through intern year I’ve been thinking a lot about how I see my future medical practice, and it’s becoming more clear that a big part will be about food. What we put into our bodies is one thing we actually have control over, and is hugely important for physical and mental health.

We don’t get much guidance on this, so I was thrilled when my own doctor’s office here actually offered me a course on how to eat.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be an awesome 2-part lecture plus hands-on cooking class where they answered important questions including these:

1) What are “whole foods”?

Answer: Read Michael Pollen’s Food Rules but some of my favorite definitions include

  • recognizable by your great-grandmother
  • pronounceable ingredients (and definitely no high fructose corn syrup)
  • don’t pretend to be something they’re not (i.e. fake meat)
  • do not share the same name in every language
  • will eventually ROT

2) What does organic mean?

Answer: Prohibits use of GMO’s, most pesticides and herbicides, sewage sludge, antibiotics, growth hormones, irradiation.

The “Dirty dozen” should be bought organic: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale/collard greens.

The “Clean 15” are lower in pesticides and more OK if not organic: onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, mangos, sweet peas, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, mushrooms.

3) What should I snack on?

Answer: Remember “PFC”


  • Protein means “primary importance” in Greek
  • Eat protein first, then fat, then carbs (protein and fat fill you up)
  • Always eat protein and fat with your carbs (if you have bread, have some nut butter on it… if you have rice, eat it with beans)
  • Complete proteins contain all 8 essential amino acids and include eggs, quinoa, soybeans, sprouted lentils, hempseed, spirulina — eat more of these

4) Help, how do I cook?

They gave us a list of recipes which we all made and ate them together, including:

  • Blueberry smoothies with spirulina and almond butter
  • The perfect hard boiled egg
  • White bean hummus
  • Nutty chocolate energy balls
  • Almond and cinnamon oatmeal
  • Cauliflower soup with greens
  • Quinoa, beets, fennel and walnut salad
  • Coconut vegetable curry

That PFC concept has stuck with me and I’ve bene trying to apply it in our hospital cafeteria… a fun challenge. Here’s what’s been sustaining me these past couple weeks:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with almond butter and raisins — I bring the almond butter and dump it in. Mixing oatmeal with plain yogurt turns out to be pretty good too.

  • Lunch: A 3-step process

Step 1: Get the hot vegetables/beans they’re serving (in this case, yellow beets and potatoes). Sprinkle with hot sauce to spice it up.

Step 2: Pick up the pre-made salad (in this case, spinach and goat cheese with walnuts and strawberries).

Step 3: Dump salad on hot veggies and shake.

  • Snacktime: I now keep a dark chocolate collection in my cubby

  • Oh, and of course, prn hospital blues:

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Palmer April 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Baby steps are good…and certainly better than nothing!


Janea April 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Christina! Love your blog. I have a story relating to this post. Around two years ago my son was borderline failure to thrive and supposedly suffering from acid reflux along with his CP so we were referred to a GI specialist. Did she ask us questions about what he eats, when he eats, how he eats or talk to us about proper nutrition etc.? Nope. She brought out a sample pack of pediasure and told us to start him on it right away. What the hell????
After we left, I threw it away and we hunkered down to figure how to fatten our guy up. We cooked only organic, nutritionally well-rounded meals and pureed the crap out of them. We spent lots of hours out of each day just feeding him. Nowadays, we also supplement with a high-protein weight-gain shake and he is doing awesome.
Help the medical community to see the light Christina!


Christina April 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Janea!!! I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear from you! I love reading your blog and being filled in on your life.

That’s fascinating about your experience at the GI specialist. Isn’t it crazy how doctors don’t pay much attention to food?! It’s just not the way our system trains us. That will have to change as it becomes more and more clear how important it is.

Lucky you are such a great mom and took charge of the food situation yourself! Sounds like you both are incredible parents and I cannot wait to get to meet your beautiful children one day.


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