I’m a proud plant-based vegan, but it’s not something I necessarily force onto patients in clinic. Why? I believe in working with patients on their health goals which may not always include a vegan lifestyle (even though I personally think it’s awesome ). Long are the days of medical paternalism with physicians acting as all-knowing unquestioned experts on health. We encourage patients to contribute to their health by speaking up their values, and as clinicians, we adjust health goals based on patient values.
So what diet DO I encourage to patients? I promote the diet advocated by the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA’s ideal diet encourages the following:
- Lots of fruit
- Lots of vegetables
- Whole grains
while minimizing sugar, salt, processed meat, and saturated fat. Of course adjustments are made if the patient has specific conditions that affect nutrition like diabetes or if the patient is taking anticoagulants, etc. Overall, healthy eating is eating whole foods packed with nutrition!