We clearly are a long way from fully understanding diet and all the ways it affects our physiology, psychology, and biochemistry. We do know that a low fat, moderate protein, high complex carbohydrate diet with minimal processing of the foods consumed seems to be the most healthy for the general population. We also know that the optimal diet for an individual will vary depending on many factors. In fact, we probably know more about what isn't the optimal diet than what is.
Chiropractic was the first Western health profession to stress a natural diet. In R.W. Stevenson's 1927 Chiropractic Textbook he quoted Palmer: "Foods, air and water, when they have been 'doctored' are poison."1 Stevenson, himself, stated: "Sterilized air and water and artificially prepared foods are poisons, for they are not natural; innate evolutionary structures are unequated with them as foods."1
When we counsel our patients on changing or improving their diets, we must remember that eating healthy is a lifestyle change. Like starting an exercise program, changing a person's food intake gradually increases the odds of lifetime compliance. One way to help the gradual change is to provide your patients some information in the form of handouts to post on their refrigerator to remind them of some healthier alternatives to the foods they normally consume. As doctors, we must remember that sometimes the first step in changing one's diet is just that, a first step. For example, low-fat milk is a healthier alternative to whole milk for the majority of the population. But for most people, it still contains too much milk fat, and thus is the first step in your long-term goal of non-fat milk consumption, or total abstinence from milk, depending on your patient's individual biochemical needs.
Below are some examples of food substitutions. These can be designed individually for each patient, or you can make a generic list. Either way, it keeps your name on their refrigerator and keeps them focused on the goal of improving their diet.
Food Substitution List
|Whole dairy||Low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cottage cheese)|
|Processed sugared cereals||Processed unsugared cereals|
|Ice cream||Frozen yogurt|
|Sweetened applesauce||Unsweetened applesauce|
|Soft drinks||Sparkling water lightly sweetened with fruit juice concentrate|
|White bread, rolls, buns||Brown bread, rolls, buns|
|Iceberg lettuce||Red leaf lettuce|
|Bologna slices||Ham slices|
Once your patients state that they are now eating off the "good list," you can then issue a new list that goes a step further:
|Low-fat dairy||Non-fat dairy|
|Processed, unsugared cereals||Whole grain cereals|
|Frozen yogurt||Non-fat frozen yogurt|
|Unsweetened applesauce||Whole apples|
|Sparkling water with fruit||Sparkling water with fruit essence juice concentrate|
|Brown bread, rolls, buns||100% wheat or whole grain breads|
Another type of list for those patients who are into the numbers game:
|Food Consumed||Healthy Alternative||Benefit|
|1 croissant||1 bagel||30-60 fewer calories|
|1 oz. oil-roasted||1 oz. dry roasted||90-100 fewer calories|
|peanuts||peanuts||11-13 fewer grams of fat|
|2 oz. cooked white||2 oz. cooked oat||18 extra grams of fiber|
|1 oz. pork bacon||1 oz. canadian bacon||100 fewer calories|
|10-12 fewer grams of fat|
|6-8 extra grams of protein|
|7-1/2 oz. serving||7-1/2 oz. serving||70-100 fewer calories|
|beef chili & beans||turkey chili & beans||8-10 fewer grams of fat|
|1 regular order||1 baked potato||100-150 fewer calories|
|of french fries||10-12 fewer grams of fat|
|1 oz. cheddar cheese||1 oz. skim||30-40 fewer calories|
|mozzarella cheese||3-6 fewer grams of fat|
|Canned vegetables||sugar free canned||10-30 fewer calories|
|3-5 oz. duck||3-5 oz. chicken||40-60 fewer calories|
|(skinless)||(skinless)||5-8 fewer grams of fat|
|1 tbsp. avocado or||1 tbsp. salsa dip||15-25 fewer calories|
|sour cream dip||3-5 fewer grams of fat|
- Stevenson RW: Chiropractic Textbook. 1927
- U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter. 5(12): September 1989.
Douglas Andersen, D.C.
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