138 Eating Healthier -- Part I
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Dynamic Chiropractic – June 19, 1992, Vol. 10, Issue 13

Eating Healthier -- Part I

By G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN
By far the most important aspect of nutrition is the quality and quantity of foods consumed. Take a day and ask your patients about their diet. You will find that most will answer that they eat a healthy diet, but could improve a little bit. Then ask them what they had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the past two days. Most will quickly preface their answer by stating that what they consumed the last two days isn't normal, and that they usually don't eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, a cheeseburger and fries for lunch, and pot pies for dinner.

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
Food Consumed
Healthy Alternative
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:

Food Consumed
Health Alternative
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
pasta bran pasta  
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
  vegetables per serving
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


  1. Stevenson RW: Chiropractic Textbook. 1927


  2. U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter. 5(12): September 1989.

Douglas Andersen, D.C.
Brea, California

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