I work in the ER! I don’t need to know about nutrition (right?)

Does your work involve seeing patients? Do you ever get tired during the workday? Do you ever feel like you’re running around all the time? Yes, yes, and yes!

When you eat well, you feel good. When you feel good, you perform better. You’re a nicer person to be around. You are more efficient at your job, and your social interactions with other people improve. You live longer and are healthier longer. You may even want to share that bit of wisdom with others. Perhaps you will share that information with a patient who is finally ready to hear it, during that small open window of opportunity when you’re seeing them in the ER for chest pain or their first MI. Hmmm… maybe emergency providers are EXACTLY the types of people that need to know about nutrition.

Let’s talk about nutrition in the ER. If you look around the break room on any given day, processed food and congealed saturated fat reign supreme. That’s even if you get a chance to eat anything. It’s like feast or famine, but definitely not whole foods, plant-based. Which brings me to the next topic… Forks Over Knives.

This documentary opened my eyes in a dramatic way. Did you know that with dietary changes alone one can reverse the degree of stenosis in coronary arteries? I did not. This documentary reveals that this is possible. I used to think that stenoses could only worsen over time. They only “got better” after bypass, stenting or old-fashioned “Roto-Rooting.” Diet can change this? As my teenage daughter puts it, the concept was “mind blowing.”

Author Michael Pollan gives us an easy-to-remember guideline for nutritious eating. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  His Omivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food were groundbreaking critical evaluations of the fad diets that circulate like wildfire and recommendations on, basically, how to eat as a human being. If you care about what you eat and enjoy scientific investigating then you’ll enjoy his books.

So why is diet important for Wellness? Here’s the issue. We all actually know that it’s important. You are smart. You know that what you eat matters. But we’re running around all the time. Food ends up being an afterthought, like “Crap, I forgot to get lunch,” or “I’m running to my kid’s tournament so I have to stop at [insert your choice of fast food restaurant here] or we’ll all starve .”  It’s easy to find unhealthy, processed food. It takes a bit more work, planning and effort to choose the healthy option. Yet once you start to build a routine for the healthy choices, it doesn’t seem like work anymore. More often than not I prefer to cook my own food because it’s faster and more convenient than getting takeout. If you have a list of go-to meals you can cook any time and keep the leftovers for work.

Here are just a few time-saving tips that I use for my own family:

-Keep a stock of frozen veggies. Throw in a bowl, microwave for 5 minutes, and add sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, and a splash of red wine vinegar. Delicious AND nutritious. (Did you know that 100 calories of broccoli provide as much protein as 100 calories of steak?)

-Make a giant pot of veggie chili and freeze it in dinner-sized Tupperware for easy reheating when you’re rushing and out of time.

-Keep a ziplock bag of nuts or trail mix in your bag for those times when you’re running around and just don’t have a spare minute to go warm up your food. You’ll not only soothe the angry, HANGRY beast within, but you’ll lengthen your life (topic for another post).

Happy eating!

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