Last week Jeff Novick, MS, RD and Dr. Esselstyn wrote an article about finding a Doctor. It is one of the most common questions we get asked at Engine 2.
My husband and I have been on the road for almost 4 years now. We’ve lived in a lot of different cities between 1 and 3 months at a time. Because of this we have seen our fair share of doctors.
Here are some things I’ve learned about finding a doctor and how to get the best care:
1. Your doctor does not have to be a plant-based doctor. This is not always the best indication for finding a good doctor. In fact there have been a few times in which a doctor has advertised as being “plant-based” but was not a good choice for us. In one case we went to a doctor who advertised as being plant-based but ended up pushing tons of supplements, protein powders and oils.
You want a kind doctor who listens, it does not have to be someone who advertises themselves as being plant-based.
2. Your doctor is not your nutritionist, you don’t have to report to them on what you are eating. Let your test results speak for themselves. This one always surprises me that people complain that their doctor does not aprove of their diet. I rarely tell doctors what I eat, unless they specifically ask, and even then I generally say “I’ve been eating healthier, lots of vegetables, beans, no junk food” and that is usually all they need to know. They see my numbers and my progress and are happy with the way things are going. My husband tells doctors that he eats no cholesterol and eats a well planned diet.
3. If they start questioning you about your diet, tell them that you have done your research. Tell them you feel confident in your dietary decisions, you are getting plenty of fat, protein and calcium and you will keep monitoring how things are going. I once had a doctor ask me if I was getting enough protein. I told him, “My last blood test showed I am, I am careful and make sure I get what I need.” That was all they needed to know, and again, my blood tests spoke for themselves. Same goes for our vitamin levels.
4. If your doctor turns out to be particularly hostile toward your diet, find a new doctor. It is ok to look for a new doctor if the one you are going to is not supportive of you.
5. Be a good example. If you want to show your doctor that plant-strong works, show them. Your blood work won’t lie.
6. Follow up with your doctor to see how you are doing. If you are starting and have heart disease, type 2 diabetes or any other condition that should be monitored by a doctor, do not skip out on going to the doctor. It is important that you see your doctor to check how your numbers are doing.
7. Help your doctor. If you are a diabetic check your sugar and write down your numbers every day. If you have high blood pressure, pick up an electronic blood pressure monitor and check your blood pressure in the morning before you start your day. Having an accurate picture of what is going on with your health day to day is important.
8. Don’t assume everything is caused by your plant-strong life or from ‘detox’. I made this mistake a few times when I started and it almost got me in trouble. Even if you are plant-strong you are still susceptible to illness and other things that should be checked out by a doctor. There is not really a ‘detox’ that people go through, beyond some slight adjusting when you start. We have heard from people that ignored pretty serious symptoms because they thought it was ‘detox’. Point being, if there is something that doesn’t seem right, ask yourself if you would have gone to the doctor in your pre-plant-strong days.
9. Generally, doctors are good people. We’re pretty hard on the medical community. However, in all of my traveling I’ve met some pretty fantastic doctors with a lot of respect and a great level of care. It is important to remember that even if they are not plant-based it does not mean they are not good at their job or that they are not educated. They might not be educated in plant-based nutrition. Hopefully this will change over time, the more patients they see that go plant-based.
10. Be sure to read Jeff and Dr. Esselstyn’s article for resources and their advice when it comes to finding a great doctor.