Questioning the quality of the food you consume is something worth doing. But what exactly defines "good" food? We aren’t just asking what tastes good or looks good, but rather what food is good down to its core, and what separates it from all the other junk? The answer seems pretty clear: fruits and vegetables are good, sweets and candies are not so good. But sometimes to know why something is truly "good," you have to be able to identify and understand what makes something "bad."
"It isn’t just how you cook it, it is what you cook," says Dr. Michael Hirt, internist and board certified nutritionist at the Center for Integrative Medicine.
We spoke with Dr. Hirt and four other doctors across the country in various stages of their careers and lives to find out what foods they won't eat, why they don’t eat them, and how they feel this information can help you. After all, you ask a doctor’s opinion on everything, so why not ask what they do to keep healthy? But to begin, a disclaimer:
"The dietary habits of doctors range from quite unhealthy to fairly unhealthy," explains Dr. Rohit Chandra, child and adult psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital-Chelsea and instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "Doctors are notorious for not taking care of themselves, especially [when it comes to] exercise and overwork[ing], but perhaps diet as well. So one should keep in mind that doctors as a whole may not eat as well as one might imagine."
With that being said, in general the doctors we spoke with all commented on how they see patients daily who are in a compromised state of health because of the foods they consume. After watching patients back themselves into a nutritional corner for years, it is fair to say that these doctors are compelled to live their best nutritional life and practice what they preach. Dr. Hirt says, "It all comes down to the three S’s. Sleep, stress, and sugar — that is what is killing this country."
The problem, unanimously, begins with a lack of education, from kindergarten to in some cases even medical school. While there are resources out there like Choose My Plate, there are barriers to self-education, ranging from low economic status to the unavailability and plain ignorance regarding food labeling.
"We need to advertise on a massive level," says Dr. Luis Pacheco, family practice and medical director of transitional care at the California Hospital Medical Center, who caters to families that may not have access to online educational tools. "Wellness and healthy options need to be put in the classroom. We are going to have a devastating epidemic that has already started with heart conditions and diabetes."