Editor’s note: We’re chronicling the innovations changing the way we eat and drink as we lead up to this fall’s Food Loves Tech. Our annual deep dive into the future of food and agriculture returns to Industry City on November 2–3, 2018 where Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will join us as a panelist. Learn more and get your tickets here.
An apple a day (along with vegetables, legumes and other plant-based food) might really keep the doctor away. NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue is beginning a pilot program that will help patients suffering from chronic conditions change their eating habits in the hopes that a whole-foods, plant-based diet can help improve and even reverse some conditions.
“Nutrition is a critical piece of the lifestyle medicine approach,” says Dr. Dave Chokshi, chief population health officer at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Through a patient-centered, team-based approach, the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program will offer education and support for transitioning to a whole-foods, plant-based diet along with other healthful behavior changes.”
Launching this fall, the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program is partly a result of Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams’s work around plant-based nutrition. It will be open to at least 100 people from throughout the city. To be eligible, patients will need to be referred by either their primary care provider, a specialist or be a walk-in that meets program criteria.
Once in the program, patients suffering from conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure will work with a team of doctors, nurses, dietitians and life coaches to follow a diet that emphasizes legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds while reducing animal products, fried foods, refined grains and added sugars.
Patients will talk with a doctor about how dietary changes can impact their condition and develop a follow-up plan. They’ll meet with a dietitian to go over their eating habits and get help with plant-based meal planning. And to make the diet more affordable, patients will receive Health Bucks from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to buy fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and receive discounts on produce at supermarkets through the Healthy Savings program.
“This program will assist patients who are living with chronic health conditions, giving them the guidance and support they need to transition to a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Michelle McMacken, who will direct the pilot. “Healthy lifestyle habits have the potential to prevent, treat and sometimes even reverse conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”
Following their initial visits, patients will have a check-in with a team member from the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program at least once every other week. At the end of six months, patients, along with the pilot program itself, will be evaluated.