Getting Started

PDF file:  Establish Care Starter Handout

Welcome to the Monroe Health Center, your new medical home. We encourage you to take advantage of your new team here and in addition to any acute concerns or needs, also let us know if you feel ‘stuck’ or find yourself taking more steps back then forward on your journey towards optimal health.  We know that 80-90% of all chronic disease is preventable when we follow a whole food plant-based diet and exercise and that many diseases are reversible. We also know that life is not easy and lifestyle changes can be very challenging so we offer our support in whatever way we can. Just call us and let us know where you are at and we can get you in to see one of us or offer advice over the phone.

If you are on Facebook, you can search for Dr Kyle Homertgen or go to my website: drkyle.com for more resources on the prevention and reversal of chronic disease.

We encourage focus on the 5 pillars of health below. If we are out of balance in our life, body or mind, usually one or more of these pillars are being neglected and need some attention. When we spend too much time out of balance or in a state of dis-ease, eventually the body will create disease.

1. Nutrition:  We encourage a whole food plant-based diet (naturally low in fat and sugar) Get whole! Take small steps toward more whole foods and less refined, then you can shift your plant-to-animal ratio. Increase the good in your life: plants!  Using food as our best medicine we can strengthen our body and mind and then it becomes a little easier to tackle some of the bad habits. Watch Hungry for Change and Forks Over Knives on Netflix or DVD. Think of vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains and seeds as the ‘healthy part of town’ and sugar, white flour foods, dairy, oils and animal products as the ‘fun part of town’. Everyone knows that if we spend too much time in the fun part of town we can get ourselves in trouble. This is does not mean that eating healthy is not fun or enjoyable. I follow the diet I recommend, continue to heal my body and I can tell you honesty that I enjoy my food now more than I ever did when I ate meat, oils and dairy. You will have more energy, feel lighter, less depressed, and more ‘regular’ in the bathroom. You will take joy in knowing that with every meal you are actually healing your body rather than creating more inflammation and accumulating more toxins.

The Perfect Formal Diet coined by Janice Stanger, PhD balances each of these categories of Perfect Foods against each other. By Volume:

  • 1/4 of your food will be vegetables
  • 1/4 of your food will be fruits
  • 1/4 of your food will be legumes (beans and peas) and/or potatoes
  • 1/4 of your food will be whole grains

To this rotation, add a handful of nuts or a tablespoon or 2 of nut or seed butters 4-6 days a week

In addition, be sure to eat 2 tablespoons a day of fresh ground flaxseeds. (buy them whole and use a coffee grinder to grind fresh daily)

Eat flavorful foods with generous amounts of fresh or dried herbs and spices

Recommended reading:

  • The Perfect Formula Diet by Janice Stanger, PhD
  • How Not To Die by Michael Greger, MD
  • Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD
  • The Pleasure Trap by Doug Lisle, PhD

2. Exercise: Encourage regular movement, exercise: Walking, swimming, standing squats, stretching, yoga, trampoline work, shake your bones or jumping jacks. Even just 5 minutes a day of movement is a great start. Can start with posture awareness and abdominal breathing (read more on the below)

3. Sleep: Encourage 8-10 hours of sleep nightly. Your body heals when we sleep. Simple sleep hygiene tips: avoid caffeine after lunch, avoid late night screen time. Read at night or take a warm bath with Epsom salts. Eat more plants and less animals to increase your own natural melatonin production.

4. Stress management: Practice a mindfulness technique for 5 minutes daily an build on time from there. If the technique below is too difficult, then consider walking meditation, yoga or Tai Chi. Practice being present in your body when you are doing something. “When you wash the dishes, wash the dishes. When you sweep the floor, sweep the floor.” Just practice being in the present moment rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future. The present moment is where the magic happens!

Recommended Reading:

  • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
  • Mindsight by Dan Siegel, MD

5. Social Support, community and purpose: If you are feeling isolated, think of something that you like doing and then look into community groups that are doing this. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — Author unknown.

Mindfulness techniques 

1. A room, breath and body focus technique:  

Sit comfortably or lie down. If you tend to fall asleep lying down, then it is better to sit. Keep both feet on the ground if sitting in a chair.  Bring your attention to the room, from far walls, then to objects closer. This will help you to ground yourself into the space around you and help settle the mind. When you are ready bring your attention to your breath. You can close your eyes at this time ideally or keep open. Observe your breath and change it to a slow abdominal breath. (see mindful breathing below) Notice your shoulders: are they suspended above your ribs or resting. Allow them to rest on your rib cage. Allow your facial muscles to relax. Allow your belly to rise on the in breath and fall on the out breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth. Follow your breath for a few cycles or more, especially on the slow exhalation. Then bring your attention to your body. Scan your body for any sensations. From the feet to the head or head to feet. Just observe without judgment.  You will notice your mind wandering and this is natural.  After noticing the wandering, gently bring your attention back to the breath or body. The mind needs exercise just like the body does. Every time you are thinking or triggered or upset and you bring your attention back to your breadth and body you are ‘flexing your brain muscle’ and strengthening your brain. This is called neuroplasticity. And you can practice this all day long in every occasion. Our stress and struggles in our life, which are often unavoidable, can become teaching moments that strengthen us rather than drag us down.

2. Mindful Breathing:  

Shallow breathing may lead to tension and fatigue. Breathing with your diaphragm tends to reduce stress and improve energy.

Abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a powerful way to decrease stress by activating relaxation centers in the brain. The abdominal expansion causes negative pressure to pull blood into the chest, improving the venous flow of blood back to the heart.

  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, with your feet slightly apart, one hand on your abdomen near the navel, and the other hand on your chest.
  • Gently exhale the air in your lungs through your mouth, then inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4, pushing out your abdomen slightly and concentrating on your breath. As you breathe in, imagine warm air flowing all over your body. Hold the breath for a count of at least 4 but not more than 7.
  • Slowly exhale through your mouth while counting to 8. Gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely release the remaining air in the lungs.
  • Repeat until you feel deeply relaxed for a total of 5 cycles. You may be able to do only 1 or 2 cycles at first
  • Once you feel comfortable with your ability to breathe into the abdomen, it is not necessary to use your hands on your abdomen and chest.

Simple Starter Plant-Based Meals

(This is basically what I eat most days as it is quick, simple and incredible healthy)

Breakfast:

“Plant-Strong Oatmeal”

  • Steel cut oats (I prefer to soak them overnight so I don’t have to cook them in the AM)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ground flaxseed
  • Add frozen or fresh berries or other fruit of choice
  • Add nut or seed milk (optional)
  • Add cinnamon to taste (optional)

If you have a high powered blender, you can make your own hempseed milk fresh in the AM:

  • 1/4 cup raw shelled hemp seeds
  • 2 cups water
  • blend at highest speed for 30 seconds and serve.
  • Can add raw dates to sweeten.

Lunch/Dinner:

“Burrito Bowl” 

  • 1 part lentils or chick peas or other bean of choice or tempeh
  • 1 part short grain brown rice or quinoa
  • Add 1 part dark leafy greens like spinach or kale, onion, carrot or other vegetable of choice.
  • Can add fresh cut apple
  • Can add favorite hot sauce or other spices to taste.
  • Can add handful of raw nuts like walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

When in doubt, just eat dark leafy greens as they are the most nutrient dense.

About oils:

Oils are not a whole food, they are just processed fats. It takes 44 olives to make a tablespoon of olive oil. Oils are the most caloric dense processed foods on the planet and often prevent us from achieving our optimal weight and health. So ditch the oils and processed dressings and just use balsamic vinegar or raw apple cider vinegar. Avoid cooking with oils. Can use water to stir fry. Google no oil stir fry cooking for instruction on this.

Keep it Simple:

I make big batches of beans and whole grains so I always have these ‘staples’ which provide all the essential amino acids for your body to make the necessary proteins for optimal health. These staples also provide the necessary carbohydrates to give the energy you will need to conquer the day as well as fiber so you are not always feeling hungry.

About Protein: 

Too much protein in the diet is toxic to our liver, kidneys, bones and increases our risk of heart disease and cancer. We are at our greatest need for protein when we are most rapidly growing which occurs in infancy. We all agree the most optimal food for babies is mother’s breast milk which contains only 5-8% protein. In contrast, cow’s milk otherwise known as ‘baby cow growth formula’ or ‘liquid meat’ has up to 40% protein and increases childhood risk for asthma, allergies and obesity. In childhood and adulthood our body only needs 5-10% of its total caloric intake from protein. So you can stop worrying about getting enough protein, just eat whole plant foods, applying the 1/4 plate method mentioned above and you will get all that is necessary and not too much! There is absolutely no need to waste money of protein supplements, bars, etc.

MORE PROTEIN THEN NECESSARY IS NOT BETTER FOR YOU! IT IS ACTUALLY QUITE DANGEROUS IF DONE MEAL AFTER MEAL!!

Snacks:

Fruit, handful of nuts, raw veggies, leftovers of prior meal.

Hydration:

Drink 64 ounces of water a day. Avoid cow’s milk, soda, ‘sports’ or ‘energy’ drinks and any other beverages with artificial sweeteners, colorings or additives.

Avoid adding sugar to coffee if you drink coffee. Adding sugar or artificial sugar or dairy products cancels out any of the health benefits of coffee. Can add nut or seed milk to taste. The sooner you ditch the sweeteners the better. For an alternative source of caffeine that is less acidic then coffee, choose green tea or pu-erh tea. For an ideal non caffeinated tea, try hibiscus tea. I have green or pu-er tea in the AM and then switch to hibiscus after that.

About Supplements:

If you follow a whole food plant-based diet and roughly stick with the 1/4 plate method you will get all the necessary nutrients you need other than Vitamin B12 which is made from a bacteria in the soil and it not often in ample amounts on our produce so if you are strictly following the whole food plant based diet I advise supplementation. There is no reason to take a multiple vitamin or extra calcium. Some people in transition may benefit from certain nutrients in supplement form and this can be discussed further.  Get your Vitamin D from the sun but take care to avoid sunburns. In the winter months in Oregon, especially if you suffer from depression or seasonal affective disorder it is advisable to take 1000 IU of vegan Vitamin D3 several times a week with food.

Bieler’s Broth

For optimal health,  acid-alkaline balance of vital importance. Most Western diets are too acidic, with less plants in favor of more refined sugars and meats. So a good way to cheat on the go is to make this broth and keep in fridge for daily intake.

  • 1 lb of green beans
  • 2 lb of zucchini
  • 1 bunch/handful of parsley
  • enough water to cover your veggies

Dice, boil until soft, then puree in blender. You can flavor with lemon juice. It makes a very mild, super-green mixture that alkalinizes your system.

Getting started nutrition education resources:

21 Day Vegan Kickstart from PCRM.org

http://www.thenewhealthclub.org

http://www.howdoigovegan.com