Profile Kathryn Hayward, MD

Kathryn Hayward, MD

Please describe your professional training. How did you develop your interest in integrating nutrition and lifestyle approaches into your professional work?

I was trained as a primary care internist and practiced at the Massachusetts General Hospital and taught at Harvard Medical School for 20 years. My interest in integrating nutrition into my clinical work began in earnest when I read “The China Study” soon after it was published. I changed my own dietary habits, felt the difference in my body, and began speaking with patients about making change.

What is your current position or practice?

In 2004, I created a private integrative medicine practice, Odyssey Journey: A Collaborative Approach to Wellness. At the time, I was practicing primary care internal medicine as well. In Odyssey, I work one-on-one with participants who want to explore how their health challenges can be improved by an integrative approach to health. My view in Odyssey is that Integrative Medicine combines the best in conventional medicine, plant-based nutrition, conscious movement of the body, and mind/body/spirit disciplines.

In addition to individual sessions, I also offer five-day immersion workshops for groups of thirty participants who want transformative health experiences in integrative medicine.

If not mentioned above, how do you integrate nutrition and lifestyle teaching into your clinical work?

When I work in individual Odyssey sessions, the Odyssey participant explores what health concerns s/he has, and we begin with those. We work with what the person is ready and willing to explore and embrace.

The five-day workshops are based in facilitative education, which means that there is a focus on having experience. I weave into the curriculum plant-based meals, movement, and mind/body/spirit disciplines. I focus on both self-care and care that one can give and receive.

How did you change your own diet and lifestyle, and over what time period?

I began with my “head,” in that I read “The China Study” and was deeply affected by what I learned. I almost immediately eliminated all animal products from my diet. The most challenging was cheese, and I find that to be true for many people that I work with. My current approach to eating is to eat the way I want to when I am home (plant based), and in restaurants with friends, I choose seafood if there is nothing plant-based. If I am in the home of a friend who has prepared non-vegan food, I will politely eat small amounts of it, be grateful, and say I am enjoying it. My mouth enjoys the foods of my past; my body usually rebels for several hours afterwards. The social and cultural connections are worth it, and this occurs very rarely.

What were the greatest challenges in creating your current position and what were the most helpful resources you used to overcome these challenges?

I was fortunate in that I embraced plant-based eating with the support and encouragement of our children. They had created recipes and an approach to eating that they shared with us. These I was able to share with my primary care patients and Odyssey participants.

Without needing to give specific financials, would you characterize your current compensation from this work as providing the financial equivalent of a ‘side job’, full time job, or several full time jobs?

I am very well compensated for my work in Odyssey. People pay an hourly rate for service that I offer via phone, skype, email and in-person sessions. I comfortably support myself with this compensation.

What advice would you give to other clinical professionals hoping to integrate nutrition or lifestyle into their career?

Embrace the changes yourself. This gives you the voice of credibility. Read the literature. Become educated in the economic and political features of why the world eats the way that it does. Learn about the ecological impact of plant-based eating.

The authors I recommend include the Campbells, John McDougall, Neal Barnard, Dean Ornish, and Caldwell Esselstyn.

Can individuals reading this practice profile contact you for more information? If so, what is the best way for them to do that?

Yes, through the Odyssey website.

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