Dinner with the Doctor

By Michael C. Hollie, MD

Dinner with the Doctor

Acronyms Abound – DWTD

In our fast-paced information age, everything seems to have an acronym, from government agencies (IRS and CIA) to restaurants (TGIF and DQ) and TV programs (DWTS and CSI). One that you may not be familiar with yet is the acronym DWTD—Dinner with the Doctor. While Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) may be entertaining, Dinner with the Doctor could actually save your life! Dinner with the Doctor is an instructional program developed to educate people about how to implement a whole food, plant-based diet for treating, preventing, and even reversing disease. It is a practical, hands-on application of the Forks Over Knives lifestyle.

The DWTD Program

The program begins in January, when so many are making New Year’s resolutions, by showing the documentary Forks Over Knives (FOK). FOK allows those unfamiliar with plant-based eating to see the remarkable benefits and science-based reasoning for this lifestyle. Dinner meetings center on participants enjoying a delicious, whole food, plant-based meal while a physician delivers a scientifically sound message about a particular lifestyle disease and how to conquer it through a plant-based approach. Beginning in February, monthly events are provided to educate the public on the primary diseases affecting and killing Americans at an alarming rate—specifically heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

Participants receive a DWTD notebook with lecture notes and recipes for that evening’s presentation and meal. They bring their notebooks each month and add new material specific to each evening’s topic. After registration, they proceed to the blood pressure check station followed by the meal and lecture. The meal is a carefully planned, tasty, and beautifully presented whole food, plant-based dinner.

Four Core Program Presentations

1. My Achy Breaky Heart, Are Medications the Only Answer?
There are four core presentations: the first, “My Achy Breaky Heart, Are Medicines the Only Answer?” looks at America’s number one killer, heart disease. Our goal is not only to persuade people to change their eating habits, but also to educate them on the disease process and how food—both good and bad—affects these ailments. Many of our guests are unaware of how a change of diet can dramatically reverse heart disease. I often quote Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn when I tell them that heart disease is “a toothless paper tiger that need never ever exist!” Many people sadly are under the impression that they are a victim of their genetics. I often hear participants talking about their father, mother, uncle or aunt who had heart disease or diabetes and they assume that they have these diseases because “it is in their genes!” I explain that the primary reason that they, and their relatives, have the condition is due to their Standard American Diet (SAD) , which is fraught with fats, salt, sugar, processed foods, and animal products.

Participants are very pleasantly surprised to learn that by changing their diet, they can break the “family cycle.” Finding out that we do not have to be victims of our relative’s diseases may be a welcome paradigm shift which can lead to great happiness! The presentations take participants through the disease process and focus on how poor food choices fuel these destructive diseases. We present the evidenced-based science that demonstrates the overwhelming benefits of a low fat, whole food, plant-based approach to treating and reversing heart disease.

2. Please, No More Diets
The second presentation “Please, No More Diets” focuses on the whole food, plant-based way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight without counting calories, points, or carbs. We teach the principles of “caloric density” and how food choices can cause you to gain, lose, or maintain your weight. Many are under the impression that they can simply “exercise away” the excess calories. The emphasis is on the fact that exercise alone cannot compensate for poor food choices. Avoiding “fad diets” and why they do not work, is also covered. Attendees are thrilled that they can lose weight without being hungry all the time, even if they are currently unable to exert much energy.

3. Diabetes Epidemic: Is It Just My Genes?
The third presentation, “Diabetes Epidemic: Is It Just In My Genes?” focuses on the lifestyle mechanism behind the development of type 2 diabetes and what can be done to prevent, treat, and even reverse this crippling disease. Again, many are amazed that diabetes can be prevented and reversed. After teaching the science behind insulin-resistance and metabolic syndrome, we then focus on the solution: a whole food, plant-based diet!

4. Preventing and Reversing Cancer
The final core lecture, “Preventing and Reversing Cancer” teaches participants that most cancers are not genetic and that lifestyle changes can greatly influence this deadly disease. I refer to Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s research showing that cancer genes can be turned off by avoiding animal protein. The science behind cancer and the significant influence that food can have, both positive and negative, is emphasized.

Other presentations have included “Why Do We Get Sick, and What Can We Do About It?” which reviews various lifestyle habits that can help us avoid most common illnesses and more effectively fight those that do attack us. Future presentations will include a focus on reducing our chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Implementing and Maintaining the Lifestyle

Demos and Dishes
It is one thing to hear or read about the wonderful benefits of a whole food, plant-based approach, but there can be formidable obstacles to implementing and maintaining this lifestyle. So, on alternate months, we present “Demos and Dishes,” a practical demonstration showing how to prepare the foods that make up a whole food, plant-based diet. Participants love the “nuts and bolts” of learning not only the recipes, but also facts about the foods being used. This may include where to buy the foods, what to avoid, as well as nutritional facts. A physician-led, 15 minute “health nugget” precedes the demos and usually focuses on the foods being presented that evening. Participants rotate through four to five stations with approximately 15-20 minutes at each station where they get a close-up view of foods being prepared and enjoy generous samples.

Prizes and Shopping
Before each presentation and between station changes offer have door prize drawings which include plant-based recipe books, The China Study, Engine 2 Diet, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, as well as the Forks Over Knives DVDs. The demonstration teams consist of one to two presenters with a couple of helpers to shuttle the samples to the station. Attendees enjoy seeing a dish prepared, tasting it and then taking home the recipe. We have also provided “shopping days” when a person knowledgeable in whole food, plant-based foods meets participants at a local grocery store to help them navigate the barrage of foods available. Participants are armed with many questions and the experienced plant-based shopper helps them with strategies to buy the best and leave the rest!

Menu Planning
Another practical component is a bimonthly “menu planning” group that meets to discuss how to make the transition to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. After all, it is not just recipes that participants need, it is cooking methodology—where do I start, etc. We are seeing tremendous results. Quite a few participants have come to the program as a last ditch effort after doctors have diagnosed them with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and/or cancer. One man had a stroke, a heart attack, and developed type 2 diabetes in his mid 50’s. He thought he would never be able to work again. His wife would lie in bed at night crying and worrying that he would die at any time. He attributes FOK and DWTD for saving his life. He is now off of most of his medications, has reversed his heart disease, his diabetes is gone and he is back to work too!

More about DWTD
Michael C. Hollie, MD teaches at the University of Tennessee,a College of Medicine. He is on the board of the East Ridge Seventh-day Adventist Church that sponsors the free program Dinner with the Doctor. Anyone near Chattanooga, Tennessee is welcome to join when in town.