Shocking News! Real Food is Good for My Health!

I'm sure I've never looked forward to a doctor visit. Maybe it's because I've never hit my ideal weight (or my doctors' ideal weight for me), so I expect a talking to each time I go. Maybe it's because I passed out one time when I gave blood in high school, and the idea of my doctor's office taking blood is too close to the idea of giving blood for comfort. More likely, I've never looked forward to going to the doctor because nobody looks forward to going to the doctor. What's to look forward to?

Still, going to the doctor is important (and, um, it had been four years since my last appointment), so I went. And, truth be told, I was kind of looking forward to it this time. You see, although I haven't lost any weight in the past four years (actually, that's not entirely true; I lost weight, then I found it), for the past year I've been eating very differently than I was before. I used to go for "fat free" ice cream, now I go for the real thing. I used to go for more processed foods, now I try to avoid them. I used to count calories and fat grams, now I try to control quantities. I'm no expert, clearly (see the above note about losing weight). But I'm making real changes to the way I eat, and I haven't been shy about teling the world. I wanted to know if it made a difference.

The appointment itself was no biggie; I didn't get a lecture, and I didn't pass out. But when my doctor called with the results of my blood tests a few days later, I was nervous immediately. I may not be all that experienced with doctors, but I know enough to know that good news comes in the mail - and bad news arrives by telephone.

"May I speak with Lee?" my doctor started.

"Um, that's me," I answered.

"I've got the results of your blood work, have you got a minute?"

What choice did I have? Must. Face. The. Music. "Yeah, okay," I said.

"Everything looks really good," my doctor continued, "your cholesterol's down, your blood sugar looks great, your blood pressure is right on. Every number is better than it was the last time you had a test four years ago."

"Really?" I asked, "the numbers are better?"

"Yes," my doctor said, "did you say that you're eating less processed foods these days?"

[Of course I said that. Do you think I might have missed a chance to plug my local, sustainable, organic food business with my doctor's office? What kind of a fool do you take me for?]

"Yeah," I said.

"Well, good for you, that's terrific," my doctor continued, "I'm thrilled that you're thinking about these kinds of things."

"Um, thanks," I said, unsure of how to take a compliment from a doctor (there's a first time for everything). "Are you saying that eating fewer processed foods and more real, whole foods can actually make me healthier, even if I don't lose weight?"

"Absolutely," my doctor said, "absolutely."

I thanked my new favorite-doctor-of-all-time and mentally added his entire staff to my Christmas list before hanging up the phone. For a full year I've been eating more local, organic, whole foods than I'd ever imagined, and my body was thanking me for it.

Of course, nobody's health is guaranteed. I know that I still need to strive for that ideal weight, and I need to be concerned with my family's history of diabetes and high blood pressure. But I also know that I enjoy what I eat now more than ever before, and I like how being mindful of my choices makes me feel. I like knowing who raised my meat and grew my vegetables, and I've experienced the best meals of my life as part of the local food community. And now it turns out I'm healthier too? Score!

Heck, I might even look forward to seeing the doctor next year. But probably not.

Lee Zukor is the founder of Simple, Good, and Tasty. Email him at