Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster is the host of Veggie Doctor Radio. She is a board certified pediatrician, certified lifestyle medicine physician, national board certified health and wellness coach, author and speaker.
She is also the founder of Veggie Fit Kids, which aims to support and inspire plant-based kids and families. She is passionate about the power of diet and lifestyle in the prevention of chronic disease.
In this episode, Dr. Yami will share with us how she learned about the power of plant based foods, how she implemented healthy changes in her household and how she created a practice to support families in their wellness journeys.
We touch on common health issues she sees in her patients. We also talk about body image, intuitive eating and why we need to be careful when it comes to our food approach with children.
Dr. Yami: https://www.doctoryami.com/
Dr. Yami 00:00
In general, you can trust these kids to feed themselves adequate amount of calories in order to grow the way that their genetic blueprint is telling them to grow. Whenever we interfere, and either try to force kids to eat more or restrict their food, we're actually counterproductive, we're causing the opposite reaction. So whenever we restrict food from a child that we think is eating too much, we actually cause them to be more obsessed with food and think about food more. Whenever we try to force a child to eat more than they want to, we're actually making them more anxious around food.
Maya Acosta 00:39
Welcome back to the Plant Based DFW podcast weekly show with Dr. Riz and Maya. Our podcast focuses on lifestyle medicine, which is the use of evidence based lifestyle therapeutic approaches such as whole food, plant based diet, regular physical exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management to help treat, reverse and prevent the lifestyle related chronic diseases that are all too prevalent. Every week, we will feature physicians, dietitians, health coaches and chefs who will share with us their expertise on one of these lifestyle medicine modalities. Before we meet today's podcast guests, I have a few announcements. Now many of you know that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has been running an 8-week nutrition class and resumes again this Tuesday, February the 9th. Join doctors and community partners for a free online nutrition class. Learn how weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions can be prevented, treated and reversed with plant based foods. Dr. Vanita Rahman and weekly class guests will provide practical tips inspiration and interactive Question and Answers during this eight week class series. We will be guests on February the 16th. So make sure that you sign up on time so that you can get the link for that class. So it's pcrm.org/nutritionclass. If you cannot attend during the live recording, you will receive the recordings by email. Okay, have you signed up for the Grand Canyon adventure? I hope you have. So far there are 18 people in our teams. We will be participating in the Walk With A Doc's Grand Canyon Adventure. This adventure will run February 13 through the 26th It's a virtual event we will walk as a team 70 miles so teams consists of one through five people. And this can include your kids, your colleagues, friends. This will also be 14 days of heart healthy movement and nutritious eating participate in any type of activity that you enjoy walking, running, swimming housework, log your activity each day to virtually move along the Grand Canyon. I did make a video to explain things a little bit better. So go to that link. It's bit.ly/grandcanyonadventure. We have four teams now. So we have the plant based DFW, team Dr. Riz, team Bukhari and Hippocrates docs, I will include those links as well. Okay, finally, our organization plant based DFW is now found on a new shirt provided by plant pure communities. I just made a post about it on Instagram and I purchased two shirts for myself and Dr. Riz. If you're interested in purchasing this shirt to support Plant Pure Communities visit teespring.com/stores/plantpure-communities. Let me tell you a little bit about Plant Pure Communities. It's a groundbreaking grassroots approach to support local leaders who empower others in their community to create change. In only five years PPC has created a network of more than 250,000 people dedicated to bringing the plant base message along with valuable tools and resources to communities around the globe. Plant Pure Communities is offering group leaders and members the opportunity to support the nonprofit by purchasing swag that tells the story. The proceeds of the purchase help PPC to keep supporting the pod network as they continue to grow. You can also get a discount code to take 10% off your purchase the code is 10 off. Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster is a host of Veggie Doctor Radio. She is a Board Certified pediatrician, certified lifestyle medicine physician, National Board Certified health and wellness coach, author and speaker. She is also the founder of Veggie Fit Kids which aims to support and inspire plant based kids and families. She is passionate about the power of diet and lifestyle in the prevention of chronic disease. In this episode, Dr. Yami will share with us how she learned about the power of plant based foods, how she implemented healthy lifestyle changes in her own household and how she created a practice to support families in their wellness journeys. We touch on common health issues that she sees in her patients. We also talk about body image intuitive eating, and why we need to be careful when it comes to food approach with children. I hope you enjoy this episode you can head on over to our Instagram page to tell us what you learned from Dr. Yami. That's @plantbaseddfwpodcast. All the links for our guests are found in our show notes. Our episodes are also on our YouTube channel. A short link to that is bit.ly/plantbaseddfw. Our podcast website is plantbaseddfwpodcast.com. And as you dive into the episodes never forget, the more you implement these lifestyle changes, the more you will upgrade your health. Thank you for being part of the community.
Maya Acosta 05:48
Welcome Dr. Yami.
Dr. Yami 05:49
Thank you so much for having me. What a treat.
Maya Acosta 05:51
It's a treat for us because Riz will tell you that you are probably the first podcast or plant based podcast that I started listening to.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 05:59
Yeah, I had to hear Dr. Yami this, Dr. Yami that, Dr. Yami, Dr. Yami. So
Maya Acosta 06:05
She's a pediatrician with the podcast. I found it fascinating that here you are talking about topics. This is a great way to reach out to patients and other people and continue to educate them about your work as a pediatrician and then plant based nutrition as well. So
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 06:21
I always like to hear your plant based story.
Dr. Yami 06:24
I feel like it was serendipitous, but also maybe divinely inspired. I actually was really into long distance running half marathons and marathons and mostly for the party atmosphere because I love music and party and you get to do like matching outfits. And you know where the cute stuff. That's the most important part. But I was looking into barefoot running because I've always had plantar fasciitis ever since medical school anatomy lab, okay. And I was reading this book called Born to Run. And in the book, they talk about the thought Omata Indians who are a native group in Mexico, who their kind of their culture is around running. And they run as a form of almost like a religious practice meditative practice, and it's just part of their way of life. But what's cool about it is that they're also predominantly plant based, mainly because they live out in the desert. And that's what they have access to, or they did in the past, I think now they have more access to animal products. And then in the book, they also talk about Scott Jurek, who is a plant based ultra athlete who's broken all kinds of crazy records. And he has his own book as well. So this was like my first introduction into this plant based vegan world. And I was like, That's weird. But as I was reading the book, something just sort of just hit me struck me like, maybe I should just try it and see what happens just because it sounds super curious and interesting. And so right, then I just decided I'm going to try it for 30 days. I'm Panamanian. So I thought you know, it's not gonna be too hard. I'll just eat whole wheat toast with peanut butter for breakfast. And I'll have rice and beans, pasta with marinara, you know, like I was already in my head, like, it can't be too bad, you know. So I just wanted to see what would happen. It was really just curiosity. I didn't have any set expectations. But what was amazing is that within three days, my chronic constipation that I had had for over three decades, was cured. And this was, you know, this, quote, genetic constipation that everybody in my family had, and you know, just take Miralax for it and just deal with it. But I also felt better, I felt more energetic and lighter in my mood too because I'm a very high energy person. And I have really, you know, really strong emotions. I just felt calmer, which is a big deal for someone like me. And it was just so easy to keep going. It was just not difficult. As the month went on, I started watching documentaries, of course, Forks Over Knives. I read Diet For A New America by John Robbins, The Kind Diet I watched Earthlings, The Cove, it was over by the end of the month, it was over, there was no going back. And I had zero regrets about that. I was like, No, this is just, it was it felt like it was meant to be but it was just at the right time in my life, in my developmental timeline. It just seemed right. So then I said, Okay, I'm going to do this for myself. I told my family. I'm just going to do this. I'm going to look into the rest of you guys. And so that's when I started to do research on children. Is it safe for children is what I wanted to know. Because as a pediatrician, you're taught that it's really not that safe and that it's kind of, you know, really difficult. The child may not get all the nutrients they need. They may not grow as well. They may not get enough calcium, whatever. But when I started doing the research It actually wasn't as bad as we had been taught. And actually, in some ways, there was benefits that I had never been taught about before. And so by the end of the second month, that was it. The whole family was changing. I'm the, the one that buys all the groceries and does all the cooking. So everybody was like, okay, fine, no problem. My husband said, well, that's fine. You can change everything in the house. Do you mind if I still go and buy some cheese and lunch meat and stuff like that? I'm like, No, I made him his little drawer in the fridge that he could put the stuff in. It only lasted a couple of weeks, because he hates going to the grocery store. But really, literally, he just went twice. And after that, he's like, Ah, it's not worth it. And it just evolved from there. And this coming summer, it'll be 10 years.
Maya Acosta 10:49
Wow. Congratulations. I mean, you've been in it a lot longer than other people. Okay, so your children were fairly young at the time? Well, one of them was six years old, and the other one was 18 months old. So did the six year old adapt fairly well?
Dr. Yami 11:06
The older one is like literally not picky at all. He'll eat anything. He loves food. He's like me very genetically similar. And as far as like our love and affection for food, so no skipped beats there. And my younger one. He's adopted from Ethiopia. And he already loved rice and lentils. And he already loved peanut butter and hummus and all of those things. And actually, I had been giving him milk, because he did, he did have some malnutrition needed to grow. But he had severe, horrible constipation and rectal bleeding from it. And it wasn't even just from fissuring. He was like literally having inflammation. But I was continuing to give him this because I thought, I don't know. It's like looking back. I'm like, Why do you make decisions like this? Just because you think that that's the best thing to do? And obviously, it's not right. So whenever I switched him over to plant based milk, guess what his constipation was resolved too. And, and the diet was normal, because I was having to hide meat in his food. I suspect that likely he hadn't eaten that much meat because he had been in an orphanage for most of his life until we adopted him. So he probably wasn't used to I was having to hide it and grind it. And as I was putting it in a blender and putting it Oh my god. So really, it was a very easy transition for my family, thankfully, and my husband is such a nice guy, and he trusts me and I'm a good cook. So even though we took meat out of the diet, everything still was delicious and great. So nobody really complained.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 12:39
Yeah, I think that's something that many people don't understand. A lot of people think if you're gonna go plant based, or you're gonna become vegan, that the food's not gonna be any good. That's what one of the things that scares many people about, oh, I don't want to eat a plant based meal, or I don't want to eat a vegan meal. So that's something that maybe it's up to us to help them understand is that food can taste just as good as any other food.
Dr. Yami 12:57
Exactly. And my kids now are 11 and almost 16. And I'm so thankful we eat plant based, because otherwise I'd be spending probably twice as much on groceries because they eat so much food. Talking when when we make particularly yummy stuff, two or three servings each. And so it's there's, there's nobody here like turning their nose up at the food. It's really delicious stuff.
Maya Acosta 13:25
You know, I'm so glad that you're a pediatrician. And that we can talk about this because we ourselves as a family went through a change when we decided to go plant based. I gave the family probably at the time about a year before I said no more animal products are coming into this household. And his girls were pretty young, they were still in high school. And that did not sit very well. Now they're between us. And now they're in college, but between their you know, their mom and ourselves. So that was pretty difficult. And I'm hoping as we talk a little bit more, you can kind of tell us how we can work together with children when there's a transition happening. So at the time that you made your change, you were already a pediatrician.
Dr. Yami 14:08
Mm hmm. You had already been practicing for a few years.
Maya Acosta 14:11
So what was that like recommending certain things for your patients first and then suddenly going? Well, I found new information.
Dr. Yami 14:19
Well, it was a complete paradigm shift. Because I am a traditionally trained pediatrician, I've always been interested in nutrition. So I followed the rules. You know, I was telling everybody eat two to three servings of dairy per day you need it, you know, seeing lots of kids with chronic constipation, bloody stools, chronic abdominal pain, all this stuff, and then I was just putting band aids on it. Okay, well, let's give you Miralax or maybe try the lactose free milk. Even though studies show that lactose free milk, you're still going to have lactose symptoms from that, you know, it can completely remove it. You know prescribing what I call a purple cow, which is where you put prune juice into the milk, so that you don't get constipation from the milk. You know, like I was doing all this stuff, because I felt like no matter what the child needs to be having the dairy, you know. And so, yeah, when my paradigm shifted, it wasn't at the office, it wasn't just like automatic, like, I just started telling everybody not to drink milk or consume dairy. And I'm still not very pushy in my ways. But I started to realize that, you know, milk is not necessary. In fact, milk is causing more harm than good. And that's what I tell my families now that when it comes to dairy, it has more risks than benefits, the benefits that we thought it had, it doesn't even have, because it doesn't even show that it's actually helping us with our bones, which is what everybody thinks we're drinking milk primarily for, you know, little by little, I started to get braver, but it wasn't until I started my own practice, which was five and a half years ago, that I was able to get a little bit more bold, because as you know, when you're working with other colleagues that have all kinds of different opinions and telling patients different things, it can be a little hard and you don't want to step on toes or seem like the inflammatory or radical person. But now that I have my own practice, I feel like I could be really honest. And I give families the information, I provide them the studies if they want more information on it. And but like I said, I'm not pushy, and I and I also understand that we're all starting at different places. And people have different desires and capacities to make changes. And because of that I always work with my families, from where they are, and make little changes. Little by little,
Maya Acosta 16:52
We saw some of your earlier YouTube videos where you were teaching families how to eat at various restaurants. Yeah, because that's sort of the first one of the first things we do when we transition is okay, how do we eat out so you're not making that content anymore? Are you
Dr. Yami 17:07
Right now it's hard because a COVID. But also, as we talked about, when I'm recording from my podcast, you know, I kind of sometimes overdo it with things at once. So the videos are taking a backseat for a while while I really focus on making my podcast as awesome as possible. But I feel like that sort of material is really helpful because we live in the real world. And especially when we have children. You know, I have families that are running to and fro and sporting stuff and activities. And sometimes we are going to get fast food and stuff like that. And that's normal, we can expect that every single meal people are going to eat at home. But I want them to know that when they eat out it doesn't have to be like this all or nothing like okay, well I'm eating out so I might as well just have the bacon cheeseburger with extra large fries. You don't have to, you can eat out and have a black bean burrito, you can have a baked potato from Wendy's Guess what, there actually are some options that you can have that won't make you feel like completely sluggish afterwards.
Maya Acosta 18:10
Yes, having those resources and knowing about them is so key. And that way you don't find yourself starving in between or when you're traveling specially when families are traveling and you land in a new location, you sort of don't have time to prepare foods. So going to a taco bell to eat a bean burrito. For example.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 18:28
We also joke that everyone the TSA always knows when a plant based person is coming because they got a full box of food with them. Right? Yes.
Dr. Yami 18:34
Travel with all your goodies. Yeah.
Maya Acosta 18:38
So now your veggie fit kids website, did you develop that around the time that you opened your own practice?
Dr. Yami 18:45
I actually started it beforehand. And this was my way because when I went plant based, I didn't know any other plant based doctors, okay, like besides the people, I read their books, of course, but these seem like whoa, you know, like, they're like these experts. But I didn't know any I didn't have any colleagues. And I knew that because what I was previously telling families, which is you have to drink milk and you have to do these things. I knew that that's what we usually told patients and families. So I wanted to provide a resource that would support families, but also health care professionals that are raising plant based children are predominantly plant based children, whatever level they are, I want it to be a resource for them so that they can know that there is evidence out there that it is beneficial and safe and possible at every stage.
Maya Acosta 19:37
I'm a former elementary school teacher. And so like I think that's why I gravitated towards you because I'm thinking of having worked with Title One students at one point and how much they suffered in terms of, you know, just having limited resources. Some of my students will come to the classroom without any food in their stomach. I heard you speak about what like to work with low income students and or patients. For me, that would be students, but the resources that you're available really do make it appealing for families, I think
Dr. Yami 20:10
Yes. And I think that this is a huge myth out there is that eating plant based means you have to be really rich, or, you know, it has to be really expensive. And actually plant based foods are some of the cheapest. In fact, when they do challenges, there was a famous chef that did this challenge, that he was just going to spend as much as what would be affordable by food stamps for his whole family of four. And guess what he had been predominantly plant based, it was rice, beans, peanut butter, you know, it was all of those foods that are plants, they're less expensive, and it can go a long way, like a pound of beans, a pound of dried rice, it can go a long way to feed a family makes you feel good, but also provides the fiber, the antioxidants, the phytonutrients. So you know you you can accomplish a lot by eating plants. And it doesn't have to be really this big, expensive thing that changes your lifestyle.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 21:03
Yeah, I find it odd that people would talk about how, as a as a, as a culture becomes more affluent, they incorporate more meat into their diet. Yeah. So the the meat is considered the athletic food, and then sell it. But then suddenly, when you talk about being plant based, and they go well, but it's too expensive. Well, they can they make up their mind, what's more expensive meat or beans? Right? You know? Yes, that's
Dr. Yami 21:24
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 21:25
I have two questions. How do you work with your patients? And I imagine, obviously, their parents because you're, you're a pediatrician, to to spread the word and how receptive are they? And then also, how receptive are your colleagues to the message that you're sharing?
Dr. Yami 21:43
I'll start with my colleagues first. Because since I'm so low, so low, right now, I just basically just meet people online, and my friends that are, you know, also physicians, but I think that they accepted me. But they were also very skeptical about it and weren't necessarily on board, I think that it can be hard, especially when some of my colleagues had been practicing for almost 30 years, I think it was really difficult for them to take it seriously. You know. And, like I said, this is just something that's drilled into you, when you're a pediatrician, you're just taught this is just the way you feed kids, and it's not safe. If you don't feed them this way. They have to have meat, they have to have dairy, you know, and so changing that for some pediatricians, maybe they don't have the time, maybe they don't have the energy to look into it themselves. But I have found that most of the people that I've worked with, have not really been curious enough themselves to look into it. You know, they haven't made fun of me or anything, but they just they don't choose to look into it themselves.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 22:48
So which is probably a similar experience for most of us have.
Dr. Yami 22:51
And then as far as the other question, you asked how my families have been receptive and how I work with my families? Well, it's been two different things. Because first, I was at a community health center. And I felt like there was a little bit more like, Huh, like, What do you mean, don't drink milk? That's weird, you know. And, but that was several years ago, you know, it was almost six years ago that I left there. And then when I started my own practice, because my practice now, the whole premise of my practice is wellness, which I feel as a pediatrician, it positions me perfectly to have a wellness practice, because the majority of my patients are extremely healthy. You know, I what I'm doing is working on preventing disease. I'm on the other spectrum, that what you are on Dr. is, yeah, I'm doing the best so that they don't ever have to see you. Sorry, if it affects your paycheck eventually, you know,
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 23:43
Unfortunately, I'm never going out of business. Unfortunately,
Dr. Yami 23:46
sad. But you know, the families that come see me now, it's because they are interested in that. Every once in a while I still have families that they just can't get their their brains wrapped around not consuming dairy. That's one of the big things that's easy for me is to just tackle dairy first. Kids in general aren't huge meat eaters. Anyway, that's an acquired taste. And so when they're younger, the dairy is really the big thing that I'm working on decreasing or eliminating. And most families before they even come to me they're like, Oh, yeah, we're already drinking almond milk or oat milk, or, you know, they've already started seeing the connection between their own digestion and milk or other problems. And so I feel like it's getting easier and easier. And I love that I have evidence that I can show family. So if there's a patient that they need to work on the diet and eliminate things, I have evidence to back it up, you know. So overall, I think it's been very gratifying to have a practice like that because it I feel like families are becoming more receptive to the message.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 24:55
Yeah, along those lines you've been plant based now for over a decade. I'd say you've been through it as this transition, there's a momentum occurring, a change occurring, right? Do you see it? And can you talk about that?
Dr. Yami 25:06
It's amazing. Well, even just both of you know, being on social media, I feel like every day Instagram is like, do you want to be friends with this person, it's like plant based this person vegan, this person, but and they're all physicians and healthcare professionals. I'm just like, wow, it's amazing. And then going out to these conferences, like the plant nutrition conference, which is now getting more than 1000 attendees every year, and American College of lifestyle medicine where people are learning more about predominantly plant based diets. So the word is getting out there. And I love it. And I think that it's just, it's helping everybody, it's helping people that are already promoting the message, but the ripple effect is going out even further to their patients. So I think it's just been an amazing thing to see.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 25:52
Yeah, different than when you first became plant based,
Dr. Yami 25:55
right? Because back then I didn't know any, like, quote, real people. You know, I just knew the big people that were doing this work. But yeah, so now I just feel like it's very common.
Maya Acosta 26:05
Good. Yeah. How encouraging. And you know, I mentioned previously that I saw your TED Talk. And you're an excellent speaker. But when I heard your talk, and a little bit about your story, I love how you kind of put the plant base message in it all. It was excellent. Could you tell us a little bit about your upbringing and why you decided to go into medicine and more specifically, why you chose to work with kids?
Dr. Yami 26:29
Yes. So I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was like three or four years old. And I'm one of those people that I just declare something. And that's my goal, it's going to happen. And I was inspired by my aunt who is now deceased. She was a general practitioner in Panama, just an amazing Angel, really a saint, they would call her a saint because she was just so dedicated to her patients. And so patient herself and I always admired her, I would see her treating patients in my grandmother's living room after hours when she was supposed to be resting and to take care of her own family. She could she could never say no, but it really inspired me. And so I decided to become a physician. But you know, as I grew, I struggled with issues of my own. And that was chronic dieting, poor body image, disordered eating. And so I had always been interested in nutrition, but really, I was interested in nutrition because I wanted to, to lose weight. I wanted to be thinner, you know, that was just the basis of everything. So I did go to medical school, thank goodness. And in medical school, I thought I wanted to be a geriatrician, actually, I even did research in that area. And that I had a mentor and everything, I had everything lined out. And I had saved my pediatric rotation for my last rotation of my third year, because I knew for sure I didn't want to do pediatrics. So I put all the important ones ahead and put pediatrics for laughs. And at the end of the first week, I came home, my husband and I were already married. He's also a physician. And I said to him, I really liked this. And he was like, Oh, good. I'm glad you're enjoying it. Because I grew up at his only child. I never babysat, I wasn't around kids. So I didn't think kids was my thing. And I was like, No, I really, really like this. And I decided to do pediatrics instead. And I liked that you brought up the colors, my logo and my website. I didn't do that because it was more attractive to children. I did it because I'm a big kid. I mean, that's why I belong in pediatrics is because that's my energy. And I love children. And I just, they light me up, and they're so optimistic and positive. And, of course, so beautiful. You know, like, you just can't get over how beautiful children are. And it's just, it's my calling, it's where I'm supposed to be. And it aligns perfectly with lifestyle medicine, because I can be there at the beginning, before I start seeing these chronic diseases or get at the beginning and start reversing some of these conditions. And to me, that's just such a beautiful place to be. So I'm very, very grateful that I found pediatrics and that it was such a great match for me and my personality.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 29:19
Well, you've got your work cut out for you because I now know that atherosclerosis starts in utero. Yes. So you got to get working on those kids early.
Dr. Yami 29:27
Yeah, well, I've got an I tell their moms because obviously my parents I have a very young practice. They're on baby two and three. And I wrote that into my book, too, that we need to start thinking about feeding our kids before kids are even born, you know, they're tasting in the amniotic fluid. And mom's diet affects those babies, just like you were saying there's evidence to show that now so yeah, we got to start as soon as we can. But as we know, it's never too late, even if you didn't get it during pregnancy or time. LaHood it's never too late to get started before COVID were you doing any kind of food demos or lectures or outreach? Tell us about that. Yeah, so I'm a food for life instructor through the physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. And that was one of those things that I went hard on. for about four years, I was giving classes all the time, sometimes three or four a week, teaching food, and I loved it, but I overdid it. So I burned myself out. So I don't do that right now. And especially with COVID, we're not doing in person stuff. But it taught me a lot. And it I mean, I learned the material so well, because I was teaching it all the time. And I know all the tricks, and I can teach people how to cook stuff, but not just make things healthy. I cook them how to make it delicious, and inexpensive, which I mean, it's like a win, win win. And so there's no excuse, I mean, the food tastes good, it doesn't cost that much. And it's not difficult to make. And I can teach all of those things. And so I'm glad that there's other food for life instructors in my town. So I don't have to be the only one trying to do it all, but also around the country that can teach these concepts and educate patients that are ready to start making changes.
Maya Acosta 31:14
You know, we love food for life instructors, we partner with some of them, and you guys are really well trained. And it's it's a lot of fun when you can go and sample foods. So I'm assuming some of your patients were probably doing that.
Dr. Yami 31:29
Yeah. And I think that that's the magic is because like we had said before, a lot of people assume that plant based means it's going to be bland or just taste bad or like cardboard or something. So I love the classes, because some of these recipes are literally so simple. So if you just read them, yeah, I don't know about that. But when I would see my students taste it, and they're like, Whoa, this is really good. And I can make this tonight when I get home, I have all these ingredients at home. They were all shocked. And so I had so much success of people leaving the class and integrating more whole plant foods into their diet and not being afraid to experiment and try new things. So that tasting of the food is really important. So even if you can't host a class for other people, sharing your plant based food with other people is really important because everybody out there just assumes that because it's called plant based or vegan, it must not taste very good. Even though in their lives, they probably eating plenty of plant based foods, but it just wasn't called that.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 32:35
They just don't know it.
Dr. Yami 32:36
Yeah, it's just important to share it with other people so that they know.
Maya Acosta 32:39
So Dr. Yama, you work with the children as a pediatrician, but you're also trained as a health coach. And that means that you can work with the complete family, you can work with adults and children. What kind of programs have you put together in regards to that and kind of tell us about what it's like to work with the family entirely.
Dr. Yami 32:59
So the reason I became a health and wellness coach is because I knew that as a physician, I didn't know all of the techniques, and I didn't have all the tools and methods to really appropriately help with behavior change. We're just not taught that. as physicians, we are taught the expert model, which is you have this do this. And Dr is probably knows that often we tell patients, okay, do this, and they don't do it. And it's not necessarily because they're a bad patient, or they're being non compliant. It's because they may have not even been on board with it in the first place. So what I love about coaching is we can take it all the way from the person's desires and goals, because maybe their goal isn't necessarily to lose weight, maybe their goal isn't necessarily to drop their cholesterol like that. Maybe that's vague to them. Maybe their goal is I want to feel better, so that I can play with my grandkids. Okay, that's your goal. When do you see yourself achieving this by? And what steps can we take to get there? And then so maybe the the client is going to say, well, maybe if I start walking, every week, I will start getting more energy. Okay, well, what are you willing? Or what do you think you're capable of doing? Can you do 10 minutes, three times a week. And then so we make smart goals that are appropriate and sustainable for each person and then just work up from there. But from the physician model, you're just like, okay, start exercising, eat better see me in three months, nothing happened in those three months, because we really have to help inspire their own motivation, because each person has their own desires and motivations inside of them. And as a coach, I'm able to really highlight and harness that and that's what I love about it. And so I think that's helped me even be a better doctor. Because I don't just assume that just because I say do something that people are going to do it. And I really have learned those methods of motivational interviewing and assessing people's confidence levels, and I use it all the time.
Maya Acosta 35:17
I think the first time we heard motivational interviewing was her plan. trician, a few years ago, another physician who was working at Kaiser Permanente who had a very successful program there, said, motivational interviewing is key. Yeah. And we're just like, what does that mean? What does it all mean? You know, and when we both started studying lifestyle medicine, and we realize it's right there, you are guiding them towards discovering why they want to do this. And so like you said, it becomes a more sustainable model. Rather than just being told as if you're a child, you need to do this, you need to do that you really just help them to see and discover the why and then put a plan in place. That is doable. Exactly. Yes.
Dr. Yami 36:01
I love it. Oh, well,
Maya Acosta 36:03
you already practicing lifestyle medicine before becoming certified.
Dr. Yami 36:06
I think I was because I also am in love with the Blue Zones, and in fact, tried to bring the Blue Zones here to Yeah, come on, that wasn't successful. I'm jealous, because you guys are close to one of the Blue Zones projects, their net worth. But you know, I, I was really in love with the concept. And so I had already started implementing all that with my families. And you know, a lot of it, even though it is evidence base, is common sense. We know that nutrition is very important. But it's not the only thing. I mean, I know people who eat great, but they don't sleep, and they're super stressed out all the time. And that's not necessarily good for our system, too. So especially in pediatrics, I think it's just the perfect time to help families with habits and behaviors so that they teach these kids you know, getting to bed on time getting adequate sleep is a lifelong healthy habit. You know, it's not just because it's lenient for Mom and Dad, it's because it's good for your brain development, it's good to decrease the risk of Alzheimer's decades down the road and heart disease and all of that stuff, and moving your body and allowing our kids to move and giving them the space and the freedom to move their bodies. So this is all just feels very natural and pediatrics. And I'm so glad that there's a certification because it aligns perfectly with what I do.
Maya Acosta 37:21
Now, what are some of the common issues that you see in children that can be treated easily with plant based nutrition or just lifestyle medicine? modifications? Well, the
Dr. Yami 37:31
most common stuff, which is the stuff I've already mentioned, is going to be a lot of digestive stuff. So constipation, chronic abdominal pain, you know, so I, that's like a daily practice. As a pediatrician, you're talking about that all the time. And you know, I do start seeing kids that may have some blood pressure starting to go up a little bit. And I know that that's a sign that most of the time it's diet. So we talked about that. And sleep sleep issues are really, really common in pediatrics as well. So implementing the lifestyle medicine techniques, sleep, hygiene, and having good sleep routine. So I would say that those are the main things, but pretty much day in and day out. I'm implementing lifestyle medicine, as a preventive, you know, education at each wellchild check. So it's something that I live and breathe in my practice,
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 38:24
have you seen an increase in childhood type two diabetes related to obesity?
Dr. Yami 38:29
Well, in my previous practice, I was seeing more of that, but in this practice, because my patients are so healthy, I don't have any patients that are having that right now. Thank goodness. And then the other thing when it comes to body size, and children, this is one of my big passions is I don't focus on body size, I focus on habits and behaviors. Because I know that body size just happens to be a symptom of lifestyle, not necessarily the cause, like we're always talking about, you know, it can be in some instances, but mainly it's a symptom of the habits. And there are some kids that are naturally going to be larger bodied people. So if I focus on their size, it's going to take away from the goal of actually changing habits and behaviors and redirect the parents to focus and over focus and get anxious about the body size of their child. This happens both in larger body children and also children that are leaner and smaller in size. So instead focus on you know, it's usually pretty simple, because usually you do see there's diet changes that can be made or sleep or stress or exercise things and so it's very simple. How about we work on this? Can we get the child movie more or can we get the family movie more which is way more effective? Can we eat more beans I'm always pushing beans because I think the American families, that's a deficit in the American culture, his people don't know how to use or cook or eat beans. So, you know, little by little we make these changes, but focusing more on habits and behaviors, rather than size or weight.
Maya Acosta 40:15
And you touch on that in your book, intuitive eating. And I was fascinated by the topic, because in so many ways, I think I, I've adapted that for myself in terms of, I eat when I'm hungry, and I eat till I'm satisfied. So in your book, you kind of advise parents to kind of let go a little bit and allow the child to then go within and really see what the body is saying to them.
Dr. Yami 40:42
Yes, because children are born that way. We're born naturally intuitive eaters. Now, there's definitely individual differences. As far as what we call food approach. Like I said, before, me and my older son, we love food, we like food, we think about food more probably than some other people. But even with those children that have high food approach, or the children that might have lower food approach, in general, you can trust these kids to feed themselves adequate amount of calories in order to grow the way that their genetic blueprint is telling them to grow. Whenever we interfere, and either try to force kids to eat more or restricts their food, we're actually counterproductive, we're causing the opposite reaction. So whenever we restrict food from a child that we think is eating too much, we actually cause them to be more obsessed with food and think about food more, whenever we try to force a child to eat more than they want to, we're actually making them more anxious around food, and they're going to be eating less of those foods. So it's difficult because I think a lot of us were raised in that, you know, eat one more by Here comes the airplane, you know, clean your plate, because there's children starving, and who knows where, you know, like grew up that way. So you have to unlearn habits, we have to unlearn our cultural training. But whenever we step back, and trust that our kids are going to know how much to eat, it's actually less stressful for everybody, it's less stressful for your child, it's less stressful for you. And at the end of the day, they're feeding themselves adequately, and they're growing as their body is instructing them to grow.
Maya Acosta 42:26
I've often wondered the trauma that a child can experience when they're all these restrictions that, you know, I didn't experience them, but my mother grew up where the parents, you know, they would put a lock on the refrigerator. And so when we introduced her to this way of life, she asked me, so do you ever cheat? And I said, Why would I cheat? You know, like, in my mind, I'm only harming myself. It's probably from those childhood moments that she had.
Dr. Yami 42:56
I mean, it is so traumatic, and we do it to ourselves, unfortunately. So whenever we impose restrictive diets on ourselves, and then we start binge eating, and then we think we're food addicts, it actually spurred from the fact that we were restricting our calories. So yes, it can be very traumatic. And it can be very sad. Because we are survival creatures. So first and foremost, you know, we we have this survival instinct. And that is helped by eating sufficient amount of food, you know, so whenever we have this feeling that they're scarcity, when it comes to food, it's appropriate evolutionarily, it's appropriate for us to suddenly become obsessed with food. Because in our primitive brain, we're thinking we could die, we could starve to death, and we want to be alive. So it may seem dramatic, but to the primitive brain, it's not to the primitive brain that's real, it is a life or death situation. So some of these things, chronic dieters, I know it took me years, it took me years to lose that sneaking, you know, hiding, eating by myself sort of thing, because I had dieted for so long that food was this really weird relationship thing. Thankfully, whenever you stop dieting, and you start restricting, you can get back to a place with food, where it feels natural and normal and comfortable, and you're no longer worried about not having enough. But just imagine when we're imposing that to our children, what we're causing, and I know that parents are well, meaning, I know that this happens a lot. So I'm not blaming parents. And I'm not saying that they're bad parents. I just hope that if there's anybody out there listening and doing that now, maybe think about a different approach and trusting your child, of course, filling your house with health, promoting foods, and having good structure and routines, but not putting your child on a diet. I mean, that's a really, really big deal to me,
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 44:50
we need to improve the quality of our food. And when we can do that. These restrictions go away. That whole concept of restricting someone that's what I worried about my kids when they were growing up this? Fortunately, we didn't we weren't focused on this, restricting them from how much they could eat or, and we didn't force them. You know, it's like, yeah, they ate whatever they wanted to eat, and we were fine with that. But inside, the one thing I was worried about was the quality of the food. I've always said to that, when you when you eat plant a whole food plant based diet, your body finds its natural weight. Yes, yeah, your body finds,
Dr. Yami 45:28
and some people are gonna be larger than others still, yeah, this is like really, really important to me. Because I think that there's, there's this feeling that if you're doing it, right, you're going to be skinny. Some people really want to be skinny, and some people will, but some people won't. I mean, they're still going to be individual differences, there's going to be
Maya Acosta 45:49
ethnic differences. And so that's why I focus more on well being rather than body size, let you let your body do what it will feed your body appropriately tune into your body, eat when you're hungry, stop when you're satisfied, eat mostly whole plant foods, but tune in to how you feel I think that's the best North Star when it comes to are you doing this right or not? You know, because some people think, okay, I'm doing everything, right. But I'm still not a size four. So there's something wrong with me. Or maybe I'm just eating too much garbanzos because they're a little bit higher in fat, or whatever, you know what I'm saying. So that's why I focus on well being rather than size or weight. And I definitely understood that concept of the body size can still be different when I read how not to diet by Dr. Greger and he addresses why some people still struggle with losing weight, even though they're eating plant based. Once you have those fat cells in your body, you're going to struggle, I'm very sensitive to the topic of obesity because of my own family. And I know that there's some other issues and childhood traumas that are associated with that. So I, I don't want to shame or judge people by that. I once heard you were on a panel discussion ones with an individual who's a wonderful leader in the vegan world. And she talked about how she still struggles with losing weight, despite doing what she thinks is all the right things. And I felt so bad for her. And I thought, Gosh, I wish more people would say that so that there's less judgement about weight, and body image because that's where the eating disorders come from. It's how we view each other. I mean, I know.
Dr. Yami 47:33
Like, this is like such a big deal to me. But I'm immersed in this other world now. And so you know, we talk about paradigm shifts from the standard American diet to the whole food plant base. Well, now I'm in this whole paradigm shift when it comes to weight. Because I mean, I just wonder if that one professional otherwise is having a happy, joyful life, and who cares? What's clothing size, you know what I'm saying? Because what happens is whenever you keep separating on the size of your body, it alters what choices you make in life. And ultimately, it raises your cortisol, and it makes your life stressful. And so we can be having, and we can be harnessing so much more joy. When we focus on well being, of course, we stick to the lifestyle medicine pillars, you know, I'm not saying go out, and you know, eat a bunch of processed food and only sleep two hours and stuff like that. I'm saying, you know, you do your lifestyle stuff. But don't expect or don't try to force your body to be a certain size or weight just because you think society says that that's the right thing. Or maybe even the BMI chart says that that's the right thing. Because, guess what doctors have been wrong before. We know this, right? So I'm sorry, I get super passionate about this topic. But I feel like I'm one of the lone ones that has this positioning when it comes about it. But I feel like it's particularly important for children, because when we're trying to change the size, or the shape of somebody's body, it can affect them for their entire lifetime. You know, and it can bring them so much misery and stress in their life when it didn't have to, you know,
Maya Acosta 49:15
so I'm interested in knowing more about your experience being part of Dr. Judy Bradman's, reclaim your health summit. I was excited to hear initially that she was putting this together and then I signed up because I love to learn and I said to risks, you know, this is an important topic. This is where you're addressing how to prevent diseases, but also you're addressing black health. Can you tell us what that was like for you?
Dr. Yami 49:41
It was such an honor and I just so proud of Judy, Dr. Brandman for even having this idea. And actually she did put it together very quickly. She worked really, really hard to put it together and did a fantastic job, but it was inspired By COVID, and everything that's been going on with more attention to the health of people of color. And so I think that it was excellently made. And I just feel so proud and honored that she invited me to do it. And then I got to interview her too for it. So I think more and more, we're seeing that, you know, there's definitely some ethnic and racial disparities, but also, there are certain communities that maybe we haven't been vocal with, but they probably are interested, you know, like, it's one of those things that you just make an assumption, okay, maybe these people, they're not interested, or they can't do it, but maybe they are. And so why don't we talk to them and reach out to them. And then we realize, Oh, actually, this could be one of the fastest growing group of people eating whole food plant based, I have no idea. until I started seeing the reports of how African American is one of the fastest growing groups of people that are changing to veganism, I think that, you know, it's very important that we just are mindful of that and aware and do the best we can to be inclusive to all communities.
Maya Acosta 51:12
I agree. It fell at a wonderful time during this COVID time. But during a very divisive time in our in our country. And I saw this summit happening and pcrm, putting together one in Spanish. I referred my mother, that one I said you gotta watch this one, because Spanish is still her stronger language. And it makes sense that we start to come together and focus on certain groups that kind of feel like we've been a little bit neglected. When I heard Dr. Columbus parties talk about an experience he had in his earlier years. I mean, I get emotional thinking about it. But he spoke about an individual, they were at a location, I don't remember the details, the individual came to Dr. Columbus, and his friend, and he was like, Whoa, we're about to have some problems. And no, this person just wanted to introduce themselves and say, Hey, welcome to this community. And it was that experience, the black experience that some people live with every day, that can then affect your level of stress. It can, it can affect how you see everybody else, and how you feel like you're being perceived. And so when the summit came out, I felt so excited. I shared it with as many people as I could, because I thought this is important. And really all physicians in the plant based world need to see this, you know, we talk about how about a third of your patients are African American, or so, you know, and, and so it's important to know how to work with some patients is what I'm saying.
Dr. Yami 52:40
And you know, just taking it back to the coaching to to realize that everybody has their own individual experience and journey, and they have their own lived experience. And so sometimes we want to make assumptions, but it's not appropriate to make assumptions, we need to ask, like, what is your experience with this? How do you feel about this before we make assumptions, and I think that's what we're all learning how to be better at, because definitely, I'm not perfect at that. But I think with these events, and with the changing times, we can all learn how to be more inclusive, but also make space for all people to be able to tell their story.
Maya Acosta 53:19
We all deserve to be healthy. And it is true. You just never know who will be open. They just need to hear the message.
Dr. Yami 53:26
Yes, absolutely. So you've mentioned that your patients are fairly healthy, Is it because of the population, you know, the name of my practice is nourish wellness. And I positioned myself as pretty much doing lifestyle medicine, even before I was lifestyle medicine certified, I didn't really realize that when I did that I was going to already attract the healthiest people, like I just, I guess didn't know that that was going to happen. But that's what happened. You know, so I attract all the people that are already interested in pursuing this way of life. And because of that, I have my patients are so healthy. And I'm very happy about that. But I just didn't imagine I imagined myself doing more work like I did before, where I'm helping families that are really struggling and really needing a lot of help with that. And so that's why I still am very passionate about doing my online things and having my online presence. But I also just love my practice. And the reason I love my practice is because it's definitely let me see what it's like for a healthy child to grow up without chronic disease. So I know exactly what that looks like that I know exactly how that can happen. And I know that it's possible. And it's it gives me so much hope. So I think either way, it's been a fabulous experience and it's very gratifying to do that kind of work to
Maya Acosta 54:49
Yeah, I mean, you are literally raising that next generation of healthy kids because you're it's foundational what you're teaching at a young age when they're more receptive. And then putting them on a great path.
Dr. Yami 55:01
I get messages all the time from my patients moms. Whenever the my little patience a little kids are telling their moms, you know, we need eight more beans, Dr. Yami says, Please tell Dr. Yami ate my beans or I had kale or you know, whatever. So I know that the message is getting in there. Because it's not like I just am giving a lecture every time they go to a wild child check. But I'm consistent. You know, let's talk about how much dairy you're having. Let's talk about beans. Let's talk about this. Let's talk about sleep. And so the message is getting there little by little.
Maya Acosta 55:32
So now you said that you're putting a lot more energy into your podcasts. And you've been podcasting for about three years or longer. Are you spending more time doing interviews?
Dr. Yami 55:42
Yes. So I was actually doing two episodes a week for a while down, you know, we just upgraded some things and worked on the quality of our audio. And it's just, it's just been so great. So we're nearing 300,000 downloads very soon, probably in the next week or so we'll get to 300,000. And, you know, just like we had talked about whenever I interviewed you for my podcast, it's about consistency, just keep going and, and more people will find you but I love podcasting. It's like literally one of my favorite things to do. So I could do it every single day of the week. But I have other responsibilities.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 56:20
So you'd have to give up your day job.
Dr. Yami 56:22
I know seriously. So I just I just want to make it as good as I can. Yeah, well, I
Maya Acosta 56:26
think you're awesome. And you're a natural at it. And and what a wonderful way to provide information. But especially because you are a physician, not all physicians are able to spend that much time in and aside from that just doing the research for each episode. It's a lot of work. It's so fun. It fills me up.
Dr. Yami 56:45
It makes me so happy.
Maya Acosta 56:47
I can see how that would be gratifying. I did have one fun question for you. Is there a hobby or a passion that most people don't know about you?
Dr. Yami 56:55
I have a pretty open book. So I think most people know pretty much everything about me. But I love exercising, like we had talked about how I started with long distance running. I don't do that anymore. But I love to get on my bike or my treadmill every morning. And it's just the best way to start the day, I know that it's going to set me up for a joyful day where I have energy and I can think clearly. So I try every single morning to start my day with exercise. And it's not difficult for me just because I love it that much. And I just love sweating. And I love being breathless. So it's just really, really fun.
Maya Acosta 57:34
So do you have a tip for our listeners, whether their parents or not on how they can upgrade their life?
Dr. Yami 57:41
I think that everybody can be mindful about getting adequate sleep, I suspect that the majority of people listening probably are not. So one easy way to upgrade your life is to just start going to bed 30 minutes earlier, and get more sleep and you're gonna feel like a million bucks The next day, and it's so worth it.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 58:01
We do the whole lifestyle medicine thing, but sometimes we don't practice it ourselves, right? Yeah, Bert, we're burning the candle at both ends, we got a lot of stress, we don't get enough sleep. The first thing we go is my exercise routine when I get busy. So yeah, we do have to practice self care. And important
Dr. Yami 58:17
whenever we deviate off the path, it doesn't mean that we just throw in the towel and quit. We just gently nudge nudge ourselves back on the path, and then tune into that sense of well being because when we deviate off the path, usually we're not feeling good. So when we get that indication of like, Oh, I'm just I'm not feeling well, we get back on the path. And we're like, Ah, this feels better. It's just easier to stay on that path. You know?
Maya Acosta 58:42
How can people find your intuitive eating book and your websites? And also how can they listen in on your podcast.
Dr. Yami 58:49
So the best place to go is my website, Dr. yami.com. And there you can find links to my book, a parent's guide to intuitive eating how to raise kids who like to eat healthy, my podcast, veggie doctor radio. And there's also I have a bunch of freebies. So at Dr. yami.com, forward slash free, I have lots of cool stuff like how to replace meat, how to replace dairy, a plant based shopping guide, all kinds of stuff, breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas. And so those are just easily PDF downloads. And then from there, they can link out to my social media. I'm most active on Instagram at the Dr. Yami. But like I said, you can find everything from Dr. yami.com.
Dr. Rizwan Bukhari 59:30
Well, Dr. Yami it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time. Well, you enjoyed getting to spend a little bit of time with you.
Maya Acosta 59:36
Thank you for everything that you do and for being such a wonderful role model and for being you know, you've been doing this for quite a while so you're almost a pioneer. Thank you for all the work that you've done.
Dr. Yami 59:48
Thank you so much to both of you for having me. It was such a pleasure. Take care. Bye Bye. Have
Maya Acosta 59:52
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