Dr. Philip Ovadia joins Navin for a special extended episode: not only does Dr. Ovadia share his advice on how to THRIVE with a diet consisting of real food, but he also shares his journey from childhood to post med school life when he himself was morbidly obese. His transformation began with his diet and he discusses how he changed his metabolic health through food.
From Ovadia Heart Health
“I did everything right – but I was still fat
For as long as I can remember, I was overweight.
As a child.
As a teenager.
As a student at medical school.
Even as a cardiac surgeon.
This was despite growing up in a household that followed official guidelines. I was an active child who played sports. My parents bought margarine, diet soda, low-fat milk, and avoided sugary cereals. We followed the guidelines of the USDA and the Food Pyramid.
Yet, I was always overweight.
I got heavier as I progressed through college and medical school.
At the age of 27, while I was making the rounds in the hospital, I was convinced that I was suffering a heart attack. With hindsight, it was probably just severe heartburn. But it scared me into action.
It was time to lose weight.
For months, I tracked everything I ate. I followed the “calories in, calories out” principle that I learned at school, making sure I was consuming less than I was burning. I also exercised for many hours each day.
It worked; I lost 50 pounds.
Of course, that’s not the end of the story. You wouldn’t be reading this if it was. Like many other people, I put all of that weight back on – and then some more. Both of my parents were obese – eventually both had gastric bypass surgery – so I resigned myself to being “genetically destined” for obesity. Regrettably, this was another concept taught to me at school.
Obesity stared me in the face every day, both in the mirror and in the hospital. I treated obese and diabetic people on a daily basis, and I gave them the same advice each time:
“Eat less. Move more. Choose low-fat foods.”
I believed this was the correct advice, and I continued to follow it myself. Over the years I tried everything, including Weight Watchers and Nutrifast. I always lost weight – but I always put it back on with extra.
Then, in 2015, things really changed for me, and I owe it to my wife. She had suffered with severe heartburn since giving birth to our daughters, and in 2015 decided to try avoiding gluten to see if it helped. I joined her in a bid to be supportive, and I was stunned to discover that I immediately felt better. I had more energy, and some of my excess weight disappeared.
Sometimes life presents strange coincidences, and I experienced one a short while later. At a medical conference, I listened to Gary Taubes as the guest speaker. He delivered an alternative explanation of sugar and carbohydrates as the underlying cause of obesity. I began reading his books and reducing my carbohydrate intake.
This one decision changed my life.
Do you ever spend all day thinking about food? Feeling hungry from the moment you wake up until you go to bed?
I did. But not anymore. For the first time ever, I did not think about food constantly. I lost 100 pounds and kept it off.
Today, I am in the best shape of my life. Physically, I have never been fitter or felt better, and I have a mental clarity that I have never experienced before.
How did I do it? By consuming mainly animal-based foods and virtually zero carbohydrates.
A new beginning
They say that life begins at 40, and it was absolutely true in my case.
My entire life had been spent battling my weight; focused on it, losing it and gaining it. Then with a simple decision to support my wife, that battle ended with my victory.
This led me on a quest. I needed knowledge.
‘How did this happen?’
‘Why is this not in the Food Pyramid?’
‘Why had it not been taught to me as a medical practitioner?’
So I relentlessly researched the effects of food on health. I learned that much of what I had been taught at school was based on a number of fallacies.
I came to realize that our poor diets cause poor metabolic health, which is why we suffer from so many chronic diseases. Processed food is intentionally engineered to encourage people to eat more, creating a vicious cycle.
Worse, our healthcare environment is overly focused on prescribing medicines and treating the symptoms of a condition instead of addressing the root cause and preventing the issue in the first place.
Armed with all of this, it became my mission to help people. I am committed to this so you can enjoy good health, a better relationship with food, and not go through the years of anguish that I did.
A ‘healthy diet’ doesn’t mean smoothies and salads. A healthy diet, using real food, can be satisfying and easy to maintain. I enjoy everything I eat – and most importantly, I am able to fully enjoy all the wonderful things in my life. Now that you’re here, you have access to all the information you’ll need to live a healthy, happy and joyful life, too.”
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