You’ve made the fateful decision to start eating a low-carb, high-fat diet and perhaps even a full-fledged ketogenic way of eating to deal with a nagging weight and/or health issue in your life. And after adopting this nutritional approach that goes against what most conventional health professionals would view as prudent, you’ve already begun to see some pretty spectacular improvements that give you the confidence that this is the right diet for you. But then you go to see your primary care physician to track your progress and get read the riot act about your chosen diet by this person who has had at most less than two weeks of nutrition training in medical school. This all-too-familiar scenario for patients like you and me is so incredibly frustrating beyond belief. For all intents and purposes, we are made to feel bad for choosing an alternative path to the low-fat, “healthy” whole grains, and pop-a-pill society we now live in.
I’ve been hearing from a lot of my readers lately who can’t understand why it’s so difficult to try to find a medical doctor in their area who will work with them and not judge them for choosing to eat like this. I did an “Ask The Low-Carb Experts” podcast on this subject in 2012 to arm you with the right kinds of questions you should be asking your non-low-carb friendly doctor. But at next month’s Paleo(f)x conference in Austin, Texas, I’ll be moderating a panel called “Navigating With Your Non-Paleo Physician (What’s Up Doc?)” to help patients realize their role in that doctor-patient relationship. Far too many people are just abdicating responsibility for their own health and handing that over to the man in the white coat. Doctors are some of the most amazing people on the planet offering ways for making you better when you get sick or hurt. But they are merely consultants in your health portfolio with you being the final voice of approval on whatever decisions you make for your health. Not enough people view members of the medical profession in this manner and simply obey what they’re told like mindless lemmings. We’re better than that.
Here’s what one reader from Illinois had to share after reading this blog post about an internist in that state who now uses low-carb diets with his patients:
My husband has metabolic syndrome and pretty bad triglycerides and LDL cholesterol along with high fasting blood glucose and hypertension. I worry about him a lot because his mom died young of a heart attack. I made up a whole bound notebook for him about what metabolic syndrome is and how a low-carb, high-fat diet addresses it physiologically with references and a couple of journal articles, but he thinks this nutritional approach is a stupid fad diet that doesn’t make sense.
If I give him a book written for a popular audience, he disdains to read it and seems to feel that’s proof it’s a fad diet. And if I give him something technical he won’t read it because it’s too technical. His doctor told him to take Lipitor to lower his cholesterol and admits that while carbohydrate restriction has some benefits, he doesn’t need to do anything drastic like a ketogenic or even the Mediterranean diet.
I wish I could find a doctor for him who would advise serious and permanent lifestyle changes. He told me himself he would like to get enough exercise not to need the blood pressure medicine, and I think if a doctor told him that it’s possible to reverse metabolic syndrome with lifestyle changes that he would give it a try. Thank you for any help you might be able to provide.
Another big fan of my podcasts also wrote to me recently with a similar concern about finding a doctor who would be willing to work with her without chastising her decision to begin eating a low-carb diet. She already perused my “List Of Low-Carb Doctors” blog and failed to find one in her area to help her on her health journey. Here’s what she wrote:
At age 60 and 15 pounds overweight, I’m trying to move to a low-carb diet (I’m totally addicted to sweets and bread). The thing that’s stopping me is the lack of a doctor who I can check in with for the first 6 months or so for blood tests and to answer my questions. I tried Atkins a couple of times in the 1970s and would almost pass out when I went on that diet. Back then, there weren’t books out there on how to do a well-formulated low-carb diet by adding in enough salt. So maybe today I would not have that same experience because the instructions are so much better now. But still, it makes me realize that I would only feel comfortable trying again today if I had an experienced medical practitioner who I could talk to during the adjustment period.
I’ve been looking for someone who not only leans toward low-carb for his/her patients but also is up-to-date regarding thyroid testing, cholesterol interpretation, and who actually has some experience with tired, middle-aged people who are not trying to be CrossFit athletes. Is that too much to ask? I am so frustrated right now, I can’t locate anyone even sort of local to me. Over the past three months, I’ve checked:
1. The Internet
2. The only local meet-up group that is Paleo/low-carb
3. A big local compounding pharmacy
4. Whole Foods supermarket
5. All the big local hospital/University weight loss departments
6. A researcher at Washington University who has participated in running a study related to low-carb and obesity
7. Paleo Physicians Network and Primal Docs website
8. Local bariatric doctors and the American Bariatric Association
9. My holistic veterinarian
These are just the ones I remember. I feel like I’ve exhausted all the possibilities. It’s really depressing. So here is my question: Do you know if any of the doctors you’re acquainted with would ever have a patient fly in for an initial workup/evaluation and then do most of the follow-ups by telephone or Skype? If there’s anyone you might suggest, I would really appreciate it. As I said, I’d try it on my own. But at my age when issues start to crop up anyway, I suspect at the first sign of a bump in the road I’d probably panic and bail. I’d really like to try breaking this terrible sugar/wheat addiction and just feel better at last. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.
This reader is not alone in her concerns and she brings up a very good point for those of you who haven’t been able to locate a doctor where you live to walk alongside you to monitor your health on your low-carb or Paleo diet. Whether you realize it or not, most of the doctors on the various low-carb/Paleo physicians lists would be delighted to see you as a patient. But they need to see you in person one time which would require you to fly in to see them in their office. This establishes a doctor-patient relationship that could then continue via the telephone or Skype when you return home as was suggested. The key is to find a doctor you trust, want to work with, and believe can give you the medical guidance as you embark on this way of eating.
Be encouraged my friends. All is NOT lost. You just have to be willing to do what it takes to find someone to work with who will not judge you for your diet choices. Click on any of the links below to find a medical or nutritional professional near you who is ready, willing, and able to stand with you through this process. DON’T LOSE HOPE! It’s worth the extra effort to do something positive for your health.