An Interview with Veggie Fit Kids Founder, Dr. Yami
Here at Balanced, we're always eager to connect with experts leading the charge for healthier families. Dr. Yami, founder of Veggie Fit Kids, exemplifies the values most important to Balanced and we could not feel more honored to have her on our side.
Dr. Yami's podcast, website, and pediatric care practice are filled to the brim with evidence-based nutrition advice and her many credentials speak for themselves. Check out the interview below and be sure to visit her site and social media pages for EVEN MORE great tips on keeping your family fit and healthy.
Tell us a little bit about your journey in healthcare and how the food system has shaped the way you practice medicine today? I wanted to be a doctor since age 4. I always knew I wanted to help people. Medical school taught me all about disease, medical treatments and surgery. But it wasn't until I went through my own struggles and serendipitously discovered a whole food plant-based diet that I made the true connection between our diet and lifestyle choices and our health. I don't blame or shame parents for their habits or food choices.
We live in an obesigenic environment that encourages overconsumption of overly processed foods that have addictive potential.
I am human too. But if we desire to have better health outcomes for our children and grandchildren, we MUST pay attention to the foods that are being served at home, at school and out in the community. I feel that to be the best doctor I can be, I have to be informed about health promoting foods and how I can guide my patients and their families into developing habits that support their best, joyful life.
What is one thing you would change about the food ecosystem in your community that would make a profound impact on your patients' quality of life? I would reduce the amount of fast food restaurants and replace them with community gardens. We have one of the highest ratios of restaurants per capita in the region and being constantly exposed to opportunities for highly processed calorically dense foods leads to increased consumption of those foods and subsequently increase rates of chronic disease. When did you first realize your patients struggle unnecessarily hard to lead healthy lives? We all struggle with something. We are all human and we are imperfect. I want everyone to know that I do the best that I can and I struggle too! I see many moms that work 2-3 jobs, get very little sleep and love their children so much that they buy fast food and highly processed foods because they want to make sure that they are getting enough calories to eat. They do want the best for their children, but they are at the end of their rope and don't know how else to do it. However, with a little information and practice, we can start to integrate more health promoting foods into the diets of their families. It takes time and persistence.
What has you most outraged about your local food system? I am not outraged, but I do feel sad. I feel sad because even though I am enthusiastic and optimistic most days, there are some days where I wonder if its too late to swing the pendulum in the other direction.
The problem is massive and we have accumulated many years of unhealthy habits that we must work to reverse. I know it CAN be done, but it really is going to require involvement from many concerned parents and citizens. We must take stand for our health and the health of our future generations. I don't believe it has to be all-or-nothing, but we do have to integrate more whole plant foods into our every meal.
How do you choose to impact your local food system?
I have been teaching live cooking classes for 4 years, educating as much as possible out in the community. I also have a presence online and I work with adults as a health coach. I have helped the local hospital, Virginia Mason Memorial, implement plant-based options into their menus. I see lots of great change coming in the future.
If you could design the ideal meal for your patients, what would it be? The meal would include beans, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, be beautiful and vibrant and full of color and it would be a meal that they would love and feel fully satisfied after eating.
How can our readers get in touch with you if they would like to know more about your work? They can see my work at www.veggiefitkids.com and I am active on facebook.com/veggiefitkids and on instagram @veggiefitkids. I also have a YouTube channel @veggiefitkids.
Balanced supporters can also hear our executive director, Audrey Sanchez on Dr. Yami's podcast here.
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