I eat right.

I have had a life-long interest in the relationship between health and longevity. In my practice I talk to quite a few healthy very elderly people and every time I ask for their secret, they invariably say, “I eat right.” They never say, “I’m a vegetarian or a vegan.” They aren’t into self-denial. I was discussing diet the other day with a man who said, “My elderly aunt really knows how to take care of herself regarding diet.” Wanting to know more I asked, “What does she do?” He said, “Well, after a day she eats a lot, you know, if she goes to a party or out to dinner, the next day she eats less and goes for a longer walk…” Taken aback, I could only blurt out, “Wow! That’s the secret?” We both laughed at the simplicity of his aunt’s wisdom.

This got me thinking about the deeper consequences of today’s diet trends. Bodies, minds and souls need to be fed well, but have we gone overboard in our dietary extremism? Should people who have no medical problems avoid gluten? I find myself questioning the need for healthy people to restrict themselves unnecessarily. Everyday, somewhere there is a celebrity or sports figure endorsing the benefits of giving up gluten or dairy, saying, “It’s cleared up my skin…I have more energy than before…my mind is no longer in a fog.” Cutting back on cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and partying helps too.

People are becoming more and more puritanical in their dietary beliefs. Foods are either classified as being harmful or beneficial to your health. There is no forgiving middle ground. The good person eats the right diet and woe to the individual who expresses a love for bread or worse, chocolate cake. Then, you are considered a bad influence and people start locking up their children when you are around. To be considered healthy, advertisements brainwash us into thinking that everyone must look the same way—cut arms and abs for men, and big breasts and tiny waists for women. Skinny people are admired for their self-control and held up as role models, but the skinny women I see today remind me of prison-camp survivors, or someone with a terminal illness.

Perhaps it’s time to re-think our prejudices and learn to be kind to one’s self, starting with our food choices. People who severely restrict their diets tend to be unhappy, and filled with fear and anxiety. Anxiety is a tell tale sign of internal stress. Stress, more than anything else, will shorten lifespan. Self-denial often leads to obsessive, extreme beliefs, attitudes and actions. As a psychological trait, extremism is considered destructive self-hatred or a compulsion to destroy one’s humanness. If this isn’t a recipe for inner discord, I don’t know what is.

Today there is a great deal of unease surrounding food (maybe I should have said dis-ease). In parts of the world where food is scarce and famines are commonplace this is understandable. For the underprivileged, an abundant supply of food means increased productivity and wealth. Consumer driven societies like ours, with its ever-expanding set of options are predisposed to excessive over consumption. Perhaps dietary restrictions are a knee-jerk reaction to combat wastefulness. In the absence of massive crop failures, we instead develop food phobias. Food is demonized and considered toxic. While many of these concerns should not be dismissed out of hand, they often merge with deeper psycho-emotional imbalances.

Restrictive dietary trends come and go. The preoccupation with gluten-free products is identical to the fat-free rage of a few years back. Gluten-free foods are often loaded with sugar and calories in much the same way as their fat-free counterparts. Gluten-free cake, however, still is cake. I am not against people who restrict their diets based on moral, religious or health reasons. Cruelty towards animals must be eliminated, but people who believe themselves to be more virtuous and less violent than their meat eating brothers and sisters are misguided. An air of moral superiority and the inducement of guilt in others is an act of violence.

All nutrition is life sustaining, and therefore it should give you a sense of well-being. The earth feeds us and allows us to become what we are meant to be. Our ancestor’s ability to adapt to new sources of food in uncertain times was advantageous. Do you really want to be like the panda that only eats a specific type of bamboo and is facing extinction? People who are flexible in their eating habits are more likely to survive, if only for the fact they are open to new experiences.

Bread was considered the staff of life—there was even a prayer that said, “Give us this day our daily bread…” Today, it is a culinary villain, banished to the backrooms of everyday living. Once a staple in many restaurants, you now have to ask for it, and when the server hands you the bread, he glares at you with disdain. How things change. Historically bread, along with wine was synonymous with human accomplishment—an over-arching achievement of patience, devotion and creativity. Unfortunately, we have lost our visceral connection to mother earth. Bread no longer sustains us and we have become incapable of assimilating it.

People want one magic pill or cure that will keep them alive forever. Silicon Valley guru and author, Ray Kurzweil spends a million dollars annually taking 150 supplements a day. He believes he can obtain immortality by reprogramming his body. The problem is we find one cure only to chase after new ones. The wellness craze is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is making us all health fanatics. We are terrorized into eating the right food, drinking the right drink, and never ever smoking or drinking alcohol. It’s not enough to gulp tons of supplements and eat only avocados or Brussels sprouts. You also have to exercise like a triathlete and detox with religious zeal.

People are filled with fear and neither supplements nor right diet are going to keep them alive indefinitely. You can toss the deep fryer in the garbage, but death will still come. It’s what you do in between that is important. Relentless self-absorption in pursuit of health is isolating. Boredom, suffering and irritation are not worthy goals. We are trapped in a collective state of fear and anxiety. It’s time to start celebrating life in all its seeming arbitrariness. When I talk to people who have experienced the loss of a loved one, the memories they hold most dear are the ordinary ones—walking the kids home from school or the warmth of the family kitchen at dinnertime.

Longevity stems from an engagement with life that combines meaning and joyfulness. Joy is a spiritual connection to life. On my morning walk today I passed a 98-year old lady who stopped and with a big smile on her face said, “It’s spring,” even though it was only -4 degrees. Happy people tend to live the longest. When you take yourself too seriously or feel burdened by life, you increase your risk of ending up in an early grave. Unhappy people generally have low self-esteem and use denial as a way to gain control over their lives. Control is an illusion. No one food imparts immunity to death.

Eat and cook to give pleasure to yourself and others. Pleasure is essential to life. It may be fleeting, but it teaches you how to receive life’s goodness. This is the true and lasting path to happiness. Teach yourself how to eat and then learn how to cook. Cooking awakens your intuition in such a way that you automatically know what is right for you. Everyone needs to eat. Different days require different approaches. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that, which is planted. There are times to feast and enjoy the comfort and companionship of family and friends. At other times we may need to reduce our intake. Many things determine how we eat: how we feel, what the weather is like, seasonal availability of food, and of course, budget. It’s a question of finding the right balance for you.

Meditation for Peace of Mind


  1. Right Time: You are unique in your timing. When we talk about the right time to meditate, we are referring to the time that is right for you. Some people meditate equally well day or night, so any time is good for them. But you may have different needs. Ask yourself these questions—When am I most awake and aware? When am I most at ease? That’s the time you should meditate. If you do not know, choose early morning—4:00, 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. The right time to meditate is when you do not feel pressured. Once you find the right time, be committed to your practice. If your time is 6:00 in the morning, then every day at 6:00 a.m. you should be meditating. This is called “conditioning.” If you do not feel well or you do not want to meditate, just sit there. Do not break the pattern. Do not break the physical habit.
  1. Right Place: The place you meditate is important. Most North Americans, by world standards are wealthy. They live in homes with more than one room. Make one of these rooms into your meditation room. This room should only be used for meditation and study. Some people like to use their closets, but you have to get rid of your clothes first. If you do not have an extra room, then a corner of a room is acceptable. Set down a rug or a mat and tactfully remind everyone that this is your personal space and it should be respected. Your room must be clean and fresh with no odors other than the scent of incense or flowers. Meditate daily at the same time, in the same place and in the same position. Consistency is the key if you are to produce any depth of meditation.
  1. Right Food: Do not meditate on a full stomach. Wait between one to three hours after a main meal. Consider your digestive system. It all depends upon how sensitive you are. Some foods produce gas and they simply do not agree with meditation. You do not have to become a vegetarian, however. You definitely can eat meat and be spiritual. If you choose to be a vegetarian, that is helpful, but it must be your choice.
  1. Right Lifestyle: Most people think that meditation is something that “you go into” and “do” for 20 minutes each morning and evening. That is not the case! The goal of meditation is to bring your meditation out into the world and keep it there. In order for this to happen, you have to meditate again and again each time reaching a more peaceful and serene state. More than anything, meditation is a way of life. There is a direct relationship between your lifestyle and the effectiveness of your meditation. You will not get far in your meditation if you scream all day. You need to develop detachment and unselfishness to be productive. Let others do their own thing. Stop trying to control people. Do not let the world upset you. What does it mean to be upset? Whether you realize it or not it means that you really want everyone to be like you. Think about it. What kind of a world would it be, if there were 2,000,000,000 of you running around? Ridiculous, right? Your value lies in your individuality (not ego). Through meditation you are trying to find and be yourself.

Addicted to Time

Driving to work, trapped again in rush hour traffic, my mind wanders, “Where is everyone going and why are they in such a hurry?” I watch the woman in the car next to me staring upward into the sun-visor mirror glossing her lips, while the gentleman behind gestures wildly talking into his cell phone. Forget about mindfulness or peaceful contemplation:  from the moment the alarm clock jolts us awake, we are conditioned to keep to a schedule–to fill every moment–down to the millisecond.

As an experiment, on your next drive to the office, try to ignore the clocks around you. Don’t look at your phone. Tape over the clock in the dash-board, and don’t look inside the coffee drive-thru window. Shield your eyes on every corner where there’s a bank. Turn off the radio to avoid the incessant weather or sports updates that make you realize you’re running late. Unfortunately no matter how hard you try to block out the information, like Pavlov’s drooling dog, you’ve been trained to adhere to schedule.

Your children add more constraints upon your time. For many working women, pregnancies are planned. Cesarean sections are scheduled to minimize the interference with their busy lives. Babies get hungry–don’t forget the 2 AM feeding–hungry or not. Nursery school beckons, followed by art and violin lessons. Then there’s 5 AM hockey practices or ballet. Is it any wonder why our children are hyperactive? Children need to play, not have scheduled play-dates. Exercise was meant to keep the body healthy, not something else we push ourselves through. Isn’t a work-out just work outside of work?

There never seems to be enough time. We spin before work, glance down at our phone every few minutes throughout the day to get messages and stay on-time so we can meet that important client for dinner then run to the arena for the basketball game after. Take a breath. No longer do we call our non-working hours, time-off or leisure time. When was the last time you read a book (not listen to one during your commute) or watch a flock of birds? Or just did nothing but enjoyed the day with family and friends or even more rare–by yourself?

Many of today’s illnesses are a direct result of our neurotic need to control time. Type A personalities, those aggressive over-achievers who drop dead of heart attacks at 50 are quintessential time addicts. Stress has been implicated in diseases as diverse as ulcerative colitis, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure. In reality most diseases have a stress component. Perhaps time itself is the greatest stressor of all.

While time cannot be stopped, our adherence to schedules can be.

Before smart phones and digital clocks when asked the time you would glance at your wrist and say, “almost 10.”

Would time stop if we lost the ability to measure it?

Somehow I think life would go on.

What we’re all about.

Every few weeks we will post some new information that we hope will interest you. The most important aspect of your health care is your own involvement and knowledge. This idea is detailed more fully in the chapter “Patient-centered Care” in the Education menu. There is increasing scientific evidence that the more you know about your own health, the more you can take an active role in staying healthy. While this is common sense for most of us, it’s taken quite a while for the health care community to come on board. 

The days should be gone where the authoritarian doctor walks into the room, mumbles a few words, writes a prescription and leaves before answering questions. Unfortunately in our over-pressed system this still takes place. Even worse I hear stories of physicians standing in the doorway and never examining the patient. This makes a mockery of the patient-doctor relationship, and is unacceptable. 

If you read the information on the Promptdoc website you should be able to see a common theme. Information is readily available on an unlimited number of health topics if you know what questions to ask, where to look for answers and how to interpret the data. The internet is revolutionizing medicine. We will present interesting, perhaps not standardized information on topics that affect all of us. 

Please leave comments and requests for information in the contact section. Perhaps we can guide you where to look.

Remember however all this information is food for thought, not treatment advice. It is important to consult with your health care provider before you begin any physical training routine, make lifestyle changes or changes in your health care regimen.