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Dahlonega physician partners with chef for book on eating well

POSTED: August 1, 2012 1:30 a.m.

If your goal is to become a healthier you, half the battle will be fought at your dinner table.

According to Dr. Amber French, whose practice is in Dahlonega, it’s a scenario that isn’t always given proper consideration. As folks get older, many are surprised to learn they have to rethink their usual eating habits.

"Most of my patients are 50-60 years old and they’re like, ‘My body isn’t listening to me. I’m gaining weight and I haven’t done anything different,’" French said.

"I just tell them, ‘Congratulations. Your body compensated for your bad habits as long as it possibly could and now it’s done. Now you have to do things right.’"

After further discussions, French realized that many of her patients didn’t have a firm understanding of exactly what the "right" thing was. That’s why she created a lifestyle program, which evolved into the book "Wellness 100: 100 Carbs/100 Recipes."

"I had so many patients coming in and going, ‘I need weight loss help.’ I felt pretty helpless because we don’t learn a whole lot about it in medical school," French said. "The program evolved through research. I read about 250 research articles and books by other authors to find information that was backed up with good science."

One of the eight tips that French shares in the book relates to carbohydrates.

"I think the biggest (tip) is carbohydrate control. It’s learning which of the good carbohydrates to eat and how many to eat each day," French said.

"I think most people equate carbs with pasta and bread, but they don’t think about fruit. So many diets say, ‘Fruits are free.’ Well fruits aren’t free.

"There are lots of vitamins and good things in fruit, but too much of a good thing is still too much."

The book isn’t a diet, nor is it designed to be a quick fix for weight loss — although that is one of the "side effects."

"(The book) doesn’t contain the word ‘diet’ because we’re trying to stay away from labeling it that way. It’s about having a healthy lifestyle," French said.

"It’s the way you should do things everyday, not just for a couple of months to lose weight and then go back to your normal habits.

"This should be your normal."

The program may have been inspired by French’s patients, but she’s also living by it. Since getting on board, French says she’s seen her blood sugar levels and cholesterol improve.

French’s co-author and friend, restaurateur Kari Morris, was so impressed by her results from following the program herself that she pushed to make it a book.

"She came to me and said, ‘This needs to be a book. You write the program and I’ll write the recipes,’" French said. "She was the push to get the book started. It had always been in the back of my mind, but she was like, ‘We’re going to do this.’"

Although the lifestyle book provides a family-friendly program, it doesn’t require a "my way or the highway" kitchen philosophy for followers to be successful.

"This should be something the whole family can do — most of the recipes (Morris has written) are things we tested on families — but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing," French said.

"There are things you can do to make this work for everyone without having to cook two separate meals. For instance, if your family really wants tacos for dinner, make yours a taco salad and skip the shells.

"Or if you’re making pasta for your family, make your serving a side portion and make a chicken breast to go with it.

"We’re trying to help you control your carbs, but if the rest of the family doesn’t want to eat like this, that’s fine too."

To help make it easier to stick to the Wellness plan, French and Morris have come up with a shopping list, which they share on their website, wellness100.us. The list contains items like two or three varieties of salad greens, seasonal fruit, steaks, ground turkey breast, nuts and brown rice.

"Those are what we call pantry staples," French said.

"The idea is that if you keep your pantry and fridge pretty well stocked with those items, you don’t get home late and say, ‘I don’t have anything to eat. I’m just going to order a pizza.’ With these items on hand, you can always throw together a quick meal.

"The goal is to help people plan better to have good things to eat in the house."


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