It wasn't an easy decision for me to stop practicing emergency medicine. I loved the challenge of the work. Each new patient was a brand new medical puzzle whom I needed to figure out quickly, accurately, professionally, and compassionately. I might treat a migraine headache, an asthma attack, three cases of the flu, a stroke, acute pancreatitis, salmonella poisoning, and angina all in one shift. The pace and the variety were appealing. But gradually I became disenchanted with the limitations of emergency medicine. I'd studied to become a physician to heal people, not just patch them up. I was frustrated at how little my patients knew about lifestyle choices that could have prevented our emergency department encounter. So, with reluctance but a growing sense of freedom, I left the profession I loved to open a private medical practice where I could teach patients how to live long lives of robust health. In order to teach them, I needed a framework to explain what I needed them to do. And so the Starch-Smart® System was born.
The Optimal Diet is for Everyone
It's popular these days to believe that health advice needs to be uniquely tailored to each individual. While it's true that there are differences between people and that each person needs to be assessed and treated as an individual, we have more in common than not. With the exception of allergies and sensitivities, the diet that's good for one is generally good for all. It is a miracle of design that the diet which cures obesity is the diet which heals heart disease. It's the same diet which ends diverticulosis, lowers blood pressure, and stops prediabetes. The list could go on and on.
What makes us different as individuals is not our original design but our current health status. If we all started out with the bodies we were born with (allergies excepted), and we all had identical goals, we'd all need basically the same type of dietary principles, with varying caloric intake. However, since we don't all currently enjoy the same status of health, and we don't all have the same level of willingness to change entrenched habits, I've designed a system which meets the needs of all my patients, regardless of their health status. That's why my Starch-Smart® System has four levels. These four levels allow me to target the diet for each patient's health and willingness to change.
Start-Smartish is for the "veg*n curious" crowd. They know they should change a few things, they're opening up to the idea of plant foods, but they just aren't ready to make a commitment. As long as a reluctant patient isn't experiencing a health crisis, I nudge them into the Starch-Smartish lifestyle so they can begin exploring and experimenting with plant-based eating. As they read through the system, they become aware of the various aspects of their diet which can be improved, and they get an idea of how to make some gradual changes.
Starch-Smart is the basic category. I truly believe that everyone can and should reach this level. Starch-Smart is basic low-fat, whole-foods plant-based, no-added-oil eating. If everyone adopted a Starch-Smart diet, our lifestyle diseases would virtually disappear in this country, and we would become a more compassionate nation and better stewards of our earth.
Starch-Smarter is what I consider the optimal lifestyle. It's here where the little tweaks and improvements to the basic diet made a big difference. Sure, it takes a bit more effort, but it also offers a great return on investment. Starch-Smarter works not only for those who want to optimize their health, but also for those who have been diagnosed in the initial stages of a disease or for those with a BMI under 40 who need to lose weight. The Starch-Smarter category lays out the goals for each area of diet so that health can be optimized.
Starch-Smartest is reserved for special situations. While Starch-Smartest can be used by those wanting a short-term, cleansing diet, it is primarily designed for those who need to reverse a serious disease or recover from obesity. This diet has tighter guidelines for condiments and eating times, but it still includes most of the dietary guidelines of the Starch-Smart and Starch-Smarter categories.
If you click on the PDF below, you can download a chart with my updated version of the Starch-Smart® System. My team and I have been working hard to make it as streamlined and easy to understand as possible. Please use the comment section below if you have any questions on how to make the system work for you. We'll be happy to answer them.