HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ekahi Health’s Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program is one of the fastest growing in the nation. Today we’re learning about some of the heart healthy recipes through the program. Robert Walker is the Program Director; Tandis Bishop is the Regiestered Dietitian at Ekahi Health.
When was asked about the ‘Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, Robert Walker said that the ‘Ekahi Ornish program launched in late 2015. Located at Waterfront Plaza, it is a 9-week lifestyle modification program focused on reversing the effects of heart disease – which is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. Heart disease claims the lives of 17.5 million people a year, and here in Hawaii, about 80% of the population is at risk of developing heart disease. At ‘Ekahi Health, they have graduated over 1300 people through the program and run up to 12 cohorts all at the same time.
The purpose of the Ornish program is to undo heart disease by dealing with the root causes and not just its effects. The combined effect of all four lifestyle elements makes the transformative difference. Program participants spend 1 hour on each element during each of the 18 sessions. So over the 9-week program participants get the following:
Nutrition: 18 hours with a registered dietitian. Participants learn the benefits of a plant-based diet with lessons focused on how to read labels, where to shop, how to order when out at a restaurant and healthy alternatives. A meal is provided at every session.
- Exercise: 18 hours with an exercise physiologist. Participants partake in aerobic and anaerobic exercise and can be monitored if warranted. An individualized treatment plan is created for each participant and vitals plus weight are taken daily.
- Stress Management: 18 hours of stress management led by a certified yoga instructor. The purpose of the yoga session is to help participants better manage stress through gentle stretching, breathing techniques, relaxation, meditation and guided imagery.
- Group Support: 18 hours of group support led by a certified social worker. Participants learn techniques for empathetic listening, opening of your heart and building intimacy and connections in daily life.
- On the nutrition side, Tandis showed us a tofu musubi and a Portuguese Bean Soup; both with substitutions to make them more heart healthy. Substitutions like tofu instead of spam, brown rice instead of white rice; different substitutions for meat and fat in the Portuguese Bean soup.
A key element of the program is incorporating the Ornish diet, whole plant-based foods that are naturally low in both fat and refined carbohydrates. What we refer to as Ornish-friendly foods include: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legume and soy. Consuming these real, unprocessed foods help participants to lose weight as well as prevent, reduce or even reverse the effects of heart disease and diabetes.
Portions are important. You can still incorporate food you enjoy eating but be sure to follow consistent portion sizes. Understanding nutrition labels and making sure your serving is the same size as what’s printed on the label. When eating carbohydrates, always eat them with protein and/or a non-starchy vegetable help balance blood sugars. For example, sweet potato with beats, tofu and vegetarian meats. High levels of whole grain bread, pasta and cereal can increase blood sugar and triglycerides and prevent weight loss. Choose options such as brown rice, rolled oats, and sweet/baked potato. For healthy recipe ideas visit www.ekahiwellcare.com.