Chef Clinic: Good Nutrition, Weight Control and Great-Tasting Food

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Event Date: 07/27/2000.

Dr. John La Puma, a physician, chef, and researcher, discusses his comprehensive -- and great-tasting -- nutrition program.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the guest's alone. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live's World Watch and Health News Auditorium. Today we are discussing "Chef Clinic: Good Nutrition, Weight Control and Great-Tasting Food," with John La Puma, MD.

Dr.  La Puma is director of the Chef Clinic and teaches as a Professor of Nutrition at Kendall College in Evanston, Illinois. Dr. La Puma also follows the Clinic's own meal plan in losing and keeping off 30 pounds since 1992. The author of three medical books, over 250 papers, reviews and book chapters, Dr. La Puma also edits Alternative Medicine Alert, the leading newsletter for physicians in this field. The first physician in the country to complete the Professional Cooking curriculum at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, he has cooked regularly at internationally acclaimed restaurants since 1995. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California in Santa Barbara, Dr. La Puma received his MD from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and trained in Internal Medicine at UCLA and at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

Dr. La Puma, welcome to WebMD Live.

Dr. LaPuma: Thanks very much.

Moderator: How and why did you decide to become a chef?

Dr. LaPuma: I decided to become a chef because I wanted to know what went into a healthy diet and how to make it taste good. And I thought that, as a doctor, I should do more than prescribe medication or give my patients pamphlets. The way I became a chef was to go to school. I attended the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, which has now been bought out by the Cordon Bleu, and worked at the Frontera Grill and Topolo Bampo for four years once a week on Friday nights.

Moderator: How do you define "good health?"

Dr. LaPuma: Good health is not just the absence of disease but, more importantly, a sense of vitality that is mental, spiritual, physical and social. People can have good health in any one of these realms or in all four.

marilyn21_webmd: What are some ideas you have for jazzing up diabetic cooking?

Dr. LaPuma: Diabetic cooking should be relatively low in calories, rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and vegetable protein and especially lean in protein. The most important thing about diabetic cooking is that plant foods should be in the middle of the plate and animal foods should be on a side plate. Diabetics can eat wonderful, delicious meals. A friend of mine, Mary Abbott-Hess, has a great cookbook called, Desserts for Diabetics which outlines some special treats as well. We used to think that diabetics ought not to eat refined sugar. And it is true that sugar makes their blood glucose and blood insulin levels go up dramatically. Some diabetics are insulin-resistant and some people think that insulin resistance contributes or even causes obesity but, really, it's the other way around. Obesity in diabetics probably causes insulin resistance. Two other cookbooks that emphasize high-flavor techniques that diabetics can use include Stephen Raichlen's High-Flavor, Low-Fat Cooking and a book by Lorna Faff called Short-Cut Vegetarian.

dusty11_webmd: I'm a vegetarian, but I do eat fish. Trying to cut down on carbohydrates in order to lose weight. What do you recommend?

Dr. LaPuma: A really good fish book is by a man named James Peterson. The book is called, Fish and Shell Fish. You can lose weight by cutting down on carbohydrates ("carbs") if those carbs are highly refined and simple. An example of this is other people's baked goods (like doughnuts, cookies from 7-Eleven, many crackers). Most vegetarians who cut down on carbs can't (and shouldn't) follow a high-protein diet and so, the carbs that you can eliminate are just highly refined grains like those I just suggested. I think the way you're eating is just great.

dusty11_webmd: I work all day, and I buy lunch every day. What are easy things I can make the night before and bring to work?

Dr. LaPuma: Good for you for wanting to make something the night before. I think that's fabulous. Would you like to be my patient? (Laughs!) Here's what I tell my patients to bring to work. First, I tell them to try to cook for the week instead of just the night before because it's easier to cook in quantities than one or two meals at a time. It only takes a couple minutes longer to make an extra serving or two. Second, I suggest that my patients bring containers of yogurt; containers of good microwaveable soups, grains, and stews (I like Nile Foods, and Fantastic Foods, and Dr. McDougal Foods); and whole fruits of any kind. Third, if you want to cook the night before, I would make a Boca burger on a whole grain bun with lots of arugula and catsup and onions. Or, some guacamole with tortillas and jicama. Or, hummus with extra lemon and garlic plus some pita bread. Or, a couple of baked potatoes with some roasted or grilled vegetables on the side.