Eat Real Food and Move More – that’s Dr. Witkowski’s message

Dr. Witkowski from Wiwat, Integrated Lifestyle Medicine

Dr. Witkowski from Wiwat, Integrated Lifestyle Medicine

Dr. Dan Witkowski will give a food demonstration on Holiday Wraps from 2:30 – 3:00 pm on the stage at the farmers’ market this Sunday. This is part of our Thanksgiving Harvest Festival, an indoor farmers’ market, from 12-4pm in Memorial Hall, 590 Main Street in Melrose, MA.

I spoke with Dr. Witkowski yesterday and was very refreshed to talk with a medical doctor who doesn’t think the cure to all ills is a pill. In fact, the medical profession doesn’t necessary teach what he’s learned on his own over the last 10 years. He found through his medical practice, people were getting sicker and sicker. He found it extraordinary that doctors were telling his patients that they had to be on medication all their life. In 2004, he began a journey to discover alternative ways to help people improve their health. He came across Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who was a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Esselstyn found his cancer patients he performed surgery on were not getting better. He began his own journey of healing people through lifestyle change, wrote “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure”, starred in the movie “Forks over Knives” and was one of the doctors who made recommendations to former President Bill Clinton after undergoing cardiac surgery.

Dr. Witkowski discovered lifestyle medicine through his discussions with Dr. Esselstyn and exploring the institutions that he advised, American College of Lifestyles Medicine which led him to the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard. He began to realize this new generation of medical doctors who are healing people through, among other things, good nutrition and physical activity. I told one of my friends about this and he (who is 70 and a recipient of the current medical profession’s use of pharmaceuticals to maintain health) felt that American medicine is fantastic at healing medical emergencies, but does not know what to do to maintain good human health on an every day basis.

Dr. Witkowski tried to incorporate his new findings into his OB/GYN practice, but he found his patients weren’t coming to see him to hear him say they should consider changing their diet and add more physical activity to their lives. So in December of 2012, he started a lifestyle medicine practice in Wakefield called Wiwat, Integrated Lifestyle Medicine. Wiwat is a Polish word that means ‘to life’. Lifestyle Medicine is the use of lifestyle interventions (through diet, exercise, stress management, smoking cessation, and a variety of other non-drug modalities) in the treatment and management of disease.

Dr. Witkowski said that in the 10 years he has been on this journey, he has seen the medical profession learn a great deal more about nutrition, and how it functions in the body, and physical activity and how to safely prescribe exercise, and other lifestyle changes that profoundly improved peoples’ lives.  In his practice, two of the primary tools he uses are nutrition and physical activity incorporating the expertise of an Exercise Physiologist.  Dr. Witkowski said he isn’t a strong advocate for any one diet such as of veganism, vegetarianism, raw food, or any number of other food diets that are being touted today. He’s an advocate for real food as a whole food plant-based diet. He told me that people make the mistake of mixing terms such as food groups and macronutrients, for example, equating protein to meat, and that’s where the confusion begins. I personally have been an avid reader of Michael Pollan’s books, and his words sounded very similar. In Pollan’s book ‘In Defense of Food’ his message is ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ When I asked Dr. Witkowski if he’s read any of Pollan’s books and about his message, he told me that he has read his books and he echoes what Pollan says. He also mentioned that everyone has some form of physical activity that works for them, he just advocates to be active and to do it safely.

Dr. Witkowski said he likes to introduce new patients, men, women, and families, to The Wiwat Spectrum of Health Challenge, a 6 week program for groups of about a dozen people.  He said the group dynamic really works.  They meet weekly for 90 minutes at the office on Richardson Ave. in Wakefield.  He begins his 6 week challenge by drawing blood as a baseline measure before they begin and compares it to levels at the end of the challenge, which is a powerful motivator.  He provides information on nutrition and lifestyle changes.  He talks about how to exercise safely.  He wants people to reach a point where they want to be social and connect with people again, and want to have an active life and to eat real food that doesn’t mostly come in packages.

Come see Dr. Witkowski’s real food demonstration at the market this Sunday. The Thanksgiving Harvest Festival is Sunday, November 24th from 12-4pm in Memorial Hall, 590 Main Street in Melrose. We have 28 vendors at the market selling everything you need for the holiday and every day. We will also have another food demonstration from Whole Foods Market in Melrose from 12:30 to 1:00 and a discussion from Dr. Jesse Davis on Stress-less Holidays from 1:30 to 2:00, live banjo music all day, face painting all day, and Melrose Boot Camp on stage at 3pm.

To see more of the events and vendors we will have at our Thanksgiving Harvest Festival, go to our website at http://melrosefarmersmarket.org.

See you at the Market!

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