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Doctors Cook Up Healthy Habits

August 23, 2012, 6:07 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Doctors Cook Up Healthy Habits
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

You usually go to a hospital or clinic to get information from your doctor about your health. But a new series of classes at Sanford has patients heading to the kitchen.

Dan Meyer took a stress test to measure how his heart and blood vessels were responding after a heart attack in May. The 50-year-old has a strong family history of heart disease; two of his brothers and his father suffered heart attacks.  But he says his eating habits didn't help.

"I was a binge eater on the weekends. I'd work hard during the week to take it off and put it on during the weekends," Meyer said.

Since his heart attack, Meyer has taken steps to improve his heart health, including exercising and eating healthier.

That's why he's decided to mix it up and take part in a cooking class led by none other than Meyer's cardiologist.

"We know from history that as our diet has gotten worse in the past decade, heart disease has gotten much more frequent.  So diabetes and heart disease goes along with poor eating habits," Sanford Cardiologist Dr. Orvar Jonsson said.

Jonsson says it's important to cook from scratch rather than buy precooked meals. He says it doesn't have to take a lot of time to prepare a meal. The dinner he chose for the cooking class, chicken with basil pesto and vegetables, can even be prepared ahead of time.

"With olive oil and feta cheese. It's a very simple course that's low in fat and salt. We're going to make the pesto from scratch so we can avoid pesto loaded with sodium," Dr. Jonsson said.

Along with teaching his patients how to eat healthier, Dr. Jonsson says it's also an opportunity to meet with his patients outside the office.

"Just kind of take our patient education to the next level and do something different with the patient," Dr. Jonsson said.

It's a different experience that's helping make a difference in Meyer's life.

"Cut out the saturated fats, the chips, and the pop. I drink a lot of water and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables," Meyer said.

It's all part of Meyer's new focus on healthier foods at age fifty.

Doctor Jonsson also says you should try to eat leaner foods overall in your diet, including more fruits and vegetables.

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