By David Shapiro / DrShapiro@CompleteSpineSolutions.com

Dr. David Shapiro Atlanta Jewish TimesI have been addressing patients’ various health conditions and concerns for over two decades, and I have found that so many health problems can be traced back to poor diet.

Improper eating creates inflammation in the body, leading to many ills. Diet is our country’s great struggle. America’s poor eating habits are leading to unprecedented levels of obesity and an explosion of diet-related conditions, in adults as well as children. These include diabetes, hypothyroidism, heart disease, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, to name a few.

Serious health conditions are often treated with a variety of medications to manage the body’s disease instead of addressing the root cause of most of these problems: poor diet. This pharmaceutical-only “solution” not only endangers our bodies, but also puts our country on a fiscally irresponsible course to manage obesity-related disorders.

Estimated costs of the country’s obesity epidemic, which are staggering and getting worse, often do not take into account the impact of such indirect costs as employee absenteeism, loss of productivity and higher insurance rates. There is also an enormous human cost: illness, shortened life span, loss of wages, loss of quality of life and the potentially devastating impact on families.

My father, of blessed memory, struggled with his weight since he was young. He was 5-foot-11 and at his heaviest was 220 pounds. His daily diet consisted of poor eating habits including high-fat meat and high-carb sides. He worked from early morning until late night, drinking 12 cups of high-test coffee a day. All this, combined with a lack of exercise, probably contributed significantly to his diagnosis of stomach cancer when he was in his mid-40s.

That diagnosis changed him, and me, forever. My father was motivated to live. He decided to reform his lifestyle dramatically. While undergoing traditional cancer care, he studied the latest diet and nutrition information available. He was ahead of his time. He went rogue. He went cold turkey.

My father became a patient of a Chinese medicine doctor, who advised him on macrobiotic eating. He gave up meat, dairy and coffee. Additionally, he started lifting weights and playing racquetball regularly, getting his weight down to a lean 160 pounds. With this great inspiration and his entrepreneurial spirit, he opened a macrobiotic restaurant in Manhattan in the mid-1970s called East West Cookery.

Empowered by my father’s journey and the exuberance of my youth, I too became a vegetarian at age 15. I also went cold turkey. Over the years I have changed my diet based on new information and past health experiences and am no longer vegetarian. I am neither condoning nor condemning this type of diet. The point here is not which diet, but the resolve to make a radical change all at once.

The concept of “it’s not available for me to eat” can make a dramatic impact on the success of anyone who wishes to make real and lasting change. My family keeps kosher; nonkosher food is completely off-limits to us. One way kosher can be defined is “fit to eat.” My wife and I, although not raised kosher, went cold turkey when we married over 20 years ago. It seems that this concept of “off-limits” or “not fit to eat” is quite effective when it comes to diet. It has served the Jewish people well for thousands of years.

Carbohydrates/sugars create chemical changes in the brain and are highly addictive. When you eat some, you crave more. Once the door is opened just wide enough, it becomes almost impossible to control cravings. By limiting carbohydrate intake to essential carbs, primarily from vegetables and low glycemic index fruit, most people quickly lose their cravings, allowing them to make greater strides in their loss of body fat. An abrupt change can make all the difference in the world.

I recommend to most of our patients wanting to change their life by changing their nutrition that they do it cold turkey. Our most successful dieters, some of whom had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver or thyroid issues, and others who wanted to prevent these conditions, did best when they went cold turkey.

Have some cold turkey in your diet today.

Dr. David Shapiro, certified at the highest level in chiropractic biophysics, is the founder and chief wellness officer of Complete Spine Solutions in Tucker.