Health Promotion driving force behind Mount Sinai Hospital’s Family Medicine Centre’s approach


Health Promotion driving force behind Mount Sinai Hospital’s Family Medicine Centre’s approach

By Kristen Marano

Are you feeling sluggish, energy-drained and tired even though you get a decent night’s sleep?

These feelings are often the result of an unbalanced diet that includes too many nutrient-dense, fatty and salty foods. Saying sayonara to salt and farewell to fat is easier than you might think.

The inter-professional team approach to building healthy lifestyles at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Granovsky Gluskin Family Medicine Centre arms patients with the tools and information they need to succeed. In the battle of the bulge, the Family Medicine Centre is in your corner.

“At Mount Sinai we actively encourage our patients to participate in their health-care management,” says Dr. David Tannenbaum, Family Physician-in-Chief. “Patients’ personal values and knowledge of their own needs guides us in providing collaborative and effective patient and family-centred care.”

The Family Medicine Centre is a state-of-the-art facility with a team of 10 staff family physicians, 26 residents and 20 medical students, who log more than 30,000 patient visits annually. Members of the inter-professional team include a pharmacist, two dietitians, additional nurses, nurse practitioners, a social worker and a psychologist.

“Being accessible to one another as a team creates a more collaborative process,” says Lisa Vesik, Family Medicine Dietitian at Mount Sinai. “Doctors can easily knock on my door to ask about a patient, and if I have questions I visit their offices.”

The driving force behind the centre’s approach is health promotion. Tools to help advance this goal include regular, face-to-face consultations with members of the team such as dietitians who provide tools and information to help patients begin making better nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Dietitians help patients create a plan that can be applied at home including having healthy options in the fridge and creating dinners for the week ahead.

“I get excited to see how patients are improving as we continue to meet,” says Vesik. “As goals are met, patients feel great and we’re happy to keep them on track.” So, why do diet plans sometimes fail? Vesik notes a common dietary problem is people skipping breakfast, eating a small lunch or snack and then indulging in a calorie-packed dinner in the evening, when the body requires less energy, not more. By skipping breakfast we are not only hungry when our bodies need energy most, but we also lack concentration and have low energy. Moving calories up earlier in the day, eating whole foods and avoiding high-sugar drinks such as pop and juice will help people stay focused.

Vesik promotes healthy eating with tips anyone can use to keep motivated, alert and energized:

  • Eat whole, homemade, natural and nutrient-packed foods including grains, fruits, lentils and beans, while trying to eliminate fats and salts.
  • Gain nutrients from your diet; avoid supplements when possible. While supplements can be beneficial in disease-related situations, gaining the nutrients you need from foods is recommended for optimal digestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
  • Eat ‘powerhouse’ fruits and vegetables such as dark-coloured greens, orange-coloured fruits and vegetables and berries of all kinds, which are packed with cancer-prevention nutrients.
  • The Canada Food Guide-recommended seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables is easier to achieve than you think. For example, a large apple might be equivalent to two daily servings of fruit.

“Nutritious eating isn’t always easy and there’s no quick fix,” says Vesik. “You need to invest time and planning to make your diet healthier, and your health-care team can help.”