NOTeD: McDougall Health and Medical Center Leaders Discuss Their Program for Healthy Lifestyle Change

Tom Rifai, MD, FACP
Strawberry on left and heart on right with question above: Ever consider berries vs. bypass?

In this interview episode of NOTeD, I had the pleasure of interviewing two McDougall program leaders. This world renown program was founded by lifestyle medicine and nutrition pioneer John McDougall, MD.

Removed from the formality of other news programs, we had a casual but important conversation about lifestyle change for health and how the McDougall Program works. I also got to meet two really wonderful people to boot! Please enjoy NOTeD’s conversation with these two gems of humanity – relatable, funny and expert at running one of the longest-lasting lifestyle medicine programs in the history of the United States.

Special thanks to Jeff Novick, RD MS for making the introduction.

What Is The McDougall Program and How Does It Effect Healthy Lifestyle Change?

The McDougall Program is a top medical program concentrating on reversing chronic illness and disease. Using a mix of professional medical care, world-class education and whole-food diet, The McDougall Program is able to help patients suffering from illnesses such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and arthritis.

In our interview, CEO Heather McDougall and Medical Director Dr. Anthony Lim walk us through what a typical day is like in the 12-day intensive program. First the medical piece: Dr. Lim meets one-on-one with patients when they begin the program. Together they review medical, family and social history, medications, and the behavioral lifestyle steps he recommends they start taking. Patients meet again with Dr. Lim at the midpoint – about 5-6 days through – and again at the end of the program.

The day-to-day routine is designed to be informative, supportive, and fun. Patients check in and meet with support specialists one-on-one every morning to receive logistical, emotional and social support throughout the 12-day intensive. Now that the program is online, they’re able to offer a daily informal morning chat session with Dr. McDougall himself, in which he answers any questions. The program holds two lectures daily, at 9am and 4pm. At 3pm they host a special guest segment which can include supportive and inspirational resources: a success story, cooking demo, exercise physiologist, etc.

Are Patients Able to Maintain Lifestyle Change After They Finish The McDougall Program?

Heather McDougall explains the support structure after the program: “One of the great things we’ve added to our program is one year of support from our support specialists. So for the first three months they check in weekly with one-on-one video calls, and for the nine months after that they’re monthly.” Throughout the post-program process, Dr. McDougall, Mary and Heather check in monthly with the whole group. The team personally keeps in touch with graduates through email as well. The McDougall Program is a growing healthy lifestyle community.

The best part of this inspirational program is that it works, it works well, and it works quickly. If patients follow the recommended steps, they are in many cases able to reverse certain medical conditions and stop medications. One patient lost 20 pounds and, through achieving normal blood pressure and fasting blood sugar readings, was able to get off of 3 blood pressure and 2 diabetes medications.

Watch the interview below and then visit The McDougall Program website to learn more about how a healthy lifestyle change has the potential to help you lose weight, drop the need for some medications, gain energy, and be healthier overall.