As we at MamaSezz well know, changing to a plant-based diet can change your life in ways you never expected. In this series, we talk with some of the world’s most soulful, dedicated (and often funny) individuals. We get to hear their stories of suffering, plant-based transformation, and service. And we learn how food is an essential part of their journey.
This week, we heard from Dr. Rakesh Jotwani, also known as Dr. Rak ("rock"). He is a practicing internist and Lifestyle Medicine physician who is passionate about the power of plant-based eating after moving from fast food to plants. Here is how it has transformed his life.
What was your life like before you changed your diet from fast food to plants?
Eight years ago, I was overwhelmed and burned out in my career and personal life. I was a hospital doctor, and my family was growing. I found solace in unhealthy food choices, which took a toll on my well-being. An after-work wellness session taught me that happiness is a choice. I started meditating, replacing eating fast food in my car with mindfulness meditation, also in my car, before coming home to my family in the evening. This changed my energy and, as a result, the energy of the home.
What happened next?
This change caused me to reconcile my unhealthy choices, particularly in the face of having three young kids. Not knowing how to proceed, I was fortunate to attend a talk on the power of a whole-food, plant-based diet in health. I subsequently participated in my hospital's Plant-Powered Challenge and began incorporating plant-based meals regularly.
How are you able to stick with such a dramatic diet change?
The improvements in my health were remarkable - within a year, I lost 50 pounds, and my cholesterol and blood sugar levels normalized. Now 7+ years later, I maintained more than 70 pounds of weight loss.
What is your life like now after your plant-based transformation?
Meditation and plant-based eating changed my life, and, as such, I've become a passionate advocate for lifestyle medicine. I worked as a hospitalist for over a decade, where I regularly counseled patients admitted for heart attacks and bypass surgeries on the benefits of whole food plant-based eating. In 2018, I obtained board certification from the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine and helped start a Lifestyle Medicine program at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco.
Last fall, I joined Mora Medical as a Lifestyle Medicine physician. Mora is the first-of-its-kind lifestyle medicine medical group that provides care virtually in a growing number of states nationwide.
I also co-host The Health Feast, a lifestyle medicine podcast, with my friend Tupotu Peleti, aka Po. Po is someone I met who struggles with his health, and through our regular conversations, we realized that many people struggle and would benefit from our conversations. We share our experiences and discuss topics like meditation, our relationship with food, and our mindset around change. We aim to inspire others facing similar struggles and show them that change is possible.
I am actively involved in ACLM's HEAL initiative, which stands for Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle medicine. Everyone should have access to healthy food, safe spaces, and the knowledge and resources to develop new habits for a better life.