Change A Habit: How The Health Care System Has Taught Us Bad Habits


By Diane Gold

CHANGE A HABIT is an expression that can refer to making an adjustment to just about anything we do. It refers to habits that are both good for us and bad.

According to Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works and New York Times Best-Selling Author,

“Habits come from repeated practice and some sense of reward (negative or positive) for the actions we take.”

When we think of habits, we often forget some of the great ones we have like drinking water, brushing our teeth, meditating, exercising, writing or shaking hands or bowing when we meet people. We don’t usually think about these because they complement our lives and preserve our health and self-esteem.

OverweightWhat we often think about when the word “habit” comes up are overindulgence in eating, drugs, drinking alcohol, gambling, etc. These habits are behaviors we have repeated so many times they now require a considerable effort to stop, different from what would happen should we find out that a good habit, tooth brushing, did harm to us.

Our behaviors of habit, whether supportive or not, have been learned on our own or with the help of our families. What I didn’t think of until I watched Escape Fire last night, a CNN documentary about the U.S. health care system crisis, is that many of our poor health habits have been taught to us through the misinformation given to us by the health care providers we trust with our lives.

Some of what we have been taught by these care givers is:

1) We need animal protein because plant-based protein is not a complete protein.

2) We need a portion of animal based foods in our diet.

3) The more tests and procedures, the better.

Doctor4) Going to our medical professional to get drugs is what we do when we are sick. Nutritional counseling is not part of going to the doctor. Why? In our current health care system, there is no reimbursement for our doctors’ talking about food.¬† What’s even more disturbing is that some 40% of medical schools only require 1 small course in nutrition. We have been trained that this is right, and we trusted this model until our rate of disease continues to soar.

5) Accepting a 5-15 minute medical visit is acceptable for full payment. This is all we’ve ever experienced because doctors and medical practitioners get paid by procedure and not for counseling us or how much health we achieve because of them. We are trained to accept this.

6) Living our lives without worry because new procedures, medications and technology will help us when we get sick has been a precept we have learned, especially since 1997, when the drug manufacturers in the United States got permission to broadcast prescription drug ads.

Stir Fried Vegetables And Brown RiceUnfortunately, we have lived our lives learning these habits. We have built habits around the idea of eating meat/poultry/fish/eggs/dairy for nutrition. The fact that there are a plethora of studies showing that these foods cause cardiovascular and chronic diseases means we will have to consider changing our habits and changing our knowledge to maintain health and, possibly, reverse sickness.

An example of reversal is Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn’s study on telomeres, protective protein caps at the ends of DNA strands that protect its deterioration. She discovered that they wear down from age and stress. With 30 minutes of exercise a day and a vegetarian diet, she was able to reverse this deterioration in her subjects. Wow!

Another MD in Escape Fire, Pamela Ross, comments,

“We have become a society where you drive up and get what you want; and you drive off.”

The habits we have developed of eating fast food is a direct result of the health care system’s misguidance through non-guidance so that we believed it was okay to indulge in greasy (oily and fried) food, sugary food, salty food, processed animal food.

Grandma's CookingThe sad thing is, for the most part, we are not aware, especially in the poorer communities, that the nutritionally calculated value of drive up food is reduced to almost nil because of the negative health side-effects from eating it. The other equally devastating issue is that those of us who know that fast food is bad don’t know what to eat as an alternative for the same shoestring budget expense. Fortunately, children are learning plant-based alternatives and ways to budget for healthy food through their elementary schools. And they are bringing this information home. Go early ed teachers!

Dean Ornish, MD and Head of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, in Escape Fire, mentions the habits we need for good health: diet (meaning nutritious food and water), exercise, love and support and a healthy lifestyle. He has a strong reaction to those in the “system” who consider acupuncture and meditation for pain as well as lifestyle changes for health radical intervention. He says,

“Radical? Compared to cutting a chest open? Give me a break.”

His comment is made so that we realize to think twice about those in the medical field who continue to support the “sickness model” we have built in the United States and are leery about accepting the “preventive & integrative model” of health care even though the evidence
for success is apparent.

Ornish started his work in 1977 to establish that lifestyle changes (meditation, yoga, plant-based diet, personal support) can stop and reverse coronary artery disease. In 1998, he published research showing that comprehensive lifestyle changes turned gene expression on and off in 3 months. Holy moly!


Personal Health EducationIf the habits we have collected regarding medicine, treatment, food, lifestyle choices have been based on misinformation, it’s time to take a look at the foundation on which they were built. This is going to mean changing some habits. It’s also going to involve re-educating ourselves as to which medical professionals know what. Of course, it’s difficult to change doctors. But, if the ones we have are not integrating the necessary health habits into the mix, it might be time. At least, we need to do our own research about some of the things in this article.

Why? Because we don’t want to wait until we get a disease to act. We want to act now so we don’t get a disease.

If we already have a disease, we might want to look at all options available to work with it. There are many choices between drug therapy and choosing to take no drugs. With more knowledge, we can become proficient at changing habits that do not support us. The aura around doctors, that they can do no wrong, is gone, even if we want it to be there. We must be more responsible for understanding our health. Hopefully, we can do this with the help of dedicated medical professionals, who will be open to our wanting to look at integrating lifestyle, nutrition, love and support and exercise.


1) Increase your amount of daily exercise by 5 minutes. If you do not exercise yet, start slowly with 5 minutes of dancing, tai chi, walking or stretching. You can scroll down to the 4th video on this page to start:

2) Add 1 new plant-based main dish to your weekly meal plan.

3) Call someone you know and talk about your excitement over your lifestyle changes. If you do not yet know anyone to call, you can go to and click some answers. Or your local librarian is a place to make contact.

4) Take 5 minutes a day for a week to research any habit you have that you would like to change.

5) Drink an extra glass of water daily for a week.

6) Continue, at least, 3 of these steps for a month. Enjoy!

New Medical Symbol


Please leave  a comment and LIKE.


Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Turning Habits Into Health, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music, fitness and stress expert, dedicated mom, studying plant-based nutrition.

She believes we can learn much by taking responsibility for ourselves. She says,

“Although we have been led to believe that our total health is in the hands of our doctors, they have not been trained in nutrition, for the most part; and many discoveries that would impact the profit margin of the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and new equipment who supply doctors with their wares, have been withheld or not covered in doctor’s continuing education.

“Further, to satisfy lobbyists in the meat and dairy industries, nutritional discoveries do not make it to mainstream media, usually. As a result, we have been eating incorrectly, using pharmaceuticals instead of lifestyle changes as our medicine and have not been reaching out for the support we deserve.

“Until now.

“From now on, let’s make an effort to eat well, exercise well, meditate well and support each other. Let’s consider pharmacological regimes second, if possible, and changes in lifestyle first. Let’s get the new knowledge we need to make important decisions about our own lives.

“Special note: I truly believe in the wonders of drug therapy and its magic, when appropriate. And congratulate the drug research that has gotten us where we are. I also congratulate all the pioneers who are taking the time to research and report on plant-based nutrition and mind/body modalities to make these part of our new and improved U.S. Health Care System.”

Comments are closed.