Dr. Katie Takayasu is an Integrative Medicine doctor in Fairfield County and mom of two who has used her passion for plant-rich cooking and finding balance in lifestyle rhythms to write her first book!
Plants First: A Physician’s Guide to Wellness Through a Plant-Forward Diet is a practical, sustainable approach for those wanting to decrease inflammation and improve overall lifestyle balance.
She built DrKatie.com to share her passion for lifestyle balance and cooking. She developed the 10-day Dr. Katie Detox in partnership with Well Refined and SoireeCT Catering several years ago as a way to connect with clients and teach them the skills to reset their health harnessing their body’s innate natural detoxification, believing we can have better health by listening to our body’s internal wisdom.
She chatted with us about her new book, how to incorporate a plant-forward diet into your lifestyle and why it’s beneficial.
Tell us about the new book you have coming out?
The book is called Plants First: A Physician’s Guide to Wellness Through a Plant-Forward Diet. I draw on my clinical knowledge and personal experiences to share how plant-forward nutrition can be helpful to living longer, preventing disease and managing challenging chronic health conditions.
Plants First provides tips on introducing plant-rich food into our lives in practical, easy ways. You’ll also learn more about:
- Plant superfoods to maximize your supermarket spend
- Listening to your body: physical, emotional and spiritual needs
- Getting enough protein and fiber
- Supplements to consider to optimize the body
- Tips for making your kitchen adventures fun but sustainable – especially for moms cooking for a variety of tastes
Additionally, I’m excited that Plants First provides readers with their own five-day detox program along with delicious and easy-to-make recipes – from main dishes to snacks and desserts. That’s a lot of great information packed into one book!
For those who aren’t familiar, what is a plant-forward diet?
A plant-based diet is one that simply prioritizes plants. I personally prefer the term “plant-forward” diet, because then you don’t have to limit yourself to only eating things that come from plants, but can and should include more nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory animal foods, like omega-3 fatty fish.
In my view, a healthy plant-forward diet would emphasize vegetables; fruit; healthy plant fats like olive oil; whole grains; plant-based sources of proteins like beans, lentils and whole organic soy; fermented foods; omega-3 rich fish; and other sources of high-quality animal protein to a lesser degree.
What are the benefits of a plant-forward diet, especially for moms? And what should I really be eating with all of the different diets out there?
When I look at the evidence for living a plant-based lifestyle it all comes down to preventing inflammation. Eating more plant-forward foods decreases risk of cancer, heart disease, and other inflammatory problems (which could include everything from autoimmune disease to irritable bowel syndrome).
While I don’t believe in a plant only diet, like a vegan diet, I do prioritize plants in my own life and in the lives of my patients. The best way to think about this is to identify commonalities in diets, not differences. If you look where other diets overlap including Whole 30, Paleo, Keto, Pescatarian, vegan and – the gold standard – Mediterranean, you’ll see they overlap in a plant-based approach. So, when you ask yourself “what should I eat,” hang your hat where all of these diets overlap and then you’ll probably make a good decision.
Is it practical for busy moms to incorporate a plant-forward diet into their routine, especially if kids and spouses just want sugar and processed foods?
If you are interested in following a healthier diet, I recommend starting to make slow changes toward a plant-forward diet. The best and easiest thing you can do to start is simply putting more vegetables on your plate!
For moms, creating space for plants can be really challenging. I don’t restrict anything in my house, but we have a rule: eat something nutritious first. If my kids want candy, I have them start with a real-food meal or snack so that their bodies recognize nutrients and feel satisfied.
The problem with sugar is that it doesn’t satisfy, so everyone rightfully comes back for more. It’s truly not our fault that we can’t have just one Dorito or gummy bear. Our bodies are hungry for nutrients not calories. I try to educate my kids on why they feel full after having real food and what real foods bring to their bodies – strength, energy, and positive mood. I want to make sure they have the knowledge and information behind why “plants first” is important for their well-being.
For more Life Kitchen mom hacks, you can follow me on Instagram at @DoctorKatie.
What is your #1 tip for anyone who wants to get started with a plant-forward diet?
In my book Plants First, we talk about how to construct balance on your plate, with having about half of your plate dedicated to vegetables and the other half dedicated to balancing protein + fat + more fiber.
The other thing you can do is work towards elimination of processed foods. If you look at something and you’re not entirely sure where it came from, then you probably don’t want to put it in your body because your body doesn’t know what to do with it either. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, it probably isn’t good for you.
Come back to what mother nature has made. For example, this could be choosing something like whole grain brown rice instead of brown rice pasta. If your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize a food, then your body probably doesn’t either!
How did you become so passionate about plant-based eating?
I didn’t know I loved plants until I started eating them with more intention in 2011 and started feeling the effects of nutrient-dense food on my entire being. My journey to living a more well-balanced life came out of personal struggle – starting in my childhood with being uncomfortable with my weight to being an anxious medical student and resident, and ultimately to struggling with infertility when I wanted to grow my family. I’m very open in my book about my struggles and why this way of living means so much to me, and it’s because I walk the walk every day just like each of you do.
Choosing more plant-forward nutrition was the first step for me to achieve better harmony in my body. The book tells you why a more plant-based diet is helpful to longevity, disease prevention, and management of many chronic health conditions as well as how to actually build it into life in practical, easy ways.
When will your book come out and how can someone order it?
Plants First hits the shelves on Tuesday, November 9th but you can order it now! Head to my website — www.drkatie.com/plantsfirstmoms, or visit your local bookstore (like Barrett Bookstore in Darien or Diane’s Books in Greenwich) to purchase it there. I look forward to hearing what you think!
About Dr. Katie
Dr. Katie Takayasu is an Integrative Medicine doctor with a passion for plant-rich cooking and finding balance in lifestyle rhythms. She combines traditional Western medicine with complementary modalities like acupuncture, mind-body medicine, botanicals, and nutrition to help patients holistically achieve their goals. She’s a proponent of nutrient-dense food, joyful movement, plentiful rest, and attendance to the Spiritual Self as a way to ground the whole body, mind + spirit.
Dr. Katie is the author of Plants First: A Physician’s Guide to Wellness Through a Plant-Forward Diet, a practical, sustainable approach for those wanting to decrease inflammation and improve overall lifestyle balance. She works in Fairfield County and built DrKatie.com to share her passion for lifestyle balance and cooking. She developed the 10-day Dr. Katie Detox several years ago as a way to connect with clients and teach them the skills to reset their health harnessing their body’s innate natural detoxification, believing we can have better health by listening to our body’s internal wisdom.
Clients can work with Dr. Katie privately 1:1 in her bespoke Wellness Insights practice where they focus on developing each client’s individual Wellness Intuition, which is Dr. Katie’s approach to truly listening to the body. To learn more, visit www.DrKatie.com.