Physician Profile: A Star Pediatrician: Jay Gordon, M.D.
Pediatrician Jay Gordon, M.D., lets his patients and their families know about the importance of good nutrition the moment they walk into his waiting room. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delivered to the office twice a week from a co-op. Fast food is strictly prohibited.
In the middle of his residency, Dr. Gordon realized that he needed greater knowledge about infant and child nutrition to be able to help patients eat right to prevent disease. He took a senior fellowship in pediatric nutrition at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City.
Dr. Gordon now lives in the Los Angeles area, and many of his patients are children of Hollywood actors and actresses. Most days, he is up by 5 a.m., and starts seeing patients—often through home visits—well before 8 a.m.
He also talks to parents about how they can improve the state of child nutrition. Part of the answer, he says, is “a complete revision of what’s in school lunch lines.”
Dr. Gordon joined PCRM experts for a briefing on the Healthy School Meals Act in March, and visited Members of Congress to urge them to co-sponsor the bill. In April, he appeared on Good Morning America to speak about the importance of plant-based school lunch options.
Dr. Gordon also talks to parents about their own diets. He believes that for children to learn good eating habits, the whole family should follow a healthful diet.
“If a father is 50 pounds overweight and saying he loves bacon, it sends the wrong message,” he says. “I talk with parents and help them change the way they eat.”
When talking with his young patients about nutrition, Dr. Gordon tries to focus on issues kids are interested in.
“I talk to my 5-, 10-, 15-year-olds about red meat and cheese and ask them to think about what would be better for their Saturday afternoon soccer games,” he says. “I say, ‘If you eat more fruits and vegetables, you can run faster.’”
“The way I handle my practice comes from a very personal issue,” he says. “I grew up in Wisconsin. My father had his first heart attack in his 30s. He then had surgery and was on many medications, and he could barely walk.”
He says his father then tried a vegan diet and was able to get off all his medications. He lost 30 pounds and could walk two miles.
“My father eventually backtracked and got back on the Wisconsin fast-food diet,” says Dr. Gordon. “He died at age 59.”
Dr. Gordon is 62 years old and in great shape. He exercises for two hours every day and has followed a vegetarian diet for 35 years.
“I’m battling my own genetic issues, and my weapons are soccer, tofu, and spinach—lots of spinach,” he says with a laugh.