Healthy Foods and Healthy Bodies: Garth Davis, M.D.
Dr. Garth Davis’ patients come to him prepared to make a radical change. Dr. Davis is a surgeon in Houston specializing in bariatric surgery.
Many of his patients weigh more than 500 pounds and have tried a wide range of weight-loss gimmicks before turning, in desperation, to an operating-room solution. But Dr. Davis says that the key to long term weight control is a healthy, plant-based diet.
After researching weight issues and obesity for years, Dr. Davis began to realize that unhealthful diets are the main reason Americans are so overweight.
“I realized that our bodies aren’t broken—our food system is what’s broken,” Dr. Davis says.
Some of Dr. Davis’ patients are able to forego surgery and drop pounds by switching to a vegan diet. For patients who do undergo surgery, Dr. Davis suggests switching to a vegan diet for continued post-operation weight loss. He recommends PCRM’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program, encouraging his patients to try this new healthful way of eating for three weeks.
“I get a lot of reversals of the way people eat,” says Dr. Davis. “I’ve also gotten my staff on the Kickstart diet.”
Dr. Davis says plant-based diets are perfect for post-op weight loss. Before surgery, his patients are eating large quantities of nutrient-poor food, making them vitamin-deficient. After surgery, they eat a much smaller volume of food, so they need to consume foods that are nutrient-dense and low in fat—plant foods.
It’s rare for a bariatric surgeon to recommend vegan diets, Dr. Davis explains. “There’s a general belief among doctors that people won’t change,” he says. “But with proper education and guidance, people can and will change their habits.”
He says many people have no idea what in their diet has caused them to gain so much weight.
“People think they’re getting fat from a bag of Skittles or a Snickers bar,” he says. “They’re shocked to learn that it’s really the steak.”
At Dr. Davis’ office, patients are invited to explore nonsurgical options and decide on a comprehensive weight management plan. He says many patients try behavioral therapy to learn to associate healthy foods with healthy bodies.
“People come out craving vegetables,” says Dr. Davis.
In addition to being one of the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart online program’s biggest fans, Dr. Davis helped organize an event in Houston to spread the word about the new book 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. More than 100 people attended, including many of Dr. Davis’ patients.