The Optimal Lifestyle

  • By Jengyu Lai
  • 11 Oct, 2016

Written by Kayley Gamm, RDN

This past Friday, my first day as Registered Dietitian for Rochester Clinic, I was thrown right in and had such a great day! I had done a bit of research on the CHIP program and had attended some of the evening classes with the community CHIP program, but today was my first day meeting and working with the corporate CHIPPERS at Cardinal. The topic for the day was the Optimal Lifestyle.

 Today, over half of the calories we eat are empty calories. This means that we are getting very little nutrition- vitamins and minerals- from the foods that we eat. Most of the foods we see at the grocery store come in boxes and packages and are made for convenience, not nutrition. These foods can lead to a fast lifestyle of inactivity and undernutrition. Some of these foods, when consumed in excess, can also lead to a multitude of problems. Some of these problems include heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, acid reflux, and high cholesterol. A lot of these problems can be lessened, or, I dare say, reversed, if we are all able to eat more plant based, whole foods.

 Eat plant based, whole foods. That is the backbone of the dietary portion of the Optimal Lifestyle. As a dietitian I think counting calories is quite tiring and time consuming. We can get wrapped up in the numbers and math and not enjoy our journey or our food. That is why the Optimal Lifestyle is so appealing; no counting is involved. You are actually encouraged to eat all that you want, until you are full. Foods that are grown (plant based, whole foods) are high in fiber, antioxidants, water and low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. All these things will lead to fullness, reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol, more energy, better skin…..the list goes on and on.

 I am a firm believer that you pick how you want to feel and I encourage my patients to determine that for themselves. I am not here to tell you what to do and to eat a specific way. I will help you reach the goals that you choose.

The second part of the Optimal Lifestyle is exercise. When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, both diet and exercise are key. One really can’t happen without the other. Exercise doesn’t need to be training for a marathon or lifting hundreds of pounds in weights. Exercise is what your body can handle while increasing your heart rate for a period of time. The American Heart Association guideline for exercise is 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. This doesn’t all need to happen at once. Three, 10 minute segments, are just fine. Throughout my day, I will get up every half hour or so and get some water, go for a short walk down the hall or stretch, just to stay moving.

I am a firm believer that you pick how you want to feel and I encourage my patients to determine that for themselves. I am not here to tell you what to do and to eat a specific way. I will help you reach the goals that you choose.
I challenge all of you to keep up the good work and set a new, small goal to get yourself on the path to a healthier lifestyle. My personal health goal for the week is to get back into yoga by doing it twice a week.

Share your goals with me and have a great week!

News / Blogs

By Jengyu Lai 31 Aug, 2017

Healthcare costs in the U.S. are on the rise. It is estimated that 70-80% of healthcare costs are due to chronic disease, and the main reason for a trip to the doctor.


Exactly what is chronic disease and what can you do about it? Chronic diseases are conditions that cannot be prevented or cured by vaccinations or medications, nor do they go away on their own.


Common chronic diseases:

●    Elevated cholesterol

●    Type 2 diabetes

●    Hypertension

●    Obesity

●    Coronary heart disease

●    High blood pressure

●    Osteoporosis

●    Arthritis

●    Fatigue


However, living significantly longer and increasing quality of life is a reality, even for those with these chronic diseases. Modifications in lifestyle will lessen and potentially eliminate chronic conditions, and therefore increase quality of life and reduce medical expenses. You have the power to take charge of your health. This is lifestyle medicine.


Lifestyle modifications include:

●    Plant-based, whole food diet and nutrition

●    Physical activity

●    Stress reduction

●    Family/social support network


Through this evidence-based research, you can change the course of your health. With simple, fun, and flexible adaptations, the lifestyle medicine approach is a whole new way of living.


For more information on Rochester Clinic, the services and programs we offer, please give us a call at

507-218-3095, visit our website at , or e-mail to .


We are happy to answer your questions and get you on your way to a healthy life!

By Jengyu Lai 03 Jul, 2017

Whether you’ve fully adopted a plant-based diet or are simply dipping your toes in the water, there’s no doubt that wholesome food is at the center of one’s wellbeing.


Here we’ve rounded up five of our favorite cookbooks that are chock full of nourishing recipes and nutrition tips that are sure to assist in your healthy eating goals:


1.         Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook

If you watched the Forks Over Knives documentary (read more about it here , along with the rest of our top documentary picks), you know what FOK is all about – the concept that degenerative diseases afflicting so much of the U.S. today can be controlled and even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. This cookbook features 300+ plant-based recipes which place fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes in the lime light.


2.         The China Study Cookbook: Over 120 Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes

This cookbook came to fruition thanks to The China Study; a book touting one of the most comprehensive nutrition studies ever conducted which reveals that a plant-based diet leads to optimal health and can halt or even reverse many diseases. The China Study Cookbook shares 120+ plant-based, nutrient-dense recipes that promote optimal health.


3.         The PlantPure Nation Cookbook: The Official Companion Cookbook to the Breakthrough Film

PlantPure Nation, yet another noteworthy documentary created by the same producers as Forks Over Knives, provides this trusty companion cookbook boasting 150+ plant-centric recipes. It’s also filled with tips, tricks, and grocery lists for people interested in a whole food, plant-based diet.


4.         Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes

Inspire healthful, plant-based eating among the whole family with this must-have cookbook from Dreena Burton. From delicious school lunches to appetizing on-the-go snacks, this book supplies more than 100 kid-tested and approved recipes and serves as an excellent reference for parents raising young ones on a whole food, vegan diet.


5.         Crazy Sexy Kitchen

Don’t let the risqué title of this one deter you. Author and cancer survivor Kris Carr attributes her triumph over cancer to her lifestyle changes, most especially her diet. After embracing a diet made up of whole, plant-based foods, she soon discovered the transformative power of nutrition and felt better than she ever had. This cookbook offers 150+ recipes that includes everything from fresh-pressed juices to delectable desserts.


Also recommended: Oh She Glows, Minimalist Baker, But I Could Never Go Vegan


What are some of your favorite cookbooks? Share on our Facebook page !

By Jengyu Lai 28 Jun, 2017
Knee pain is hindering your daily enjoyment. It hurts to sit; it hurts to stand. And exercise is out of the question. You have tried injections and knee braces but nothing is working. What do you do? Now is the time to call Rochester Clinic.

You will receive a thorough assessment from one of our physicians. Our goal is to stop the pain, find the root cause, treat the cause, and maintain a pain free state. Rochester Clinic and your healthcare team will look at your diet, physical activity, medications, and health conditions including injury, disease, and weight. We take a conservative approach to healthcare before suggesting surgical interventions. We have an on-site clinical laboratory, Digital x-ray, and biomechanics laboratory for the best assessments and diagnostics.

Simple changes in lifestyle choices may alleviate much of your pain. You will learn exercises to strengthen weak muscles, increase flexibility, and safe options for weight management to reduce pressure on your joints. Interesting fact: The foods you eat can help or hinder joint inflammations.

The structure of your foot and knee may also be a cause for your pain. High arches, flat feet, pronation or supination of the foot will affect the pressure and development of the knee. Something as simple as the right footwear or custom orthotics would provide pain relief.

We have the tools to help you be on your way to living a healthy, active, and pain free day!

For more information on Rochester Clinic, the services and programs we offer, please give us a call at  507-218-3095, visit our website at , or e-mail to

We are happy to answer your questions and get you on your way to a healthy life!

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