Debra Shapiro
Board Certified ObGyn and Health Coach.

Hello, all you wonderful plant eaters and soon to be plant-eaters!  Welcome to A New View of Food.   Here is the story of my journey to a fully plant based lifestyle:

I was raised in New Jersey in the nineteen sixties, and my mom did not like to cook. Not everyone can relate; some of you were probably lucky enough to have been given real food to eat, but I was eating processed, high fat, high sugar food throughout the day. Eggs, with American Cheese, Spam, PopTarts, tuna fish and other cold cut meat sandwiches, and meat or fish with canned vegetables for supper.  As a child, a dinner out was fried chicken, or Chinese spare ribs, or hamburgers and fries. In high school, my father would pick me up after a volunteered at our hospital and take me to Burger King for a Whopper with cheese.  I don’t recall ever having a salad (which is so sad to consider).  We had margarine, Cool Whip, and everything was artificial.   

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Not surprisingly, my mother had type II diabetes for my entire life.  In fact, when I think of it, she also had fibroids and heavy bleeding that necessitated a hysterectomy when she was just 40 (a year after my birth), and she was diagnosed with type II diabetes a couple of years later.  She was always miserable, physically and emotionally, because of that disease.  One of my strongest childhood memories is of her boiling her insulin syringes and needles on the stove.  That is the smell I remember coming most often from our kitchen;  Acrid and sad.  She often needed three shots of insulin a day and she was never in good control of her blood glucose.  Hypoglycemic attacks (very low blood sugar) happened often, and left her frightened and afraid to go out.  After about 10 years of this disease, she was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a deadly brain tumor, and died at the age of 54. I’m almost 60 years old now and it’s hard to believe how very young she was, and how sick. 

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So it was really because of my mother that I became a physician.

I am a Board Certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist.  As a teen, out of compassion for animals, I was vegetarian, but I was clueless about the cruelty of the dairy industry, and about the health risks of dairy, and so I relied heavily on yogurt and cheese during those 9 years.   My father also succumbed to diseases related to diet:  He developed prostate cancer and after radiation treatment for that, multiple myeloma (a type of bone marrow lymphoma.  He lived to be 86 perhaps, in part, because, unlike my mother, he always stayed fit, exercised daily, and ate better (when I really think about it).  He definitely ate more fruit, more whole grains and nuts on a regular basis.  

I learned about veganism and plant based nutrition initially from a patient. 
I credit her with first opening my eyes to a vast body of knowledge that changed my life and has enabled me to help others change their lives, as well.  

She told me about two websites:  Farm Sanctuary and NutritionFacts.org.  I remember watching Steve-O narrate a Farm Sanctuary video, I watched one of Dr. Michael Greger’s full length end of year videos, and it all just clicked for me.   I only wish I had known sooner how to save my mother from so much suffering.  

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As I am academically minded, I didn’t just want a little knowledge; I wanted a lot!

 So I started attending continuing education courses presented by Neal Barnard, MD and The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the International Plant Based Nutrition Healthcare Conferences put on by The Plantrician Project.  I took the online Plant Based Nutrition certificate course by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, offered through eCornell (and I highly recommend this course to anyone, medical professional or lay person).  I needed to learn how to cook whole plant foods without salt, sugar or oil, so I took the online Forks Over Knives 3 month cooking course. 

It was then that I realized I needed more time with patients to adequately guide them through this transition from eating the typical American diet, including it’s high saturated fat, salt and meat-centered ethnic variations, to a more whole plant food way of eating.  I still enjoy a part time medical practice, but using a very different model than what private practice and large groups allow (no more 15 minute appointments for my patients, thank goodness). 

Still so true!
And so I became a coach.
I went to the Main Street Vegan Academy first to be certified as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, and then to Health Coach Institute for certification as a Health Coach.

 I now have a private practice with phone sessions that has been incredibly life changing for my clients.  I don’t think people realize how good you can feel when you change your diet to more whole plant foods. Not only does weight, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol normalize and become ideal, but you have more energy, less aches and pains, less depression, and less inertia. We can probably thank our many and varied gut microbes for most of this;  Luckily, we can just repay them in food! 

I invite you to come learn with me.  Learn which foods give you energy and which take energy away.  Learn how to love yourself more by giving yourself the healthiest food which will lead to the healthiest and longest life.  Learn how to forgive yourself, as I did, for making mistakes along the way, as we all do.  And allow yourself the opportunity to get off the medications you are on to treat diseases that need never burden you.   This is the only diet proven to reverse our #1 killer, heart disease.  It is the same diet that reverses type 2 diabetes.  The same diet that reduces your risk of cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cataracts and so many other debilitating diseases.  

We were designed to enjoy eating all the beautiful, colorful foods that surround us.  It is my joy and my passion to inspire you and guide you to your optimal health and wellbeing.  

Thank you, Debra

Photo by Meg Messina 

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