Planting the Way to Maimonides Medical Center

By Marita Pereira, Dietitian Assistant

Maimonides Medical Center (MMC) is paving a new path in nutrition. We are redefining our mission to focus on whole foods plant-based nutrition. The benefits of a whole food plant-based diet are tremendous and with acceptance of the lifestyle change, we will be able to create a healthier environment for its patients and its employees.


To promote this new path, we held our annual month long celebration of National Nutrition Month in March. Events were held every week to spotlight the importance of nutrition particularly whole foods plant based diet. These events also supported awareness of our employee health and wellness, improving community relations among the different disciplines and increasing personal nutrition knowledge of MMC employees.


For this year’s main highlight for MMC employees, Ninel Novak, M.S., R.D. CDN, Clinical Nutrition Manager, worked with Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to bring in a special guest speaker Dr. David Dunaief, M.D., who spoke on “Debunking the Myth With Protein and Carbohydrates”. The focus of the lecture was to promote the concept of whole food plant-based diet and its health benefits. Main talking points included myths about protein; plant protein verses animal protein; importance of fiber; whole plant foods verses processed plant based foods; meat-eaters verses healthy plant based eating; misinformation about fruits. He also spoke extensively about the potential reversal of chronic disease if lifestyle change is implemented. He supported his presentation with many studies that proved whole foods plant-based diets were vital in increasing the health of the participants in the studies. He was able to win over many people who decided to give it a try and change their eating habits. Dwight Wilson, Dietitian Assistant, was one of the attendees that was persuaded. When asked about the lecture, in a follow-up, he said, “The lecture was awesome, it still left an impact on me that I still follow”. The hour long event was well attended with over 100 people including Doctors, Nurses, Wound Care, Staff, Support Services as well as the Food and Nutrition Department.


During the Q&A portion, the room full of the highly motivated people had plenty of questions for Dr. Dunaief. He explained thoroughly the impact of the current trends such as the Keto Diet. All who attended were treated to delicious samplings of Roasted Acorn Squash Quinoa Salad (see recipe below), Pineapple Salsa, and Roasted Apples topped with Homemade Granola. Our Award Winning Culinary Team Trio, Chef Ellon McDonald, Raymond Rodriquez and Wendel Rigaud made all in the Glatt Kosher kitchen at MMC.


We anticipate implementing whole food plant-based diet in the next few months. Due to the restricted nature at MMC, many products do not fall into the Glatt Kosher guidelines. Even though we have to overcome many obstacles, the dream of setting precedence in the nutrition field is a goal we are bound to achieve.


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