Mayor Eric Adams announced the expansion and also took the opportunity to defend his own diet after reports claimed over the weekend that he was more pescatarian than vegan.
"Does Eric eat fish, does he eat hamburger, does he do this, does he do that?" Adams said. "Listen, here's my message. The more plant based meals you have, the healthier you are going to be. New Yorkers, don't beat yourself up. No one is perfect in this city...Don't worry about what is on Mayor Adams' plate. Put these items on your plate."
Adams clarified that he's on a "plant-based centered diet" following reports he regularly eats fish, and after the announcement, he did a cooking demonstration of his black bean chili (SEE BELOW FOR RECIPE).
"I eat a plant-based centered life, and I'm not going down this rabbit hole of what did you eat, if you eat cake and it has eggs in it, did you analysis it?" he said. "I'm not doing that. The more plant based you eat, the better and healthier you are."
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Adams and NYC Health + Hospitals announced the expansion of its lifestyle medicine services at six public health care sites, calling it the most comprehensive expansion of lifestyle medicine programming in the U.S.
Modeled off the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, the new expansion will provide patients living with chronic disease the tools to make healthy lifestyle changes, included providing them access to plant-based diet resources.
The program will expand to serve qualifying NYC Health + Hospitals adult patients at Jacobi, Lincoln, Woodhull, Kings County, and Elmhurst hospitals, as well as Gotham Health, Vanderbilt. Dr. Michelle McCacken will oversee the rollout at city hospitals in each borough.
"The outcomes we've seen in the Bellevue program have been tremendous," she said. "We actually know we can prevent up to 80% of chronic disease and premature health by helping people eat healthier, be more physically active, and not smoke."
The program expansion will be implemented over the coming year.
"Today, New York City is again leading the way with the most comprehensive expansion of lifestyle medicine programming in the nation," Adams said. "This is personal to me. A plant-based lifestyle helped save my life, and I'm thrilled that New Yorkers in every zip code will have access to this critical programming. Together, we will stop feeding the health care crisis and ensure all New Yorkers can access the healthy lifestyle they deserve."
In 2019, with the advocacy of then-Brooklyn Borough President Adams, the Bellevue Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program -- among the first of its kind in a safety-net health care setting -- was launched. The program takes an interdisciplinary approach to reduce patients' cardiometabolic risk, where a team of physicians, dietitians, and health coaches support patients in making evidence-based lifestyle changes, including adopting a healthy plant-based diet, increasing physical activity, improving sleep habits, reducing stress, avoiding risky substances, and providing social support.
The program has received national attention, and there has been a high demand for services -- including self-referrals from more than 850 New York City residents.
Each of the sites that will be receiving the expanded lifestyle medicine services will be equipped with a full-time dietitian and health coach, as well as physician teams.
Participants will be referred by their health care providers or can self-refer. Eligibility criteria for participants include heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and/or health concerns related to obesity.
Patients who enroll in one of the programs will receive a full medical evaluation by a team physician, with special attention to current lifestyle behaviors and social needs. They will also meet individually with a dietitian and a health coach and will participate in group education on topics including nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress reduction, and other lifestyle pillars.
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The lifestyle medicine team will individualize the behavior change approach for each patient, considering cultural traditions, socioeconomic circumstances, family situations, and other key factors.
In addition to expanding access to lifestyle medicine services, NYC Health + Hospitals will partner with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to help provide additional lifestyle medicine training to care teams, as well as with Plant-Powered Metro New York to offer cooking demonstrations to patients at the Kings County Hospital site.
NYC Health + Hospitals' expansion of lifestyle medicine services builds on its commitment to put healthy eating and other beneficial lifestyle habits at the forefront of patients' care.
In 2019, the system launched Meatless Mondays at all 11 of its acute care hospitals. The program was launched in an effort to provide a broader range of healthy, appealing meal options to inpatients and introduce them to the benefits of plant-based nutrition so that they could make important lifestyle decisions that would lead to living their healthiest lives.
Recipe for Mayor Eric Adams Black Bean Chili
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
--2 16-ounce cans black beans
--3 garlic cloves
--1 white onion
--1 green bell pepper
--1 tablespoon chili powder
--2 teaspoons dried oregano
--1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
--1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
--1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
--1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes
--Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
On medium-high heat add 3 tablespoons of water.
Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic; sauté in water until onions soften.
Mix in chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne powder; stir 2 minutes.
With a fork, lightly mash a few black beans to give the chili texture and thicken the sauce.
Mix in beans, 1/2 cup reserved bean liquid, tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes. Bring chili to boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Add chopped fresh cilantro for garnish.
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