Physician Profile: Transforming Behavior, Sustaining Change: Dr. Donald Forrester
Donald Forrester, M.D., helps people break bad habits and improve their health.
Dr. Forrester, a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine, lives in Sacramento, Calif. He spent more than 30 years with Kaiser Permanente and also served as a physician leader working to improve systems of care, including serving as chief of preventive medicine and patient education.
Several years ago, he and his wife, Beth, switched to a vegan diet after reading The China Study, the groundbreaking book by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. After Dr. Forrester saw PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., speak about his low-fat vegetarian approach to treating diabetes, he began recommending the program for his patients.
“I wish I had known about this approach earlier,” said Dr. Forrester. “I have found my patients requiring less medication, reversing some of their complications, and even curing their diabetes. The effects also carried over to better control of hypertension and high cholesterol.”
From experience, Dr. Forrester knows patients will consider change if they receive accurate information from a trusted source. But he also recognizes the need for a personal approach. He shares success stories. He sits down with patients and their families to discuss beliefs about health and nutrition.
“Ultimately, it’s important to change people’s belief systems,” said Dr. Forrester. “If someone believes they need meat and dairy to get enough protein, we need to explain that plant-based foods actually provide more than enough protein and are much healthier.”
Based on his success, Dr. Forrester’s colleagues asked him to develop a presentation on effective nutritional approaches for diabetes, coronary artery disease, cancer, and obesity. His presentation, “The Nutritional Prescription,” along with handouts and references, can be found at ClinicalCatalyst.com.
Dr. Forrester finds PCRM’s Doctors’ Forums and NutritionCME.org continuing education courses especially useful for keeping up with the latest advances in nutrition and medicine. He always mentions these and other PCRM resources in his lectures. Dr. Forrester believes it is important for health care professionals to lead by example and share their knowledge with others.