A Kelowna doctor is using social media to help empower people to learn about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Sarah Robbins, a practicing gastroenterologist, launched a website on Feb. 21 called Well Sunday to provide evidence-based content for people to learn and be empowered by, in particular, those people with no family doctor or who are on a lengthy waiting list to see a specialist.
“My primary focus is on gut health that encompasses the pillars of overall good health – sleep, exercise, mental health, and connection with others,” said Robbins.
The website will include blogs, information updates and articles, and will also provide online courses led by Robbins that people can register for.
Since making its debut, the website has garnered 25,000 visits, which Robbins thinks speaks to the universality of health issues people face related to chronic or occasional gut-related ailments.
“I found in my practice that many people were asking me the same questions so I thought it would be effective if I could find a format to reach out to a larger number of people and offer insight into things they can do right now rather than sitting on a waitlist to see someone like me,” she said.
“It is about people being able to take more control of their own health…what we are doing is not replacing the need to see a doctor but having the information that can lead to a better discussion with your doctor about how to deal with what is ailing you.”
Stomach ailments, she says, affect about 20 per cent of people requiring health care, but it is often treated at an illness stage rather than from a preventative health aspect.
“On the one side it can be hard to access dieticians or nutrition specialists, while on the other side, there is an abundance of information on the Internet which has not been scientifically vetted,” she said.
Robbins acknowledges the frustration all patients face from the conflicting information that circulates about nutrition in particular, what is a healthy diet and what is not, and addresses the growth of obesity and diabetes as health concerns today.
“The challenge with all that information that is out there is how to put it into practice,” she said.
Robbins says why and how you are eating is equally as important as what you are eating when it comes to changing your diet.
“People often have eating habits that are emotionally driven. Your mental health, dealing with stress and anxiety, often leads to stress eating,” she said.
Sleep, she said, is also often under-estimated as an important aspect of our health and well-being, often overlooked against the cultural stereotypes of the need to multi-task and the harder the drive the hard you will work and get things done.
She says in the post-COVID-19 era, finding a healthy work-life balance is something increasingly on people’s lifestyle mindsets, and getting an adequate amount of sleep is one aspect of finding that balance.
From a dietary standpoint in wading through food additives, Robbins believes in the philosophy of keeping it simple – ‘if your grandma can’t cook it and you can’t spell it then you shouldn’t eat it.’
“I find it interesting how stressful some people find grocery shopping and preparing to do that, figuring out what the right things are to buy. There is so much information out there and it can be quite overwhelming,” she said.
“My advice is always just to keep it simple.”