q&a with dr. roizen

Food is a vital aspect of lives. We need it to survive. We break bread with family and friends. We put some chefs in the same category as rock stars. We want to know where our food comes from.  And we celebrate many moments, big and small, over a plate of culinary goodness.

And yet, for how much joy food brings us and how central it is to our very existence, many of us either abuse it or don’t fully grasp just what that piece of cheese or scoop of ice cream does to our bodies. Now I am in the camp that believes everything in moderation. I have a weakness for cheese and realistically, can’t imagine the day when I’d pass on Brandon’s never-ending cheese selection at L’Albatros anytime soon. Though I am the first to admit that I can be healthier and could easily stand to lose a good 15 pounds (I guess I can no longer say I just had a baby since she’s a few weeks shy of turning 2…).

I try to eat smart when dining out as well as cooking in. I’m a regular at area farmers’ markets. I tend to just shop the parameter of my local Heinen’s, stocking up on fruits and veggies, whole grains like quinoa, beans, chicken and fish (they have a wonderful seafood department where I get most of my fish). But I am far from perfect and there is so much I need to learn.

And one person I’d gladly listen to at anytime and trust all that he shares is Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer for the Cleveland Clinic (or Dr. Mike as his staff affectionately calls him). Dr. Roizen, who is in his early 60s, but real age is an impressive 42, is an incredibly impressive figure and Cleveland is truly lucky that he calls our city home. I’ve read a few of his books, watched him on Oprah and Dr. Oz and was recently fortunate enough to have a quick chat with him.

Where do you eat out? Since I live near Shaker Square, we tend to stick around there. I like Fire, Anatolia Café, and Sarava. Near work, I like Table 45. He acknowledges just how privileged we are to be surrounded by such great restaurants, and also shares that he is looking forward to the new Crop and enjoys Flying Fig, too. Finally, Roizen admits to favoring Subway for lunch (veggie sub, no cheese – because cheese is a saturated fat and slowly kills us, he shares – on wheat).

Roizen adds that he likes Fire because he can look into the kitchen and see what they are adding and trusts the chefs there. If a restaurant is adding fat to a dish, he says, that’s killing you. For 3 – 21 days, that added fat is killing you, he says, clearly passionate about this fact.

What do you order out and always avoid? I tend to be fairly careful and not overdo it. I mostly get two appetizers and a glass of wine. I immediately try to get rid of the bread. I ask for cut up veggies instead. And that should be the first thing everyone does, and good restaurants will accommodate. That would actually be my plea for Cleveland restaurants, get rid of the bread and substitute fresh cut veggies. And to avoid – anything white, fried or that has cream sauce he says. The exception, he explains, is cauliflower, white fish.

Do you ever cheat? Food is not, let’s make a deal. It changes us. The joy you get from ice cream may last two hours, but the pain from that scoop will last 180 days. It causes inflammation in the body. Cheating isn’t cheating, it’s killing you. Though Roizen does share that once in a blue moon, he enjoys molten chocolate cake, but other than that, doesn’t sway from healthy noshing.

Tips to not over eat when dining out? Eat six almonds 30 minutes before eating and have a glass of water as soon as you sit down. The almonds he says help slow the stomach and can take 30 minutes.

5 things we should be eating more of? I can think of six: salmon, spinach, kale, walnuts, chocolate and wine.

What does typical day look like for you, in terms of food and exercise? I take 10,000 steps a day; three days a week I do 45 minutes of cardio, and another three days 10 – 20 minutes of strength training. For breakfast, I get a Cold Pressed Juice Delivery to my house is normally a green smoothie , a veggie omelet – no cheese – or banana and coffee. Lunch usually consists of a salmon burger, healthy soup, or foot long, all-veggie sub from Subway, no cheese, no oil. Dinner is usually fish and a salad.

green smoothie I ask for:

  • 1 Cup              Cleaned spinach leaves
  • 1 Cup              Cleaned Kale, rough chop
  • 1 Cup              Green seedless grapes
  • 1 ½ Cups        Bartlett pear, core and seeds removed
  • 1 cup               Orange, seedless and peeled
  • 1 cup               Banana, peeled
  • 1 tsp                Ground Chia seed
  • ½ Cup             Water
  • 1 Cups             Ice

Here’s more information on why Dr, Roizen is so adamant again cheese, ice cream and other everyday weaknesses from one of his books, You: The Owner’s Manual, which he co-wrote with Dr. Oz:

Page 55: “Avoiding more than 20 grams of saturated and trans fats every day has another benefit – it keeps your arteries able to dilate, providing you with more energy. Meals laden with saturated and trans fats lead to block laden with saturated and trans fats, which in turn paralyzes that muscle middle wall of your arteries. And you want that artery muscle to be functional, so when you ask a leg muscle to move, it gets enough energy to do so. So to be energetic, keep your saturated and trans fats to fewer than 20 grams a day.”

Page 60: “…limit your saturated and trans fat (a mostly artificial form of aging fat) to less than 20 grams a day. No food has been more closely linked to arterial aging than these kinds of fats, found mostly in meats, luncheon meats, full-fat dairy products, baked goods, fried fast foods, and palm and coconut oils. They increase arterial inflammation, which promotes plaque build-up, and they also turn on the mechanism that increases LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream – yet another way to slap more plaque onto your arteries. They’re truly the four letter words of heart disease which can be diagnosed and treated at heart health clinic.”

This is just a small snapshot into the wealth of information and knowledge we can learn from this great mind. If you have the opportunity to hear him speak or read his books, I highly recommend it. A special thank you to Dr. Roizen for taking a few minutes to chat, and to Stephanie Jansky for setting this up and providing me with some additional information for this post.


  1. Posted November 21, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    I think this is an important post that many Americans need to read. Don’t get me wrong – I’m Honey Hut Ice Cream’s biggest fan, but I know that I should only have it as an occasional treat, not as a frequent indulgence. I’ve subscribed to the Michael Pollan train of thought for a long time now: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I feel like Dr. Roizen would agree. Thanks for the health kick this evening – it’s a good reminder before the holidays hit.

  2. Jessica
    Posted November 22, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Hi Michelle – I’ve been thinking about the phrase, “Everything in moderation.” To be honest I hear that phrase most often when people are talking about fast food or alcohol. “McDonald’s is ok in moderation” I’ve heard countless times. Well, does that mean once a week? Once a day? Is it just another way to excuse even eating this stuff in the first place? My “moderation” food is definitely sweets – it’s the thing I try to rationalize eating most often.

    And I am right where you are – needing to lose about 15 lbs after my last pregnancy (17 mo ago!) And I do mean need – it’s right at my midsection where I know it’s the most dangerous. Honestly, I just keep putting it off. When the babies are older, when we can afford a gym membership, etc.

    In terms of how our family eats, I’ve stopped talking moderation and tried to start talking balance. What balance means to my family is having a piece of fruit or a veg and a whole grain with anything else we eat. A cut up apple or pear with the cheese plate. Brown rice with a curry instead of white.

    I will say it’s sometimes hard to take in ALL the info that is thrown at us now in terms of what is good or not – it sometimes is contradictory. I have 3 small children that I still feed full fat products – I feed them no fast food, very little highly processed food and a lot of whole grains. In a way, having small children can be a guide to how we should be eating as adults: if we balance our child’s meal, why aren’t we balancing our own?

    Anyway, thank you so much for doing this interview – it is food for thought (good one) and I will keep pondering.


  3. Michelle V
    Posted November 22, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    @ Alicia – I try to follow Pollan, too.

    @Jessic – congrats on your little one! Sounds like we are i the same boat. I would say we eat about 80 – 85% healthy. My moderation comes when I dine out – I like cheese, my husband likes chocolate. I try not to over do it, but I don’t forbid anything either. I agree with what you’re saying about feeding little ones. Our daughter has never has fast food and won’t as long as I can help it. She doesn’t know what chicken fingers are and have never seen a box of Kraft. I make all her food – even when she ate baby food. And I want her to grow up knowing how to eat, favoring veggies and fruits and knowing the markets. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Posted November 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    very interesting. Very informative. I was happy to read that I’m doing (and just starting too) do a lot of what he talked about.

    the books are a priority on my list. Balance has become more and more important.


  5. Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Thanks for an interesting interview. I would follow the information in the book more than Roizen’s own diet model, though. The repetition of the phrase “killing you” struck me as a bit over the top, especially as he was talking about a little added oil or a scoop of ice cream–which causes pain for 180 days (??!?)

    There was an interesting article published in the Atlantic lately called “Lies, Damn Lies and Medical Science” (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269/) which calls into question most of what we think we know about diet, with the main source being one of the most respected medical researchers in the world. What I got out of it is that our own bodies are probably the most reliable indicators of our health. I know, for instance, that if I eat a fast food burger I’ll feel ill for hours afterwards–so I avoid them. And I feel better after eating fruits and vegetables ( that green smoothie recipe looks really good). At the same time, though, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the occasional indulgence in fresh bread, bacon, a juicy burger or rich ice cream. I won’t have these all the time, but isn’t life too short to save these for “once in a blue moon”?

  6. Marty
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I find it interesting that dr. Roizen is against bread but advocates eating a foot long sub. Also YOU the owners manual had recipes that feature cheese. So which is it? He tells you to avoid cheese but his book recipes say otherwise. Why not just avoid some cheese? His book has a recipe that features goat cheese! I’m confused by his statements.

  7. Posted October 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    At this time, this is pure natural products and that built your fairness. Do you need pure natural products? These products are animal cruelty free products.

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