For years, Elinor Boyce had ongoing heart issues. Eventually, she needed to have surgery. She had a heart ablation and continued to work to manage her congestive heart failure. When Beebe Healthcare launched the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program, Elinor knew she wanted to participate.
Beebe Healthcare is the only provider of Ornish Lifestyle Medicine in Delaware. This program is nationally recognized—through the results of more than 35 years of peer-reviewed, published research—for preventing, stopping, and even reversing the progression of heart disease.
What is the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program?
Ornish Lifestyle Medicine teaches participants about the four pillars of good health – nutrition, exercise, stress management, and group support.
Participants learn to adopt a healthy lifestyle based on the four key elements:
- Low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet
- At least 30 minutes of exercise each day
- Practice of stress management techniques
- Active engagement in supportive relationships.
“I was intrigued by the components,” Elinor said. “Stress management was new to me, however as a special education educator by career, I already had many of the tools in my toolbox. I just learned how to better utilize them in my retired life.”
Elinor knew about meditation and because of the Ornish program brought it back into her life and practices daily.
“I had great success in the program and learned a new way to eat, exercise, and live,” Elinor said.
So, she and her husband, Dave, gave up salt and started cooking Ornish-style meals at home. Dave, who is a two-time cancer survivor, learned he had a heart issue and his cardiologist Rajinder Prasad, MD, recommended a stent procedure. The procedure discovered a 75-percent blockage in Dave’s heart and also uncovered a 99-percent blockage of his carotid artery, which was later corrected by vascular surgeon Carlos Neves, MD. After he recovered, Dave was excited to join the Ornish program.
“I had already been eating Ornish for a couple of months because of Elinor, and I was thrilled I qualified for the program,” said Dave, a former program auditor for federal agencies in Silver Spring, Md.
“For me, I never was a stressed-out person. I was always pretty carefree, but adding the exercise and yoga was interesting for me. We both aim to get in our 10,000 steps each day, but we don’t compete with each other,” he said.
“The camaraderie encouraged during the course of the Ornish program is great. It really allows you to be comfortable with the group and be open to learn new things,” Elinor said. “We feel so lucky to live near Beebe where they offer Ornish.”
“Honestly, once I started Ornish and learning the recipes, I knew I would never go back,” Elinor said. “We travel a lot and like to eat out and we are always able to find ways to work with the restaurant or the chef to enjoy Ornish-approved food.”
In addition, the couple has grown quite a powerful spice cabinet and recipe collection. They started following Ornish recipes, which they found online in many cases, and soon they were taking recipes they used to love and finding ways to make them Ornish-style.
“It has been incredibly rewarding. We always loved to cook, but we love it even more now,” Dave said. The couple has been living full-time in Henlopen Acres for about six years after moving into a home that Dave’s family has owned since the 1960s. They admit that their way of eating is easier in Rehoboth Beach.
“We have the Spice & Tea Exchange and many restaurants that explore healthier ways of cooking, which fits right in with our way of eating,” he said.
Elinor and her cohort still connect monthly, either meeting at a restaurant or having potluck meals at each participant’s home.
“We talk to our friends with health issues about Ornish and explain how rewarding it is. Some are interested and others just feel it would be too complicated or hard to stick to,” Elinor said. “I can’t imagine eating any other way at this point. I’ll never go back.”