We use cookies to improve your experience on our site. Please accept the Privacy Policy to continue.
Meet David Valle Lifestyle Medicine Program Patient

Trading Cuchifritos for Couscous and a Healthier Life

Growing up in Alphabet City on Manhattan’s Lower Eastside, David Valle lived for playing any kind of sport. He played sandlot football for the 7th Precinct Roadrunners, shot basketball hoops, hit baseballs, and played tag with friends in his close-knit neighborhood. Yet, his food choices went against his athletic ways.

“After practice and between games we’d often grab cuchifritos,” he said referring to the deep-fried Latino delicacies. “It was basically like our McDonalds growing up. Not necessarily the healthiest option, but it was tasty and convenient.”

Years later as he became less active, David’s steady diet of fast, fried food started to take its toll. By the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had gained weight, was suffering from sciatica, and was being treated for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

After a discussion with his primary care provider on how to regain control of his health, David was referred to the NYC Health + Hospitals Lifestyle Medicine Program, which provides support to prevent and manage common chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.  

Since its launch at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in 2019, the Lifestyle Medicine Program has helped hundreds of people, gained national recognition, and expanded to seven different sites across the five boroughs. Adults living with prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or health concerns related to excess weight are eligible to enroll.

Patients who enroll in the 9-month program receive support from a care team including a doctor, a nurse practitioner, a dietitian, a health coach, a psychologist, community health workers, and an exercise trainer. Together the team helps patients learn how to eat healthier foods, get more exercise, avoid smoking and alcohol, improve sleep, reduce stress and build stronger relationships.

For David, joining the Lifestyle Medicine Program is one of the best things he’s ever done.

“I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been,” he said. “I’ve lost weight and gained muscle. My cardio has improved tremendously. My sciatica pain and stress levels have reduced. My blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels have all improved. I sleep better and wake up feeling more energized. My only regret is not doing this sooner.”

With the help of the program, David adopted a healthier diet that now includes cooking quinoa, couscous, beans and vegetable stir-fry. For desert, he traded cookies and cakes for berries, nuts, yogurt, and a little bit of dark chocolate.

Lily Correa, Registered Dietitian for Bellevue’s Lifestyle Medicine Program, provided support for David to change his diet.

“Through practical tips and tricks, I help patients like David include more plant-based foods into their eating patterns to increase fiber intake,” she said.  “He was always enthusiastic about getting in the kitchen and trying out new recipes and plant-based products.”

“I was a ‘meat and potatoes guy’ who learned how to become a ‘fruits and veggies guy” too. And it feels really good,” David said. “Learning to cook plant-based dishes, read nutrition labels, and manage my portion sizes has been incredibly empowering and eye-opening. I didn’t have to sacrifice taste and flavor in order to gain health and this feeling of accomplishment.”

Recently, David has even become more active again, enjoying bike rides through the city and exercising more regularly.

“Thanks to this experience I’ve unlocked a whole new skill set in the kitchen and in the gym that have translated to other areas of my life too. It’s amazing what the right food and the right mindset can do for your body,” David said.

To Make An Appointment

Call 347-507-3695
to enroll in the Lifestyle Medicine Program.