We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Natalie Muth and Dr. Mary Tanaka and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr. Muth and Dr. Tanaka, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson We are pediatricians at Children’s Primary Care Medical Group La Costa (Carlsbad). We share an office where this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson is framed and a daily reminder. to us that just because things have always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean that is the only way. Just because traditional medicine and nutrition and culinary expertise didn’t always converge, doesn’t mean they can’t. And certainly, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t! We have taken this quote and philosophy to heart with the creation of an innovative, first-of-its-kind approach to help kids and their families optimize health. Through our W.E.L.L. healthy living clinic, which is now 100% video-visit based, we help families skill build around nutrition (including zoom-based cooking sessions!), physical activity, social/emotional wellness, sleep optimization, and managing screen time. Not only do our patients (and us) love this approach to helping improve health, but the outcomes show that this strategy is effective. We also “walked the talk” – literally – as leaders of San Diego’s first Walk with a Doc. While this is on hiatus due to COVID, before COVID we would meet with families at Stagecoach Park in Carlsbad each week and walk together to help promote fun physical activity.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are in the business of taking care of kids. As pediatricians, we see young people from infancy to college age helping ensure they are mentally and physically healthy and taking care of them when they are sick. As specialists in nutrition and obesity medicine, we also run a specialty clinic, called the W.E.L.L. Clinic where we help children and families who are affected by obesity and related comorbidities such as prediabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, fatty liver disease as well as other nutritional concerns like low weight and picky eating. The W.E.L.L. Clinic helps families skill-build to improve health by setting goals and practicing strategies to increase fruits and vegetables intake, increase mindfulness around eating, increase water (and decrease sugary drinks), add fun physical activities, improve sleep habits, and better manage stress. We also offer a one-of-a-kind culinary program, where we help families learn to cook and create healthful, delicious recipes. We are extremely proud of the W.E.L.L. Clinic and how we have been able to meet the needs of the children in our community in a way that is innovative but also practical and effective. It took a little bit of trial and error and certainly the buy in and support of our group’s leadership and our colleagues, and now we feel that we have landed on a model that works and is poised to grow so we can help even more children and families across the region.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Since we are now living in COVID times, we would tell our friends about the best ways to make the most of laying low. This is a great time to improve cooking skills and experiment with preparing some new foods. You can’t go wrong with a delivery from Yasukochi Family Farms. They deliver beautiful, delicious and affordable produce from its Oceanside farm. Our families both subscribe to this CSA box that brings us a lot of joy every week! Haworth Fish delivers fresh caught fish right to your door! From bluefin, ahi, and albacore tuna to black cod, you get restaurant quality and freshness, right from your own kitchen.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We want to dedicate this shout out to 3 really important groups of people who really set us up! First to Dr. Wendy Slusser and the leadership at UCLA Pediatrics Residency Program where we were pediatrics residents together. Natalie’s background in nutrition and Mary’s in alternative and culinary medicine and our shared passion for helping families optimize health through healthful nutrition and activity converged and our mentors at UCLA encouraged us to be bold. Together with our colleague Dr. Kim Peterson, we created the Little Chef Cooking School for our patients at Venice Family Clinic. We also published our first book together “Eat Your Vegetables and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters”. Dr. Slusser was a huge supporter and we cannot thank her enough! Fast forward 7 years, when the opportunity arose for us to once again work together and collaborate as pediatricians at Children’s Primary Care Medical Group (CPCMG), where we are now colleagues in the same office. Thank you to Dr. Adam Breslow and the leadership at CPCMG for believing in our vision for the W.E.L.L. Clinic and its transformation to a fully virtual program, thus being able to reach children and families across San Diego and Riverside Counties, where CPCMG’s 29 office are located. We also continued to collaborate, publishing an e-book How to Raise Healthy Eaters: Starting Solids (free download is available at howtoraisehealthyeaters.com) and an award-winning book the Family Fit Plan: A 30 Day Wellness Transformation, that Natalie authored and Mary provided recipes. Our next book, this time geared towards teaching pediatricians about nutrition for primary care, is in the works and will be published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank our incredible patients and their families who have trusted us to help their families improve their overall health and well being. Every day we are rewarded with this privilege and opportunity, and we could not be more grateful.

Website: drnataliemuth.com, cpcmg.net
Instagram: @dr.nataliemuth, @msaphtanaka
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nataliedigatemuth/
Twitter: @drnataliemuth
Facebook: facebook.com/howtoraisehealthyeaters
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/childrens-primary-care-medical-group-carlsbad
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiKmI4xfJQRF-3Nsk_6aN_A/

Image Credits
Jim Digate, Christine Ekeroth, Annemarie Haydel

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