If you’ve ever heard me speak about nutrition, you know how I feel about diets. You die on a diet. It’s that simple.
As we make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat healthy and get in shape, too many of us rely on diets that involve some type of deprivation, which is inevitably followed by some type of binging. It’s just not a healthy or sustainable way to live.
Instead of relying on others and unhealthy gimmicks, we need to make it our personal responsibility to take our health back – physically, nutritionally and psychologically – in order to avoid disease, chronic illness and stress. We need to take better care of ourselves.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle is the state of our health care system, which is overly burdened and fundamentally broken at its core. Not that there aren’t wonderful doctors out there who are saving lives and doing great work, but there’s not enough of a focus on preventative care.
It’s a question of sick care vs. health care.
Sick care is designed to treat a disease or illness after we already have it. Health care – the new model – is designed to prevent illness before it happens.
Right now, we essentially operate under a sick care model focused on disease management. For example, if you’re diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, you’re told to eat more frequent, smaller meals. Instead, we should be receiving good advice all along that helps to prevent us from getting the disease. This is the new model of health care, which is focused on prevention.
In this model, we need to be careful about whose advice we’re taking. Are we taking advice from a health care provider or a sick care provider? Unfortunately, many sick care providers aren’t specifically trained in preventative medicine.
For example, I saw a prominent doctor on national television who said statin drugs – cholesterol-lowering medication – are a great form of preventative medicine. I sat back in my chair and said to myself, “Now millions of people think they should take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol.”
I take issue with this. I’m not anti-statin drugs, but as someone in clinical practice, I can tell you that if you want to lower your cholesterol, it can be done naturally without medication in most cases.
Sick care certainly has its place, whether it means conducting yearly physicals or treating the “God forbids,” like a heart attack or a broken leg. We need highly trained neurosurgeons and other doctors whose very job is to save lives.
Instead of thinking in a single dimensional way to correct a problem, a health care provider thinks in a multi-dimensional way, considering the whole person when offering advice on how to prevent a problem. A health care provider’s job is to save lives by helping us lead a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid illness and disease whenever possible.
Adelle Davis, one of my favorite nutritionists, once said that we do one of two things every day. We either build health or produce disease in ourselves.
Instead of latching on to the latest weight loss gimmick, let’s think about preventing disease, not waiting for a bad diagnosis and figuring out the best way to treat it. Look for nutritionally dense food, like broccoli and kale, an amazing super food with cancer-fighting properties that’s great for the gastrointestinal system.
Avoid the obvious, like fast food and soda, but also foods that have hardly any nutritional value, like white bread, sugar and starch. Filling up on non-nutritionally dense foods is what makes us obese.
When we follow the advice of health care providers and educate ourselves, we become empowered to make smart decisions. As we kick off 2013, let’s skip the resolutions. Let’s make a long-term commitment to taking back our health using this new preventative health care model.