We often discuss the importance of collaborative engagement with your doctors so your medical decisions account for how your own goals and values for with the benefits, risks, alternatives and unknowns of those decisions. Most of the time those decisions involve medications or medical technology. However, one of the most powerful and important components of our healthcare is our lifestyle; the behaviors we engage in for our nutrition, our exercise and our cognitive styles.
All doctors agree on the importance of lifestyle. But not all doctors are trained or have the time to engage patients to help them improve theirs. Many medical schools have begun to address lifestyle education in their training programs. Additionally, some doctors have organized into specialty groups such as the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, which applies evidence-based principles to the practice of lifestyle management.
Most insurers do not reimburse the practice of lifestyle medicine. They expect it to be part of the routine care patients receive in the course of their physician visits. While this may change as insurers embrace a wider approach to use preventive care for managing healthcare costs, for now, visits to lifestyle doctors are investments individuals must make out of their own pocket.
So is such an investment right for you?
If your own physician has the time and interest to help you engage in lifestyle management, then you don’t. However, if your doctors leave you feeling uncertain about how to best engage in lifestyle change, a consultation and followup with a doctor trained in lifestyle medicine may be very worthwhile, especially if they can also collaborate with your own physician.
Despite the obvious benefits of lifestyle change for your health, how you do it does have the same set of benefits, risks, alternatives and unknowns of any medical decision. We can help you evaluate the qualifications of a lifestyle physician you might want to engage with, and we can help you understand the benefits, risks, alternatives, and unknowns to consider so you can ask the right questions to get the most out of your engagement with your own doctor, or with a lifestyle physician you may choose.
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