Who makes your health care decisions? If you think it’s you, it might not be.
If you are seeing a conventional doctor and following the information put out by the “experts” like CDC, WHO, or even the AHA, your health decisions have been outsourced.
But aren’t these people and organizations motivated to help us stay healthy? Not exactly. But let me be clear here- I don’t think they are maliciously trying to lead you astray. But despite years and sometimes decades of experience, a doctor or other medically trained professional shouldn’t be driving your medical decisions.
The Issue of Conflicting Motivations
Every layer in the healthcare system has a series of conflicting motivations. Most individuals have a genuine desire to help other people. They aren’t malicious in any way really. But they do have other factors to keep in mind.
- Maintaining their licensure
- Stay in good standing with existing infrastructure
- Prescribe and recommend interventions that are reimbursable
- Amount and cost of continuing education required to provide a treatment
- Ability to obtain a patent
- Funding available for research
All of these conflicting motivations mean that there is a variety of ways your health care decisions are being mismanaged at every level if you allow your doctor to take the lead. I’m not suggesting a conspiracy here, but just human nature presenting itself over and over systemically throughout the healthcare system.
Who Should Make Your Health Decisions
The person most equipped to make your own health care decisions is you! You are the most invested in your health. You are the one that makes the lifestyle decisions. You are daily in control of the type and amount of food, sleep, and movement you get. These factors contribute greatly to your overall health status. You are the one who feels the consequences of your health decisions more sharply than anyone else. And when you are the one in the driver’s seat making the call, your mental resolution is strengthened so much more than when a doctor tells you what you should do… it helps you buy into the solution.
You Are More than Your Genes
The field of epigenetics has been quickly growing in the last decade or so. Epigenetics is the study of how your genetic code can be turned on or off given your environmental factors. We used to think that your genetic code was a set of instructions for how your body would function. Now we have come to understand it is a much more complicated set of instructions of how your body can function. If conditions are right to turn a gene on, it will show up. If conditions are right to turn a gene off, it won’t show up. It’s so complicated we may never fully understand it really. But we are learning that lifestyle choices and basic environmental inputs are much more important to a person’s overall health than their genetic code alone.
Steps to Taking Back Your Health
So if you are reading this and realizing that your health decisions have been outsourced, what are you supposed to do?
1) Start with intentional lifestyle decisions
Like I said above, you control what and how much you eat, move and sleep. Start with making intentional decisions in these three areas and you will start feeling better. Make small steps and over time you will see big progress.
I recommend following something like Trim Healthy Mama to balance your blood sugar and lower your overall inflammation level. You can read more about my journey for inspiration.
It doesn’t take much exercise to make a difference in your life, so just start somewhere and work your way up to 20 minutes, 3-5 times a week. New research indicates there is a danger of overdoing it can be harmful to your health!
Sleep tends to be hard on this mama of 2 littles… but I recommend the Sleep Smarter book to get you on your way to higher quality even if you don’t get more.
2) Research what you don’t know
If you have specific symptoms, medical conditions or concerns, use the internet to look it up. Use lots of sources and focus on things that will be easy for you to control yourself such as what to eat to ease your symptoms or movements to help your pain or other types of things that you can try at home without much risk of negative interactions. Track your symptoms and decide if continuing that change is helping or not. If you are already on prescription medications, you should certainly look into those as well, but don’t make any sudden changes to your medications without contacting your physician as some medications should be tapered off carefully.
3) Fix your relationship with your doctor, or get another one
Your doctor is a medical professional, not God. Treat him or her with respect as you would any other professional, but remember that your health is yours. Listen well to what they have to say, ask as many questions as you want, be informed about your health status as the labs and tests may indicate. Some doctors may use scare tactics to coerce you into treatment options you don’t feel comfortable with pursuing. Remember that you do have patient rights. Ideally, you need to find a doctor who is willing to partner with you in your health decisions, not dictate them from on high. If you feel bullied, it’s time for a new Dr. If you feel supported and encouraged, keep that doctor!
***I want to be clear, I am not in any way suggesting you should go it alone without any Dr in your corner. Ideally, you should find a primary health practitioner that you feel is able to support your health journey, giving you insight to your body through tests and interpretation of medical labs that you are unable to perform from home. This type of partnership is key for your success long term! If you cannot find someone locally, there are several physicians willing to perform services like these long distance such as over a skype call.***
4) Build Relationships with Others that are Supportive of Your Health Journey
Make decisions in your relationships which will support your health decisions. Start setting boundaries with friends and family that make it clear that your health is important to you. Feel free to thank them in advance for their support of you in this process and set the expectation that they will not try to sabotage your efforts. In some cases, it will take time and several difficult conversations to really start seeing changes, but it’s so worth it- for you and for them!
Small Steps Add Up
If you agree on the basic idea that you are the one best suited to make your health decisions but are overwhelmed by this thought, just try taking one small step. It can be as simple as drinking more water or adding in some new vegetables. It can be looking up information on some of the medication that you are already on. It can even just be as simple as deciding that you want to learn more about good health choices. Small steps over time add up. Even if some things you try aren’t the best fit for you, the determination to find something that will work for you will help you figure it out eventually. Lifestyle adjustments are not an overnight fix. It’s a trial-and-error process that helps you slowly take back control of your own quality of life.