a year of prevention

What does “healthcare” mean to you: symptom management or disease prevention?

I’ve been listening in on the Lifestyle Medicine Summit 2021 this week—I know, there are just so many online learning experiences available these days, it’s downright dangerous to be a perennial student!

I have been reminded, in the telesummit presentations, that:

  • 1+ billion people worldwide suffer from chronic disease (yeah, we Americans are a large portion of that number)
  • 80% of those diseases can be reversed and/or prevented by making simple changes to food and lifestyle choices

And yet.

When is the last time you went to the doctor and were told to change how and what you eat, how and how much you move, how long and how well you sleep, how much time you spend in nature without your devices present, etc.?

prevention is hard to sell

I’ve been a health coach for almost eight years, and I will honestly tell you that the hardest thing about having a coaching practice is finding new clients.

Why is that? With so many of us experiencing or facing chronic disease, you’d think it’d be a piece of cake to sell prevention.

And with the added danger of Covid-19 infection, you’d think we would all be racing to figure out how to get healthy ahead of the curve that never seems to flatten.

But no, as Americans, we’re used to waiting until we’ve got a problem with our health—and then being handed a pill or sent off for a procedure, which can feel like instant cures.

News flash: these interventions are almost always managing your symptoms, not addressing the root cause of your dis-ease.

We know it took us years to develop health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and overweight/obesity—well, over the pandemic, it took some of us only a year to gain an average of 29 pounds, but still—that’s months. To misquote Beyoncé, we did NOT wake up like this.

And still, it’s much easier to sell instant gratification than it is to convince people to make slow, sustainable changes in their food and lifestyle choices over time.

We want our “fixes” to happen overnight. Buy this pill, have this procedure. You’ll feel better until you start having side effects from the pills or need another procedure—because you didn’t consider prevention, only immediate relief.

And by the way, you just made big medicine and big pharma a lot richer without really solving your health problems.

“but prevention is so hard/time-consuming/boring/based on deprivation!”

Is prevention really that difficult, though? For something so hard to sell, the actual process of disease prevention is stunningly simple.

In the opening talk of the summit, Dr. David Katz, MD freely admitted that he copies Michael Pollan’s advice when explaining to patients the best way to eat. He doesn’t go on and on about specific diets (Paleo! Keto! Vegan! Plant-based! High-fat! Low-carb!); instead, he tells them to “Eat (real) food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

I love Katz’s principles of practice and have been unknowingly following them all along:

  1. Simplify (yeah, that’s why “Simply” is in my business name): let’s take it back to basics.
  2. Sometimes, the evidence we need is not found in hard science but in centuries of consensus. “Evidence-based” is a tired word in the nutrition field, where you’ll find hard, scientific proof on each side of a debate. It can be more useful to look at the messy middle than the extremes.
  3. Prevention is more about simple, small (even tiny!), sustainable steps taken daily than huge, complicated protocols.

How small?

We’re talking the size of “Drink one more glass of water today than you usually do.” That small.

a year of prevention

In 2022, I’ll have a year’s worth of programming—some free, some paid—that will focus on the prevention of chronic disease through simple, small, sustainable steps:

  • Monthly meal planning + prepping workshops on Zoom on the first Sunday of every month—these actually start Sunday, November 7 of this year! Come see how I follow my Fl!p Your K!tchen® meal planning system in my own life and pick up some strategies for yours.
  • Monthly Wednesday Workshops—virtual workshops on the first Wednesday of every month on a wide range of Integrative Nutrition® topics. Dump the Hump Day slump and start the day off by doing something good for yourself.
  • “Baby Steps” blog + email series: the first week of every month, you’ll get a suggestion for a small step toward better health—and you’ll have a chance to stay accountable in a new group format, where you can check in daily to let us know your successes and your challenges as we go along. If you’ve never worked with a health coach and want to get a free taste of what that’s like, be sure to follow along.
  • EAT™ | Your Way to Health group coaching program will start in March and again in October
  • Stewarding Emotional Eating group coaching program will start in May and November
  • NEW! EAT™ | Your Way to Health will be available for licensing by forward-looking organizations looking for innovative employee wellness offerings in the form of benefits, bonuses, etc. Want to be an early adopter? Let’s find a time to chat!

make the connection

Watch the Simply: Health Coaching space in 2022 for details! 

How to stay in the loop about programs—free and paid—that can help you start practicing prevention: