Tips to successfully fulfill a “lifestyle prescription” to improve diet, increase exercise, or reduce stress
Katie Ozimek, Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach
When you go to a traditional doctor to resolve an issue, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with a prescription for a pill. It’s fairly easy to follow the doctor’s recommendation: Just take the pill once or twice a day.
When you come to Omnia Health to resolve an issue, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with a “lifestyle prescription.” Due to the type of issues we investigate in our functional medicine practice, patients are frequently instructed to make significant changes to:
- Improve what they eat – Now, follow a highly specific nutrition plan.
- Add or increase exercise – Now, commit to a regular exercise routine.
- Reduce stress – Now, adopt specific guidelines regarding sleep patterns, relaxation, and meditation.
How do you successfully fulfill a “lifestyle prescription”?
The key is simple modifications, step-by-step, to reach your ultimate goal.
As the Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach at Omnia Health, I’m here to help patients successfully adopt new eating habits, exercise routines, and/or stress-reduction habits. I tell them, “I’m here to be your accountability partner. I’m here to walk alongside you on your health journey.”
Because of the types of issues we treat in our office, patients frequently get a “lifestyle prescription” from Dr. Jacqui and Nurse Practitioner Gia. To clear up symptoms and fully resolve nagging health issues, patients are instructed to make significant lifestyle changes regarding nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction.
For example, patients seeking treatment for unrelenting GI issues may be instructed to go gluten-free or dairy-free (or both). This elimination diet may resolve their health challenge AND help them achieve an overall healthier lifestyle. However, when it comes to changing their diet, a lot of people struggle. If you’re instructed to be 100% gluten-free or dairy-free, it can be really hard!
As their health coach, I guide our patients along the entire path to fulfill their “lifestyle prescription” and achieve their overall health goals. I help our patients take a fresh look at their eating habits and, together, we identify modifications. We set step-by-step milestones and celebrate each step they make toward the goal.
The following tips can help you take simple steps to achieve BIG results.
TIP #1: How to make significant changes to your diet (in a way that actually works).
Let’s say you’ve been having serious, ongoing GI issues. Since gluten and dairy sensitivity are often the root causes of GI symptoms, you decide to adopt a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. For most people, this cannot be done overnight. So let’s take it step-by-step, starting with breakfast.
- Breakfast – Do you have toast every morning? No need to give it up; you can still have toast! Just swap your brand of bread with gluten-free bread. Can you reframe the way you look at your meal? One of my patients absolutely must have cheese in her “everything omelet.” When she’d order an omelet without cheese, it was always a disappointment. I asked her to take a fresh look at her meal. What if she orders a breakfast scramble with eggs, avocados, and green bell peppers? This has all her favorite ingredients, minus the cheese. Now, she enjoys her new breakfast favorite and doesn’t miss the cheese.
- Lunch – What does your typical lunch look like? Where can you make a feasible change? For example, let’s say you usually have a turkey and cheese sandwich, which contains dairy and gluten. Here are a few ideas: Switch to gluten-free bread and lose the cheese. Add lettuce, tomato, and spicy mustard to add interest to your sandwich. Or start making (or ordering) creative, colorful, and interesting salads that are healthy and satisfying.
- Dinner – One of the best “tricks” to switch out dairy and gluten is to add more fruits and vegetables to your dinners. Also, preplanning makes a BIG difference. Make soups and stews on the weekends. And make extra tonight, so you’ll have a meal ready tomorrow night. Don’t hit the “default” button and order a pizza!
TIP #2: Start with just ONE meal, then address the others later.
To further simplify this process (and help ensure success), start by selecting ONE meal such as breakfast. Determine how to make your breakfast gluten-free and dairy-free. Then get into the groove! Next, take a look at lunch or dinner. A lot of full-time workers have trouble with lunch, since they often eat out. These days, it’s fairly easy to be gluten-free and dairy-free in a lot of restaurants. So instead of ordering “the usual,” take a fresh look at the menu. Here’s an idea: If you’re going to a sandwich shop, get a lettuce wrap instead of a bread-based sandwich.
Make simple modifications – and wise choices – to reach your ultimate goal.
For most people, it just isn’t practical to make sweeping lifestyle changes overnight. Ultimately, reaching the 100% mark is the goal, and you can get there. The keys are making simple modifications, taking it step by step, and making wise choices.