How to decide what to do and what not to do for your health. Because we are constantly facing health decisions and marketing experts hope that we make one choice over another. A personal health strategy will make health decisions easier.
It’s tough enough making decisions about our health but it’s even tougher when you’re a digital nomad or expat in a new healthcare system.
Making Health Decisions
Whether we want to or not, we are constantly making health decisions whether it is about what time to go to bed or which foods to eat at the restaurant or what to add or not to add to our coffee.
These things can sometimes be overwhelming. But if we have a proper health strategy, it makes these health decisions easier.
The example we use for our patients is that someone who’s a vegan just made their decision matrix much simpler. If they go to a restaurant, they have only a couple of options to choose from. It doesn’t mean that they are going to choose the healthy item, but at least their decision strategy is simpler.
An Individual Health Strategy
Your physician can help you come up with your own individual health strategy but they cannot define it for you. The reason is that we are all unique and individual health decisions affect each human body differently.
Sleep might need to be a top priority for one person, while diet may need to be much more strict for another.
1. What to Eat
We know that our diet affects our health. The question is how sensitive your body is to your dietary changes. That is something that most of us have already discovered by the time we are adults.
For some people, fatty foods will cause diarrhea and result in a sleepless night. For others, having a lot of sugar will cause them to break out and feel very fatigued or gain weight.
A personal health strategy helps you to decide what foods you’re going to eat and what foods you’re going to minimize or avoid.
We help our patients create a yellow-green-red light food list. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s okay if you run this, then red light. But ideally, we like to stick to it whenever possible.
And remember that perfection is the enemy of progress.
2. How to Exercise
We know that being active is important. Whether you like to call it exercise or just being active, it’s helpful and necessary to have a mixture of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training.
For our patients who can plan out their weeks, we usually recommend leaving certain days and times available for exercise.
For patients with chaotic work weeks, we recommend getting in some walking exercises and some stretching along with some resistance training using exercise bands.
3. What Medications to Take
This might seem straightforward, but should you take over the count of medications like ibuprofen, allergy medications, or sinus medications?
Some of our patients tell us this is their gateway drug. The reason they say that is because once you get comfortable with taking over-the-counter medications, you find yourself in a spiral where you’re willing to take any other medication that is prescribed.
Instead, a better strategy is to scrutinize every single prescription or medication or any substance that you put into your body. And with the help of your physician, decide whether it is the right choice for you.
This is especially important with chemicals that work on one very specific pathway.
4. What Tests to Do
The doctor orders an MRI or you read that you need a PSA test or mammogram – how to decide which you should pursue and which you shouldn’t?
Given all the information out there that says mammograms lead to overdiagnoses or that we aren’t doing enough breast MRIs, the only way to know what’s right for you is to know what your health goals are.
For some of my patients, knowing if there is even a single cancer cell in their body is very important. For others, they know they don’t want chemo or radiation, and so the decision is more centered around how to avoid cancers.
The conversation is nuanced so having that deep discussion with your doctor is quite helpful.
5. Which Doctors to See
Do you need a Sports Medicine doctor? What about the Vascular Surgeon? There are so many specialists and even sub-specialists that it’s helpful to know when to go to whom or whether at all.
Specialists have a very narrow but deep funds of knowledge. They are fine-tuned hammers that view most things as a nail.
A good Primary Care doctor can help you decide when a specialist is necessary and what information you need from them.