Health Care: Don’t Stop at Your Diagnosis

food-as-medicine functional nutrition Nov 24, 2019

I work with many clients who come to me with various diagnoses…labels that define a collection of symptoms, lab results, past histories, and current ailments. These are outward descriptions of underlying problems.

While a diagnosis can give insight into how to move toward better health, it shouldn’t be your only decision-maker. It shouldn’t decide how you begin caring for yourself nor should it choose the tools that you use. Don’t stop at your diagnosis!

Now don’t get me wrong! I’m all for seeking out necessary and appropriate medical care, along with a diagnosis, when it’s needed. A diagnosis can be critical to obtaining necessary medical treatments, and many of those couldn’t be obtained without the financial reimbursement that the diagnosis provides. I just think that most of us tend to hear a diagnosis and we want to treat that. Instead, we need to take a step back and ask Who am I treating?”

Functional Medicine is a way of practicing medicine and health care that “determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.” (from the IFM website)

Each individual. Did you get that?

You are an individual. You are not a diagnosis.

You are unique, and your health care should be too.

Health care asks “WHO are we treating?” and goes beyond a diagnosis.

Disease management asks “WHAT are we treating?” and stops with a diagnosis.

As a functional dietitian/nutritionist–and one who truly wants to care for your health–I start with the who. Who are you? What has made you into who you are right now? What events, illnesses, and conditions from your yesterdays paved the road to where you are today? Let me hear your backstory!

You can’t get to a healthier tomorrow if you don’t know what it is that got you to today. Maybe three patients have the same diagnosis, but what got each one here? When it comes to your diagnosis, you need to go digging for those unhealthy roots to answer that question so you can be sure that you’re treating the right problem.

Let’s take overall fatigue and daily lack of energy…symptoms I see frequently in many of my clients. Some bring the formal diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue, but that’s a dead-end term for many practitioners…and patients. With no guaranteed treatment solutions, Chronic Fatigue is a lonely diagnosis. “You’ve just got to move more and then you’ll feel better!” If that worked, why are so many still suffering? Something has to be causing it, and we need to find the something!

  • Your unending fatigue could be rooted in nutrient deficiencies. When you lack adequate vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, and nutrients, your cells can’t make or use the “food” they need to function. That leaves you tired because your cells and energy producers are basically starving!
  • Someone else’s continual exhaustion could be caused by multiple food sensitivities. His immune system is “fighting” foods all day, and that takes the same toll as if it’s constantly fighting a full-blown flu. Tell me that won’t drain you!
  • Still, another’s constant drain could be from hormonal dysfunction. Under-active thyroid…tired adrenals…uncontrolled stress hormones…unbalanced female hormones. These all do a delicate dance together, and when they aren’t in sync, guess who feels the disharmony?

And the root causes sure don’t stop there! Like those of a pesky dandelion, your roots can go deep and there are many to dig for. When you receive a template treatment plan or medication based simply on your surface diagnosis, you’ll likely never get to the true source of your pain and discomfort. You might never recover the energy you need to get through your workday, enjoy time with friends and family, or feel like your vibrant self again. You might be able to mask symptoms with medications, but you’ll likely never be healed.

You might just have to accept this as your new normal.

Well, that’s not ok!!

Never think you have to settle for normal over optimal.

Keep going deeper to discover the CAUSE of your uncomfortable symptoms, abnormal lab results, and examine how your individual history is playing in. Don’t keep treating your diagnosis…your “what.” True health care examines you, treats you, and cares for you.

You are worth caring for! 

If you’d like to share your story with me, I’d love to hear it! Comment below or click here so you can schedule a time for us to talk. However you do it, I hope you seek a path that goes beyond your diagnosis so you can experience true healing soon.

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