Archive for tag: apps

Why You Shouldn't Go on a Diet - The Anti-Diet

Dear NUHS, 

Hope everyone is having a great week and had a wonderful day off! This week I wanted to give you a little background on some things I've been thinking about and working on. It revolves around failing at getting people on diets (and eating healthy). Sound like something we might be doing in practice? 

Diet and Exercise. It's almost cliché. It's the answer to preventing and curing A LOT (if not most) of all the pathologies that will walk into our offices. Everybody and their grandmother's best friend's uncle once removed knows that diet and exercise is good for them. Even chiropractic students are poor eaters and don't exercise. This makes me mad. Not mad, but concerned. If we are supposed to help people live healthy lifestyles and most of the current student body doesn't eat or exercise as well as they should, what makes them think their patients will magically follow them? The rest of this post attempts to answer: WHYYY DOESN'TTT ANYONEEE DO IT?!?!?!?! 

Habits Make Perfect. Overhauls Make Failures. 

Baby Steps is to Walking, as Habits are to Long-Term Fitness/Health 

How did you learn to read and write? How did you learn to ride a bike? Step-by-Step. One skill built on top of the next. Think you can beat Lance Armstrong before you can take off the training wheels? It's going to take more than living strong buddy.... 

Let's imagine that every diet was created equal and could have incredible results if your patient stuck to it. A study found that even when patients were taking LIFE SAVING medicine they were only 50% likely to even take the SAVE THEIR LIVES. That pretty much screws us on fixing their diet and exercise regimes, right? Well, if you look at the problem like everyone else. If you're willing to look at their long-term goals instead of short term, then you can indeed fix it. Let me explain.

An overweight, pre-diabetic, syndrome X patient walks into your office. Clearly, adjusting isn't fixing this one. They need diet and exercise. You put them on a diet and exercise program that they start. Two-three weeks later, they are down 10 lbs., feel great, and their cholesterol is naturally dropping. AWESOME. They are satisfied everything is working and their initial enthusiasm waxes and wanes and suddenly, boom, they fall off the wagon. Sound familiar? Why?

Take a step back and ask what you are asking them to do. You are asking them to change A LOT more than just the food they put in their mouth. You are asking them to change how they SHOP, prepare food, pack their lunch, eat breakfast (which could be a sleep habit change too!), and even change some social situations (like learning how to order healthier options), and many people may have to learn to cook. Wow. Now do you see why the simple answer of diet and exercise has a long-term success rate of about 2%? You can't fix the patient without actually affecting their HABITS. That's the answer.


My Answer: "Do you brush your teeth and wear your seatbelt?"

Them: "Yes. Why?"

Me: "Well, those are considered HEALTHY, but you didn't learn to do that in one day. You developed those HABITS over days, weeks, months, years, and now you don't even notice or think about doing them. They are just a part of your life."

Habitual Evolution 

So, the answer to how to increase the reliability, effectiveness, success rate of your diet and exercise program is to develop habits that evolve your patient's lives. Everyone I've ever interviewed that was a healthy eater consistently, was:

  1. NOT on an "official diet." (They may have started on one, but have tweaked it for their needs and preferences to make it work. Key.)
  2. had educated themselves consistently on the benefits of healthy eating and become knowledgeable. (This helps them reinforce their habits with validation.)
  3. had learned how to shop for healthy food.
  4. had incorporated these habits CONSISTENTLY over a period of time until it became second nature!

Get Started Right Meow! 5 Habits That Change Lives!

  1. Eat 30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking up.
  2. Eat a handful of veggies with every meal.
  3. Stop eating white colored foods: bread, milk, rice, sugar.
  4. Don't drink calories: only water and teas.
  5. Get 8 hours of sleep/night.

When and How to Start a Habit (and When to Advance) 

  1. ONLY, ONLY, ONLY, choose 1 habit at a time. Period. Simple is king to long-term wins.
  2. ONLY choose a habit if you are a "9" on a confidence scale of 1-10 that you will do this habit for 2 weeks.
  3. ONLY ADVANCE to pick another habit once you've done either the current habit every day for 2 weeks or you are confidant 9/10 you can take on the next one. If you miss a day, ADD 3 more days to your 2-week period to complete the habit. The key is to incorporate the habit so much that it becomes second nature.
  4. DOWNLOAD the 'LIFT' app on your Iphone. You can add a habit to your app and then every day you do it, you can click on the check mark and it automatically tracks your results. I LOVE THIS APP AND IT'S FREE. Do it.


Well, that should get you on your way to winning the game of long-term health! Remember: It's not about 30-day diet compliance, it's "in 30 years will you still be eating healthy and exercising?" Focus on habits and the big picture for true disease prevention.

Peace out cub scouts,