In the middle of Kroger, I was grappled with the hardest decision I had to make today:
Should I buy cake or should I buy strawberries?
As someone who struggles to eat healthy, you can guess the decision I made.
The ironic part is that I counseled two patients on healthy eating habits today, but it’s telling that even I, the physician who told them to eat better, can’t make the right decisions when faced with very. delicious. red velvet cake.
My clinic is in the VA, so I get reminders that tell me to counsel patients on obesity and healthy eating habits. I’ll be honest, it’s not something I’m good at yet. I don’t even make healthy decisions myself – how do I convince people to do something that I don’t even do? Today, my patient told me, “I can diet easier in the winter. It’s the summer that’s hard – all the cookouts. I don’t want to be the odd one out not eating a hamburger.” I found myself thinking, “I totally agree.” But I’m not allowed to agree as their physician – I had to tell him that he could still participate in picnics and get togethers, but choose the veggies instead of the chips or the fruit instead of the dessert. The patient told me, “I’ve got all the books and all the pamphlets. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I just have to do it.” And that’s the real struggle – finding the motivation to do what you should do.
How do I cultivate that motivation in my patients? How do I cultivate that motivation in myself? It probably starts out as baby steps. I asked him how much weight he thinks he could lose by the time he saw me again in 3 months. He decided 10 lbs. Maybe I should join him. I’ll make my goal to eat fruit instead of sweets half the week.
Baby steps. Next time I’ll choose the strawberries.