To Your Health
July, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 07)
What You Can Do
Ask your doctor about TLC - it isn't just good for patients, it's also good business for doctors. Your doctor might already be considering it. If not, ask for a referral to another health care professional who practices TLC. You also can ask your employer. Your employer might offer wellness benefits in the form of health insurance coverage or a corporate wellness program. Additionally, ask your tax professional if you can pay for TLC using pre-tax dollars available from an employer-sponsored flexible spending account or federal health savings account.
TLC has been shown to be a powerful tool for the prevention, management, and reversal of many of our most prevalent chronic diseases. Those who participate in a TLC program have the opportunity to protect or regain health for better, more enjoyable living.
Time for a Little TLC
A therapeutic lifestyle changes program (TLC) teaches wellness habits such as healthier eating and regular physical activity, with the goal of achieving health that lasts a lifetime. TLC should not be confused with weight-loss programs or diets. Where these programs generally fail, TLC has been remarkably successful in helping people achieve long-term results. An optimal TLC program should include the following:
- Professional supervision. If you're considering a TLC programs, work with a licensed health care provider who can assess your current health status, establish goals and develop a step-by-step plan for achieving those goals. Regular follow-up visits will allow progress to be tracked and any necessary adjustments to be made.
- A team approach. The supervising health care provider also might bring in additional team members such as a dietitian, fitness trainer or other allied health professionals or staff to educate and inspire you regarding diet and lifestyle changes.
- Long-term health focus. Ideal TLC eating plans go beyond merely counting calories. A sensible nutritional regimen could include lessons on how foods are metabolized, cooking classes, and how you can incorporate nutrition and exercise into your daily routines.
- Body composition focus. This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp, but it's true: While weight loss might occur, it's secondary to achieving a healthy body composition (lean muscle-to-fat ratio) through healthier eating and exercise.
- Comprehensive lifestyle counseling. This could include things such as recommendations or referrals for dietary supplements, stress management, adequate sleep and behavior modification.
Jeffrey S. Bland, PhD, is a nutritional biochemist and author of several books on nutritional medicine. He is chief science officer for a manufacturer of science-based nutraceuticals and foods.