Having been in the field of nutrition nearly 30 years, I know what nutrition can and cannot do for the body. I read research studies about fiber and gut health and potassium and blood pressure. I recognize that hydration may aid with reducing constipation and that too much caffeine causes insomnia. I know more than the average bear as this is what I do. Nutrition is my bread and butter, my meat and potatoes. Puns intended.
I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for close to 25 years. While gluten-free and other restrictive diets have worked for some people, I have tried them with moderate success, but still require chronic medication to keep me feeling somewhat normal. This is something I have accepted and have no issue doing. I am so thankful for insurance coverage to pay for my medication. Without it, I’d be in pretty bad shape.
I am a healthcare professional in a wellness field. I weigh 130 lbs and exercise regularly. I don’t look ill. But you can’t judge a book by its cover. Having 2 parents with diabetes put me at high risk for diabetes and at the age of 50, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. My doctor told me I could try no medication for 6 months, but with my weight being normal and exercise being regular, there was not much wiggle room. My blood sugar is in good control with diet, exercise AND meds. I need medication and I am not ashamed to admit it, yet when I tell people my situation, they are in shock. Why?
Why do people feel defeated when they need medication? Do they feel like a failure if they get a sinus infection and need antibiotics? Do they get angry for having a migraine and needing medication to help it? It’s as if it’s their fault that they got arthritis, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. And again, while diet therapy can help control these chronic issues, medication has its place and thank God we have it.
This month, I had blood drawn for my annual physical. I’ll admit, I had cookies over the holidays and my share of cheese but did not go overboard. In fact, my weight did not change and neither did my exercise level. But, you can’t outrun your heredity. My cholesterol is close to 240 and LDL (“lousy”) cholesterol is nearly 150. With a chronic inflammatory illness and family history of heart disease, my risk for heart disease is higher than most.
So, guess what? My doctor practically insisted that I start medicine to lower my cholesterol. Am I happy about it? No. But do I want to have a heart attack or need bypass surgery in the next 10 years? Definitely not. I will continue to eat a healthy diet to help reduce my risk of getting diabetes and heart disease. I will continue to exercise to maintain decent joint function and keep my weight in check. Dietitians are not super humans. We are people with chronic diseases just like the clients we help. We recognize that diet therapy can only do so much. And that is OK.