Should Your Doctor Know What You Eat?

Many people bring in a list of medications to their doctor visits to make sure that their doctor has up-to-date information about the various treatments they may be receiving. This helps the doctor get a more complete look at a patient’s health.

But what about what you eat? Is that important for your doctor to know? Do they care if you take supplements or a multi-vitamin with vitamin C? Do they need to know if you are vegetarian? The answer is a resounding YES!

Just like medications, dietary habits and preferences can affect your health. There are several reasons why it’s important to share with your doctor everything that is going into your body. Here are just a few examples:

  • A combination of a certain supplement and a prescription medication may not be the best for you. Some combinations of supplements and prescriptions may actually worsen side effects.
  • Diet changes such as cutting back on calories may mean that you need a smaller dose of medication, particularly if the reduction in calories has caused any weight loss.
  • Talking about what you are eating lets your doctor know what your goals are. For example, if you are trying to lower the salt in your meal plan and you have high blood pressure, your doctor will be able to monitor your blood pressure with more accurate information since they know you already took the initiative to make some dietary changes.
  • Having an open conversation about what dietary changes you are making allows for a more productive conversation with your physician about what you are willing to do and how they can help. A lot of people are afraid to talk about their weight with their doctor for fear of judgement, but you are there to receive total care. The reality of what obstacles you are facing gives your physician an opportunity to offer additional strategies to help you reach your goals.
  • There may be certain types of restrictive meal plans that are not appropriate given your medical history.
  • There may be resources in the area that you aren’t aware of that will help you make the dietary changes you are trying to achieve.
  • Based on your lab work, some meal plan changes may not be right for you and talking with your physician about them will help get you on the right track.

Your health is important, not only to you but to your whole health care team. The medication list, dietary changes and supplements are all pieces of the puzzle. Talking about your diet with your healthcare team gives everyone a much more complete picture of your goals and how you are working to achieve them. Even with today’s technology, it’s important that you be your own best advocate, and share information with your doctor that will help with prevention and proper care.

Jennifer Gilliland is an outpatient dietitian with ProMedica and a professional clinical counselor. She enjoys talking with people about the behavioral side of eating as well as educating people on the healthiest food choices.

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