We tend to have black and white thinking with most things, and that certainly includes health. I love showing my clients the health continuum, because I feel like it helps them look at health through a different lens. As dietitians, we can really meet people where they’re at from diagnosed diseases to optimal health. Commonly, I see clients are in the “signs and symptoms” phase, and we work towards awareness and growth with the goal of “optimal health”. Wherever you are on the spectrum, noticing the signs, symptoms, and overall problem is a good initial place to start creating an action plan.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms are commonly overlooked or even normalized in today’s world. Whether you choose to ignore them, get used to them, or not look into the problem, it is still your body telling you something. Take these as little uncomfortable and nagging hints or messages from your body signaling that something is wrong. There is a reason why you have them, so look deeper. Not only are they making you feel “off” or just not showing up as your best self, but they could be signs that you are headed towards the “disease” side of the continuum. Acknowledgement and knowing your body is key here. In my practice I often use symptom checklists to assess where we’re at and also look at progress if we’ve been working together.
Awareness and Growth
This is where the coaching comes into play. Awareness doesn’t just mean your body’s signs and symptoms, but also your current habits, goals, ownership over your life, and desire to change. Awareness can bring an actionable game plan to change over time. The growth part is different for everyone. The first step is developing a growth mindset surrounding your health and believing optimal health is possible, instead of just fixing or preventing disease. I always encourage forward thinking here.
The Bottom Line
Let’s ditch the black and white thinking regarding health. Most of us aren’t new to diagnosing and preventing disease, but what’s foreign to most are the gray areas in between. The goal for change and coaching is to assess where you’re at, identify the problem, have your coach meet you where you’re at, and realistically look forward.