When the check-engine light flashes on a vehicle’s dashboard, a man is likely to take the car in for service. But when a warning sign goes off in a man’s body, he might simply ignore it.
A woman often tunes in to a man’s medical issues before he does, and that might be one reason women make three quarters of all medical decisions in the household. Suggesting a visit to the doctor can be tricky, but it usually proves to be a good decision.
Here are some tips on how to encourage healthy habits, and a timely check-up, for those closest to you:
- 1. Plan healthy meals for the whole family. Make it a collective effort, and include yourself in the healthy eating. Transition to meals prepared at home as opposed to eating out all the time. Choose meals from a Mediterranean-based diet that is rich in lean protein and vegetables.
- 2. Encourage your partner to come along on walks and outdoor activities. No time to exercise? Divide exercise time into small chunks.
- 3. Know your numbers. An annual check-up with a primary care doctor can give you important information about your blood pressure levels, your cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index.
- 4. Make essential health benefits work for you. Do you have an opportunity for an annual checkup or a health screening through existing insurance? Use the benefit and encourage him to use it as well.
- 5. Get screened for heart disease and cancer. Ask a primary care doctor about the right screening for your age and risk factors.
- 6. Make healthy weight a priority. Enlist the help of a primary care doctor and/or wellness coach to get to your ideal weight. Challenge each other to stick to the plan.
- 7. Taper off on the drinks. If you drink more than one glass of wine or one beer daily, cut back on your alcohol intake. It puts you at risk of disease and it messes up your diet.
- 8. Quit smoking. Tobacco products of any kind increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer. Help your loved one find help to quit.
- 9. Seek help for depression. If you or a loved one shows signs of depression, find help. Mental wellness is as important as physical well-being.
- 10. Make time to pause on your busy paths and enjoy the simple things.
The same way in which you do scheduled maintenance or your car, do maintenance on your body. Keep that annual physical appointment, follow up on your doctor’s recommendations and ask the people closest to you to do the same.
Good habits are contagious. By setting the example for your partner, you start to move the needle on setting healthy patterns that will benefit everyone at home.
Dr. Martinez-Wittinghan, MD, PhD, from Baptist Primary Care in Nocatee, has a special interest in helping patients break old habits and replace them with healthy habits. He believes understanding and partnership with your doctor are essential to well-being.