New Year’s Resolution: Manage Your Chronic Condition Without Meds

If you have any sort of chronic pain or condition, try putting this at the top of your list of resolutions for the New Year: “Ask my doctor how I can get off my meds!” What many people achieve through medication often can be even better accomplished through lifestyle.

Dietary changes

Food is the ultimate medicine. If you eat according to what you need, you may not need to supplement your diet at all.

Let’s look at iron as an example. Most of us ingest iron naturally through foods we eat. Your body likes the iron in dark chocolate as much as you like the taste of it! Spinach, bread and lentils also are good suppliers of iron. But as we grow older, our bodies become less adept at absorbing iron. An annual physical may reveal an iron deficiency, causing your doctor to hand you a prescription for a supplemental iron medication.

medication chronic disease management

Be your own health advocate

Some doctors will talk to you about getting iron through food. But even if the doctor doesn’t bring it up, you don’t have to simply accept a prescription. Try this:

  1. Propose to your doctor a 3-month trial of lifestyle change, and make a followup appointment for three months from this point.
  2. During the next three months, take the prescribed medication while simultaneously making an effort to get more iron naturally from your diet.
  3. At the followup appointment, the doctor will do a fresh test and report your new iron levels. If they’re appropriate for your age, the doctor will likely suggest either weaning you off the medication or stopping it right then. Great job!

This same approach can be applied to handling high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other chronic conditions, even more serious ones. If you’re suffering from a sore back or “bad knees,” try a weight-loss program and see whether that alone alleviates your pain.

Don’t forget exercise! Chronic pain can come from too much sitting still. Get up and move, and watch your physical and mental conditions improve. It’s a conversation worth having with your doctor so that this new year will be your best ever!

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