You Owe It To Your Patients To Teach Them How To Eat.

It’s wonderful to have a healthcare system and medications available to us in Canada like we do.  As pharmacists we are a key part of a chain that gets these medications to those that need it.  Depending on what list you look at, our life expectancy on this planet ranges from 4th to 10th.  Pretty good.  The United States has the same medications but because of a handful of States with really bad diet (in the South), the life expectancy for that country drops to  35th to 43rd .  How can that be?  The same medications and in most cases a healthcare system that advertises itself in a competitive environment so as to be available to anyone.  Why the huge discrepancy in life expectancy?  This speaks to the huge impact that diet and exercise can have on your life even when you have any medication available for any medical condition.

What do I tell my customers to quantify this relationship between diet and exercise and medication and how it relates to their life expectancy.  I tell them that at best, ½ of their health comes from their medication use, the other half is diet and exercise.  Where did I come up with this number?  Well truthfully I pretty much came up with it off the top of my head, although I have heard this number in various settings before.  Now before any number cruncher looking for a reference out there needs verification of this number before they read any further, let’s agree with the premise that the actual number means less than at least agreeing that diet and exercise are important, let’s say you think it is only 10% important.  That’s fine.  We agree that it is important.  Personally, I think diet is more important marginally than exercise but both are needed.

A couple of years ago I was lucky to stumble across a contact, Cheryl Heppard, a dietitian who had branched out to lead generation.  She had developed a script of a walk through in a grocery store for healthy eating.  I added a few things to this script myself and spent a few months taping with the help of a small local crew at the local grocery store that was gracious enough to let us do this.  After another couple of months of post-production work we were finished.  There really didn’t seem to be any point in packaging this up in a form that I would sell to anyone.  I put this on YouTube and continually reference it as a free service of how you should eat.  One of my best lines from the tour is, “In order to eat in a healthy way you need to prepare your own meals at home, and in order to do this you need to go to the grocery store and you need to know what to buy”

These 42 minutes of video cover most sections of the store and can be found at:

Of course I learned volumes in doing this video.  My eyes were opened up to the category of Sea Vegetables, a family of various types of food that have so much health value in them.  Of course there is mention of organic food but this is not an “eat organic” sermon at all.

You may question why so much of the grocery store is covered when we really should be focusing on the outer perimeter of the store for the healthiest food.  Truthfully, there are healthy choices when you dive into the interior of the store and secondly, customers will wonder into this part of the store anyway.  If they find themselves there for some type of variety they should have some sort of guidance as to what type of food helps and what doesn’t.  Areas like coffee and tea, snack foods, grains, nuts and seeds, pasta, cereals, frozen foods, spices, various types of milk and so on are covered and the benefits and pitfalls are mentioned.

Overall, we owe it to our patients to inform them of every way we are aware of to keep them healthy for as long as possible.  Medication alone cannot do this.  Believe it or not, sometimes a healthy diet and some exercise can result in the removal of some medications from your customer’s profile.   Where’s the money in that?  I can tell you from experience that if this way of thinking becomes your belief, then it becomes a magnet to your customers and potential customers.  If you are a customer and your pharmacist is determined on getting you off of medications, do you think this will instil a feeling of trust in that customer towards you?  I am proof that this really does happen.  You can gain customers by believing strongly enough in a concept and still make a profit, even if that concept involves volumes of free information and removing medications from that patient.

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