The essence of Lifestyle Medicine: A GP Perspective

Primary care & nutrition

Why did you go into the caring profession?

It sounds a bit twee to say I wanted to help people, but that is really what it boils down to for me. I imagine it is the same for many of the medical students at Nutritank too. I wanted to empower people to health, and build relationships with them along the way to facilitate that journey. I am loathe to say it, but the science came second for me at first, although I did find the science fascinating at medical school. In recent years, re-learning how to read a study (especially nutrition studies) has become crucially important!

But when I started in practice, I felt my medical toolbox was only half full. Despite all I had learnt! There were patients I saw who left me feeling there was so much more they needed – if only I knew how to help. Equally, there were patients who made seemingly miraculous recoveries – often through changes in attitude, environment and excitingly for me, through the power of the relationship we had built as clinician and patient partners. What could explain this? How could I get more consistent results? 

In my years of training and working, I began to read about nutrition, the power of community and emotional and spiritual health, therapeutic journaling, counselling, meditation, mindfulness and more. I realised that these were the tools with which to fill my toolbox. To help me bring something more to the people I was seeing each day, desperate for health but not really knowing where to turn. This is the essence of lifestyle medicine for me. And this is why I love the work of Nutritank. You are helping students to apply these incredible prinicples before they even see their first patient.

How can we fit all this into ten minute consults? Well, it’s not easy. But I often comfort myself in the knowledge that my patients genuinely seem prepared to wait when they know they have my full attention.

Plus it’s very rarely just ten minutes. It’s ten minutes many times over the course of a therapeutic relationship. And sometimes all it really takes to create change is a moment, a pin drop, a simple question that flips a patient’s perception of who they are, or what they feel they can achieve. That can be all it takes to bring a little lifestyle magic into your patient’s consultation experience. What a powerful tool to have.

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You can get in touch via Instagram @plantpowerdoctor or her website , she can also be contacted via her Facebook page Dr Gemma Newman.

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