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What ways do you educate your patient about healthy living choices?

Specializes in CCU, Geriatrics, Critical Care, Tele.

"But, it doesn't taste good without cheese, bacon, and french fries". As Nursing Students, you may hear this a lot. You are taught the healthy way to eat. Now, you get to apply that knowledge to real life and try and convince your reticent patients that some things are just not good for them. What ways do you educate your patient about healthy living choices?

Edited by Joe V


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

Having made dietary changes to improve my own health after dealing with obesity and high blood pressure in my 20s, I understand the resistance and challenges. My focus, first and foremost, is on emphasizing that people need to make changes that work for THEIR life. I tell them that I can encourage them to join a gym and run on the treadmill until I'm blue in the face, but it won't make them WANT to do it. I tell them to think outside of the box, and ask them what THEY like to do or eat. I do a lot of health screenings, so I have these conversations a lot with people, and I have found that this approach and sometimes sharing my own story (briefly) really lets the guard down. Of course I can't get through to everyone, but I have seen people leave motivated to make changes. I ask about their lifestyle, work, whether they have access to a fridge or microwave at work, if they will actually COOK or not, things like that. Some people are just plain not going to eat salads or eat leftovers, so we have to work together to find a solution that works for THEM. One of the big rules of nursing- listen to your patients. They are the experts.

Personally, I find it's helpful to ask them what they normally like to eat, and then perhaps make suggestions towards healthier modifications. A lot of the time, people have misconstrued ideas regarding what is healthy. They just don't know; they never received the education, and they trust the labels on their food products more than they ought to.

At a senior center, I performed a demonstration alongside a few of my classmates -- we took a few items they knew and loved, iced teas, juices, yogurts, granola bars -- and measured out the grams of sugar and put that sugar in clear plastic bags for them to visualize. They were shocked at how much sugar they'd been ingesting from these snacks and foods that they thought were "healthier" options. They were also shocked to learn some of their favorite juices and teas had just as much sugar as a can of coke. We then demonstrated similar but healthier food choices. They loved the demonstration; it was more effective than simply talking AT them about healthy eating.

No Stars In My Eyes

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN.

There is also the opposite, the ones and/or their friends/family who believes that healthy eating and living is the ONLY answer to their disease, and they do not want to "do pharmaceuticals" to help their condition resolve or treat their chronic condition. "If you would only give up sugar, you wouldn't need that Paxil." (for long-term clinical depression), or "All you have to do is Pray" (for paraplegia), or, "There is no such thing as fibromyalgia, you just want the drugs. If you would only_____________(fill in the blank with whatever extreme theory) you would get over thinking you have that made-up crap".


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