Integrative Nutrition Blog

The Real Questions Your Doctor Should Be Asking You

September 25, 2015

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When people experience a headache or indigestion, I often see that their first instinct is to reach for a prescription or pill. 

There are many times, of course, when medical intervention is necessary and life saving, and I’m grateful to the doctors, nurses, and incredible medical advances that have done so much for people’s health.

But there are also many times when the explanation is much deeper and more complicated than what you can find in a textbook or diagnosis chart. 

I remember years ago, a woman I coached had crippling irritable bowel syndrome. She had run many invasive tests, radically changed her diet, and yet she was still constantly running to the bathroom and was often bedridden with painful cramps. She found the condition so severe and so embarrassing that she didn’t want to go on dates or even spend time out with friends. 

During our first session, she revealed that she worked extremely long hours under an abusive boss, lived in constant fear of getting fired, and found her work uninspiring and boring to boot. The more we talked it over, the more she identified a connection between her IBS flare-ups and work stress. 

A few months later, she found a new job – and almost miraculously, her digestion began to improve. 

This was just one case of many I observed while working with clients. Over the years I’ve seen people heal medical issues by falling in love, reconciling with an estranged sibling, or practicing yoga. They had great doctors by their side, but the ultimate “cure” wasn’t anything medical. 

This is what I call primary food – all the factors in your life that feed you beyond the food on your plate. Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and feed your hunger for life. And these factors are so important to every aspect of your health. 

That’s why I instantly identified with this article from IIN visiting teacher Dr. Lissa Rankin – The Critical Thing Your Doctor Needs to Know – and Probably Doesn’t. 

She describes a patient similar to the young woman I coached years ago, and decided to start asking her patients questions that most doctors don’t ask:

  • Is anything keeping you from being the most authentic, vital you?
  • Are you in a romantic relationship? If so, are you happy? If not, do you wish you were?
  • Are you fulfilled at work? Do you feel like you’re in touch with your life purpose? Do you enjoy the people you work with?
  • Do you express yourself creatively?
  • Do you feel financially healthy or is money a stressor in your life?
  • Do you feel connected to a divine source?
  • Are you in touch with your authentic sexual self?
  • What rules do you follow that you wish you could break?
  • What might lie at the root of your health condition?
  • What does your body need in order to heal? 

Imagine if any one of these questions were on the intake form at your next appointment – how incredible would that be? 

Have you ever identified an emotional component to a medical condition you experienced? Have you ever healed yourself, by yourself? I’d love to hear about your experience – let me know in the comments section below!

Joshua Rosenthal, Founder, Director, and Primary Teacher of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition shares his wisdom about creating a healthy and happy life that helps transform the world. 

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