Every chiropractors face this demon: You have successfully addressed a patient’s symptom- based complaints and now your patient wants more.
They like you, but for them to take the next step and invest in true healthcare, you must provide them with a compelling and logical reason why. So, they give you an opportunity to keep the relationship going by asking you a simple question.
What should I eat to lose weight, look better, and feel better?
The next words out of your mouth set the stage for your future relationship with this patient. There are thousands of diet regimens, ranging from paleo to Atkins. How do you know which diet will fit this individual’s needs?
If you get their diet right, you look like a genius and you have a patient who will stay, pay, and refer other quality patients just like them. If you get it wrong, you are just like the rest of the symptom-based doctors and they will find another provider.
The body is organized in a hierarchy and all three levels must be considered when customizing a patients’ diet.
First, an individual’s dietary needs are influenced at the systemic level (the nervous system, digestive system, etc.).
Second, the gland and organ level (stomach, pancreas, liver, etc.) plays a specific role in nutritional uptake and must also be considered. Hormones are the communication mechanism of glands and organs and are also strongly influenced by nutrition.
Finally, the tissue and cellular level (membranes, blood, and nucleus) dictates energy production and modulates epigenetic factors that are also significantly influenced by diet.
So, are you ready to answer their simple question?
Research dating back to the early 1920s by Francis Marion Pottenger, Sr., MD, demonstrated that the autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls all smooth muscle and secretory functions.1He theorized the ANS also controls an individual’s dietary requirements. In his book, he describes his findings from more than 20 years of research on dietary effects of the ANS.
In the late 1960s, William Kelly, DDS, began to formulate a complete nutritional system based on creating balance in the ANS. He states, “It is much like taking a shower, a ‘just right’ balance between the hot and cold water. It must be emphasized however, that the ‘just right’ balance of hot and cold water is not the same for everyone.”2
From the 1970s through the 1990s, the focus on gland- and organ-level diets exploded. These different diet plans focused on specific aspects of the gland and organ relationship to nutrition. The problem was that they lumped every human into the same bucket. The Atkins Diet was introduced in 1972, the Paleo Diet in 1975, the Scarsdale Diet in 1978, and the Pritikin program in 1979. In addition, Elliot D. Abravanel, MD, popularized the Body Type Diet in 1983, and in 1996, people turned to the blood type diet by Peter D’Adamo, MD.
Each author contended if everyone ate the way their book described, they would look better, feel better, and live longer. Of course, the people who failed “just weren’t following the plans closely enough.”
Wolcott and Fahey first described the next evolution of this nutritional puzzle in 2000.3 Wolcott worked as a medical director in Kelley’s clinic and further refined Kelley’s work. He found some people were autonomic dominant and others were oxidative dominant.
This is when the term “metabolic typing” was first introduced.
Wolcott was the first to describe the nine pieces of the complete metabolic jigsaw puzzle. This puzzle includes: autonomic, endocrine, oxidative, acid versus alkaline, blood, a constitutional typing, electrolyte, prostaglandin, and catabolic and anabolic balance.3
All nine pieces of this jigsaw puzzle must be considered to create the proper diet plan for any individual.
So is it any wonder your patient’s simple question can cause such anxiety for you?
The best answer to this question is “I don’t know, but let’s find out.” Using a focused specialized consultation, technology, and in-office testing, a customized diet plan can become the cornerstone of functional membership in your practice.
Functional medicine membership programs have become the new buzz topic in chiropractic and traditional medicine. Memberships are cash-based and focus on value, not the number of patient visits. Patients are often tired of not having a personal relationship with their doctor. But with membership, they become part of your tribe.
A focused specialized consultation uncovering short- and long-term health goals is the cornerstone of a functional membership practice. This communication skill takes time to develop.
Discovering the underlying reason the patient wants to live longer, look better, and feel better is not an easy task. Until your patient begins to speak from the heart, your membership program won’t be successful.
Technological advances also allow patients to complete detailed questionnaires to assess all three levels of complexity of a customized diet, while also creating the ability to stay connected with their providers on their smartphone, tablet, or PC. You can provide them recipes, grocery lists, fitness videos, appointment reminders, and educational videos to keep them connected to your practice.
Low cost in-office technology can be used to objectively quantify the questionnaire results. Body composition analysis is a great example of objective data that can demonstrate results and keep patients motivated about their health journey.
The practice of the future will only provide symptom-based care initially. Value-based education from you will expand your patients’ worldview and open their eyes to what is possible for their health. This leads to self-discovery of what your practice can truly offer them. This in turn opens the door for them to explore your customized health recovery membership. Combining technology with old-fashioned meaningful communication can provide them with a seamless way to invest in their future health.
The next time your patient asks you a simple question about their diet, think about the fabulous opportunity you have just been given to provide them with life-changing information. But few practitioners have the capacity to answer that question quickly and effectively. Won’t it be great when you provide them with a research-based nutrition plan that can be objectively tracked to make sure it works?
By using enhanced communication skills, technology, and in-office testing, you have just opened the door to a new functional member in your practice.
Bring on that simple question.
Bill Hemmer, DC, has been in private practice for more than 28 years. his passion for chiropractic began with a cervical compression fracture at age 15. He has expanded his practice to include customized health recovery plans within his functional membership to meet the needs of a changing healthcare environment. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Pottenger FM. (1944). Symptoms of Visceral Disease, A Study of the Vegetative Nervous System in Its Relationship to Clinical Medicine. (6th ed.). St. Louis: C.V. Mosby Co.
2 Kelley WD. (1977) Self Test for Different Metabolic Types. The Healthview Newsletter.
3 Wolcott WL, Fahey T. (2000). The Metabolic Typing Diet: Customize your Diet to: Free yourself from food cravings, achieve your ideal weight, enjoy high energy and robust health, prevent and reverse disease. New York: Harmony Books.