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Family Medicine

by Dr. Randy

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multicultural-family

Although most health related problems and concerns center around one individual, they often involve the whole family. This is especially true for any kind of chronic illness or ongoing problem. The ideal approach is to create a solution that includes other family members. Let’s look at some examples.

Food sensitivities

A child has persistent congestion or a skin eruption with a suspected allergic component.  A reasonable suggestion is to try an elimination diet to reduce inflammation.  That usually means eliminating wheat, dairy, and possibly eggs from the diet. For many families this dietary change involves a huge shift in eating. Siblings may resent the reduction in dairy products, or they may feel badly if they can eat things that their sibling cannot. New shopping lists need to be created with creative replacements for some favorite foods. A discussion about these changes among family members can create a communal sense of caring, cooperation, and empathy.

Learning differences

A learning difference such as difficulties with attention or cognition may have a global effect on the family. Children with ADHD or other behavioral symptoms can cause disruption that affects the family dynamic. Parents may need to devote their attention to disruptive or acting out behaviors that takes their time away from other family activities. Like any potentially destabilizing pattern of symptoms, the entire family will be affected.

Metabolic syndrome

As adults age, they often become less able to produce enzymes and hormones that maintain health. The effects of aging can include decreased ability to process carbohydrates that results in gradually rising fasting blood sugar levels. This is usually discovered on routine blood tests. Other related symptoms may be present as well, including weight gain, digestive problems, and high blood pressure. These are all warning signs of future serious health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Often there is also a family history of these problems. A holistic treatment plan includes diet changes and increased exercise as well as targeted nutritional supplements. These lifestyle changes will affect the entire family. Shopping lists, meal plans, and schedules will need to change. Switching to a whole foods diet with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables and limited starches may be a significant change for a lot of families. An exercise regimen and taking regular nutritional supplements adds more discipline to families’ already busy schedules.

The Plan

  1. Focus on positive solutions. This is an opportunity to improve the health of the entire family. Whether it’s more exercise, more sleep, or a better diet, these improvements will benefit everyone. Illness is an opportunity to correct imbalances and prevent patterns of behavior that foster symptoms.
  2. Communicate about the program. This is an opportunity to communicate and create a sense of community. Have an open family discussion about the program.
  3. Involve all family members. Make this an educational experience. Family members can support each other and share the project of improving health and improving discomfort. Everyone can learn how to make life more productive and happier, whether the issue is illness, emotional problems, or preventive health. Sharing the experience will create stronger bonds in the family and everyone will benefit.
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