• Diana Price - Dietitian Nutritionist

What is a Health Advocate?

Updated: Nov 7


If you are reading this, I’m guessing there’s someone in your life coping with a chronic health issue. Maybe it’s you and you just need some guidelines for support.


Believe me, I know it’s overwhelming, frustrating, and downright scary! I’ve been on both sides of this equation. So, let’s discuss what it means to be a health advocate.

My daughter was diagnosed with Crohn's in January 2022. Our journey taught me a lot about what it means to be the parent of a young adult and an advocate.

You may know I have celiac disease. My kids have been screened for celiac regularly. I had my eye on that ball! But inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) snuck up on us. Apparently, our genes include more jokers than I thought! Luckily, we caught her IBD early, but not without a few hurdles.

  • Amanda did not have a regular doctor! She was too old for her pediatrician. ➡ Pro Tip: Get yourself a primary care physician! They can help expedite appointments.

  • She is over 18! HIPAA makes parents of young adults insane including me!

  • She lives 3 hours away!

  • She didn’t have the time or energy to research doctors.

  • It is very, very difficult to get an appointment with a gastroenterologist QUICKLY! See Pro Tip!

Thankfully, there was a cancellation, and she ended up being diagnosed 6-weeks before her “first appointment.

So, what is a health advocate? Their role is to assist and support a patient. They can be a parent, spouse, relative, or friend. Anyone trusted! You should be discreet, empathetic and respect the person’s decisions for treatment.


Four Tips for Health Advocates


I have a lot of clients that invite their spouse, partner, or parent to our appointments. These people are advocates. Here are my top four tips..


Don’t Judge.

Chronic gut issues are tricky and complicated even if you have a diagnosis. Often treatment will be a balance between diet, supplements, and medicine, along with lifestyle – sleep, stress management, and exercise. P.S. Did you there is a link between gluten and IBD.


What seems right for you may not be reasonable for the person you are advocating. Remember, there are usually several treatment options for most diseases and/or conditions. For success, the patient must commit to the treatment plan. The person needs to select the treatment that provides them with the flexibility to live their life as they desire right now.


Communicate.

It’s important to have two-way communication with the person you are advocating. Use open-ended questions – “what”, “how” “tell me…”, or describe…” This allows you to better understand the person’s situation. Be collaborative. In case you need to speak on their behalf.


Communication with the health care team is important too. You will need to sign a HIPAA release form for this level of communication.


Having two people hear the discussion and making sure they both understand ensures you have the information needed to decide on a practical treatment plan. Don’t be afraid to take notes, record conversations, or ask for a second opinion. If additional information is needed to make an informed treatment decision, do not hesitate to ask for additional tests, labs, or a second opinion.


Insurance provides its own headaches. Communicate with insurance to confirm that healthcare providers, laboratories, surgery centers, and medication are covered by their insurance plan.

Help Out.

The function of the digestive tract is to turn food into molecules that our cells can use for energy, maintenance, growth and repair, and waste products. End result - gut issues can take you down hard.


What can you do to reduce the stress? The opportunities are endless, but here are a few ideas.

  • Schedule appointments

  • Manage the frustrations of insurance

  • Pick up prescriptions and supplements

  • Make nutrient-dense meals

  • Laundry, cleaning, managing the kids, running errands


Be Patient.

Healing takes time. You will not see results overnight. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. A food journal is my #1 tool for optimizing gut health. A journal brings awareness to exactly what we are eating and how it affects our bodies.

Optimizing gut health is about finding balance with foods that make your digestion happy, feed your microbiome and actively listen to your gut. When all three areas are balanced, you can unlock lasting change in your health and well-being.


Your gut microbiome and digestion are unique. This means that your gut-friendly foods and lifestyle are unique too. Using a Food Journal will help you customize your ideal diet. Get my FREE Food Journal today.


Final Thoughts


Chronic health issues are overwhelming, frustrating, and scary!


A health advocate, whether it’s a family member or friend, is a great way to get additional support to ensure that healing becomes the #1 priority. Advocates must be nonjudgmental, able to communicate effectively, willing to step up, and be patient. It is also important to respect the person’s decision about treatment.

Amanda’s journey has had its fair share of bumps, but she has made changes to her diet that have made an impact! She is working on perfecting that balance between diet, supplements, medication, and lifestyle. I think she’s pretty close! P.S. Did you know there is a link between gluten and IBD? It's not as straight forward as celiac disease, but it's definitely something to consider.

I know the power of nutrition! I have real-life experience as a patient and a parent. I offer personalized 1-on-1 nutrition counseling services. With the client’s permission, an advocate can join too.


To learn more about optimizing your digestive health, book a free discovery call with a gut health nutritionist.

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