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How even little white lies can compromise your health.

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It seems harmless enough. You’re at the doctor’s office and you decide to make up a few white lies about your daily habits. Maybe it’s easier to say you head to the gym three times a week rather than hearing a lecture about why you shouldn’t sit on the couch after work. Or you might be embarrassed to talk about how many drinks you have with dinner each night or that your go-to “snack” is a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

If you’re not being completely honest with your doctor, the only one you’re hurting is you – and if you’re choosing to exaggerate or avoid the truth, you’re certainly not alone. It’s estimated that at least one-quarter of people aren’t completely honest with their healthcare providers. But being straightforward about your habits is not something to be embarrassed about. It’s an important component of staying healthy.

Here are a few things you should speak about openly and honestly with your doctor:

      • Your lifestyle. Don’t make it seem like you’re a kale lover when you’re gobbling up cookies every chance you get. Or that you work out religiously when you don’t like to move. Or that you quit smoking when you didn’t. Telling your doctor what he or she wants to hear won’t make you any healthier. But discussing what may be stopping you from leading a healthier lifestyle can result in helpful advice that may get you started on the right track.
      • How you feel. Whether you’re noticing you have more aches and pains than you used to, are feeling unusually sluggish when you’re active or are feeling down in the dumps and don’t know why, it’s important to tell your doctor. Some symptoms, even minor, may be a sign that something is wrong. Sharing this information is the first step to keeping you healthier.
      • Your meds. If you’re prescribed medication, it’s important to take it. If there’s a reason you don’t want to take it – you don’t like the way it makes you feel, you’re experiencing side effects or you can’t afford it – talk to your doctor to see if there is another option that may suit you better. Also let your doctor know about supplements, over-the-counter meds or recreational drugs you use.

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Date Last Reviewed: December 10, 2020

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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