What is lifestyle medicine?
Lifestyle medicine is a kind of medical care that focuses on positive lifestyle changes to help treat and prevent chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fibromyalgia. Providers who specialize in lifestyle medicine use proven methods to guide you in six important lifestyle topics:
- Making healthier food choices
- Moving more
- Getting enough sleep
- Managing stress
- Avoiding harmful substances
- Building good social connections
Lifestyle medicine can be combined with traditional clinical care and integrative therapies to prevent, manage and even reverse chronic disease. Lifestyle medicine is often practiced in a group setting. Learn more about lifestyle medicine.
What are group medical visits?
Group medical visits are meetings led by lifestyle medicine providers and nurse health coaches. You'll join a group of people with similar medical conditions for health education, discussion and support. Each group meeting will cover a different lifestyle topic. We will help you set short-term, measurable health goals that help you make healthier lifestyle choices and better manage your chronic condition(s).
When the group meetings are complete, you will start practicing your new health skills on your own. Your lifestyle medicine team will follow up with you after one month, three months and six months to discuss your progress and provide additional support as needed.
How do I sign up for group medical visits?
If you think you could benefit from group medical visits, talk to your primary care provider about a lifestyle medicine referral. MaineHealth providers may refer patients through EPIC (REF8070 Ambulatory Referral to Lifestyle Medicine). Questions? Please call 207-781-1653 for more information.
The Six Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine
Food is medicine!
In this group, we'll discuss the benefits of eating a mostly plant-based, whole-food diet. You will learn about food quality, quantity, macronutrients and micronutrients, mindful eating and how best to fuel your body for better health and prevention of chronic disease. In addition to nutrition education, you will gain skills and recipes for healthy meals.
The group meets on the first Thursday of each month from 3 - 4 pm. You can attend in-person or online.
Lack of physical activity is related to several leadings causes of death worldwide. In this group we'll discuss the importance of all types of activity, including:
- Activities of daily living
Stress is something we all experience. Learning to process stress in healthy ways is important for management of chronic health conditions. Chronic stress can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other undesirable conditions. In this group you will learn to better recognize, reframe, and process stress.
Restorative sleep is the essential foundation of good health! In this group, you will learn about:
- The stages of sleep
- The circadian rhythm
- Strategies to improve sleep for better health
Did you know that the length of your life can be predicted by the quality of your social relationships and connections? In this group, we'll discuss:
- How to strengthen current connections
- How to create new connections
- The importance of having a supportive group of friends and family members
Most people know that the use of tobacco, alcohol and recreational drugs can negatively impact your health. Did you know that this is also true for sugar, salt saturated fat, and other risky behaviors that can be addictive? In this group we will discuss the cycle of substance use and skills for breaking that cycle.
Meet Your Health Coaches!
A nurse health coach is a professional who combines nursing knowledge with wellness expertise to help people manage chronic conditions and make healthier lifestyle choices. Nurse health coaches work with patients one-on-one as well as in group settings.
Amy Pearl: After completing a bachelor's degree in social work, Amy worked with at-risk youth and their families then returned to school to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. While working as a cardiac and pediatric nurse, she discovered that many health conditions are lifestyle-related and felt driven to help patients make the necessary changes to improve their health. Amy returned to school to complete a Master’s Degree in Health and Wellness Coaching with certifications in mindfulness teaching, plant-based nutrition, and culinary medicine specialist. Now, Amy works with patients to make lifestyle changes that support them in preventing, reversing and managing chronic illness. "I am awed by my patients' strength and resilience when they set their minds to making a change."
Shannon Sutton: Shannon obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Maine in 2018. She worked in inpatient cardiology at Maine Medical Center where she developed a strong passion for health education and primary prevention of disease. In 2021, she was certified as a Wellness & Health Coach and shifted to do more nurse coaching, educating on healthy lifestyle habits, and supporting the processes of health behavior change. Her favorite parts about lifestyle medicine are getting to the root cause of disease, caring for the whole person, and helping patients discover their own strength and power in their health.