When it comes to eating, think about how often you treat yourself in ways that you would never treat anyone else. Can you imagine saying to someone you love, “You can’t have anything to eat today, I’m just too busy. Well, maybe around 2:30 I’ll throw you some junk food, some Fritos or something. Besides, you don’t need anything to eat today, you ate way too much when you gorged yourself yesterday.”
You would never say that to someone you care for, but how often is that your self-talk? The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released a report in 2007 stating diet-related chronic illnesses are responsible for nearly 60% of all deaths. In the U.S., 1.3 million people die each year from self-inflicted diet-related diseases. If such a toll were inflicted by a new virus we would mobilize all our health resources and impose a national quarantine!
You know about the four basic food groups and eating according to the food pyramid; you teach this to your patients. But how often do you practice what you teach?
It’s a good idea to keep a dietary log for a week or so. I’m always surprised when I read what I’ve consumed, because I usually think I eat a lot better than I do. Like me, you might look back and realize that if that Wendy’s hamburger didn’t have lettuce on it, you didn’t get any vegetables today.
Volumes are written on healthy diets these days, but it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Here is a nutshell version to get you started:
Healthy Eating, in a Nutshell
· 6-8 servings of whole grains per day. Make sure the label says whole wheat, not refined white flour, it’s unhealthy. Rice, corn, beans and oatmeal are good.
· 3-5 servings of vegetables
· 2-4 servings of fruit
· 3 servings of milk products
· 2 servings lean meat
· No transfats, no hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. (Most fast foods are fried in this.)
· Avoid saturated fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is best, heated or cold.
· Fish, shell fish, flax oil, nuts, whole grains have increasingly important Omega 3 and Omega 6.
Not only do we forget to eat right, we forget to drink – water, that is. We’ve all read the importance of drinking two quarts of water a day. How simple can that be? Yet how often do you remember to do that? Seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated, causing daytime fatigue, memory impairment, difficulty focusing, headaches, nausea and poor metabolism. Water regulates body temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells and tissues and flushes out toxins. Studies proved that drinking five glasses of water a day decreases instances of colon, breast and bladder cancer.
Starting today, care for yourself as attentively as you do your patients. Eat (right!), drink (right!), and be merry!