To quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” But to find out where you want to go, it is imperative to know from where you have come. As we say goodbye to this year, give a little thought to where you are now. This may help you with better planning for the coming year. Before you make goals or resolutions for the New Year, conduct a review of your present year. Did you do anything exciting? Did you learn anything new? What challenges did you face? Did you make any mistakes? How did you manage stressful situations? What would you do differently?
In last month’s column we talked about mindful eating. Let us take it a step further and talk about mindful living. We now know that many chronic diseases are attributed to inflammation in the body. Inflammation is triggered by unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and stress. Being mindful and changing these four parameters can make a tremendous difference not only to personal health but can also make a great impact on global health.
According to a recent report released by the International Diabetes Federation, the worldwide number of cases of Type II diabetes is predicted to reach 592 million by 2035. A 2012 report by the American College of Cardiology states that more than 23.6 million people per year worldwide will die of cardiovascular disease by 2030. Advances in medicine show that we are better able to manage these conditions, but with numbers like these, we don’t need managing skills, we need to reverse the tide.
So where do we start? If we all can focus on making mindful choices and change the four major parameters of our life, we can slowly but surely make a difference. Think about the scene in “Finding Nemo” where all the fish are trapped in the fisherman’s net and Nemo asks all the fish to swim downward to help set them free. Each person doing their share can help reverse this global health crisis.
Diet: The Standard American Diet (SAD) has the dubious honor of having an acronym that aptly describes it. Make simple goals to eat a healthier diet. Avoid all highly processed and junk food. Eat more plants – whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Cook most of your meals.
Physical activity: Plan to be active and find ways to move more.
Smoking: Quit. Easier said than done, but make it a priority.
Stress: Do things that make you happy. Live guilt-free. Think about hobbies and things that motivate you. Make a goal to be more organized.
If we all individually work on these four parameters by being mindful, we can hope to have a healthier, happier environment.
Mindful living pertains to living a life with a purpose. It is our responsibility to pass on a healthier environment to the next generation by creating a society that is healthy and happy, physically and emotionally.
Parul Kharod is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org