September 6, 2016 | Categories: Other
According to the Florida Department of Health, more than a quarter of the population is obese and chronic diseases accounted for six of the ten leading causes of death in 2011. Unfortunately bad habits continue to make many Lee County residents unhealthy, mainly suffering from heart failure, COPD, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. These diseases can be attributed to poor diet and a lack of exercise – also making them totally preventable for most.
With such great need in the community, Lee Memorial Health System, in partnership with local community agencies began offering It’s All About You. The free, research-based, six-week Chronic Disease Self-Management workshops, developed by Dr. Kate Lorig, from Stanford University, are highly participative, helping people better manage their health and maintain an active, fulfilling life.
One of the simplest, yet most effective things taught in the program is to prepare your own foods. Here’s why:
Choices. By physically choosing first-hand what we put into our bodies, we tend to start reading labels and eat less processed foods. Try shopping the perimeter of the store, or better yet, the local farmer’s market where you’ll find unprocessed meats and produce. In their most natural state these foods are typically the healthiest, fresh and simple. Never shop hungry, you’re likely to make impulse buys that will sabotage your efforts.
Quality. People pay more attention to the fuel they give their cars than what they pump into their bodies. When we order out or hit the drive thru we never truly know what we’re getting. You might have a general idea; but the truth is: if you were to make a sincere effort to research the contents and processing most prepared foods go through, you probably wouldn’t like what you see.
Even if the main ingredients are “healthy” and easy to spot, like chicken or broccoli, do you know how it was prepared? What flavor enhancers were used? How old is that meat? Any fillers, hormones or antibiotics used in farming? How fresh are those veggies? Where did they come from? What about the cook and employees, did they wear gloves? Wash their hands at least? You get the idea.
When we cook fresh ingredients at home we know exactly what we’re getting and we reap the benefits of a job well done – enjoy!
Satisfaction. As a society we seem to be losing our attentiveness to the act of eating. We’re in such a hurry that eating becomes a chore, a nuisance. While on the go we look for quick, convenient solutions in fast food, frozen entrees, the nearest gas station even. This leads to poor nutrition and our bodies suffer because of it.
When we take the time to eat real meals we start interacting differently with food. We begin to savor it, actually enjoying the experience and recognizing when we are full. Slow down, better yet, sit at a table with family or friends and no distractions. When’s the last time you had a meal without the television, the computer, or smart phones? Taking advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with the people in our lives can greatly improve our overall health and well-being.
Wanting More. Once you begin to notice the changes you’ll want to progress further, which is great because prevention is the best medicine. We are fortunate to have some of the best healthcare in the world available right in our own backyard; but we need to prevent illness, not rely on medicine to manage it. A healthy community means more than keeping people from illness and injury; it engages individuals with their environment in support of a healthy lifestyle that promotes physical and mental well-being.
There are many things you can do at home or out in the community that can truly make a difference. HealthyLee.com is a great community resource that was created to empower and inspire the people of Lee County regarding healthy lifestyle choices through education and action. HealthyLee.com offers information about programs like It’s All About You as well as other ways to get involved. Check it out at www.healthylee.com.
Sharon Krispinsky is the Chronic Health Program Coordinator for Lee Health Solutions. It’s All About You, Chronic Disease Self-Management workshops are held throughout the year. For more information or to register for a workshop, please call 239-424-3122.