Thursday, Jan. 03, 2013
Food Matters: Open your heart to change that improves well-being
By Chuck Newcomb
The beginning of a year is a time to assess those things that mean the most to us.
This lull after the charged election, disastrous storm on the East Coast and the recent tragedy in Connecticut are a time to meditate on our own lives.
To think that we can control our lives and surroundings will only bring frustration, disappointment and a sure sense of failure.
We can eat the right foods, do the right exercises, send our kids to the right schools and have the perfect marriage or career, but who is to say when it will end or how it will turn out in the long run?
We know we can cross the proverbial street tomorrow and get hit by a bus. So all we worked or strived for matters little when it comes right down to it.
I suppose I get pretty sentimental and melancholy sometimes, especially when reminded of my own mortality and the finite nature of my world. It bothers me to no end when people fail to appreciate their good health or when they have a defeatist view of their circumstances and want to give up and give in to an illness, a physical ailment or unfortunate occurrence in their life.
Half of what I do when counseling patients is to help them identify barriers to change, things that get in the way of modifying their life habits so they can improve their health.
I always tell them, "In order for things to change, you must change yourself." We can't change other people, but we can change the way we interact with them. The way we respond to things in our lives determines what happens to us, either positively or negatively.
The Christian idea of being "born again" into a new life with Christ is in some ways similar for anyone wanting to start over again, to reboot their life totally fresh and free from the old self.
Someone truly interested in making positive and healthy lifestyle modifications must first prioritize things differently and begin seeing the world around them with new eyes.
When a patient comes to me for a consult to get a gastric bypass (stomach surgery for weight loss), I make sure they know that they first need heart "surgery." If they don't change their heart, they will most likely end up going back to old habits and regaining their weight, just as they had done after diets in the past.
This idea of changing your heart works the same for getting off alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, for saving a marriage, for improving work habits or any number of life-changing aspirations.
Don't take your physical, mental or spiritual health for granted. Start the new year with a new heart, and great things can happen.
Chuck Newcomb, MS, RD, CDE is a consulting registered dietitian providing medical nutrition therapy services for Memorial Hospital Los Banos. He has a masters of science in clinical nutrition from New York University.
E-mail questions to the Attention of ChuckRD at: MHALosBanos@SutterHealth.org or on his website MySmartRD.com.