By Dr. Michele C. Reed,
NCBW Long Island Health Committee Chair
Prevention! It is one of the buzz words that pops up these days during conversations about health and wellness. We all know that it is important to eat in moderation and increase our exercise routine to help avoid serious diseases.
On the other hand, what does it mean for those who already have a chronic disease or have extra weight to lose? I deal with this question daily in my Long Island, NY practice and I always say “It’s never too late for prevention.”
For example, if you have diabetes, it is important to eat three to four healthy meals per day and exercise to prevent some of the other issues that could be more devastating. If you are already overweight, it’s important to prevent even more weight gain.
Here are a few tips for weaving a little prevention into your daily routine, regardless of your health status:
Diagnosis is Not Disaster: Even though you might have diabetes or high cholesterol or be overweight now, it does not mean that this will always be the case. With proper diet and exercise, it is possible to prevent these diseases from worsening or overcome them completely without being on medicine for the rest of your life. Even if you are taking medication for these diseases, you should still institute other healthy habits like eating right and exercising.
Moderation and Substitution are Key: Getting healthier often means sacrifice. This does not mean that you have to deprive yourself or give up your favorites. You need to become more creative with your options. If you are a soda drinker, try the low- or no-calorie version with sweeteners or a small can instead of large. Instead of milk chocolate have a small piece of dark chocolate. It is all about moderation and substitution.
Small Steps Go a Long Way: You have to start somewhere. I would not suggest you try making a goal to exercise five times a week and eating salads every day. Setting unrealistic goals might be overwhelming – and ultimately, you might not do anything. Try to make small changes. If you do not exercise regularly, start with one day a week for 30 minutes and slowly add on to that.
Make it a Family Affair: Starting healthy habits can be hard to do alone, so let’s make it a family affair. If you have family members who have chronic diseases, work together to develop healthier habits. Whether it is giving your favorite soul food dishes a healthier twist or working out, it is always more fun together.
I welcome you to email me with your story of how you have been able to turn the tide on your health and prevent further complications. Good luck and keep me posted!
Dr. Michele C. Reed is a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician in the Long Island, New York area. Her expert opinion has been featured in many publications including Ebony Magazine, Heart & Soul Magazine, the New York Daily News and others. She is also a consultant to food and beverage companies like Coca-Cola.