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How do you own your health?
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I recently heard Rebecca Onie speak on TedTalk about the current healthcare system in the USA. She poses the questions: What if our health care system kept us healthy? What if waiting rooms were a place to improve daily healthcare? What if doctors could or would prescribe diet and lifestyle change and improve health? The challenges ahead for the patient after the prescription is written in the doctors office has just begun. So, having said all of this, how we can reclaim our own health?

First and foremost, we need to become self-reliant and accountable for our own health.

I own my health I have had to live with Celiac Disease. I am intolerant to gluten; the protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats.

Prior to diagnosis, my company relocated me to NYC, where I ate out twice a day (yes, twice a day!). I was diagnosed in early 2009 a few months after being told by my primary care physician that I was anemic. Anemia usually does not stand on its own as a specific disease, but rather it stems from something underlying (illness, condition) and can serve as a red flag that something else more serious is going on below the surface. I was sent to get a blood test and an endoscopy to check for Celiac Disease. The gold standard in the industry is both a positive blood test and an endoscopy to prove villous atrophy in the intestines or in other words, gluten intolerance damages the small intestine causing malabsorption of nutrients.

From the day I was diagnosed forward, I have gone on my own journey to manage my own healthcare. Even as a health coach I also have my own health coach that I speak with twice a month. By owning my own health, I make sure that I have fresh food at home to cook and eat at all times (fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, fish, meats). Its essential that I eat a 100% gluten free diet (this is currently the only cure for Celiac Disease) and I have also taken on eating 90% less dairy and 90% less sugar. My doctor, my health coach and I have talked about the fact that my intestines have not fully healed and as such I need for them to heal. I have begun to make juice from vegetables and fruits; my favorite being kale, green apple and ginger. I also make soup made from bone marrow to get the most nutrients as possible. What are your go-to healthy foods?

How else do I own my health? I do something active every day; whether its 30 minutes of fast walking, a long bike ride or a yoga class. I keep moving. That is my mantra. How do you keep active?

So what is actually meant by managing ones own health care? Whether you have been diagnosed with a chronic disease, as I have, or you are in prevention mode; which, by the way, is like an investment account for your body.

1. Devote time to being healthy like athletes do for their optimal performance making time to be healthy requires a major time investment. It takes time, effort and energy to create good lasting habits. The way we live our daily lives is most important.

2. Make effort to learn how to deal with stressful situations. What are your stressors? What can you do to alleviate this stress (count to ten, meditation, yoga practice)

3. What foods work for your body? Does any food or food group bring you discomfort (i.e. wheat, dairy)

4. What is your regular work out regime? It is what we do everyday that affects us. So often our time and energy is invested in the health and betterment of others around us (i.e. busy parents focused on their children, professional men and women working 8+ hours a day with a long commute) and not on ourselves. This can present a risk to our own lives.

Equally important to diet, if not primary to being healthy, is everything else that goes on in our life. Some may include, but are not limited to,:

  • having healthy relationships,
  • being in control of finances,
  • being on spiritual growth path, life-long learning
  • having a full social life, enjoying a hobby,
  • utilizing your creative powers,
  • having confidence to do or be what you need to in this lifetime,
  • having a fulfilling career,
  • being healthy and taking part in physical activity,
  • cooking at home and enjoying your home environment.

Change isa-coming! I know this as a Certified Health Coach (CHC) along with thousands of others from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition based in NYC. A Health Coach is one, who, along side their client, facilitates diet and lifestyle change. As Health Coaches are not quite yet mainstream the concept prompted me to write about how important it is for everyone to manage their own health care. We are not alone, and yet, at the same time we are responsible.

So, how do YOU own your health?
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