– By Alison Kennedy Hand, MS, Wellness Director, Florida Presbyterian Homes
This month’s wellness focus is on the physical dimension of wellness. Physical well-being promotes lifestyle choices that can maintain or improve health and functional ability. Engaging in physical activity, choosing healthy foods, getting adequate sleep, managing stress, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking are ALL good health practices.
For insight into the nutritional aspect of a healthy lifestyle, I talked to local health coach Debbie Zimmerman. Debbie has a passion for healthy food and loves sharing her nutrition knowledge with others through presentations and cooking demonstrations. She was happy to answer a few of my nutrition-related questions.
Question: Why are good food choices important for good health?
Answer: Our food choices are directly linked to either good health and vitality, or more often, disease and disability. Many people blame their “bad genes” for the illnesses and diseases they have. As I’ve heard many times, “Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” In other words, our lifestyle and the choices we make have a major impact on our health.
Question: What led you to develop a career involving nutrition?
Answer: I have bad genes in my family tree. From an early age, I realized that I didn’t want to fall prey to many of the diseases that my grandparents experienced such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It was the long, lingering illnesses and pain they experienced that broke my heart as they suffered.
Question: What are some reasons why Americans eat so poorly?
Answer: Today, fast-foods are a primary source of calories in the U.S. There are many different types of fast-food places. Fast-foods fit in with our high-stressed, fast-paced society; both of which have negative consequences when it comes to our health.
Question: What advice would you give someone who wants to make changes in their diet?
Answer: Borrowing from author Michael Pollan, I would recommend as he does, “Eat real food. Not too much and mostly plants.” There are numerous benefits of a whole food, plant-based lifestyle for preventing, halting or reversing many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, many cancers, and autoimmune conditions. The more plants on our plate, the less pills are needed to combat chronic conditions. The more plants we eat, the more energy and vitality we will have to enjoy life.
Question: What does wellness mean to you?
Answer: Wellness is a lifetime journey in pursuit of optimal health and longevity. It is the awareness and daily practice of multiple dimensions of wellness that lead to well-being — including the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual and occupational aspects. When we find balance and fulfillment in these dimensions, we are on our way to a thriving lifestyle.