Health Care Reform has been a hot topic of late.  Whether you like it or not it is here.  There are a lot of questions and uncertainty surrounding the new laws.  This article is NOT about health care reform.  It is about personal health reform.  Instead of health care I will focus on “self care” which is a topic with more certainty and something you CAN control.

Thus, it deserves much more attention than we tend to give it.  Simply stated you take care of your body and it will take care of you.  Meaning that the health insurance policy that we (or our employer) pays for will be more of a backup plan as it was intended to be.  It will be the policy that helps cover our needs if we are in a horrible accident, need emergency surgery, or develop an unexpected illness or disease. Our primary “insurance” plan should be to take good care of our self (and teach your children how to do the same) so that we dodge the bullet of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.  Wouldn’t it be great if you felt fantastic all the time, had good health and didn’t have to go to the doctor or worry about health insurance.  This is a truth for some and they are not just “lucky”.  Those are the folks that take an active role in their wellness.

exercise mom's self care healthy kidsYour wellness is up to you.  This may sound crazy but you have the power to create or destroy your good health.  You may say “well cancer/diabetes/high blood pressure runs in my family…”  and some people do have a genetic predisposition to a certain disease or condition but it does not have to be your fate.  There is the whole nature vs. nurture debate which has been extensively examined through research.  For example, if you have a family history of high blood pressure and you learned growing up to salt your food then perhaps it is time to put down the shaker.  There is no reason to fan the flames since we know that a salt laden diet increases your risk of developing high blood pressure.  The field of Nutrigenomics is a relatively new and exciting science that is investigating how dietary patterns, micronutrients, lifestyle, and chemicals in foods and the environment specifically effect our individual gene expression.   For example, if you are genetically predisposed to cancer, can you alter that blueprint by choosing certain foods or combination of foods?  There are studies that indicate yes (for certain types of cancer).  For example cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts contain Sulforaphane, a bioactive compound which has been shown to inhibit and slow the growth of some types of cancer cells. This and other similar types of studies are favorable but more work needs to be done to completely understand these interactions.

What we do know is… a diet high in  fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and  lean protein and low in processed meats, sweets and refined grains reduces the risk of obesity and a multitude of other illnesses.

Your wellness is up to you.  It does not come in one miracle vegetable, antioxidant, exercise or vitamin.  It comes from our good choices daily which are repeated.  It requires focus and intention.

As moms we spend an enormous amount of time taking care of others and a disproportionately lower amount of time taking care of ourselves.  Mom’s self care may seem selfish at the time but it pays big dividends in the long run, not only to you but to your family.  Feeling good, being energized, having a positive, upbeat outlook on life goes a long way.  Not only does it shape our day but it has a trickle down effect on our family and all the lives we touch daily.  I know that if I am having a low energy day, feeling fatigued, overwhelmed and depleted I am a much worse mom and wife than if the opposite is true.  Crankiness spreads like the flu.  Like the old saying goes, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”  So if you are not prioritizing self care I encourage you to do so because it not only benefits you but also the people you love.

So here is a short list of some of the many ways you can practice self care daily and thus improve your physical and mental well exercise healthy kids

  • get adequate sleep
  • eat 9 servings of whole fruits and vegetables daily
  • get 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day
  • eat fish twice a week
  • wash your hands
  • wear your seat belt
  • don’t smoke or quit if you do
  • limit alcohol to 1 drink a day (women) or 2 drinks a day (men)
  • speak up for yourself-internalized anger is bad for you
  • go outside and spend time in nature
  • limit sugary beverages (this includes fruit juice)
  • drink water  instead (8-8oz glasses a day)
  • reduce stress – cut out what is not working
  • get mammograms, pap smears and flu shots*
  • make time to meditate, pray or have a spiritual practice
  • spend time with friends
  • reduce your consumption of red meat
  • eat whole grains instead of refined ones
  • limit processed foods, eat real whole food instead
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • use sunscreen
  • limit sodium (salt) in foods
  • LOVE yourself

Some of these are no-brainers but shown by studies to be beneficial to your health, so worth a reminder!  And as a bonus they don’t require a health care policy, prescription, or a doctor appointment (*well except for the mammogram and pap =)).  They are things YOU can control.

Show your children what taking care of themselves looks like.  Lead by example.  They notice everything!!!


  1. Annie Bouchard-Mercier, Ann-Marie Paradis, Iwona Rudkowska, Simone Lemieux, Patrick Couture, Marie-Claude Vohl. Associations between dietary patterns and gene expression profiles of healthy men and women: a cross-sectional study.  Nutr J. 2013; 12: 24.  Published online 2013 February 12. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-24 Available from
  2. Sharon Palmer, RD.  Alter gene destiny with diet. Environmental Nutrition.  2013 November; Volume 36 , Issue 11/p.1-4.
  3. Ho E, Clarke JD, Dashwood RH: Dietary sulforaphane, a histone deacetylase inhibitor for cancer prevention. J Nutr 2009, 139:2393-2396
  4. Clarke JD, Dashwood RH, Ho E.  Multi-targeted prevention of cancer by sulforaphane. Cancer Letter. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):291-304.
  5. “2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S,, Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2013.  [cited 2013 Nov.] Available from