Monday January 11 2016

Healthy resolutions to make and keep this year

Eating healthy alone will not suffice. It

Eating healthy alone will not suffice. It should be supplemented with exercise and medical checks for better health this year. File photo 

By Patrick Wabuteya

At the end of each year, we often like to look back at our achievements as well as the numerous shortcomings we may have encountered in the course of the year. Whereas we think about improving finances, getting out of debt, saving money, getting a better job or better still, establishing their own business, thought should also be given to improving their health as part of new year’s resolutions. Many who make health resolutions only make small talk about eating more healthy food, losing weight, exercising more, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking or giving up habits such as biting nails. However, as soon as the year starts, they return to the usual routine.

According to Jonathan Okwir, a professional counsellor with ICEA Life, resolutions should be made after one has done an evaluation of the past so that its impact or change can be measured.
“What most people do is to write down lists of how they would like the New Year to be. They usually do this because everyone else is writing, without counting the cost. It’s important to note that these resolutions are not for anyone else rather than for the individual who is making them,” Okwir adds. Some such resolutions that may impact one’s health include;

1. Do more physical exercise
Dr Dalton Kiboneka of Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital appreciates the role public marathons have had on reminding the people of the importance of exercising regularly and keeping their bodies healthy. “Alongside eating healthy, people need to do regular physical exercise, at least a 15 to 30 minute walk or jog in the morning. They should also get into the habit of taking plenty of water at least two glasses per day as it helps with the numerous metabolic activities in the body.” Jamiru Mpiima, a nutritionist with Victoria Health Centre also emphasises the importance of exercise, saying it burns more calories in the body and is good for the heart and one’s breathing. “Physical exercise can also be an alternative to other means of reducing stress and improving the mood. It does not necessarily have to be done in the gym. Even a simple stroll or cycling is physical exercise.”

2 .Fight the stigma
From the observation of Dr Kiboneka, the issues that have had a major impact on people’s health this year is the increased sensitisation of the public on HIV/Aids, which has yielded more knowledge and awareness on the mode of spread and the preventive measures, especially among the women and the youth. However, he stresses that stigmatisation among those affected by the disease remains a big issue. “Many patients come in to seek treatment in the late stages of the disease and most fear to disclose it to their partners and relatives. So, among the New Year resolutions people should make is to fight the stigma and disclose their status, at least to their spouses.”

3.Eat more healthy food
Mpiima adds that in today’s environment where most people hardly have time for the kitchen, snacks have become an alternative to having healthy meals. “Unhealthy snacking, especially among the youth and working class, is on the rise now.
People are eating more chocolate and other high fat packed snacks which is why cases of obesity or overweight are also on the increase. When making resolutions that involve eating better, one should have in mind foods such as nuts and seeds which contain omega 3 fatty acids, and minerals such as magnesium and selenium which are required by the body.

Foods such as cashew nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds contain these minerals, healthy fats and proteins which are required by the body and do not make one obese.”
He also adds that one should increase the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten. “They contain a lot of vitamins such as vitamin A, B and C as well as fibre which aids in curbing constipation. These vegetables can even be eaten raw or as smoothies made from pineapple, watermelon or oranges. An ideal meal for the new year should be one with about six different colours on the plate, meaning that one eats a variety of different foods in the same meal.”

4. Go for a full body checkup
Among the rarely considered resolutions for a new year is a visit to the doctor. “People only come to the hospital when they are sick. Very few will actually make an appearance just for a checkup, and that is why by the time most people realise they have a chronic illness, they are already in the late stages,” says Dr Kiboneka.
Regular visits to the doctor are important as they help to unmask any undetected illnesses.
“So many diseases can develop without symptoms and it is only on such visits that they can be detected and effective treatment administered on time before the disease progresses,” he adds.

5. Adopt a healthier lifestyle
Sticking to a resolution made is usually out of individual choice. However, adhering to one that involves a change of lifestyle can be quite tricky, especially if one decides to drop an old habit such as smoking or quitting alcohol. “Constantly revisit the written list of resolutions and share with someone preferably a mentor so as to hold you accountable in case you go astray from the resolution,” Counsellor Okwir advises.

He also adds that the resolutions made should be exciting, achievable, time-bound, specific, and rewarding. “The individual should be able to gain positively from the resolution as it concerns making their health better.”
When making resolutions for the new year, it is important not to make so many as it often becomes tough to follow through. Three is usually a good number and after seeing the changes and growth, more can be made for the following year. It is not advisable to make new resolutions when the past ones have not been achieved.