I read an article about a celebrity who released a Twitter rant that led some to accuse him of fat-bashing. In the rant he shared his frustrations with the state of health, specifically obesity, in this country. Although he began with a joke done in poor taste, his premise was, “We all have to do better.”
That’s a point I don’t disagree with.
His rant included the statement, “No more excuses! High blood pressure and diabetes do not ‘run in your family’. Pork chops, mac’ n cheese, and tons of soda do!”
Blunt, I know. Offensive to some? Probably.
Doctors say that our family’s medical history sheds light on our chances of developing a disease. That said, we have to distinguish between things we can’t control and the things we can.
Sometimes eating habits and cooking traditions are passed to younger generations, just as genes are.
If Grandma cooked huge meals with fried foods, white breads and plenty of sweets, then you might be continuing that tradition. If your parents drank soda during every meal, chances are you will, too. If your dad added tons of salt in meals, then you probably will prefer that salty taste also. If prepackaged or frozen dinners were a staple in your childhood, then you may not cook meals using fresh, whole foods.
All of these habits contribute to the lingering elephant in the room: obesity. And we know that obesity invites health problems.
Dr. David Shafer, a physician at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, says that obesity leads to insulin resistance and high blood pressure and that insulin resistance may lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. All three usually run together.
In general, people are developing illnesses earlier in life now than they did three decades ago. Back then, there were fewer processed foods, less eating out, smaller portions and people engaged in more physical activity.
Just because an illness “runs in your family,” doesn’t mean you have to accept that it will happen to you. Why throw up your hands in defeat before doing something to prevent it?
One’s state of mind can affect one’s health, too. There is power in our thoughts and words. Why speak something negative into existence? This reminds me of the Biblical verse, Proverbs 18:21, which says we choose to have life or death by the very words we say.
Although we cannot control genetics that put us at risk for diseases, we can control behaviors that decrease the risks. These behaviors include limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, eating the right foods, exercising and finding ways to relieve stress.
Don’t be discouraged if your family has an undesirable medical-history tree. Identify those medical problems and take steps to prevent them from happening to you. For things you can’t control, educate yourself so you can properly manage it and consider seeing a genetic counselor.
Ultimately, we often have more power in controlling our health outcomes than we give ourselves credit for.