Health Coach Advantage is a telephone-based professional health coaching service provided by Janet Solie PA, MS, IHC. She is a licensed physician assistant with over 20 years of clinical and teaching experience and have advanced training from Duke University’s Center for Integrative Medicine as an integrative health coach.
Saving the best bites for last is overrated and ultimately, a path to overeating. In mindful eating, best bites come first. Why? Eating the best part of the meal when the food is the freshest, at its ideal temperature and looks the most appetizing is the prized moment of any meal. As important, eating best bites first makes it more likely that you will use fullness as a signal to stop eating and leave food on your plate.
It’s easy to zone out when you’re eating, especially if you’re eating food for stimulation or comfort. Just the anticipation of eating alone triggers a surge of dopamine to the prefrontal cortex, which amplifies the expected pleasure of the pending experience. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We all want to enjoy our meals. But the problem lies in the way autopilot eating deeply distracts you from other choices which are essential to improving and and protecting your health.
Topping the list is autopilot eating’s ability to make you lose track of proportions, satiety and frequency. So, you quickly wind up eating too much, still feeling strangely hungry and before you know it, getting ready to eat more food. The bad news is that this dopamine-driven closed loop haunts everyone who is struggling to make better choices about food. The good news is that mindful eating can help you adopt a “transformative habit” that disrupts this autopilot behavior.
Although awkward at first, over time the habit of mindful awareness slowly guides you into making better choices about when, where and what food to eat. As you cultivate this approach before and during eating, you will decrease the incidence of what has come be known as “mindless eating.”
You can reinforce the implementation of this transformative habit by recording in a journal or an online application everything you eat. It’s helpful to record when, what and how much you eat. For most women, the act of tracking food intake results in a marked decrease in autopilot eating.
Nothing is more defeating in life than a doctor saying there is nothing more we can do for you, but that’s what they told my mom. So, for the last 20 years of he life, she was plagued with peripheral neuropathy of her feet. Eventually her symptoms gradually spread from her feet to her lower legs. She described her feet as having an unrelenting pins and needles sensation. No one found any treatment that gave her any relief. As she grew older, not feeling her lower legs and feet interfered with her balance and ability to walk. It was heartbreaking to watch her loss of vitality because of her feet.
Not long after her passing, I developed symptoms in an area on the bottom of my right foot about the size of a half dollar. At first it was very itchy to the point of driving mad when my shoe was on. Later the itching was replaced with a change in sensation to pin and needles and occasional itching. I saw many physicians and no one had any ideas about to how to treat it. Eventually over the time the sensations spread to both feet. Suddenly I now had pain with exercise on the elliptical trainer or walking. The worst was horseback riding, where the stirrup would dig into my feet causing unusual painful sensations. On the dismount I didn’t get much feedback from my foot when I landed and I worried about falling. “There is nothing more we can do,” all the doctors told me. I knew how this would turn out and wasn’t blindly going to accept my mom’s destiny. So I looked beyond conventional medicine’s nothing and found what turned out to be something: supplements.
Study Of One
I had heard from a number sources alpha lipoic acid and a super B complex high in B1, B6 and B12 might help reduce the pain and discomfort of peripheral neuropathy. But as a clinician, I knew I had some work to do before I began my “study of one”.
My first stop was seeing with my internist. I asked her to review my current list of chief medical conditions and all my current medications and supplements. “Do you see anything here that would prevent me from adding ALA and a Super B Complex to my daily supplements and medications?” I asked. “No” she said and cleared me to begin using the Super B Complex and Alpha Lipoic Acid.
The next stop was find these supplements in capsule form.began to look for the supplements in capsule form. This was important because years ago at a medical conference I had heard several physicians point out that sometimes tablets are not absorbed in the gut because they are compressed too tightly together. At the time, the example they talked about was magnesium. They had recommended taking supplements in a capsule form when you can find it for better absorption. The good news was that I found ALA in capsule form. The not so good news I had to settle for Super B in a tablet form. Even better, both supplements had the right manufacture’s pedigree. What do I mean?
How Do You Define Success?
The biggest problem with supplements is that they are not regulated by the FDA. That’s right. Not regulated. Then how do you know if the supplements you are buying don’t have the actual ingredients as stated. You don’t. The best you can is find supplements with a CL or a UPS mark on the bottle, that indicates they have been independently tested for actual ingredients. You’ll quickly discover that’s not always possible. In my case, I was able to locate a brand of Super B Complex with a UPS label but not the Alpha Lipoic Acid. With my doctor’s tepid blessing and the best versions of the supplements I could find, I was ready to begin my study of one. But before I took a single capsule or tablet, I need to answer one critical question about the study: How long do I take the ALA and B6 before I declare the study a success or a failure?
The answer depends on what body systems you are treating. I knew that neurological issues having to do with nerve function typically take a long time to develop and even longer to respond to treatment. I decided to try it for 6 to 12 months. My plan was 100 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid and one tablet of a Super B complex daily. I would start “low and go slow” which is the approach we use in clinical medicine medicine when introducing a new medication. With that, I began the study but with low expectations.
The Unexpected Minor Miracle
The supplements approach didn’t feel like much of a something and I feared it too would turn out to be just another nothing. So much for jumping to conclusions without the facts. The supplements were something on the scale of a minor miracle.Here’s what happened.
Within the first 6 weeks, the symptoms improved gradually first disappearing from my left foot and parts of the bottom of my right foot. Yes, neurological reversal of symptoms that by seven months had gotten rid of the tingling, burning, hurting and itching of the stubborn area on the outer mid bottom of my right foot And it has continued to stay that way as long as I stay on the the supplements.
I am profoundly grateful. I found perfect solution that was simple and affordable. I only wish my mother could have had a chance to if it would work for her.
“Skeptic’s Protocol” For Using Supplements
For those of you who are considering a non-conventional treatment for symptoms that haven’t resolved with conventional medicine, start with your physician. Ask if there are any supplements that might be helpful. Physicians are beginning to educate themselves about the uses of supplements for some medical conditions. I have found several of my physicians to be helpful. Or you can research it on your own. I recommend looking at quality sites like Mayo Clinic, WEB MD, Dr Weil and other physician or medical centers of excellence. I would avoid sites that sell the supplements as there is a conflict of interest in recommending a supplement that is for sale by the same source. And remember: You never know when nothing will become something with patience and an open mind.
As boomers drift into old age, their aging metabolism wanders into a precarious state called “pre diabetes.” The American Diabetic Association estimates 50% of boomers are afflicted by this benign sounding diagnosis that silently morphs behind the scenes into full blown- type 2 diabetes. How soon? The data indicates pre diabetics wind up as confirmed type 2 diabetics within 5 years. This is where I found myself a year ago when I became an official “pre.”
Two years ago, my blood glucose numbers were normal. A year later they were in the pre diabetic range. This didn’t come as a total surprise. I have a strong family history of diabetes and my blood lipids have been creeping up for years. And then there was the “zonk” factor, waves of low energy and compulsive napping after foods with a high glycemic index. My glucose metabolism was definitely off.
My wise internist said, “It’s not your lifestyle; it’s your genes.” She was right. I was not hypertensive, or overweight or lacking exercise. My family history was the issue. I was born downstream from ancestors filled with cardiovascular disease, high blood lipids and early onset diabetes. My father suffered horribly from all three most of his life with his first heart attack at 32 and a fatal one at 63.
I was grateful that my lifestyle choices delayed these issues 30 years longer for me, but the grace period was over. Lifestyle was no longer enough. My internist suggested I try a low dose of an extended release Metformin at bedtime, an “off label” use of a medication that reversed pre diabetes in some cases. In my case, it worked.
Six months later with some adjusting of my diet and daily metformin, my blood lipids were lower and more importantly my blood glucose levels returned to normal
Officially, pre diabetes is fast blood glucose levels of 100 to 125 and A1C levels of 5.7 to 6.4.
Officially, diabetes is fasting blood glucose level of 126 or higher and an A1C levels of 6.5 or greater.
Both diagnoses have the same risk factors:
• 45 years or older
• Gestational diabetes during pregnancy
• Parent or sibling with diabetes
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Low HDL or high triglycerides
You go from pre to full blown diabetes if you do nothing, usually within five years. Simply being a pre puts you at risk for the same complications associated with full blown diabetes including heart dseases, strokes, kidney failure, amputation and blindness. Pre is silent but far from benign. Most people don’t have a clue they’ve moved into the danger zone.
Once labs confirm you are a pre, treatment usually starts with lifestyle changes, depending on your risk factor profile. For most Americans lifestyle changes include diet, weight loss and exercise. This lowers the risk of diabetes by improving the body’s ability to use insulin and process glucose.
The Diabetes Prevention Program, using individual counseling and motivational support directed toward reducing weight and increasing exercise, reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58%. Studies show lifestyle changes worked particularly well for participants aged 60 and older. Clearly, this is very effective but also very hard to do on your own.
Then there is the issue of Metformin. Although less than 4% of pre diabetics are treated with it, metformin can help delay the risk of developing diabetes by 31% according to the Diabetes Prevention Program from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. An impressive outcome for an “off label” use of medication.
Maybe it’s time to call pre diabetes what it really is “early stage diabetes” that unlike full blown diabetes, is reversible. Yes, it is reversible.
In most diseases that are progressive like cancer, we identify the disease by stages so we can treat each stage appropriately and stop the progression of the disease. Not so with pre diabetes.
If pre diabetes was considered early stage diabetes, it would be treated more aggressively by health care providers and health care organizations would fund programs that provide much needed lifestyle coaching that many boomers can’t afford on their own.
As it is, most pre diabetes falls into an area of medicine that I call self care, meaning you are on your own, until the signs and symptoms of diabetes show up. Once declared diabetic, then the health care system begins doctor centered treatment that includes frequent testing, brief physician visits, a referral to a nutritionist and multiple medications.
If you have pre diabetes you may need to take the initiative with your doctor requesting treatment. It’s the right time too to hire a professional health coach as your personal champion for setting lifestyle goals and implementing sustainable behavior change.
In professional health coaching, self care is what we do. A big part of the power to improve health lies in what you can do through lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, and stress management.