There is a growing trend in our country these days; that is an increasing incidence in cases of hypertension, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and their complications. This is actually a global phenomenon; Ghana also has her own share. It is a fact that the onset of these kinds of diseases and conditions has a lot to do with people’s lifestyle. Experts will say lifestyle acts as a risk factor for the onset and course of these kind of diseases.
The kind of food people eat, the time they eat these foods, the quantity of food eaten are key lifestyle factors that have something to do with these diseases and conditions. Exercise is another key lifestyle factor that affects one’s ability to be free from lifestyle diseases or suffer from them.
We all know how important it is to work and earn money. The purchasing power and well-being of individuals and families depends on the ability of the bread winners of those families to work hard and bring money home. That is why they work all day from dawn to dusk, breaking their back daily and having no time for anything else.
The average worker in a busy city has no time to eat in the morning. They must beat traffic and so travel to work early in the morning. They cannot take breakfast at home. Some of them will take what they buy upon reaching their office before work begins. Others hardly get time to eat once they reach their office because clients would have been waiting for their services before they arrive.
Anyone who will live a life free of trouble from the lifestyle diseases mentioned above must have a plan that will enable them eat a healthy, well balanced meal for breakfast. So if your work schedule makes it impossible for you to eat breakfast, the end result is not desirable. You will constantly be lacking energy in the morning if you skip breakfast all the time.
The body through some reactions will feed you at all cost. This however comes at a cost to the body. In the end, the stage is prepared for the development of certain lifestyle diseases. It is always convenient and safe for the body if the needed energy is given to it through the food that we eat. That is why it is so important to eat breakfast and all other meals of the day. I therefore want to appeal to my brothers and sisters who find themselves in the busy cities to take steps necessary to enable them have a good and healthy meal as breakfast.
When you sit for long hours after eating, there is very little chance for the energy gotten from the food to be used up by the body. This is the situation most people find themselves in when they go to work. Their jobs are sedentary; meaning they sit for a greater part of the working day. Experts have been saying in recent times that sitting for long hours on its own alone predisposes people to the development of lifestyle diseases. In order not to fall victim to this state of affairs, learn to get up from your desk from time to time during the working day. When you need a file from the next office, get up and go get it. Drop the intercom. When it is lunch time, get up and walk to the canteen; do not send anyone. It is sad to note that a lot of people drive out of their office to have lunch. This explains the congestion in traffic experienced at certain areas of town during lunch time. This really does not have to be so.
Am also glad to note that I come across people who actually go for walks during their lunch break. They know how impossible it is for them to go for that walk at dawn or at night because they have to leave home early and get back late and tired. That is why seizing the opportunity to take a walk around their office location during lunch is just the way to go. We all can learn from them.
There are so many other ways people can insert exercise into their day despite busy work schedules. Corridors and lanes within your house as well as compounds can serve as walking tracks. You can get a few minutes of walk either at dawn or in the evening. This simply requires a bit more sacrifice and seriousness. You just have to wake up some ten minutes earlier to be able to do this. Also, in the evening doing so for a few minutes after supper will really help keep hypertension, diabetes, etc away.
Do not allow your work schedules to make you eat supper late all the time. It will serve you no good since the heavy food eaten late at night only gets stored as fat which predisposes to the lifestyle diseases. The worst you should do is eat something that is low in energy when it is late. Kindly note that corn dough porridge, oats and Tom brown are not light foods; they are also starchy and deliver energy to your system in amounts comparable to banku, rice, yam, fufu etc. the difference between corn dough porridge and banku is that one has more water than the other.
Some people are lucky to have food served to them at the workplace. But what could be considered as luck brings them no luck at all. After eating office food for a few years, you will see people suffering from one or more of the lifestyle diseases.
This is simply because of the unhealthy nature of the food served at the office. There is so much oil, salt and frying. Oil, salt and fried foods only become bad when they are consumed in large quantities and on very frequent basis. This is exactly the case with what you eat at the office. It is convenient and eaten on a daily basis.
If organizations will take an interest in the healthy nature of the food employees eat at work, they will have a healthier workforce. In the medium to long term, they will also spend less on healthcare costs. This is a fact.
The benefit workers can get from eating healthily while at work is their own wellbeing. There is nothing stopping anyone from enjoying healthy meals at work. You just have to decide and take steps towards achieving this. Offer some training to your catering service providers and am sure they will do better. This however can only happen if you all agree for a change.
If it becomes impossible to change the status quo at the workplace, you have to send your own food along to work. Cook the food well and carry it along for lunch. I am very sure doing so will help curb the menace of diabetes, hypertension, among others.
Stress from the workplace has its own place in contributing to the numbers of people suffering from the lifestyle diseases. Bringing stress levels down is key in preventing and managing lifestyle diseases. Having stress levels under control will also free up space in your mind so you plan to eat healthy meals. Being realistic with work targets and meeting goals is a way to manage stressors and minimize stress. Also getting some exercise can help reduce stress levels significantly.
Work schedules are likely to make it difficult for lots of people to seek health care in a timely manner if they fall sick. In most cases, they are likely to postpone appointments with doctors. If you continue postponing the need to see your health care provider because of your tight schedules, you might soon become an emergency case. Choose right.
In a bid to manage their health care quota, some workers who have such benefits may selectively seek health care when they are not well. Some people will also selectively buy drugs that they have been asked by doctors to buy. Once these dynamics begin to set in, success with the management of lifestyle diseases becomes impossible. You will see people taking for example their high blood pressure drugs only when their readings go high. On days that the readings are not very high, the drugs are not taken. Doing this is very dangerous and must be discouraged.
Another worrying trend when payment for healthcare becomes an issue is the fact that sufferers of lifestyle diseases will not go to the hospital unless they fall sick. Visits to a dietician for example is likely to be relegated to the background. Meanwhile those who keep such appointments are able to adequately deal with factors that bring along the lifestyle diseases. Thus they are in a better position to prevent them. Even those suffering from lifestyle diseases are able to control them better when they keep a dietician’s appointment as well.
What will you want your health status to be like after you retire from your current employment at age 60? Also, at what age do you wish to die and leave the face of the earth? I believe most of us will want to be healthy after retirement. Also, most of us will want to come to our graves in ripe old age. May this be your portion as scripture puts it succinctly: “You shall come to your grave in ripe old age, and as a shock of grain goes up [to the threshing floor] in its season (Job 5:26)”.
A little bit of planning will help you achieve better outcomes so far as prevention and management of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, among others are concerned. Allowing your work to get in the way of achieving good control for these diseases/conditions will make them worry you now, and even more when you are on retirement. I believe we will all choose not to allow our work schedules to make us victims to lifestyle diseases.
Eat well and stay healthy!!!
By Wise Chukwudi Letsa