Category Archives: Self-Care

State of the Evidence on Training Programs for Self-Management of Emotional Stress

Graphic of connecting dots

Limiting the stressors in our lives is not always possible; however, managing HOW we deal with the stress can be within our control. Nearly half of Americans report that their stress levels have increased in the last five years making effective treatments to decrease psychological distress in demand. Even more so, are mind-body programs that provide individuals the opportunity to have greater control over their own health. This focus on the self-management of health is a global phenomenon with increasing usage of complementary and integrative health practices being reported in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe.

 

In 2008, 19% of U.S. adults (more than 55 million people) reported using at least one mind-body therapy during the previous 12 months and in 2012, deep-breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, tai chi and qi gong were among the most frequently used techniques. These therapies are based on the biopsychosocial model, a perspective that acknowledges that biological, psychological (e.g., thoughts, emotions, and behaviors), and social factors all play a significant role in human functioning in the context of wellness and illness. It is often used to describe the concept of the “mind–body connection.”

 

In 2008, 19% of U.S. adults (more than 55 million people) reported using at least one mind-body therapy during the previous 12 months.

NEW REPORT PUBLISHED

A recent Samueli Institute report evaluated the existing body of randomized controlled trials on biopsychosocial training programs for the self-management of emotional stress. The report is especially impactful for researchers, clinicians and policy-makers as they develop new programs and assess the utility of existing ones. Continue reading “State of the Evidence on Training Programs for Self-Management of Emotional Stress” »

Nutrition Education: The Doctor is Out

Fruits and Veggies

Having a healthy, flourishing life is often as simple as eating right. Yet, many people lack the knowledge, resources and access to healthy food they need to ensure their own wellbeing. About 38 percent [i] of Americans admit to not maintaining healthy diets. This has lead to more than half of the population being classified as obese in previous years and a surge in cardiovascular and endocrine diseases. What’s worse is that the healthcare specialists they go to for help often lack basic nutrition training themselves.

As a result, many populations are at odds with health and wellbeing. According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report produced by the World Health Organization (WHO), 44 percent of the 129 countries surveyed had severe malnutrition and obesity. [ii] The United States is among 14 nations that have the highest rates of obesity and malnutrition.

These results come after years of implementing developmental project models. Some have been successful, but considering the current state of health in America, it is clearer than ever that we need to take more innovative measures.

Modernizing Medical Education

Disease and premature death have both been linked to nation-wide problems with proper nutrition.[iii] This phenomenon is closely related to the limited or lack of nutrition training for doctors. Some experts refer to this void as a “deficiency of nutrition education.” [ii]

Medical students receive less than two hours of nutrition education over a four-year period. [ii] Most of their essential nutrition training is from basic classes, which occur in the earlier years of medical school. [ii] A Samueli Institute article capped the medical school hours dedicated to nutrition at 19.6 hours, in 2013. [iv] That is less than 1 percent of students’ total lecture hours. In a study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 80 percent of medical schools provide inadequate nutrition training for future doctors. [v] Once these doctors begin practicing, they usually receive no additional nutrition training.

A 2010 survey revealed that only 14 percent of physicians considered themselves adequately trained to counsel patients on nutrition. [v] Still most of the general public is willing to consult their doctor for advice on healthy eating. One survey calculated that figure to about 61 percent. [ii] In light of these statistics, Samueli Institute recommends:

  • Provide nutrition education to medical students in the first two years of training
  • Repeat nutrition education once medical students begin a specialty
  • Pass the training from properly trained physicians to patients.

Making Information Available

Nutrition education is not readily available for the general public. This is true for adults and school-age children alike. For children, however, the truth is much harsher. More than 17 percent of children in the United States are obese. [vi] This number increases when factors like race/ethnicity and economics come into play.

Socioeconomics determines not only what people know about nutrition, but access to nutritious foods in their communities. [vii] Considering this reality, teaching nutrition alone cannot solve the country’s problem. As a nation, we must pass policies that promote health and human flourishing in our neighborhoods.

Nutrition and National Security

The United States military is already making strides to improve the resilience and readiness of service members by implementing dietary changes for active duty service members. Working with Samueli Institute, the Teaching Kitchens framework provided a training approach to cooking in a military environment. In just three phases, orchestrators of the Teaching Kitchens could help make healthier I’ve tied it to Teaching Kitchens. foods accessible, change eating behaviors and improve the overall quality of life to military servicemembers.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has now made regulations for the use of dietary supplements in meals. [viii] Some food additives, even those that come from natural sources like plants, have been found to have no nutritional significance. The DoD decided that what doesn’t help one’s diet, should not be consumed. More importantly, the DoD is educating service members on the reasons behind these nutritional regulations.

Nutrition starts with education. Health policies should be in education policies, and this education should be for everyone.


[i] Matthews J, (2011). 2011 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Food. International food Information Council Foundation.
[ii] Global Nutrition Report (2016). From Promise To Impact: Ending Malnutrition by 2030. World Health Organization.
[iii] Devries S, Dalen J, Eisenberg D, Maizes V, Ornish D, Prasad A , Sierpina V, Weill, A, and Willett W. (2014) A Deficiency of Nutrition Education in Medical Training, The American Journal of Medicine. Vol. 127, I-9, PP 804-806.
[iv] Eisenberg D, and Burgess J (2013). Nutrition Education in the Era of Global Obesity and Diabetes: Thinking Outside the Box. Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Vol 90-I:7 pp 854-860.
[v] Adams K, Kohlmeier M, and Seisel S (2010). Nutrition Education in the U.S. Medical Schools Latest Update of a National Survey. Acad Med. Doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181eab71b.
[vi] Cluss P, Ewing L, King W, Reis E, Dodd J, and Penner B (2013). Nutrition Knowledge of Low-Income Parents of Obese Children. Society of Behavioral Medicine. Doi: 10.1007/s13142-013-0203-6.
[vii] Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) (2015). Why Low Income and Food Insecure People are Vulnerable to Obesity.
[viii] Department of Defense (2013). Dietary Supplements: Policy, Science and the DoD. Health.mil.

Getting a Healthy Sleep: Tips and Advice for Military Caregivers

Sleeping

Sleep restores the body from a day of work and play. Sleep is essential to your health and wellbeing. Yet for caregivers, sleep disturbances are prevalent, resulting in decreased function, physical pain, fatigue and serious medical problems. [i] Sleep loss in caregivers can be directly related to the stress of caregiving. [i] This is because caregivers are likely to put the needs of others ahead of their own and sometimes, neglect to care for themselves altogether. [ii] Continue reading “Getting a Healthy Sleep: Tips and Advice for Military Caregivers” »

Art Therapy for Military Caregivers: Connect with Your Inner-being

Art Therapy_painting

The role of art in healing has existed since the beginning of time. The oldest cave painting is over 40,000 years old, located in Cantabria, Spain. [i] In the years following, there is documented evidence of more expressive art from all over the world. Since the 1940s, art in therapeutic form has been a successful treatment, by helping individuals better understand and express inner thoughts and emotions. [ii] Continue reading “Art Therapy for Military Caregivers: Connect with Your Inner-being” »

Creating the Optimal External Healing Space

Family in Healing Space

Your external environment is where you live, work and play. Having great experiences in these places requires a bit of creativity. Perhaps you change the color of the walls in your home, or decorate your workplace with greenery. Maybe in your backyard, you plant flowers that give off a wonderful aroma. All of these originally normal spaces become healing spaces when you use your creativity to make them your own. Continue reading “Creating the Optimal External Healing Space” »

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