By Nadia Kijjaroentorn, Certified Dietitian of Thailand, BNH Hospital
Getting cured from an illness isn’t always a guaranteed feat, so why wait to get yourself cured when you can be proactive by protecting yourself and living a healthy, illness-free life!
For over many years, we have taken ourselves to countless visits to hospitals and pharmacies, consuming medications labeled with names we can’t even begin to pronounce in order to get a quick remedy, thinking that this is the answer to getting healed. But what if I tell you that this method of fast-track healing is not the answer to being truly healthy? What exactly are you missing?
Most of us would agree that we would like to live a ‘healthy lifestyle’, which normally constitutes of a right balance of stress management, increased physical activity, regular exercise, good sleep cycle, suitable diet and many other factors. As we are aware that diet plays a key role in health and wellness but when we talk about ‘diets’, a lot of us would start to think about controlling our calorie intake and output to balance the weight that we see on the scale and to achieve a good body shape, but what really matters in a healthy diet is eating what is right for your body, which means that there is no one best diet that fits everyone. Macronutrients and Micronutrients made up of vitamins, minerals and other chemicals that are essential to the proper functioning of our body, is our body’s main source of health from the inside out.
Many researches and studies have shown that certain foods can help slow down the progression and even completely treat many diseases. Even more so, maintaining the habit of consuming these foods will protect you and prevent the development of certain diseases, thus prolonging your life. Unfortunately, on the other hand, other foods can also lead to the development of diseases and worsen symptoms of existing diseases. What a miraculous influence nutrition has, if only we make smart choices that are right for our body.
With a substantial amount of information on nutrition readily available on the internet and social media, it is very easy for us to get a good understanding on healthy diets, but it is also very easy for some to misconstrue this information and get misinformed by what they are exposed to. This includes following fad diets that seem appealing to some due to the successful stories that are shared by many, but those same diets may also end up being damaging to others.
As a Dietitian, I view nutritional knowledge as a treasure, but the knowledge itself will not bring about any positive impact until it is brought into practice. I’d like to share one prominent encounter that I had with one of my patients, which had inspired me to use my nutritional knowledge to make an impact that benefitted his health in a significant way.
At the time, he was a 70-year-old male who had been admitted to BNH Hospital with aspiration pneumonia and severe malnutrition. He was also a sufferer of chronic kidney disease, hypertension, high blood sugar and impaired immune system. He was highly dependent, and had trouble chewing and swallowing his food, which resulted in us assisting him with his meals via tube-feeding. Due to his trouble in chewing and swallowing, I had come up with modifying his food texture and coupled this with swallowing therapy and training. After almost a month, he had graduated to eating normal food by oral diet, he was more energetic, gained some weight, and continued with his rehabilitation. With his other existing health problems, we had advised him appropriately to follow a suitable diet, and he was ready to head back home.
At home, because cooking therapeutic food wasn’t an option for him, he starts ordering a personalized diet plan designed by the dietitian at BNH. A full range of tasty meals including all the macronutrients and micronutrients he needed.
After a month of personalized diet delivery, he had returned to the hospital for a follow-up with his doctor. As I went to greet him at the door, I was expecting to see a man being wheeled in on a wheelchair just like previous times, but to my surprise, he was up on his feet and walked into the hospital with no assistance! I can still remember the feeling that rushed through me on that day as I saw him in front of me – a mix of disbelief and happiness, knowing that the genuine and heartfelt efforts that our team had put in to preparing a personalized meal plan for him had made such an incredible impact on his health that he is now strong enough to be independent and take care of himself. The doctor was amazed at how much he had recovered and sent him on his way home.
The patient had come up to me and said, “After starting to eat better, I have gained back my strength and I can do things more independently. I went out for a walk and met up with a friend whom I haven’t seen in many years. This made me feel so happy with my life.”
I then asked him what ‘true happiness’ meant for him and he answered, “True happiness is living a life free from the chains of sickness and diseases.”
In that moment, I realized that making smart food choices is not only about achieving good health or having a good outward appearance, but it is also about healing your soul and giving yourself the gift of life from the inside. When you have the right diet for your body, you improve your quality of life, you are free from illnesses, and you are free to roam and spend your life with loved ones.
Here is a tip, if you suffer from pain or discomfort such as migraine, bad digestion, fatigue, lack of energy… Have a look at your diet and try to make some food/pain-discomforts connections, once some connections are potentially identified, try to adjust and observe any changes. If you see improvements, make some conclusions that some food is not your best friend, and it is better to avoid. If no improvement, keep searching for it, you may need to track your food and symptoms on a notebook to see more connections, it may take times, but during this period you won’t waste your time. You’ll be learning how your body works and which diet is the best for you. And this is the starting point to a good health.
My name is Nadia Kijjaroentorn, I am a Thai-Italian, Certified Dietitian of Thailand who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Sciences from The Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Chulalongkorn University. I majored in Nutrition and Dietetics and have been working in BNH Hospital for 3 years. I take care of both outpatients and inpatients through Nutrition Therapy, wherein I design and create an individual meal plan for the patients as well as offer nutrition consulting for lifestyle modification and diet and exercise pattern changes with a goal of improving their health in terms of treatment, disease prevention and health promotion.