Book Review of Your Care Plan: A Nurses' Guide to Healthy Living

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Julia Buss, saysit best in her book, Your Care Plan , when she said, "Nurses are without a doubt experts at caring for others, but are not always experts at looking after themselves."

Julia's book uses the template. DECIDE.

"D = Detect if you have a problem with your lifestyle.

E = Estimate what it could mean for you. You could be putting yourself at risk for serious illness, or even premature death.

C = Choose your exit. Do you want to lose weight, or exercise or both?

I = Identify what you are going to do to make changes.

D = Do it.

E = Evaluate your progress. Celebrate and reward yourself "(page 5).

I liked the self assessment in the chapter, Detect your problem. She gives the correct answers right up front. Personally, it helps me to have the answers after I do the self exam. That way I'm not biased by what the answer should be – but am really answering how it is for me.

Julia offers seven excellent questions for you to reflect upon. Space to write the answers to the introspective questions would have been helpful to me. I like to go back later and see how I've changed or grown or identify if I'm still doing what I've always done (be it healthy or unhealthy).

In the chapter titled, Estimate the Risk, Buss reviews the frightening facts of overweight -obesity, inactivity, excess alcohol, and tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. I would encourage readers to write in the current date and add their body mass index (BMI) and their waist measurements right there is the book on page 19. Then in one, three, six, nine months and one year revisit the book and see the progress have made by following your care plan. Julia has a comprehensive yet brief listing and explanation of all the risks of the four areas addressed. It would be enlightening to let the reader list the ones he / she can think of and then add the information. As nurses' we know the information however it would serve to reinforce any risks we do not consider considering when making life decisions.

Our Bodies, Our Behaviors, and the Environment, reviews genetics, epigenetics (environmental impacts), biochemistry, stress, meme (cultural influences) and our surroundings are reviewed. I was unfamiliar with the term "meme" so found this information very interesting and informative.

Julia reviews the guidelines and the bottom lines surrounding food, sugar, carbohydrates, fiber, salt, fats, protein, meat, water, supplements, organic, seafood, chocolate (my personal favorite), exercise, alcohol and tobacco. She has selected the most appropriate sources for the guidelines and has worked to make them meaningful by providing examples to translate the guidelines into lay terms.

The sugar information is plentiful, as is our consumption and prompted me to read the labels on numerous items in my refrigerator and cabinets. The fiber guideline of "14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed" for me needed an additional example as I can not quite visualize what that is telling me. Since I'm a vegetarian I know that I get plenty of fiber but as a nurse I have difficulty translating this to clients / patients. She mentions the Monterey Bay Aquarium's website as having a helpful guide on seafood. Here's the url for the site:

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

The next chapter, Take Action for Health introduces an analogy that is creative and thought provoking. Thinking of your body and your choices during your life as a pilot thinks about his plane and his safety during his flight. Julia discusses our individual choices and encourages readers to record in a notebook. This is an excellent strategy as I find that writing things down really helps you identify the issue and helps you meet your goals if you identify areas needing change.

In regards to exercise guidelines and bottom lines I find the pedometer to be a very valuable tool to help people obtain more exercise in their life. Measuring steps helps encourage and motivate taking even more.

Buss offers great suggestions, my suggestion is to eliminate the word, "try". I find that when people say they are going to "try to lose weight", or "try to quit smoking", or "try to …" they are actually saying, "No". By simply eliminating the word "try" the recommendations are more direct and powerful. For example, "… take time for yourself, … Share the practice of … Use a new recipe … on page 93 instead of" try to take some time, … try sharing the practice .. .try a new recipe ".

I would add that consulting with a dietitian to review your 24 hour or one week food diary can be very informative if you are working on weight reduction strategies. My Food Pyramid ( http://www.mypyramid.gov/ ) is another great source of information about what to eat, how much to eat and the amount of exercise you need based on your age. It also gives examples of all the food categories (meat, fruits, vegetables, etc.) and helps you identify appropriate portion sizes for your specific caloric needs.

For stress reduction at home or work I would strongly recommend using the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offered by your employer if one exists. I have found this extremely valuable. Also, talking to the Human Resources specialist may also be effective if you have work related issues that you need assistance in solving.

Buss includes easy recipes and as a non cook I do believe these to be not only easy but quick. For nurses after a long day at work, typically 12 hours, it's nice to be able to come home and create a quick and easy meal, and a tasty one at that.

Of course as a non cook – I need a little clarification. Am I really looking for stones (as in rocks) or lentils that have hardened. I also need to know what it means to "sweat" an onion – is that similar to sauté. As you can see- I really am not a cook!

Julia's colleges have participated through recipe submissions and Jean's 10 minute pea and mint soup sounds lovely. I'm going to submit it to the cooks where I work and see if they'll give it a try.

The noodle soups sounds divine with udon noodles, vegetable broth, low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, shitake mushrooms and tofu. Perfect! As a vegetarian I'm always looking for recipes that offer vegetarian options. If you prefer you can use chicken broth. I'm going to try this recipe this weekend- just need to get some sesame oil and shitake mushrooms.

Under salads Julia offers two of her favorite salad dressings. Balsamic and olive oil and Lemon and olive oil. From an editing perspective I would have put the two salad dressings on the same page as the lemon and olive oil is on the next page with green salad and beet salad. Or just numbered them. Both dressings sound light, yummy and healthy.

In this day of pre-prepared foods she has an easy pasta with tomato sauce. So instead of buying jars of Prego or Classico this logo sauce would be fresh and original.

Under desserts she recommends a fruit salad. My additional recommendation is to freeze fresh fruits during the summer and then toss them frozen into a serving bowl. Eat them for dessert after they have defrosted on your table. Not only are they delicious but they make a lovely center piece on your table while they defrost with all the colors of the berries, peaches, … using whatever fruits you like.

Buss' resources are excellent and comprehensive. I learned of two sites that I was unfamiliar with. I have now added them to my personal resource list.

Throughout the book the photographs are nicely done and add to the delightful presentation of each page.

Julia also throws in some fun United Kingdom sayings such as, has now and truly gripped (page 35) , full of beans (page 96) and splashing out on a meat thermometer (page 127) which adds her unique voice to a fact filled book.

Overall, I thought this was well written, full of great information, and a resource that nurses can use in their own life as well as share with others. Non nurses will find this book helpful as well as they learn about healthy choices they can make.

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