Selfcare only works if you have adequate knowledge and can follow problem-solving
strategies. In the best case, you would know enough about your body functions to
interpret symptoms as they arise and you would take corrective action. You would
develop a good sense of what problems you can manage yourself and you would know
when to seek help. You would use all the preventive strategies available to you
and would use screening tests to detect early stages of disease I have
written several books on specific diseases with the idea of presenting adequate
knowledge and suggesting problem-solving strategies.
Each person has some control over their life course and some ability to
prevent injury and disease. Often, diseases emerge because of ignorance or
careless disregard for risky behaviors. On the other hand, some people become
overly concerned about unseen health risks and focus on small issues, using
casually gathered misinformation. Although their intentions are admirable, their
methods fail to achieve the right results.
I invented the Alpha Nutrition Program as a rational plan of selfcare that requires new learning,
discipline and self-control. A basic intention is to do a better job of
self-regulating. Self-regulation implies control over behavior. I learned by
watching a thousand people attempt to do this program that people with some
measure of self-control were uncommon. I learned that self-discipline was in
short supply and that rational plans tended to fail without a lot of support.
Since eating is a social activity, changes in eating habits require a social
One idea is to identify the locus of control in every
situation. The locus is the place from which most of the control comes from. The
simplest classification is two loci of control, inside and outside. The locus of
control shifts from time to time for a variety of reasons but most people have a
tendency to either give up or take control of their power. Even single
individuals who seemed to be in charge of their own affairs would reveal that
the locus of control was external most of the time.
Some exceptional people live well-organized lives with traditional lifestyle
eating habits and operate from an internal locus of control that gives them an
enviable ability to self-manage. If you have a well-developed center, you have
an easier time developing new patterns, once you accept that it is necessary and
desirable to change. You can plan an orderly transition from old to new. People
with a strong internal locus of control are more skilled at collecting and
evaluating information. They accept professional advice as information, not as
parental authority. They tend to feel more confident making their own decisions.
When outside forces tend to override internal cues, control shifts to
external sources and self-regulation is difficult. Families tend to resist
change and are often hostile to one member who changes more than the others.
This is an old, irrational tendency of human groups and cannot be shifted
easily. One person seeking change has to negotiate with others to obtain their
approval and support. This negotiation is ongoing.
As lifestyle eating patterns become more eclectic, hectic and disorganized,
the locus of control seems to vanish, although, if we look closely, the locus
has shifted completely to the external world but in a disorganized and chaotic
fashion. For some, the external controllers are not nice. An oppressive spouse
or employer may rob you of all the energy you need to help yourself.
You may be ill enough to have become quite dependent on the help of others,
and you may have given up all your power to obtain this benefit. You may have
given your power to a physician, for example, who prescribes drugs, and who in
the worst case, shames you or inspires fear if you show any inclination to
independent decisions. You may not know how to shift control back to yourself.
You may be afraid of taking back your own power. Gaining more self-control can
be on of the most important undertakings in your life.