By Laura Andromalos, MS, RD, CDE, CSOWM

If you have been on an airplane lately, you’ve heard the safety speech. Did you notice the part about oxygen masks? Make sure your mask is secure before helping others around you. What happens if you don’t secure your own oxygen mask in an airplane emergency? You may pass out before you are able to help those around you.

When I hear that safety speech, it reminds me of a common theme in my appointments with patients: the need to put your health first.

Many of my patients are givers. They are spouses, parents, and children and they give of themselves to their families on a daily basis. Additionally, several of them have giving professions such as personal care attendants, health care providers, and teachers. Over the years, they have always put other people’s priorities before their own. They worry about taking care of the needs of others and they neglect their own health needs, such as sleep, nutritious food, exercise, and relaxation.

For example, I worked with a patient who took time to make lunches for her three children and her spouse every night but never made her own lunch. Instead, she relied on fast food during the day which was contributing to her weight gain. If you are a giver, I’m sure you can think of similar examples.

It’s wonderful to