Empowering Wellness: A Comprehensive Guide to Regular Self-Checks for a Healthier You

With all the busy happenings in our lives, we often forget to pay close attention to what keeps us going: our body. Luckily, it has powerful ways of alerting us if something is not right. Self-checks help us develop a better awareness of what our bodies need and fix any issues early on. 

When to Perform Self-Checks 

This can vary depending on the person and their condition. For the general healthy population, it is a good idea to check yourself once or twice a month. Give your body and emotional health a check-up and quickly address any items that require attention.

For specific conditions, a self-check might be done more often. For example, I advise diabetic patients to check their feet daily since they have a greater risk for slow healing wounds and neuropathy symptoms, such as a loss of sensation.  

What to Check

This list is not comprehensive but is a good starting point. You can add items that are of interest to your personal health and lifestyle needs. 

Body and Skin 

  • Does something suddenly look or feel unusual? 
  • Do your clothes fit remarkably differently? 
  • Are you feeling intolerant to hot or cold? 
  • Is there swelling in your arms or legs? 
  • Do you see a mole? Does it look uneven, get bigger, or change its color?

Exercise Capacity 

  • Are you unable to do your normal activities?  
  • Do you notice excessive fatigue, labored breathing, or pain? 


  • How do you space your meals?  
  • How long does it take you to eat a meal?  
  • Do you feel hungry soon after eating?  
  • Do you feel your body is getting enough food?  
  • Do you have frequent gastrointestinal symptoms after eating (bloating, stomach pain, or heartburn)? 
  • Are you constantly craving sugar, ice, or non-food items? 
  • Do you have any new food intolerances?

Nails and Hair 

  • Do you notice brittle or easily chipped nails? 
  • Are your nails spoon-shaped, discolored, or very hard? 
  • Are you experiencing excessive hair shedding or dryness?


  • Do you feel burning or tingling?  
  • Are your feet cold?  
  • Are you experiencing a loss of sensitivity to pain or temperature? 
  • Are there cuts or bruises that are not healing? Do you see any bleeding? 
  • Do you have very thick toenails that are hard to cut? 


  • Are you having sudden mood shifts or irritability? 
  • Do you repeat negative self-talk? 
  • Are you unable to concentrate? 
  • Have you lost interest in your normal activities? 


  • Have you noticed changes in how long you are sleeping? 
  • Do you wake frequently at night?  
  • Do you snore loudly, stop breathing, or wake up with a dry throat? 
  • Do you have headaches or morning fatigue? 

The next two checks are for adults over age twenty and should be accompanied by imaging or further work-up as needed.  

Breast Check 

  • Do you see or feel new lumps?  
  • Is there dimpling or a change in texture on the surface of your skin? 
  • Are there changes around the nipple, such as inversion or discharge?  
  • Is there swelling under your arms? 

Testicular Check for Men 

  • Do you see any swelling or lumps? 
  • Is there unusual firmness?  
  • Do you have dull, aching pain in the lower abdomen?   

When to See a Healthcare Provider 

If you notice something unusual, your symptoms are not going away, or they are worsening, it is imperative to have yourself checked out by your provider. The body is very good at indicating when something is in trouble. Sometimes, it will be one sign; other times, it will be a cascade of disturbances. These signs should not be ignored, regardless of how small they may seem. Getting an early start on any treatment will make your recovery much easier and faster. 

Making Connections 

Aside from identifying possible problems, self-checks also help us make connections between our behaviors and their outcomes. Remember that our body’s organ systems do not work alone. Everything is deeply connected. For example, our skin is an indicator of our hydration status, gut health, and hormonal changes, especially in women. Our energy levels tell a story about sleep patterns, emotional health, and food choices. Sometimes, these signs are very apparent, while others require deeper investigation.

As a practitioner, I use such clues to understand the root cause of a patient’s nutrition concerns. I think back to consults for patients with newly diagnosed fatty liver disease. As the name implies, in fatty liver disease, there is fat build-up around the liver. If left untreated, it can result in liver failure and heart attack.

Hoping to fix this, patients often go on a fat-free diet. Much to their surprise, it actually worsens their symptoms. Frequent hunger pangs and mood swings take over, cravings never seem satisfied, and their increased food intake leads to more fat storage. The result? More fatty liver, flaky skin, and brain fog. After an assessment and some simple swaps, these symptoms can be mitigated, and the patient can be pointed in a healthier direction. It all comes down to taking time to reflect on what your body is trying to say.  

Closing Thoughts  

Making self-checks a regular part of your routine can keep you in tune with your physical and emotional well-being. The more you do this, the easier it is to sustain long-term.

Remember that the body also needs a breather. Make sure to give yourself some time to let go and relax your body and mind. This body we live in each day is an Amanah, a trust gifted to us in this life. It is incumbent upon us to take care of it. In turn, our best self is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and the people closest to us.  

Summaya Ali holds a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Illinois and is a registered dietitian. She is a regular contributor to Halal Consumer Magazine. She works with a variety of conditions, with two of her favorite areas of practice being chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.  

Reprinted from the Fall 2023 issue of Halal Consumer Magazine with permission from IFANCA and Halal Consumer Magazine.  

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