Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sensible Lifestyle Decisions

I have written before on this blog about the need for people to take responsibility for their own health and to make sensible lifestyle decisions. Most of this comes down to educating ourselves about the likely outcome of stuffing all sorts of junk food, sweet drinks, chemicals etc into our bodies and of becoming rolly-poly couch potatoes instead of getting outside into fresh air and sunshine to do some kind of physical activity that will keep our muscles and joints working. It also means having some interests in life outside of the home and away from the TV or computer games.

Beyond that, it also needs this information to be passed on to our children, so that they can live long and healthy lives. This information is passed on by setting a good example and by enforcing standards that are healthy within the home. What kind of parenting is it if a child is allowed to consume whatever tasty snacks they want from the almost infinite variety that the $-hungry food and drink industries have been able to concoct? The child doesn't know what is good or bad, other than what their taste buds are advising them. Don't blame an over-weight 10-year old when their health starts to break down, blame whoever was in charge of them and allowed that to happen.

The manufacturers of those products are somewhat to blame for bringing them to market but don't rely on those factories to have your health at heart, their financial bottom line is all-important to them. They will not change the formulation of their products until their bottom line starts to hurt. The best way to help that happen is to just stop consuming those junk products.

How often don't we hear people say that their excess weight is "in my genes". They are taking the easy way out and blaming their heritage for the bad state of their health. "I come from a long line of chubby people." Another one is "My family is big-boned." No, you come from a long line of people who have passed on unhealthy eating habits and family recipes that have done harm to all of them before you and will continue to do the same to your children and grandchildren and those who will follow them. It will not stop until someone breaks the chain and accepts that it does not need to be that way.

Bad health can come from inherited conditions for those unlucky to inherit those genes but most who use that excuse are simply too uninformed to know better or too stuck in their ways to do do anything about it. A rut is a terrible thing to break out of, in all walks of life. It is easier to continue along the same comfortable route, no matter how much we realise that we should do different, than to make the effort to climb out of that rut onto ground that allows us to travel in whatever direction we want.

I recently met up with a friend while walking my dogs around the neighbourhood. He is my age and does way more exercise than I do. I am more active than than most men of my age but I work very long hours, which cuts deeply into available time for exercise. He is retired and spends much of his day riding his bicycle, walking or in the gym. Despite all that exercise he has a big gut. He said to me "You are so lucky you are so slim, it must be your genes". I told him that I eat healthy and that makes the difference. His response was that he also eats healthy but it doesn't help. I listed my meals for the day, which were oats for breakfast, fruit and salad for lunch and grilled fish with salad and vegetables for dinner. He said "Oh, I don't eat like that" and walked away.

My friend and his wife eat out very often, mostly at all-you-can-eat restaurants, which is likely to be a big part of his problem. My family eats at those same restaurants but we do so as a treat rather than on a regular basis. The danger  is not only a risk of over-eating at the restaurant, to get the best value for money, it is also that you have no control over what is going into your food. Most restaurants in USA use way too much salt and/or sugar in their recipes, both of which are very bad for health if not used in moderation and both contribute to obesity and risks of cancer, diabetes and other serious health issues, if taken in excess.

Eating at home is not going to solve the problem either, if you are in the habit of taking the easy way out by opening cans or TV dinners. Those easy meals are possibly even worse culprits for over-stuffing with salt and sugar. Last night my wife opened a packet of rice/pasta mix to go with salads and the chicken that I had on the grill. The rice dish was OK but it was so salty that I would never buy it. I prefer to cook brown rice with herbs, for a more flavourful dish that is also much more healthy. Salt is not a flavour. A small amount of salt will accentuate flavours but more salt does not add flavour, it only adds bad health and a dry mouth.

This morning my email copy of Bottom Line's Daily Health News arrived in my computer, with two excellent articles related to what I am writing about today. One is Dangerous Food Additives that Sound Safe and the other is The Prescription that's More Important than Some Pill . One deals with all the things that are in pre-prepared food that should or shouldn't be there and the other covers changing your lifestyle for the better instead of popping pills.

My advise is that, no-matter what rut you are in, climb out of it and you will see many more options in front of you. Don't just continue along the way that you are just because that is the way that it has always been. Every day brings new things and opportunities into your world, many of which are out of sight when you have the limited field of vision that results from being in your rut. If your personal rut is the root of ill-health, that is the best reason of all to climb out of it and improve your life.

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