The Party is Over: Eight Points About Getting Healthy

It’s been a great party, hasn’t it? Twenty plus years of living life the way we want with no thought of tomorrow. Fast food joints on every corner plying us with addictive salty, greasy fare, gas stations where you can purchase not just a quart of oil but a corn dog and a Slurpee too! We’ve been too busy, and having too much fun for old fashioned drudge work like planning and preparing nutritious meals or living within our current income.  I once even had a college president tell me that those skills were unnecessary in the modern world – we could hire someone or something to do those boring tasks for us (Lord of the Manor syndrome). But living large has brought us to our current poor health and poor financial state, and cleaning up from a party is never fun. Since being physically healthy makes it easier to become financially healthy, here are some points on how to get rid of that party “hangover”.

  • Eat Less –  Americans eat too much. The average woman should consume about 1500 – 1800 calories each day, but actually consumes about 3000 calories each day. Unless you are out there plowing the back 40 (with a horse and hand plow!) that is too much food. We need to figure out why we eat as much as we do (boredom, anxiety, loneliness?) and fix it – and eat less.
  • No Soda Today – A recent study points out that we consume about 22 teaspoons of added  sugar each day. That’s almost 1/2 cup of sugar! Most of that sugar comes from soda and elaborate flavored coffee drinks (at least here in the great Northwest).  We ingest 25% more calories today than we did in 1980 and almost all of those calories are from beverages! So put down the soda.  Treat soda as a treat, meaning once per week, and lose weight, improve heart health, decrease risk of type 2 diabetes and save money too.
  • Avoid the Little Debbie’s – and Ring Dings, Devil Dogs, Twinkies, Bear Claws….you get the idea. Commercially prepared baked goods are full of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats. Eating these fats, also known as trans-fats, is quite possibly the single best thing to do (aside from smoking) to assure that you have a heart attack.  Most of us want to AVOID a heart attack, so make baked goods at home using canola oil or real butter.
  • Move – I’ve said it before, and I say it again – start moving your body! I personally hate exercise, so I like to think of it as being active. Everyone wants to be active, right? So lets force ourselves to be active. Park at the end of parking lot, get out and weed the garden, take a stroll around the neighborhood. Small steps lead to big gains; health gains.
  • Love Those Veggies – Every day there is a new study showing the benefits of eating veggies. Eating vegetables leads to less dementia, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancers of all kinds, macular degeneration, gout, the list goes on and on. Check out the farmer’s market or even the frozen food aisle and add some veggies to your diet.
  • Juice Drinks Are Not Juice – Go to the kitchen. Get a glass. Pour in some corn syrup. Add some water and a drop each of yellow and red food coloring. There – you have orange juice! Well, not quite. Artificial flavoring isn’t in most cupboards, and “juice drinks” shouldn’t be in either. Juice drinks fall into the same category as soda, an ocational “treat”, not a substitute for juice.
  • You’re the Grown-Up Now – Sorry, that 20 year party led us all to think that we didn’t have to take responsibility – it was someone else’s fault. But the new reality is that the government isn’t going to make us healthy, the workplace isn’t going to make us healthy, there’s no magic pill out there. We all have to take responsibility for ourselves and our family. It’s OUR job to learn which foods are healthy and which aren’t, to learn to read labels, to make sure our children don’t eat too much sugar, etc. It’s not easy. There was a time when going to the store for pasta meant coming home with a box of dried, semolina pasta. Today’s options include frozen prepared pasta dishes complete with exotic sauces, or dried pasta meals with creamy cheese-like coating, or shelf stable meals that “sound” healthy. It’s hard to know what is really good for you and what isn’t. Read those labels and don’t get taken in by marketing.
  • Food Manufacturers Can’t Do It All – It’s true. Most products at the grocery store could be healthier, but healthier ingredients cut into the bottom line and many food manufacturers aren’t willing to do that. Instead they come out with new, “reduced sodium!”  or “lower fat!” products that are misleading. (They may have less salt then before, but may still have way too much). But even when manufacturers provide good quality items, they have no control over how much someone eats or if we are eating a variety of foods. They can’t do it all, sadly we will have to practice some self control! Small food manufacturers and specialty food manufacturers are most likely to provide quality products made from healthy ingredients. After all, this is the blog of a small, specialty food manufacturer! Our whole business is based on the belief that healthy food can be convenient and taste good too. Many other small food manufacturers believe the same thing. Specialty foods do cost more, but high quality foods are more nutritious. And when we eat nutritious food, we find that we need less of it. Helping our bodies and our budgets leave their “partying ways” behind.
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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

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