Healthy habits for a happy life
Wow, it's November already. I had a plan for a blog post today on the topic of the post-Halloween, pre-holiday sugar rush. But, I woke up this morning to the terrible news that my neighbor had collapsed and passed away last night. I don't know him well, just well enough for a friendly hello or quick chat at the annual block party. I know that he has a wife and young-adult daughter whose whole world just got rocked in the blink of an eye. I feel guilty for ignorantly yelling at the Packers on TV last night while the emergency vehicles raced to the end of my block. Life is so unpredictable, and moments like this often stop me in my tracks.
I could turn this into a post on the importance of how eating well can promote heart health, blood sugar control and cancer prevention (although that would have no reflection upon my neighbor, I have no idea of the circumstances surrounding his untimely passing). But, instead, I want to encourage you, all of us, to live life fully, enjoy what we do and the people we have in our lives. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Because I am a dietitian in a gym with clients who want to eat healthier and lose weight, I regularly see the stress, the struggle, the frustration that many people have with trying to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Their doctors tell them to lose weight, their mothers comment on their weight, or they just put so much of their self-worth into the number on the scale. And, yes, weight loss can improve health parameters and reduce risk for illness and disease, so it is important and a worthwhile goal, but I would love to take some of the negativity out of the weight loss process. Losing weight, or the process of attempting to lose weight, should feel good and improve happiness, not the opposite. So, can we focus on healthy habits as a goal, rather than weight loss? Hopefully, the former creates the latter.
The people that I know who live the healthiest lifestyles are not following complicated diets or using heavy restrictions to guide their eating. They realize that quick-fixes don't exist, and that permanent lifestyle changes are what is important. Is what you are doing right now going to help you in 10 or 15 years? Will it still be maintainable then? Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day will be maintainable. A carb-free diet will likely not be. Additionally, many people who follow a healthy lifestyle aren't afraid to try new things. It's hard to change your lifestyle if you aren't willing to try new foods, or new ways of preparing old foods. Instead of vehemently denouncing brussel sprouts, perhaps try them shredded in a salad of other greens that you like, you may get the health benefits without even realizing they are there. Don't eat salmon because you don't know how to cook it? Make a salmon burger instead, or get it at Mariano's and have them grill it for you while you shop.
I had to have a conversation with my son the other day, reminding him that healthy food can (and does) taste good, and it's ok if it isn't as delicious as that chocolate in the Halloween stash. A banana may not be your favorite choice for a snack, but it doesn't taste bad, and it's good for you, and will help fuel your body with nutrients. You can't base all of your food choices on taste alone. Over time, healthier foods will be more and more satisfying, and they will make you feel good. Healthy foods also do not need to be complicated, either, or require hours of cooking. Fresh fruit, a bag of salad, yogurt, whole wheat toast, nuts, canned beans, tuna, popcorn, etc., are all quick, easy healthy foods with little prep required. Keep it simple. Spend the extra time with your family.
It is also important to note that many of the healthy people that I know are generally positive people who smile, give to others, exercise, enjoy their food and don't stress about what they are eating. They don't restrict all their favorites, but they do prioritize nutrition much of the time. I encourage you to try to make life simpler, not more complicated. Enjoy healthy foods and the life they promote, don't focus on the negative. Life's too short.
RIP Craig, and much love to your family.