Challenging Healthy Living

Have you heard? Absolutely everything can kill you.

NUTRITION That's right, the car you drive, fumes from the carpet, [1] household cleansers, [2] public soap dispensers, [3] even catheters [4] used to deliver medicine in hospitals are all in collusion to snuff out your precious life. It is challenging to stay healthy.

The Daily Grind

After a brisk jog through smoggy streets on our way to an MRSA-laden gym, [5] try finding something healthy to eat. Processed and unprocessed foods, meat or vegetables are all accused of causing excess fat and harboring carcinogens or salmonellae. [6,7] Even the protein bars at the health food store are packed with sugar and calories.

It's like playing a chess game with someone who significantly outranks you. No matter how you move, you appear doomed. Rather than prolong the agony of defeat, you may make risky moves that expose valuable pieces to capture, or simply resign to defeat when it appears there is no way out.

So how do we respond when besieged with health warnings? We arise in the morning addicted to aspartame-saturated coffee to combat fatigue. [8,9] Check. Ever expanding bodies are squeezed into perpetually shrinking cars that inch along stressful traffic jams. We sit at un-ergonmic workstations or spend the day outdoors exposed to UV radiation. Check. We drive through fast-food restaurants in the evening and gorge ourselves on sodium-rich fructose-laden meal deals packed in landfill-poluting containers. Check. Then with potato chips and pretzels falling between the seat cushions, we plop our obese bodies down on cushy sofas and entertain ourselves with the latest digital devices until we fall asleep. Check. This routine exposes us to the risks of diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. Checkmate.

Don't Give In. Get Out.

With fatigue and joint pain from obesity, patients ask doctors to cure them. Unfortunately there is no pill that replicates the effects of regular exercise and healthy eating. So rather than piercing us with the risks of obesity like a javelin, the doctor kindly suggests moderate exercise with occasional OTC pain relievers. [10] Both may leave remedies my leave the patient frustrated, looking for solace in a half gallon of rocky road ice cream.

There's a common thread in this scenario—a defeatist mentality. Don't just give in. Learn how to overcome adversity—become a proactive challenger. Investigate healthy alternatives. True, there have been food recalls on fresh spinach, [11] tomatoes, [12] and peanuts. [13] But does this really suggest that immersion in processed foods is the answer? It has been reported that the meat glue that holds together deli meats, chicken nuggets, and simulated fillets can expose consumers to more bacteria if not heated above 150 degrees. [14,15] Is preparing a hot sandwich too difficult?

Processed foods are cheaper than organic because they use insecticides for larger crop yields. Animals are injected with steroids and antibiotics to increase muscle mass in the shortest amount of time. [16,17] Genetically modified seeds produce picture-perfect fruit and vegetables that lack the flavor and nutrients of vine- and tree-ripened products. [18] Furthermore, pre-packaged processed foods are saturated with the cheapest preservative available—salt. And not even natural sea salt—the chemical equivalent, sodium chloride, is used with a compliment of artificial colors and flavors.

Can you afford to hire a dietitian to make healthy menus, shop, and cook three meals a day with two snacks? Can you pay the hourly rate for a personal trainer three times a week? For some, this would be cheaper than all the money spent on medications, doctor visits, and junk food. For most, the additional expenses are out of the question. You can still take charge of your life and make a difference.

The Pawn Triumph

pawn mate

One of the most embarrassing checkmates is one by pawns—the weakest pieces. Though small, they should not be overlooked. Similarly, you can effect mighty accomplishments with relatively small adjustments. Without becoming a paranoid germaphobe, digest the bad news all at once—much of it is below in the references. Learn about the recalls and dangers of improper food handling. Then enact a systematic plan. Assess the scope of the issue. Then begin making appropriate lifestyle adjustments.

Combining health and food budgets may infuse the latter with additional funds to begin placing organic food items in your shopping cart. [19] Spending a bit less on jogging outfits or tennis shoes can go a long way. Begin with an annual physical. Candidly ask for fitness suggestions. Your physician will feel more confident of your cooperation if you broach the subject. Ask for specific exercise and dietary recommendations. In some cases, this may literally involve baby steps—for example walking on a level surface for 30 minutes three or more times per week. After three weeks, you'll find that it is a regular routine. This may dull the fear of potential chastisement during your doctor visit.

The power to reduce landfill waste is also in your hands. Recycle plastics or avoid them when you can. Take a hard look at how much trash remains after putting away groceries or eating a fast food meal. In some cases the cubic waste is greater than the consumed food. You can choose to dine at places that package food in biodigradable containers. Many are using paper and cardboard rather than plastics. If your favorite places don't comply, let the manager know why you will be changing venues.

When shopping for food, read the nutritional labels. Often there is considerable variety for each product. Given the choice of cheap, dangerous food or slightly more expensive healthy food, which should you choose for you and your family? Make low-sodium and low-calorie selections. Avoid artificial flavors and colors when possible. You may find it helpful to have someone with similar goals accompany you when shopping rather than someone who points out every heavily advertised snack.

Comply with safe food handling recommendations. This includes frequent hand washing, sanitization of food surfaces, and avoiding cross contamination. [20] For more suggestions on staying fit, see the article on this site: Stay In Shape the Easy Way. The next article will discuss making more significant adjustments in diet on the path to becoming a vegetarian.

Tags: dietician, germaphobia, hygiene, obesity, ocd, overweight, sedentary

References
  1. Toxic Carpet: Dangerous Toxins That Live In Your Carpeting. aircleaners.com
  2. Harmful Ingredients in Household Cleaning Products. purezing.com
  3. Refillable Soap Containers Could Spread Bacteria. medscape.com
  4. Increased staph infections linked to commonly used PVC catheters. fiercehealthcare.com
  5. Be Sure Exercise Is All You Get at the Gym. nytimes.com
  6. What Are the Riskiest Food-Bacteria Combos? medicinenet.com
  7. The dangers of processed foods. knol.google.com
  8. Aspartame — Other Sweeteners. sweetpoison.com
  9. Death By Sucralose: I'm Addicted To Artificial Sweetener. blisstree.com
  10. CDC: Over 50? Heat cold cuts to 165 degrees to avoid listeria. usatoday.com
  11. McNeil Product Recall Information. mcneilproductrecall.com
  12. Ready Pac Foods baby spinach recall: E. coli O157:H7. foodpoisonjournal.com
  13. Recall: Grape tomatoes and packaged salads—possible salmonella contamination. consumerreports.org
  14. Skippy Recall: Peanut Butter Recall 2011. amotherworld.com
  15. Cow's blood enzyme used to glue food; raises health, faith issues. digitaljournal.com
  16. Drug-resistant infections lurk in meat we eat. msnbc.com
  17. Modified Salmon Is Safe, F.D.A. Says. nytimes.com
  18. Genetically Engineered Food. globalissues.org
  19. Study Suggests Less Salmonella in Organic Chicken. foodsafetynews.com
  20. Safe Food Handling. usda.gov