Updated: Jun 6, 2022
What is your definition of lifestyle?
The definition of lifestyle according to dictionary.com is: “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.” We may also think of it in terms of the money needed to support the way in which we live.
We also hear the term healthy lifestyle; what does that entail? The most commonly held belief is that it refers to diet and exercise. Ugh!
For most people, the word diet conjures up thoughts of restrictions and sacrifice, and exercise means trips to the gym for exhausting sweaty lengthy workouts which many people assume their busy schedules prevent them from fitting into their day.
Words affect our thinking and our thinking affects our actions. If we shift our thinking to embrace the concept of an eating lifestyle, it may lead us down a path of eating habits that are more conducive to living healthfully.
Take a few moments to think about the foods you consume during the course of a week. Go even further and make a list of everything you consumed. Sounds easy but may actually be very hard to do, hard to do because in doing so you have to confront food choices that are counterintuitive for eating healthfully.
The main issue with the “Americana diet” is that it consists of foods that are full of fats, fried and are oversized portions. We sometimes refer to the foods in these categories as “comfort” foods. Foods we reach for when stressed; feeding a need having nothing to do with nutrition or wellbeing, or even a feeling of hunger. These “comfort foods’ are part of an unhealthy eating lifestyle which contributes to our discomfort or dis-ease and are the root causes of a host of conditions as we age: hypertension, diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, joint and skeletal problems, etc. etc. These conditions are a drain on our economy in the form of medical costs. In 2018, hypertension, was reported to be the costliest of the cardio-vascular conditions amounting to an annual cost to our country for treating high blood pressure alone is $131-$198 billion/year. Another report in the same year estimated that adults with high blood pressure incur healthcare costs of almost $2000 more annually.
How do we go from fats, fried and oversized to creating an eating lifestyle that favorably impacts longevity and wellbeing? Lifestyle decisions are conscious choices, so it is with an eating lifestyle.
We have to think about food mindfully rather than reaching for something mindlessly.
I’ve been guilty of this on more than one occasion. Reaching for something that I know I shouldn’t be eating, or wonder why am I eating it, because it contributes nothing to my wellbeing? It may even detract from It, or at the very least, take the place of a choice that would make a positive contribution to my well-being.
How do we switch from mindless to mindful eating?
After making a list of the foods you’ve consumed during the course of the past week, take stock of when and why you reach for the food items that are not part of a healthy eating lifestyle, and identify any habits associated with those choices.
Is it stress that’s driving you? Social gatherings? Frustration? Time, lack of preparation? Habit?
Are you more likely to make those choices at the end of a long day?
Adopting an eating lifestyle that puts you on a path to a healthier version of yourself is a process begins with determination and uncompromising commitment. But also with identifying areas where you can make changes.
You can begin the journey to developing an eating lifestyle compatible with well-being with small habits; small habits can make a big difference. Consider drinking a glass of water before and after every meal to increase your level of hydration. Think of it as the fuel for your tank. Our skin is an organ and at 90%, the largest organ in our body. It’s made up of water, protein, fats and minerals. In addition, hydration is key to maintaining well lubricated membranes.
Make a commitment to include a vegetable or fruit with every meal and eat more foods grown on plants rather than made in plants.
There are many other changes you can make on your way to adopting an eating lifestyle that puts you on a path to a healthier version of yourself.
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