I’m Not the Only Health Nut…

In today’s society, we are sitting down and on-the-go.  Obesity is on the rise, and there are many trends which are adding to this dilemma.  In general, good or bad health does not happen by accident.  You can maintain a healthy weight and still have obesity-related diseases.  This means that diet is the main factor to combating the obesity-related diseases.  In order to incorporate a healthy diet, you have to be very dedicated and plan in advance to successfully avoid the plethora of readily available unhealthy food options.  American pastimes such as ball games, movies, fairs, carnivals, concerts, amusement parks, and of course any event with alcohol usually go hand-in-hand with numerous high-calorie, nutrient-lacking food options.  The number of fad diets out there are astounding and most of them come down to this basic formula= eat less crap + eat more vegetables and fruits.  Would-be dieters struggle to stay consistent as it seems they are surrounded by junk food everywhere they go- whether it be just another day at the office or the hearty home-cooked meals of family gatherings.  Nobody wants to be a Debbie Downer by neglecting the food gifts of coworkers, friends, or family.  And everyone wants to partake in the “good” food that typically goes hand-in-hand with good times.  The good news is that today’s society is increasingly aware of the healthier diet movement and beneficial options are becoming prevalent.

So how do you defend yourself in a world surrounded with junk?  It isn’t easy, but you can do it!  If you do a little planning, you can overcome these challenges.

1) Take control of plans

Be the planner!  Be the one to invite others to restaurants or outings where you know a people to partake in activities with you and plan something healthy!  Make plans that involve doing something active and be certain that there are healthy options.  Most restaurants like Ruby Tuesdays, Applebees, and even Cracker Barrel have healthier choices strewn amongst the plethora of the not-so-good choices.  Menus now have sections dedicated to nutrient-filled salads as well as lower calorie foods which are no longer breaded, fried, and covered in heavy fatty sauces and gravies.  Some menus even provide you with the calorie content.  There are even reasonable fast food choices at places such as Panera, Salad Works, Subway, Wendy’s or Starbucks.  And don’t forget to check out the salad bar at your local grocery store, which may be just as quick as a fast food restaurant.

2)  Don’t be shy

Most people are striving to better their health as well and will be happy to join you in your better-foods endeavor.  Do not be afraid!  Be vocal about your consumption concerns; it will help you to be more consistent with your choices and will influence those around you to give in to the health bug.  You do not have to nag others about it, and of course trying to force them will prove unsuccessful.  However, do not let their poor decisions affect yours.  At work, you can invite a co-worker to go get a salad with you or just bring your own meal with you. If eating out, whenever possible, get your food to-go so that you do not have to worry about the other options creeping their way into your mind.  And try not to read any other part of the menu than the healthy options.  When going to a party, be certain to take a salad or fruit and vegetable tray with you to ensure an option you’ll feel good about. Don’t let social pressure make you give up your healthy choices.

3) Limit alcohol intake.  

This can be the hardest challenge: to stay away from others who are drinking or to abstain from drinking. However, it is imperative.  It is very easy to ingest extra calories by having just one glass of wine.  True, they say that there are some health benefits to drinking a glass a day.  However, there are bigger risks when that consumption leads to extra, unnecessary calories from the alcohol as well as the sweet, heavy, or fat-laden food calories typically consumed with alcohol. And let’s not forget how excessive consumption of alcohol robs your body of important muscle-building activity and energy creating vitamins, which will cause fatigue and loss of muscular strength and tone.

It can be hard to go against the grain and break away from the popular unhealthy trends in today’s society, but it is important for sustaining your life.  The foods you eat in your 20’s will dictate how much irreversible damage your body incurs by your 30’s.  This is not meant to be an all-or-none cold-turkey approach.  Begin by incorporating one small diet goal at a time, such as one fruit a day, one vegetable a day, one healthy meal a day until you reach a diet that is about 80% healthy.  No one enjoys time spent battling health-related diseases or watching others struggle with those diseases.  In the long run, you aren’t just eating healthy for yourself, but for your loved ones as well.  Do not give in, because your persistence will pay off!

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