Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Right? Or Righteous? Defending what we eat

Something funny happens quite often when I talk about healthy eating and healthy living in general.  This "something" happens not only with myself, but almost every time I hear a conversation that raises the subject of healthy eating.

It goes something like this;

"I think I'd like to start eating healthier.. might be good for me"

.. is followed by;

"I'll tell you what healthy is! A big juicy steak!"

Sometimes the person will try to tempt and tease.. "mmmmm.. don't you wan't a big chocolate donut? How about a bacon double cheeseburger... mmmm.. you know you waaant it!"

The following are also fairly predictable;

"You're going to die anyway, might as well enjoy yourself and eat what you want."

"I ain't eating no cardboard/ rabbit food/ hippie food/ nuts and berries!"

Can we have a conversation about this without going there?  What is so wrong about eating right?

There's the rub.  Many cannot get passed their perception that eating healthy is about being controlled, being restricted, being told what to do, and making eating into a boring, tasteless, and unrewarding experience.

The conversation is hijacked and turned into a personal defence of ones basic right to be autonomous in their decisions rather than talking about the factual virtues of healthy eating, and more importantly how much quality of life increases with healthy eating, and quality of life decreases with avoiding healthy eating.

The end game is not so pleasant. Over my lifetime I've witnessed so many people, including some friends and family, develop type two diabetes, increase blood pressure, increase cholesterol, have heart attacks and strokes.. all due to unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Ostensibly many will say that these illnesses can occur even with living healthy so what's the point of living healthy?  Of course it is true that no matter how healthy we live, through no fault of our own we can become ill.  Really though, it's understood that at least one third of all cancers are preventible through healthy living.

I've written about research that demonstrated exercising 4 - 5 times per week results in 40% fewer colds, and the duration and intensity of cold symptoms are reduced as well.

All the evidence clearly shows healthy living is factually better for us in all possible ways objectively, and subjectively I have yet to meet someone who has adapted to healthy living express regret for doing so.  If anything they may regret holding on to their previous beliefs and habits so tenaciously.

Why is the most common response to raising the topic of healthy living spiteful or some kind of derogatory joke?

Seems to me that we simply get wrapped up in established habits, engrained sense of reward, and keeping up social norms.  It's normal to overeat. It feels good to eat things that we know are bad for us.  Doing so fulfils some kind of rebellious self control reward; or worse, we simply perceive the reward and don't stop to think about what we're doing to ourselves.

Seriously.. How many readers out there have had personal experience with their own health or the health of family and friends, co-workers, or someone you know?  And how many times has that health problem been related to unhealthy living?

I read an interesting article on a study recently.  Go here if you're interested.

The study asked young adults about their health and how risky behaviours effect their health.
The short story is many young adults, even if they currently had health problems, did not believe their lifestyle habits would negatively effect their health.

In this study the risk of stroke was being assessed.  Living healthy can reduce risk of stroke by 80%.

I guess because stroke and other illnesses seem to be abstract in nature if you currently are not experiencing them, that many cannot connect to the risk.  Stroke and illness is something that happens to other people, "not me".

Aside from all that abstract serious risk stuff, healthy living habits have immediate positive outcomes.

Right away you feel better, have more energy, sleep better, think better, and feel more positive more of the time.

Let's move away from the seemingly preprogrammed rejection of healthy living and start reaping the benefits.  An orange is more rewarding than an donut. No really, it is : -)

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