When “Healthy” Habits Aren’t

 

I applaud anyone who makes a commitment to improving their wellness with healthy lifestyle changes.

But what is “healthy”? It isn’t always as simple as it sounds! It’s certainly possible to overdo it with exercise, which leads to injury or to make dietary changes only to find out that today’s recommendation is tomorrow’s no-no.

The information is a growing, changing body of knowledge, and the best we can do is stay informed and be flexible (literally!). I also think it’s a fallacy to believe that one ideal will work equally well for everyone. For example, many people like eating small amounts of food several times a day rather than three bigger meals. But some folks really don’t care for that, or don’t find it practical, and that’s OK! Or, if everyone you know is into an exercise class that doesn’t appeal to you, do something that YOU enjoy instead!

And take everyone’s advice—even mine!—with a grain of salt. (Just not too much salt because, you know, watch your sodium intake.) Here’s a fun list from an article I read recently about habits that might seem supportive of good health, but really aren’t.

Brushing our teeth right after we eat. It might seem like it would be a good idea to brush immediately after eating, before the bacteria has a chance to multiply and do any damage. But the Academy of General Dentistry says if we eat or drink something that’s acidic like citrus, tomatoes, or soda, brushing within 30 minutes can actually “scratch” the acid right into the enamel of our teeth. This helps erode the enamel and leaves us susceptible to more harm. Better to rinse with water immediately after eating, and wait a half hour to brush.

Avoiding fat. For years “experts” told us if we wanted to lose unwanted pounds and maintain a healthy weight, we needed to eliminate fat from our diet. But selections low in fat are usually loaded with sugars and salt to make them palatable. And not eating enough fat causes other problems, from dry skin and constipation, to difficulty absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and even decreased brain function. See a nutritionist to get the latest science-based information on balancing healthy nutrients in your diet, which might include some fats like olive oil (and even butter!), certain nuts and seeds, and avocado.

Always putting our best face forward. While lashing out is never a welcome reaction, it’s not good to stuff down our feelings either. Sometimes feeling angry or irritated is appropriate, and holding it in can increase our chances of developing depression, high blood pressure, increased pain sensitivity and other ailments. When the time is right (usually not in the heat of the moment), there are healthy ways to engage in constructive dialog, such as “When you did X, it made me feel Y.” Let’s always try to offer solutions or alternatives.

Reusing grocery totes. OK, taking our own bags to the store is actually a great thing to do! But we need to wash them regularly!! And putting them in the dryer can help kill bacteria. If we don’t wash them, they get pretty gross.

Exercise—when we do our favorite workout ALL the time. If we do the same routine every time, we run the risk of injuring ourselves from stressing the same muscles over and over again. It’s far better to mix it up. We reduce the chance of overuse injury, and we really benefit from alternating cardio, weights/resistance, flexibility, and balance work.

Stretching before working out. Theories about stretching have really changed over the years. The most current research shows that stretching while muscles are cold could strain or tear them, and stretching before an athletic event can leave some joints more lax—which leads to injury. Better to warm up a bit slowly before more rigorous exercise, and stretch after our workouts while our muscles are still warm.

Source: “Healthy Habits that Can Haunt You,” by Stacey Colino, “Parade” Magazine, September 24, 2017

 

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth Posted on October 10, 2017

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