Monday, December 15, 2014

Habits and Healthy Choices

Our days revolve around some sort of schedule. 

My weekday schedule consists of the following:  wake up, wake the kids up, feed the kids, get myself and the kids dressed, drive kid #1 to school, drive home, take kid #2 to school, exercise, shower, eat a real breakfast, errands or clean, pick kid #2 up from school, more cleaning or errands or food preparation, await kid #1 to be delivered at the bus stop, food preparation, help kid #1 with homework, provide dinner for husband and kids, bathe kids, tuck kids into bed, pour a glass of wine, settle in for the evening, go to bed.

Many evenings my glass of wine is something I look forward to.  For others, it may be a smoke break at work, a bag of chips, a doughnut, a cookie, reading a book, or watching a favorite television show.

We all seem to get into daily routines and we get used to the same routines day-in and day-out. 

And then there are the added stressors that come into our lives beyond our control much of the time that we need to face and overcome. 

These emotional stressors that tend to travel in and out of our lives are sometimes big and sometimes small.  Sometimes, we don't know how to overcome the stressors that find ways into our life.

At the same time, each stressor, big or small, is a challenge to some degree for each one of us to face.  These stressors provide changes to our daily routines and can cause personal stress and anxiety.

The questions to ask yourself are:
(1) "How am I coping with life stressors?"
(2)  "Do my coping mechanisms effect my health?"

As stated above, I admitted to having a glass of wine prior to going to bed.  Wine helps me to relax at the end of my day and provides a sense of pleasure. 

This pleasurable habit of mine could certainly effect my health if I were to increase the number drinks I consume during the evening, or if I decided to have more alcoholic beverages throughout the day. 

Other individuals may engage in habits such as consuming a bag of chips after work, or grabbing a sausage biscuit from the nearest fast food joint before starting their day.

The diet coke, the morning or afternoon cup of coffee, the energy drink, the 3 p.m. candy rush, the ...

The list of food and beverage habits could continue indefinitely.

Let's be honest.  There are food and beverage options available that provide pleasure to us because they just taste good. 

I'm a dietitian and I have it in writing for the world to see that, yes, I eat ice cream, cake, chocolate, pizza, cookies, chips, fried foods, convenience food items, salads with regular and fat-free dressing, fruit, vegetables, whole grain foods, low-fat meats and dairy products. 

I drink coffee with regular creamer, diet soda, regular soda, smoothies, juice, milk, water, sweetened and unsweetened teas, hot tea, wine, beer, mixed drinks, and hot cocoa (with marshmallows). 

As a dietitian, I know the importance of consuming nutrient-dense foods and drinking a lot of water. 

As a dietitian, I know the importance of consuming foods and beverages in moderation.

As an American, I know how stressful the days can become and I am fully aware of how easy it is to let our unhealthy food and beverage selections become unhealthy habits. 

I am a dietitian and I will be the first to say that my diet is not perfect.  Why?  Because I am an American too, and living life in today's society is challenging.  There are a lot of stressors that effect our daily routines. 

In addition, our society is bombarded with images of foods and beverages that are not healthy if consumed in excess.  As a result, there may be a time I eat an entire candy bar.  There may be a time I eat an entire burger and fries.  And there may be an evening to which I consume 3/4 of a wine bottle.  

As an American, however, I am responsible for my own choices in life which include the food and beverages I choose to consume. 

For example, if I get into the habit of consuming a whole candy bar, an entire burger and fries, or 3/4 of a wine bottle, then my health will be in jeopardy.

As a dietitian I witness many health problems associated with nutrition and choices that have led to unhealthy habits.

Perhaps many of the health problems in today's society are a result of our own choices that have led to unhealthy habits.

The good news is we are not just Americans.  We are also human beings that have the ability to make healthy versus unhealthy choices. 

Overtime, our healthy choices can turn into healthy habits.  If we consistently choose healthy food and beverage options, then there is a high probability we will get into the habit of making healthy choices. 

On the contrary, the unhealthy choices we make from time to time do not need to become unhealthy habits. 

Why?  Because we have accountability and self-control at our core, and we have the ability and strength to not let our unhealthy choices become unhealthy habits.

Easier said than done, but possible nonetheless. 

We can break out of our unhealthy habits, we just need to make a choice to do it. 

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