So what is this riddle all about? I had a brief exchange with a young man (21 years old) recently. He was drinking an energy drink and saying that he knew they were bad for him. One of his justifications was that he doesn’t drink coffee so that’s his way of ‘waking up’ when he begins his day. I asked him why he just didn’t go to bed earlier. His reply was that that absolutely not an option with his lifestyle and specifically spending time with his girlfriend. He then said that he can ‘get away with it’ at this age and once this phase was over he would stop drinking them. I told him that when someone develops an illness in middle age or older it’s not because of something they consumed yesterday or even last year. The negative consequences of unhealthy habits compound in the body over time and then manifest in a health problem decades later. He agreed as he continued drink the toxic beverage.
Many young people have this mindset that they can eat whatever they want and lead a lifestyle consisting of harmful habits such as not sleeping enough when they are young because they can still handle it. This is especially evident in those ‘lucky ducks’ that remain slim in spite of eating large amounts of junk foods. It’s unfortunate that many people change their habits only when they are diagnosed with a life threatening or serious disease. When cancer tumors are detectable or the liver is damaged or the pancreas malfunctions these are the results of decades of abuse from a poor diet and lifestyle. Basically the damage is done by the time we feel symptoms or see physical evidence of a problem. If the problem can be cured drastic measures such as surgery or medication are typically required. In some cases a significant dietary change helps. This is very difficult for some people to adapt because their eating habits and cravings are ingrained physically and emotionally.
I firmly believe in a proactive approach to long term health. Lifestyle and diet are not the only components involved in preventing illness but they are major factors over which we have so much control. Make the choice now to make some permanent changes to reduce your risks of getting sick. Most of us know what to do to be healthier. The challenge arises with executing these behaviors on a consistent basis. Just in case you need a reminder here are some simple tried and true tips:
- Drink more water.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, beans and healthy fats.
- Eat less or no meat and dairy.
- Avoid processed foods with artificial additives, added sugar and added oils.
- Get more sleep;7-8 hours per night.
- Exercise everyday or as much as possible