In a nation plagued by obesity and obesity-related illnesses, Americans are searching for a way to get healthy now. Dietitian Sarah Wood gives us the skinny about how to get healthy.
These days, there is a lot of information and misinformation about so-called “healthy” eating. The internet, TV doctors, magazines, books, and even your local news station all offer advice to whittle your middle and get that beach body we all want. According to a World Health Organization study last updated in 2017, Americans spend billions of dollars a year on products and services that promise weight loss and better health, yet we have the highest obesity rates of any other industrialized nation.
Rather than discuss the how’s and why’s of obesity (we’ll save that for another article), let’s focus on what exactly it means to be healthy. Is health just a matter of weight? Is it possible to be overweight but still be healthy? Do I have to eat a special diet or take certain supplements to be healthy?
What Is Health?
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being”. More than just the absence of disease, health is about being able to adequately cope with the demands of everyday life.
Multiple factors affect health. These factors can be organized into three overarching categories:
While we might not have much say in our genetic makeup, we can control our lifestyle, and to some degree, our environment. Unfortunately, there is no one weird trick that will make you young, slim, healthy, and happy. The real key to health is work, and it takes time.
How to Be Healthy
Here are some of the best things you can do for your health:
- Avoid tobacco products.
- Be physically active every day, and try to avoid sitting for long periods of time.
- Eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day.
- Keep processed foods and added sugars to a minimum.
- Drink enough water to keep your urine the color of lemonade.
- Limit alcohol to no more than 1-2 drinks per day.
- Practice good sleeping habits. Aim for 7-8 hours a night.
- Learn to minimize and manage stress in a healthy way.
- Build and maintain healthy relationships with other people. We are social animals, and we suffer in isolation.
- Find meaning and purpose in life. This may be found through your job, family, volunteer work, or belief in a higher power.
- Take time to enjoy the little things in life.
- Practice gratitude.
Get Healthy Now
Good health isn’t about the number on the scale or your pant size, although they can be factors that affect your health. It doesn’t require detox diets or crazy intense workouts. Good health is about feeling good, being able to cope with the demands of life, and taking care of yourself. No matter where you’re currently at, you can take steps to better health.
Think about what you can do right now to make healthy changes. Can you get a glass of water? How many fruits and vegetables have you had today? Can you add an extra vegetable to your next meal? How about taking a 10 minute walk over lunch? Make a plan to take 10 minutes to do something fun today.
By the end of today, make a plan for success for tomorrow. Planning for success will make it easier to succeed over a long period of time.