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Why Don’t We Embrace More Healthy Lifestyles?

We consider some of the reasons why we don't make better choices for our health.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.   World Health Organization, 1948

Nothing is more personal than our health.  Arguably, nothing is more taken for granted than our health.  Don’t think so?  Look around you.  More statistics exist about the damaging unhealthy effects of tobacco smoking than ever.  The National Cancer Institute states, “Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.” 

Yet, although the rate of smoking has declined over the past several decades, the percentage of adult Americans who smoke has remained virtually unchanged since 2005 –  about one in five or 20% according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Alarmingly, the CDC also found that despite an increasing number of laws restricting smoking in public places, about 40 percent of nonsmoking adults and 54 percent of children show evidence of tobacco exposure through secondhand smoke.  And virtually all children who live with smokers (98%) have some exposure to the toxic chemicals.

Almost all smokers probably know that it isn’t healthy, yet they continue to do it, and put at health risk their children and others around them.

Here’s another example.  Consider the number of fast food places that exist, practically on every corner.  Most nutrition professionals would probably agree that processed meat (pink slime), fried ingredients, and high fat and high sugar drinks do not support good health.  Fruits and vegetables are virtually absent in these meals (and don’t count the ketchup on the fries as a vegetable serving).  Yet, despite the health risks associated with fast food, we continue to drive through these places to get our burger, fries, and shake or cola.

Why?  Certainly one reason is that the marketing or mind programming begins early.  Jamie Oliver, a chef, restaurateur and media personality, recently showed youngsters on a TV program how chicken nuggets are made with scrap parts and chemicals.  Despite the kids shouting “yuck” when they saw the slimy mess before cooking, they still opted for the nuggets instead of more healthy choices.

A market research firm (Mintel) recently found in a survey that there are five key reasons why people do not eat healthy meals:

1. Availability

2. Cost

3. Confusion

4. Time constraints

5. Taste concerns

Another reason may be the lack of knowledge or agreement on what is healthy.  The benefits and risks of coffee and chocolate, for example, have bounced back and forth from nutrition experts over the past several years.

If you consider the definition of health from the World Health Organization, perhaps the most overlooked reason why we don’t follow more healthy lifestyles is that we are just too stressed out, overwhelmed, skeptical, or apathetic.

Deborah Austin, a transpersonal psychologist in South Lyon, offers the following professional perspective on why we don’t embrace more healthy lifestyles, “There are many complex subconscious reasons why we neglect and even abuse our bodies to create a state of poor health.   For most people, life’s plate is so full that we dash from one obligation to the next laboring under the delusion that if we just try hard enough, ”someday” our life will be in order, “someday” it will be possible to slow down and enjoy life.   Unfortunately, the stressful pace often doesn’t slow until the lack of care and attention to our body creates illness and dis-ease.  My clients are often shocked to receive a diagnosis of a serious illness.  The idea of preventing the illness, maintaining good health by making healthier lifestyle choices is simply something they haven’t considered.”

In our next few blogs, we will explore the importance of the connection between our mind, body, and personal awareness.  We will also exam the notion that many people hold that the United States has the best health and healthcare system in the world.  A comparison of health statistics between the US and other countries shockingly reveals that we are far from being the healthiest country in the world.

Until then, be well and stay healthy.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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