5 ways is meant to be a way to convey helpful advice to my friends and anyone else who happens upon this blog. Mostly my aim is to make this a positive endeavor, though every once in a while, I need to crack skulls. It’s time to cut the crap and get down to the truth about ways people only think they’re being healthy.
1. The Diet Product Dilemma: This is one most of us seem to know, so how is it that there are still so many companies peddling these products to a suspecting public? I won’t go into the fact that these food items are loaded with chemicals and other nasties, because EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS THAT. Seriously, if you are really that concerned about something being low-fat, then just skip it entirely. That’s the obvious way to avoid the fat. (And by the way, low-fat often means higher sugar content. How else is it still meant to actually “taste good?”) Rather than loading the pantry with sweeteners, low-fat cookies and other diet food traps, keep a bag of Reeses cups in the fridge and just have one as a small indulgence when you need a sugar hit. Sounds crazy, but it works!
2. Milk Myths: Okay people, let’s rap. According to my boss, who has been working in cafés his entire life (yes, literally), drinking a full-cream milk coffee everyday versus a skim coffee everyday only means you could gain 1-2kg in a year. A YEAR. Not a week, not a month, but a YEAR. I understand that we all get bloated tummies from time to time and I happen to be a skim drinker myself under normal circumstances. But when it comes to my coffee I indulge because it tastes amazing.
Now I’m not saying switch back to full-cream milk. There are benefits and drawbacks no matter your preference. My beef isn’t really with skim milk anyway (unless you call it “skinny” in which case my eyes are shooting lasers at you now), my real issue is with soy.
People seem to think that soy milk is the “healthiest.” Did you know that soy milk has about the same amount of fat as full-cream milk? In fact its general nutritional facts are almost interchangeable from normal whole milk. At the café we only run out of soy milk every once in a while, but when we do, it’s shocking to see that only 10% or so of people out there ordering soy actually need it for dietary reasons. Most people will sigh and get their 60-cent-less-expensive normal coffee on these occasions.
*Sidenote: If you’re drinking soy with a chai latte, then bravo. It’s the best taste combination ever, so I applaud you. But chai lattes are never the healthiest option regardless of milk choice. (Who really cares? SCLs are delicious.)*
Milk is tricky and affects everyone’s bodies differently. I am not trying to promote one thing over another. If you are trying to make the healthiest choice for yourself then ask your doctor to make the call. Otherwise go with what tastes good. Remember there is no one milk “to rule them all.” It all depends on your own nutritional needs. In cases where the ultimate goal is weight loss, probably go with skim. (But never “skinny,” remember lasers.)
3. Gluten-Free is Not For Me: Let me ask you something; do you have a gluten allergy? No? Cool, then eat bread like a normal person. I have served entire tables of 10+ people where everyone present ordered gluten-free toast as their breakfast. Maybe it was a Coeliac support group, but I’ve seen this pretty often, so I’m guessing these people were mistakenly thinking that being Gluten-Free is some sort of diet. Actually it’s a way for people to keep from DYING. I’ve had many a patron lecture me on the severity of this affliction, and I’m happy they have. I take this issue very seriously and so should everyone. (There are varying degrees of gluten allergies of course, but all are a significant lifestyle change for the person affected.)
So before you reach for the gluten-free muffin, remember that gluten-free does not mean carb-free.
4. Everyday I’m Shuffling: This is one piece of advice I find really hard to follow. Exercising 7 days a week is a no-no. Even professional athletes will include some level of rest and recuperation into their regimen. It’s important to give yourself days of rest or at least of low-level activity. Maybe alternate between cardio and strength days to allow every part of your body to regain its energies at some point during the week. Add some yoga or mediation to your routine, allowing for a mind and body experience to relax or to regain your focus.
Marathoners especially praise the benefits of the rest days. When training for something so physically demanding, overdoing it will lead either to illness or injuries. In my case it’s usually injuries. Respect your body and give it a break.
5. Let Off Steam: This one is deceptive. Everyone needs to release stress and anxiety in order to function. I am extremely guilty when it comes to venting when I’m frustrated. While a little bit may be necessary, too much sends out negative energy into your atmosphere, infecting the people around you. Focusing on the negative thoughts and feelings isn’t good for your mental and emotional health. Don’t walk around with a storm cloud above your head, get it out swiftly and be done with it. (Journaling and exercise can also be great ways to force out pent-up frustration.)
The rule I’d like to start living by is to share my anger with one or two other people and then let it go. It’s important not to whine to everyone you know about the same problem. This makes you seem negative, and it makes people less inclined to spend time with you. Be the kind of person who infects others with positive energy!
That concludes this edition of 5 ways. I hope I’ve ended on a positive note. I don’t mean to be critical or even hypocritical. I know there are many ways in which I fail to live healthy. It’s important to identify the ways we’re struggling and to work to get past them. Remember it’s almost time for those New Years resolutions. Aim high and like Bupa says: “Find a healthier you!”
Final note: It’s not a skinny cap when you’re adding four sugars. Okay it’s finally off my chest, I promise!