8 Unhealthy Habits You Need to Avoid
If you take a look at the top 10 causes of death for high-income countries, you’ll find the key risk factors that cause these diseases can mostly be controlled.
Some things can’t be controlled (age, genetics, gender). But others can. You probably already know not to smoke, drink too much, or eat unhealthy foods.
All of the major diseases are caused by the same things: smoking, diet, exercise, alcohol and stress.
Changing these things will improve your physical and mental health.
The 8 Unhealthy Habits You Need to Avoid
- Body Fat Percentage
- Red and Processed Meats
- Fruits and Veggies
- Salt and Saturated//Trans Fats
This is by far the most unhealthy and dangerous habits/addictions, and it’s the hardest to change.
This is not exactly a habit, but eating the wrong type or amount of food can be. Being overweight is just below smoking the worst risk factor for many diseases.
You don’t need me to tell you to exercise, but listen to this: lack of exercise is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, colon and rectal cancers, diabetes, breast cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If you don’t exercise, you’re just asking to get a major disease.
Heavy drinking is one of the worst risk factors for many diseases. That’s more than two drinks of alcohol a day for men, and more than one drink for women.
A glass of red wine is a good thing, but too many and you’re greatly increasing your risk of disease.
Eating red meats, and processed meats like sausages, bacon, canned meats and so on, is a risk factor for colon/rectal cancer, stomach cancer, and high cholesterol, which in turn is a leading risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke.
While this won’t sit well with many people, the overwhelming mass of research supports this. I recommend going vegetarian or even vegan. This has a plus side of helping our planet, so you can feel extra good about it.
This is obvious, but it’s amazing how few veggies most people eat. Eating fruits and veggies reduces your risk of several leading diseases, and it’s one of the easiest habits to form.
Eat a salad (without heavy dressings, bacon or other meats, croutons or cheese), add veggies to soups or veggie chili, cook up veggies as a healthy side dish with dinner or lunch. Eat fruits with breakfast and as snacks.
Salt and saturated or trans fats are in so many processed or prepared foods, and they increase risks of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which increase risk for heart disease and stroke.
Saturated fats are bad, cook your own healthy meals instead of eating out or eating prepared foods.
Stress is a risk factor for heart disease and high blood pressure, which is itself a risk factor for stroke. Simplify your workday so that you’re not overly stressed, and exercise to relieve stress.
You can download the spreadsheet for the controllable risk factors.
How to Change Your Unhealthy Habits
Here’s how to change your habits:
- Change Just One Habit at a Time.
- Create Positive Habits You Enjoy
- Be Accountable
Just choose one! You’ll want to try and do it all at once, but it’s not sustainable. Choose one, stick with it, get it done and then move on.
Replace old unhealthy habits with new healthy habits. For example replace red meats with healthy foods you enjoy, explore new foods and maybe learn to cook with different ingredients. Make it positive and fun.
Find a friend or group to change the habit with you. You’re more likely to stick with it if you’re being held accountable.