Are healthy choices harder to make than unhealthy ones?

Doctors agree that healthier lifestyle choices are necessary for a strong immune system, overall good health,  and vitality. Diet and exercise are the front-runners in the healthy lifestyle campaign, but they aren´t the only contenders.

Healthy stress-management strategies such as meditation, journaling, and charity work, also have an important role. But are healthy lifestyle choices harder to make than unhealthy ones? This article takes a closer look at just that.

The truth

The leading causes of death in most developed countries are cancer, heart disease, and stroke, among others. The sad part about this is that chronic illnesses are due in part to behavioral changes. Healthy behavioral changes can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, so the question is this, how many premature deaths could have been prevented? The truth is that bad stress can have a negative effect on your body

The message of choosing healthier lifestyle choices is still going strong today. However, chronic diseases are on the rise. According to a Publication by NIH in February 2020, half of the US population had a chronic disease, and 86% of health care costs went towards the treatment of chronic diseases. A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy high fats and energy-dense diets may contribute to the rise of chronic illnesses.

Interesting Facts

According to the CDC, 9 in 10 Americans consume diets high in sodium.

1 in 6 pregnant women has low iron levels.

3 in 4 infants in the US are not exclusively breastfed for 6 months.

Each year nearly $173 billion is spent on healthcare for obesity-related issues.

Chronic diseases are responsible for 60% of worldwide deaths.

Chronic diseases demand 95% of healthcare costs, but less than 1% of the money is spent on their prevention.

Presently minded

It is easy to eat unhealthy foods which make you feel good at the moment instead of a result in the distant future. A trip to the fridge to get a container of ice cream with a spoon in hand, as you make your way back to the couch to binge-watch your favorite TV shows all day long is very easy.

The healthy option is to go to the kitchen, chop various fruits and vegetables, watch TV for 2 hours or less (set a timer if necessary), put on some comfortable shoes when the timer goes off, and head outdoors for some fresh air on a 30-minute walk, that is harder to do for some folks.

By nature, people tend to emphasize the present moment, the now. Most people care about immediate gratification/benefits and not that of the distant future therefore, this bias favors unhealthy choices.

Availability

Self-control is necessary to change behavior for personal long-term goals, if you are tired, sick, stressed out, hungry, or under pressure, your decision-making will falter. You may be able to resist one impulse, but your ability to resist consequent impulses will deplete. That means that your ability to resist one temptation may make it difficult to resist the subsequent ones.

Unfortunately, most food decisions are habitual. People tend to eat what´s in front of them. You can see this clearly with children. If you chop various fruits and vegetables and make them readily available to them, they will eat them. Likewise, if you make french fries available to them, they will eat that too. And if you make both of them readily available to the children at the same time guess which one they will choose?

Look around you at your supermarkets what is readily available? Supermarkets provide many possibilities for unhealthy foods (mass production, processed, cheaper). Some people may be more likely to eat healthier if there is more of a variety of healthy foods available.

However, please note that this won´t be the case for all people. Others are so stuck in their habits of unhealthy eating, that even if you would offer healthy foods cheaper, they may not choose them. Such people need to break their bad habits and form new healthier habits to take advantage of an increase in healthy foods.

Persuasion/eye appeal

Your eyes are the windows to your soul; your eyes can get you into trouble if you are weak, that mouth-watering piece of double chocolate cake that you see, can cause you to go against your better judgment and eat it.

You know how many calories this piece of cake has and how long you would have to work out to burn it off, yet you still eat it. So how can we make healthy meals more optically tantalizing? Adding a color-coding scheme like a traffic light (green, yellow, and red) to your healthy meals is one way to give them more appeal.

Wives who want to help their spouses to live a healthier lifestyle can add color to their meals to make them more appealing. One key is to make healthy meals as appealing as possible, not only with colors but also in presentation. Visual images can make healthy offers more tempting.

What can influence healthy choices?

It is not easy to change from unhealthy choices to healthy ones, but it is doable. There are many solutions you can put into place to help you on your transitional journey such as:

Goal setting

You cannot be vague about the goals, you have to be very specific. It´s not enough to say you want to lose weight in 6 months.

A more concrete goal setting is you want to lose 10-20 pounds in 6 months. You may plan to achieve this by running 3-4 miles 3-4 days per week for 5-6 months. Get the picture?

Habits

Overcoming habits are hard in the beginning. Habits are behaviors that become effortless and automatic after periods of repetition over a long time. Developing strong healthy habits are mandatory for healthy lifestyle changes.

Healthy recipes

Choose easy-to-cook healthy recipes that do not require a lot of time/preparation.

Meal planning

Plan your meals to be ahead of the game. Use ingredients you have at your disposal, especially fruits and vegetables, as they can spoil easily.

Precommitment

Precommitment is a technique or method of self-control where you intentionally limit your future options available to you to ensure your commitment to some course of action.

Loyalty cards

If someone pays you to stop smoking/eating unhealthy/to go to the gym regularly would you do it? Some gyms offer special incentives and discounts.

Conclusion

Committing to a healthy lifestyle is difficult, not impossible. The beginning of any transition is hard, but developing healthy habits (repetition over a long time becomes automatic and effortless). You don´t have to think too hard; your actions will be on autopilot.

You have many options to make your life and health more rewarding and worthwhile by decreasing your chances of chronic illness, suffering, and pain. There are always solutions available, so find the best ones that suit you.

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2 thoughts on “Are healthy choices harder to make than unhealthy ones?”

  1. To your question, I would personally say yes! For me, unhealthy choices are not difficult to make because they feel so good at the moment, but in the long run, they cost you your health and even your life.

    But healthy choices are a constant and daily battle for me. I naturally lean to eat fats and sweets; so for me eating fruits and vegetables are a conscious choice that I must make every day. 

    And I try to eat a plant-based diet, so you can imagine the hurdle…

    Reply

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