If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception; it is a prevailing attitude- Colin Powell
Habits can either make or break you. They decide whether you will achieve what you want or lose.
However, they are so ingrained in us that we don't even notice them. I came to realize early in my life that the quality of my life is dependent on the aggregate of my habits.
This realization has helped me so far, to pay more close attention to myself and others, and to learn what habits or a combination of habits make us all successful or fail.
So, here I have compiled a ready list of 7 habits that you need to immediately change with good ones.
1. Are you taking caffeine in the evening?
I don't think you need any introduction to caffeine. We mostly get it from coffee, tea, chocolates, or soft drinks, but there are over 60 plants that have caffeine.
Caffeine is good as well as bad for our health. If you get it in a moderate amount, it will improve your health. If you get more than the recommended dose, it is harmful to your body.
Experts recommend no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day for healthy adults, which is equivalent to 4 cups of coffee or 10 cans of cola.
However, when you do take it, experts recommend taking it 6 hours before sleep. So, if you go to bed at 9 PM, you must not take caffeine after 3 PM. If you go to bed earlier you need to adjust your coffee or caffeine intake accordingly.
The reason for this is that it affects your sleep badly. The consequences of poor sleeping habits are poor heart health, high blood pressure, lower immunity, and a low sex drive.
Also, with poor sleep, you stop looking charming, energetic, and confident. Along with poor body health, you now have wrinkles on your face, dark cycles under your eyes, and overall a lazy face.
Personally, I do not take caffeine. I used to, but following what the experts say is too much trouble for a drink. I have come to relish green tea and black tea. I can take them whenever I want.
2. Eating too much food
“An over-eating mouth tortures whole body and over-speaking mouth tortures everybody.”― Amit Kalantri
Food energizes our body and so it is important. But, too much of it has proven to be of little or no benefit. In fact, it is dangerous.
However, I must state that it is more of what you eat that matters. There are certain food items if taken too much will affect your health negatively. Some of these foods include fast foods, processed foods, oily food, etc.
This said, does it mean there are certain food if eaten too much wouldn't affect us negatively? The answer is no! Overeating really good stuff like vegetables also comes with their dangers.
So, how much should you eat per serving? There is a popular term In Japan, Hara Hachi bu which means "eat until you're 80% full. This advice comes from a place with the highest life expectancy in the world.
There are lesser cases of life-threatening diseases like heart disease, cancer, and stroke in Japan which are all major causes of death globally. So, if they say “eat less”, I think the world should listen to.
I have followed this advice and my experience so far has been positive. I do not get over fed. Moderation is very important to me. I consider it a small price to pay for the promised long life.
3. Eating refined sugar
I love Gulab Jamun (a very popular Indian sweet). When I say I love this treat, I mean I used to eat it several times a day. You can therefore imagine my disappointment when I found out later that refined sugar is dangerous to my health.
I had to stop taking this sweet in copious amounts, reducing it to just one or two in a week (now I totally avoid it). I have made sacrifices, but I can assure you this ranked high among them. Don’t blame me, Gulab Jamun has been my favorite snack since childhood.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends taking not more than 24 grams of refined sugar for men and 36 grams for women. This is equivalent to 100 and 150 extra calories per day from added sugar for men and women.
Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain which is responsible for heart disease and diabetes. It is also responsible for tooth decay. Sugar is therefore a momentary pleasure that you will pay for in the future with health problems.
The benefits of removing processed sugar from your diet will make you healthy in the long run. You can start it now. Do it a day at a time. After a couple of days or weeks, the craving for sugar will stop and you would start living normally without it. There are many more benefits of quitting sugar, but as far now, aim for reducing its consumption.
4. Not eating enough fruits and vegetable
"Eating an apple can keep the doctor away". Everybody has heard those wonderful lines. Eating fruits and vegetables are important for our overall body health. But, do you know exactly how much you should be taking every day?
The World Health Organization recommends eating at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables each day. If you are bad at measuring the weight of food like me, I know this might sound confusing. But I got you,
The weight of a normal apple is over 150 grams. So, eating an apple every day is a good place to start with. You can eat one for your breakfast. Here in India, apples are not expensive. So, I do 2 on average every day.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of nutrients and minerals that our body needs to stay healthy and fit. Eating them can help your body in reducing the risks of cancer, heart disease, and strokes.
5. Eating too much salt
People eat too much salt without even knowing, and it is extremely harmful to their health. I know you might be wondering “how can I be taking too much salt when I don't even take it at all?”
Well, salt is a major ingredient in a whole lot of things we eat daily. You eat that pizza, it has salt. When you eat that hot burger, you are taking salt. Same for other fast food, to even homemade food, salt is in everything. Without salt, food doesn't taste good.
WHO & American Heart Association recommend taking no more than 2-2.3 grams of sodium per day for healthy adults. So, taking anything more than 5-5.75 grams (2500 mg of salt has 1000 mg of sodium) of salt a day is harmful.
Unfortunately, at one point or the other, we often take more than what is recommended, and it is quite dangerous. Some of my best foods are made with several grams of salt. And I can tell you first-hand limiting my salt requires a lot of effort.
According to The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), a high sodium intake is correlated with higher blood pressure levels. And high blood pressure levels can damage your arteries making your heart work poorly which can lead to heart disease.
So, how can we control our sodium intake?
Simply by minimizing the consumption of things that have higher sodium content (this is the effort I was talking about). So before I eat anything, I check the nutrition label and find out how much sodium or salt it has. Reading the food labels can work wonders in minimizing your salt intake. So, next time when you visit outside and stop at your favorite eatery, check the food labels before eating anything. It will help. Definitely.
6. Not eating homemade food and relying more on fast foods
Homemade food is the best. Once you get hooked on them, absolutely nothing can take it's place.
I often miss homemade food when my wife goes to her parents for a couple of weeks. In that time, I would order any food I want through food delivery apps. But, I soon get tired of it.
These spicy, cooked with refined oils, filled up with additives foods are not worth it, they are also freakishly expensive. Once I get wary of them, I proceed to the canteens. But, I don't continue there for too long because nothing compares to my wife’s food.
I eventually end up staying hungry, awaiting my wife’s arrival. If you are married, or you still live with your mum, you must have had a similar experience.
I again repeat that homemade food is the best. They are prepared with love and care. They are prepared with you in mind, with a focus on nutrients, and putting into consideration your health. All the ingredients are fresh and healthy.
Food cooked at home does not require additives, and other countless chemicals. Ingredients used are often fresh. They also have as many fruits and vegetables as you need.
So, with homemade food, you not only save money, you protect your health from a variety of diseases that may impact your health.
When you start eating homemade food, you start caring about your health which you should do all the time.
So, whenever you feel like going for fast food, always remember this awesome quote by Eric Schlosser;
Fast food is popular because it's convenient, it's cheap, and it tastes good. But the real cost of eating fast food never appears on the menu.
7. Missing Breakfast Often
All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast- John Gunther
Why should anyone miss breakfast?
Of course, the excuses are many: You do not have time for it because of the long commute to the office. You simply do not like breakfast. You are on a diet and are counting calories.
These reasons seem legit, But, you should not do it. Arguably, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I don't miss breakfast. I also don't eat a lot for breakfast. With 250 ml water, an apple, green bees sprouts, and tea, I am good to go. My breakfast is neither oily nor heavy but I never miss it.
If you are in the habit of missing breakfast, you are doing your body a great disservice. According to a study that monitored the health data of 50000 people over 7 years, it was noted that the people who took their breakfast daily have a lower BMI than those who did not.
There is approx 4-6 hrs gap between breakfast and your lunch. Staying up to lunch without eating will either make you weak hindering your concentration on your job during the day.
Unfortunately the hunger you feel from missing your breakfast influences you to eat more, which is one of the 7 habits that you need to get rid of. Skipping breakfast, can also make you dependent on caffeine (another terrible habit I advise against).
So, when you wake up tomorrow, don't forget to take a quality breakfast before heading out to work. Also, remeber to always eat healthy breakfast.
The seven habits discussed in this article, which I consider dangerous are all from personal experience. I got rid of them, although it took me time and dedication. And today I can say I am better for it, I encourage you to do the same. Also share your valuable experience on the habits you're living with that have changed your life or anything like that.