When I was growing up, there was a dearth of reliable information on making healthy lifestyle choices.
If this information was available, it certainly didn't hit the mainstream media, which at the time included the three major TV networks and the local newspaper. Everything we learned about healthy habits came from the family doctor or from health class in school. School was where they served us "chicken fried" steak and bright pink hot dogs.
Let me share some crazy examples of my healthy lifestyle growing up:
- Being born in the South, my mom (an educated woman) kept a tin of used bacon fat next to the stove. Whenever she cooked any vegetable, she threw in a few tablespoons for flavor. Or she dropped in a slab of fatback.
- Vegetables were routinely cooked to the point of falling apart, and roast beef, pork, hamburger, and occasionally chicken (fried) were present in large quantities for every meal. Salads were made with nutrient-free iceberg lettuce, and the only fish I was served was Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks and tuna casserole.
- While my mom was pregnant, the doctor advised her NOT to quit smoking because it might make her anxious and harm the baby (really????). Fortunately, she used common sense on this one and quit.
- When my mom tried to lose weight, she bought a "jiggly" machine that was supposed to shake the fat off. All she had to do was stand there. Seriously. No, it didn't work.
- Hormone replacement pills were handed out like candy to menopausal women. My mom, who died from breast cancer, created the perfect storm for cancer by taking these pills, smoking, eating fatty foods, and drinking alcohol daily. My dad died from complications of Alzheimer's, and I have to believe his diet contributed.
- As a child, I used to play on the floorboard of the car when we'd go anywhere. I never wore a seatbelt or sat in a car seat. I never wore a bike helmet either.
Perhaps some day, one of my kids will write about the ignorance of my generation related to healthy choices. But we do know so much more now about preventative healthcare and healthy habits than we did when I was growing up. Just a few small habit changes can make a big difference in your health and longevity.