14 Things You Should Give Up Today for Better Health Tomorrow

Photo by Rasul Lotfi

So, you want to be healthier? Great! But maybe you’re not keen on the whole “wake up at 5 AM for kale smoothies and CrossFit” routine. Don’t worry, getting healthier doesn’t have to be about adding more to your already-packed to-do list. Sometimes, it’s what you stop doing that makes the biggest difference. 

That being the case,  here’s a rundown of what to drop like it’s hot (because, in many cases, it literally is) for a healthier you tomorrow.

  1. Bid Farewell to the Fry-Up

Sorry, but it might finally be time to ditch the deep-fried delicacies. Sure, fried chicken is as tempting as hitting the snooze button five times on a Monday morning, but it’s doing you no favors in the health department. Cutting back on fried foods can decrease your risk of heart disease and help keep your waistline in check. Swap them out for grilling, baking, or air frying. Your arteries (and your jeans) will thank you.

  1. Turn Down for What? Your Hearing!

Next up, let’s talk about your music habits. Blasting your favorite tunes at rock concert levels through your headphones isn’t just a risk to your street cred; it’s a risk to your hearing as the team at Audiologists.org will tell you. Over time, those decibels can cause permanent damage to your ear drums. Start practicing the 60/60 rule: listen to music or play video games at no more than 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time. Your older self might just be able to hear the birds sing because of it.

  1. Sugary Drinks: Don’t Sip Yourself Sick

That soda fizzing in your cup? Yeah, it’s delicious. It’s also crammed with sugar, which can lead to weight gain, insulin spikes, and an increased risk of diabetes. Try infusing water with fruit or sipping on herbal teas. Your skin, your weight, and your pancreas will be better off without the sugary symphony.

  1. The Sofa is Lava

Being a couch potato is comfy, but it’s also potentially cutting years off your life. Sedentary behavior can lead to all sorts of nasties like obesity, heart disease, and even depression. Stand up (literally), stretch, and make movement a part of your day. Whether it’s a walk around the block or a dance-off with your kids, every bit counts. Think of it as a game of “the floor is lava,” but the sofa is the lava.

  1. Binge-Watching Until Dawn

Love a good TV show marathon? Who doesn’t! But if your binge-watching habits are cutting into your sleep time, that’s a problem. Lack of sleep can mess with everything from your mood to your weight, not to mention it makes you cranky. Try setting a TV curfew or pick only one or two nights a week for a TV binge, and see if you can catch more Z’s.

  1. Ditch the Negative Nelly Routine

Negativity isn’t just a mood killer; it’s a health killer. Chronic stress and negative thinking can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and poor mental health. Try adopting a gratitude practice, meditating, or just smiling more. Positive vibes might sound like a throwback to the 60s, but hey, those hippies might have been onto something.

  1. Social Media: The Double-Edged Sword

Endless scrolling might keep you updated on your third cousin’s boyfriend’s sister’s vacation, but it’s probably not doing much for your mental health. Too much screen time can lead to increased feelings of isolation and stress. Consider setting boundaries for your social media use; unfollow feeds that drain you, and follow more that inspire and uplift you.

  1. Quit Smoking: Yes, It’s Still a Thing

If you’re still smoking in 2023, it’s time to quit. No, it’s not easy, but it’s probably one of the best things you can do for your health. Smoking is like paying someone to shorten your life—and make it stinkier and coughier while they’re at it. Look into support groups, therapies, or medication that can help you kick the habit.

  1. The Late-Night Snack Attack

Eating late at night can mess with your sleep and digestion. Try to have your last big meal at least a few hours before bed, and if you must snack, choose something light and healthy. Your sleep quality and your stomach will improve.

  1. Cut Back on Caffeine

It’s the elixir of the morning and the fuel of the night owl—yet too much caffeine can wreak havoc on your nervous system, disturb your sleep patterns, and even raise your blood pressure over time. Try limiting yourself to one or two cups a day and avoid caffeine after 2 PM to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your sleep. Consider switching to lower caffeine alternatives like green tea, which also offers a healthy dose of antioxidants.

  1. Rethink Your Alcohol Intake

While the occasional glass of wine might have heart health benefits, regular or excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a host of health issues, including liver disease and dependency. Assess your drinking habits and consider reducing your intake to improve sleep quality, mental clarity, and overall physical health. Try substituting alcoholic drinks with sparkling water or non-alcoholic alternatives to keep the social fun without the health consequences.

  1. Skip the Salt Shaker

Excessive salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Start by cutting back on processed and packaged foods, which are often high in sodium, even if they don’t taste particularly salty. Experiment with herbs and spices to flavor your food instead of relying on salt. Your taste buds might miss it at first, but they’ll adapt and your heart will be happier!

  1. Avoid the All-or-Nothing Diet Mentality

Radical diets that cut out entire food groups do not set you up for sustainable health. Instead of going extreme, focus on balanced eating that includes a variety of nutrients. Make gradual changes to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals. This approach encourages a healthier relationship with food and is more likely to lead to long-term health benefits.

  1. Challenge Your Brain Regularly

We all accept that hitting the gym will keep our bodies fit and healthy, no matter how much we might not want to actually do some exercise, well, you know what? It’s the same for your brain. You need to train it and challenge it if you want it to stay sharp as you get older. Luckily, this can be pretty fun with puzzles, books and learning new hobbies all it takes to keep your brain in shape.

By giving up these habits today, you’re not just taking steps towards a healthier tomorrow, but also setting the stage for a happier, more vibrant life!