An apple a day… is a phrase people say! True or untrue, helpful or harmful, pithy sayings about our health definitely have a long shelf life. At Olympus Midtown, we’re here to clean out the leftovers and start fresh. Here are three popular health sayings we’d all be better off forgetting – and two new ones to get us moving in the right direction.
Forget: Sometimes the Remedy Is Worse Than the Disease
Maybe – but do we need the reminder? The problem here isn’t that this saying is categorically untrue, but it’s a bit pessimistic and pretty unnecessary. If we’re ill and aiming to get better, then the route we take is ours to decide. But let’s not discourage each other from pursuing better health. This phrase, attributed to British philosopher and diplomat Francis Bacon (1561-1626), doesn’t offer much help to us today. Forget it!
Forget: Early to Bed, Early to Rise Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy & Wise
First things first: Plenty of women and non-binary people are crushing it with health, wealth, and wisdom, so let’s give them a shout-out. Now, let’s look at the merits of this popular saying, attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Research varies a bit here. While we do see a correlation between “morning people” and better mental health, and while there are work life benefits to getting up early – the research points more to “early bird gets the worm” kind of thinking. There doesn’t seem to be any link between a person’s awake hours and their health, wealth, and wisdom. Great research from thinkers like James Clear, who writes on effective behavior patterns, and Charles Duhigg, who explores how to maximize productivity, shows that what we do – not when we do it – makes the difference. Hey old saying, see ya!
Forget: You Are What You Eat
Well, what if we eat a lot of things? I mean, am I a donut or a spinach salad? This phrase is overly simplistic and has potentially harmful consequences, encouraging a self-critical mindset. First of all, believing we have value and we’re good enough – no matter our eating choices on a particular day – is a better outlook for long-term health. Research shows that shame and self-criticism are associated with negative eating behaviors, so if we have a treat, and then beat ourselves up about it, we’re less likely to make healthy eating choices in the future. Aiming for balance and moderation – not assigning negative values to treat foods – makes for a healthier perspective and better outcomes. Let’s not punish ourselves for our eating choices, or reduce our view of ourselves to what we can digest. Bye, saying!
Remember: Eat the Rainbow
If you need proof that sayings can be punchy and memorable and also helpful, check this one out! You won’t have an issue remembering it, and it’s solid advice: adding more color to your plate really is a great way to ensure you’re getting a range of nutrients. Why? Our most colorful foods are fruits and veggies, which are packed with valuable phytonutrients that vary along with color. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet and getting that variety of nutrients reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and other chronic diseases you don’t want. Green foods get a lot of love for good reason – they’re high in nutrients that are good for your heart, like vitamin K, magnesium, nitrates, and folates – so grab your spinach and chard, broccoli and bean sprouts, artichokes and avocado. You can also have a bit more fun here with some very blue blueberries and a rich red wine – both good sources of antioxidants.
Remember: Fitness Is the Ability to Do a Task
A little less punchy, but no less helpful, this saying helps us reimagine the way we talk about health and fitness. What do we mean when we say we want to get fit? The popular understanding seems to be that we want to lose weight – but that’s a very limited view. A healthier way to think about fitness is to attach it to an activity we want to accomplish. Want to be fit to throw a shot put? Your training and goals will be different than if you want to be fit to run a marathon. Fitness will look different in both cases too, and that’s a beautiful thing. Let’s take up this more empowering and inclusive perspective, and let's be precise when we talk about getting fit.
Here’s to Your Health!
For more health and wellness articles, plus ways to stay active and enjoy Nashville, make sure to check out the Olympus Midtown blog.