Celebrate health success

Food habits are tough to break but the rewards don’t go unnoticed.

Written by David Cameron-Smith

Making healthy choices in life is often hard work. This is particularly so if you are giving up unhealthy foods. Unhealthy, energy-laden food, whether it’s fatty, fried, dipped, glazed, crunchy or silky smooth, tastes so good. Little wonder we grow to love and cherish these delights from the delicate to the double dunkings.

Taste receptors and smell are hardwired through to the brain, sending pleasing reward signals each time we take a bite or slurp. This is an addictive property, thankfully not as severe as hard drugs or nicotine, but the same parts of the brain are involved. This means that reducing or giving up will involve withdrawal symptoms from irritability, anxiety through to depression and lethargy. But change is possible and sticking to your plans and goals will bring about major health rewards. It is often forgotten that most health rewards pass by unseen and unrecognised.

For a start, most energy-rich foods give your body an immediate inflammatory jolt. The surge of fat and sugar when released into the body triggers an inflammatory immune response. As the immune system gives off angry and stressed responses, this acts to drive the silent and deadly risks of heart disease. You might not feel the immediate benefits, but improving your immune balance is one major tick for healthy foods. Better still is the benefit of switching from foods with few natural antioxidants, to those rich in vegetables and fruit that have a vast array of immune-boosting benefits.

Often forgotten in the quest for a better you are the health benefits of any weight loss. Most diets and weight loss programs offer the miracle of losing weight, always painlessly. Giving up addictive high-energy food is rarely achieved without determination and hard work. Despite all these efforts, too many people feel like they have failed when the weight doesn’t simply fall away. Looking beyond the scales to the real benefits of losing weight is vital. Even before you may see any change in the scales, making the conscious effort to cut back on unhealthy foods will slowly break the connection between habits and that food. Medical research has conclusively shown that even a few kilograms of weight loss has the remarkable benefits of lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol and improving your immune balance.

With each passing day, small but positive steps to change from unhealthy foods to healthier options are giving your brain, immune system and heart the time needed to change for the better. Remember health, like beauty, starts from an inner glow.

Written by David Cameron-Smith

Professor David Cameron-Smith is a health expert and the current Chair in Nutrition at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.

Previous article

Cauliflower and chickpea salad recipe

Next article

Checking in with The Travel Doctor

Related articles

Subscribe to receive the best from Live Better every week. Healthy recipes, exercise tips and activities, offers and promotions – everything to help you eat, move and feel better.

By clicking sign up I understand and agree to Medibank's privacy policy

Thanks for subscribing. You’re on the road to a better, healthier version of you!