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Fun Time: Bad Habits Keep Us from Being Healthy

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
July 2024
Fun Time: Bad Habits Keep Us from Being Healthy

If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking at the scale or mirror and thinking, “I need to lose some weight.” But what most of us really need to lose are bad habits. Bad habits keep us from being healthy.

Most people know the difference between a good habit and a bad habit, but find it hard to adopt good habits, because good habits do not reward you instantly. If they did, a muscular guy named Olek would be waiting for you at the gym, greeting you with a smile and saying, “Welcome, Harpreet! For the first month, you make no payment—your membership is free—and I will personally do all the running and lifting for you. Here’s a chocolate smoothie. Enjoy it while you watch me sweat.”

You would be utterly flabbergasted if this happened (especially if your name is Harpreet).

But here’s what usually happens when you join a gym: you’re expected to make a payment right away (or commit to a one-year contract) and then do a lot of sweating yourself. After your workout, you drink some water, step on the scale and discover that you’ve actually gained weight. And Olek is nowhere to be seen.

The next day, all your muscles hurt, including the ones you didn’t know you had. Biceps, triceps, even forceps.

Bad habits, on the other hand, reward us right away. They are so pleasurable that we want to keep doing them, at least until someone in our household shouts, “Stop eating the ice cream directly out of the tub! We have bowls!”

Portion control is important when you’re trying to be healthy, but it’s so easy to overindulge. One reason for this, according to a recent research study, is distraction. If you are eating a meal while watching TV, you are more likely to overeat. That’s because you are not enjoying your meal as much as you would if you were not distracted. When it’s over, you’re not fully satisfied and feel the urge to get more food.

This is the same thing that happens if you’re having sex while listening to a podcast. As soon as it’s over, you will feel like listening to another podcast.

The research study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, looked at the impact of distraction on “hedonic overconsumption.” In one of their experiments, the researchers asked 122 young adults, mostly women, to eat their lunch under three conditions. Some of them ate with no distraction, some ate while watching a video (moderate distraction), and some ate while playing the video game Tetris (high distraction). The researchers found that those who were distracted wanted to eat more and were likely to snack later.

From this research, we can conclude, of course, that sitting in front of a TV or computer while eating is a bad habit. You are likely to overindulge. This is why I try to keep my dog Lulu’s bowl in the dining room, beside the dining table. In the dining room, she has no distractions because no one in our family eats there. But Lulu keeps bringing her bowl to the living room, as if to say, “Why should humans have all the bad habits?”

Many of our bad habits are related to the conveniences of modern life. In the old days, if you wanted to have chicken for dinner, you had to go outdoors and catch one.

Have you ever tried to catch a chicken? Trust me, you would burn 1,000 times more calories than going through the drive-thru at KFC.

You’d be so tired after chasing and processing a chicken that you wouldn’t want to have another one for the rest of the year. Fruits and vegetables are much easier to catch.

More of ChaiTime here: 


Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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