Though there are plenty of young people who are fitness-conscious and practice healthy eating habits, there are also many who tempt fate by eating poorly, avoiding exercise and physcial activity, and who party every weekend. When I am at fitness events, I tend to see the fit people, but as a doctor, I see the individuals who don’t know how to take care of their bodies. As an example, I remember seeing one patient who, at the age of 20, was disgusted with herself, and who begged me to give her some advice on how to get in shape quickly and easily. She was about 20 pounds overweight, and it was obvious that she didn’t exercise at all. Her skin was dull and peppered with acne, and her eyes were bloodshot.
I was in the midst of giving the patient general recommendations on eating healthy and getting regular exercise, when she interrupted me. “Ummm, excuse me doc, but I’m not gonna stop eating at Burger King! It’s my daily stop for dinner, and it’s right by my work, so I can just pick it up and eat it in the car before I get home.” I was so stunned that I had to clarify the frequency of her visits with her to make sure I heard her right. Yes, she would visit the Burger King drive-thru every single night after she finished work, and would wolf down a burger in the car because she was always famished from not eating all day. Then she would go home and eat chips while sitting in front of the television. When I told her how unhealthy her eating habits were, she stated, “I don’t see what the big deal is anyway. I mean, I hate vegetables and all that healthy crap other people eat. Besides, I’m young, so it doesn’t even matter!”
That patient wasn’t the only one I have seen who refused to eat right and exercise, but she was particularly stubborn and set in her ways. She walked into that office not wanting me to truly help her, but instead wanted me to give her a prescription for a diet pill so that she could slim down for bikini season. I shook my head and told her that I don’t believe in them, and that I would not give her a prescription, whereupon she hopped off the examination table and said, “Whatever. I thought you were supposed to help people with weight loss shit, but I guess not. See ya.”
When I see young people eating all kinds of crap on a consistent basis, it saddens me, because I know that poor eating habits will have consequences on their health. Nine times out of ten, those same people will hit the clubs on the weekends and go on drinking binges. Some of them don’t even wait until the weekend to get their party on. I can guarantee that people who adopt atrocious habits like these will show signs of age much faster, and will put themselves at a much greater risk for developing diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer. Though they may think that their youthfulness protects them, they usually will get a wicked surprise down the line when disease processes begin to rear their ugly heads.
If you want to optimize your health for the long term, make sure to consume healthy food options the majority of the time, limit alcohol consumption, don’t smoke, and get plenty of regular exercise. Those measures can serve as the best insurance policy for wellness as you get older.