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Categories > Mental and Emotional Health > Developing a healthy attitude

Bye-bye, bad habits!

Maybe you’re a healthy weekday eater who indulges in fatty fare on the weekends. Or perhaps you’re a social smoker or a meal-skipper. Just minor health infractions? Not necessarily. Read on for the brutal truth about some common bad habits.

1. Bad habit: Smoking. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who smoke have three times the risk of death compared to women who’ve never smoked—a risk that increases with each cigarette smoked. And if those statistics aren’t sobering enough, female smokers were 20 times more likely to die of lung cancer and 63 percent more likely to die of colorectal cancer than their nonsmoking counterparts. On the bright side, these odds dropped greatly as women quit and remained smoke free.

Kick the habit: Don’t go cold turkey. Ask your provider about quit-smoking aids and support groups in your community.

2. Bad habit: Skipping meals. Research has shown that people who skip meals and eat fewer meals overallare usually heavier than people who eat four or five times a day, including breakfast. Skipping meals can make you ravenous and less able to control your appetite.

Kick the habit: Even if it means getting up early, make the time for breakfast and carry healthy snacks with you to resist the vending machine at work.

3. Bad habit: Overeating. All those chips and sodas will catch up to you. Obesity’s been linked to some pretty serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and sleep apnea. And even if you’re not overweight, eating foods high in saturated fat, trans fats and sodium can negatively impact your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Kick the habit: You’ve heard it before and there’s no way around it: You need more fruits, veggies and whole grains in your diet. Sound boring? It doesn’t have to be. Go online and search for healthy recipes to try.

4. Bad habit: Drinking too much. Excessive drinking can lead to a damaged liver; pancreas inflammation; liver, mouth, throat and esophageal cancers; high blood pressure; psychological disorders; and, if you’re pregnant, fetus harm and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for your baby. It also raises the risk of car accidents.

Kick the habit: It’s safe for women who aren’t pregnant to have one drink a day (12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine, for example). If your drinking is impacting your health and your life, seek support from family and friends, and talk to a professional. Support groups can be great resources to meet people who are going through the same things you are.