Making the healthy choice

The easy choice?


Imagine this scenario: You walk into the safety awards celebration at work. You say hi to a few friends, and then glance toward the spread on the conference room table. Your mouth starts to water when you see the chips with Bison Dip, chicken wing dip, and bacon cheeseburger bites. There’s pizza, and a bowl of green salad. Peanut butter brownies. Chocolate chip cookies. And of course, cake and ice cream. To drink — Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, lemonade and Hawaiian Punch.

You’ve been trying to lose the 15 pounds that your doctor suggested shedding for better health. Your sugar and blood pressure have both been creeping up. But that food looks so good! You pick up a plate and take some salad, then continue to grab small portions of everything else. Before you know it, your stomach is full, your plate is empty, and you’ve consumed an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting.

Make no mistake, you chose to eat those foods. But we know, and research proves, that it is incredibly difficult to make the right choice — the healthy choice — when you are surrounded by poor options.

We face these types of decisions every day. Wouldn’t it be easier to make smarter and healthier food choices if we were surrounded by healthy options?

You already know that obesity is linked with an elevated risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a number of other health conditions. Chautauqua County residents (32 percent of adults) are more likely to be obese than New York State residents (25 percent of adults) as a whole.

What can we do to move the needle on those numbers in Chautauqua County? One great, low-cost strategy is to simply make the healthy choice the easy choice in as many settings as possible: schools, workplaces, churches, youth sports, social clubs, restaurants, at home or among friends.

Make sure that there are more healthy options than unhealthy ones — swap apples with peanut butter for the tray of cookies, replace sugary drinks with lemon water or unsweetened iced tea, and dip veggies in that Bison dip instead of chips.

Why not make the healthy choices the only choices? If your lunch choices are salad with flank steak, salad with chicken breast, or salad with nuts and seeds, you will choose a healthy lunch.

Making the healthy choice the easy choice can be as simple as not buying chips and soda for your household, or as formal as adopting a healthy meetings policy at your workplace. No matter what your level of influence is, the more people and places that adopt this strategy, the more of an impact it will have on us, our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

We all play a part in making Chautauqua County a healthier community. Thank you for doing your part!

Chautauqua County has high rates of both heart attack and stroke, but an estimated 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable. CHQ250 is an initiative of the Chautauqua Health Action Team(CHAT), encouraging you to take action to be one of at least 250 strokes, heart attacks, or related deaths prevented in Chautauqua County in the coming year. This column is written by CHAT members to share information to help you to do your part to live a life free of stroke or heart disease; it is not intended to replace advice provided by your healthcare team. Please direct questions or comments to: