But what if we expand our ideas about the word “diet” to include everything we consume in other aspects of healthy living? What would your exercise “diet” be? Your emotional diet, your spiritual diet, etc.?
It’s more than just an interesting way to look at things. This can be a helpful tool in assessing the various categories of your wellness – which, in turn, can help you see how to improve something here, tweak something there, and even applaud yourself for something else.
“Diet” is really just another word for choices we make habitually. So, let’s consider what we consume across the spectrum. What are some good, healthy choices, and how can we look out for pitfalls that can throw off our diets as surely as a giant slab of birthday cake with ice cream.
Physical. Exercise and nutrition are essential to maintaining health and independence. You know this. So – move your body and eat right!
Do This More: Resistance training. Stay strong so you maintain muscle mass, balance, and everyday functional performance.
Do This Less: Sitting. Go for a walk, take dance breaks during TV commercials, and stand during part of your computer time.
Emotional. How well do you cope with the challenges of life? Are you trustworthy and respectful?
Do This More: Meditate. Pause throughout the day to focus solely on your breathing, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Do This Less: Consume news and social media. It can be so overwhelming and depressing. Limit yourself so that you stay informed and in touch, without going down any dark rabbit holes.
Intellectual. Engage in creative pursuits and things that stimulate your brain.
Do This More: Read and write. That means read good books, not snippets off screens, and write in longhand, not on the computer – poetry, fiction, or letters to loved ones.
Do This Less: Consume sugary drinks. You already know they contribute to physical problems like obesity and diabetes. But consuming too much sugar also raises your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Professional/Vocational. Even if retired, you still gain satisfaction using your skills as a mentor, volunteer or caregiver.
Do This More: Volunteer with a community organization that needs help in your area of expertise.
Do This Less: Complain about how things aren’t as good as they used to be when you were in charge or coming up.
Social. Our interactions with family and friends keep us connected, lowering stress and depression.
Do This More: Call someone you’re thinking about. Go back to your house of worship, recovery program, or community center. Start dating again, if it’s time.
Do This Less: Complain.
Spiritual. Let your personal values guide you to a life of meaning and purpose.
Do This More: Say “Thank you” to whomever or whatever you believe in. Make a gratitude list.
Do This Less: Live in the past. Memories are nice, but we only have right now, so enjoy your blessings and spread the bounty today.
Environmental. Be aware of how different environments affect you, and of your effect on the environment.
Do This More: Plan your next trip to somewhere that makes you happy or fires your imagination.
Do This Less: Put yourself in settings that cause you stress. Seriously. You can just say no to all kinds of things.
Keep it simple. Remember, you are what you eat. But you’re also what you read, believe, tell yourself, do with other people, and put into the world.
Living well is a banquet. Enjoy!
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.