5 Rules for Navigating the Hazards of Life

I read on Rodale.com that nonstick pans raise your risk thyroid disease, along with other problems like infertility. I sent a copy of the story to my husband because, many years ago, he brought home a nonstick pan to replace our cast-iron pans and I made him get rid of it. He thought it was better since it wasn’t so heavy. I thought it was not better because lifting my cast-iron pans was the only daily weight lifting I was guaranteed to get. He thought it was better because you didn’t have to use things like olive oil and butter to keep food from sticking. I thought it was worse because after all, butter and olive oil are the secrets to good cooking. He thought it was better because it was “modern technology.” I thought it was worse because it seems like most newfangled things turn out to have something terrible about them a few years down the road.

Of course, I was right.

So it made me think about how I have navigated the ever-changing, confusing world of new versus old, healthy versus unhealthy, and dangerous versus safe. I see almost every report and study that says this is good for you, this is bad for you, and often they contradict each other in the same week. So I have learned over the years to use a combination of trend spotting and good old-fashioned common sense. Here, then, are my five rules for navigating the hazards of life:

1. The closer something’s origins are to nature, the better it probably is for you. So therefore, butter must be better than margarine, fresh broccoli is better for you than deep-fried broccoli cheese-stuffed bites dipped in ranch dressing, and water is better than soda. Glass (which comes from sand) and paper (which comes from trees) are better than plastic. And cast-iron pans are better than nonstick.

2. Everything in moderation. That includes exercise and desserts, meat and ideologies, work and potato chips.

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3. Keep it all in perspective. There are exceptions to every rule. My in-laws, who have been microwaving in plastic since the 1980s, are healthier and have lived longer than my mother, who refused to even own a microwave. It’s probably never just one little thing that does us in, but combinations of lots of things—and at the end of the day, and of our lives, it’s how we lived our lives in total that matters.

4. Activity of all kinds is what keeps you moving, but rest is just as essential. The people I know who have lived the longest, healthiest lives have stayed active through everything from walking to housework to gardening—but have also known that good rest, naps, and time off are important, too. I have known enough athletes who end up severely injured from overtraining to understand that if you don’t give your body and soul the rest they need, you’re in trouble sooner rather than later.

5. Organic is the only label you can trust. It may not be perfect, but it’s the only thing we have that lets us know there are no chemicals, no GMOs, no antibiotics, no sewage sludge, and no hormones applied to our foods—and, thus, to our environment and our bodies.

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Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson4 years ago

Such a great list! Thanks.

Lynn K.
Lynn K.4 years ago

"Real" margarine?? Please! No such thing. It is manufactured. Alien to the body. can't be healthy...

Gwendolyn offline
Gwendolyn Krupa4 years ago

Good ideas. Thank-you.
By the way, did you know that heating a non-stick pan that is bare (no oil, etc.) lets off very dangerous fumes. People who have precious birds should especially never do this as it can kill them. Remember the canary in the mine thing?

Susan T.
Susan T.4 years ago

A guide that helps my life, is easy to follow and short.

Ernie Miller
william Miller4 years ago

I like the way you articulated this. A very good artical. Great advice. and that cast iron skillet actually gives you trace amounts of Iron in your diet. Or so they say.

Heather D.
Heather D.4 years ago

I agree completely about trusting things that are closer to nature - I have used that rule, out of instinct and the fact that they always come back later and say, "oh you know that thing that we always said was safe? Well- it isn't" I'd rather not be the guinea pig!

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman4 years ago

Noted and thanx

Crash K.
Crash K.4 years ago

Great outlook on things :)

Kim W.
Kim W.4 years ago

Each day I end with a prayer of thanks for the life I have, each day I begin with a prayer for the life I have. Some days are hard, so not so, but this article says it quite well. Moderation, well rounded, works for me.

Barb F.
Barb F.4 years ago

Great perspective on so many facets of daily life to keep in mind and follow