When doing meal prep, flip your thinking. “Build meals around veggies, so they’re never an afterthought,” Sass advises. Instead of having the typical pasta primavera that is a mound of spaghetti with a few shavings of carrots and a couple of broccoli florets on top, reverse it so that you fill your plate with steamed or sautéed veggies over a modest portion of pasta—or better yet, farro or quinoa. “It may feel less satisfying at first,” Sass concedes, “but the rewards, like more energy, sustainable weight loss and better digestive health, can drastically improve your everyday quality of life.”
Do you smoke even a little? If so, know this: “Smoking even a single cigarette can induce changes that lead to a heart attack,” Gianos says. Lighting up increases your risk of atherosclerosis, raises your chances of blood clots, reduces blood flow and puts you at increased risk for stroke. But it’s never too late to quit and start reversing the damage. “Heart disease risk goes down 50% in the first year [after quitting] and becomes equivalent to a nonsmoker after 10 years,” Gianos says.
Health psychology, developed in the late 1970s, is its own domain of inquiry. Also called a medical psychologist, the health psychologist helps individuals explore the link between emotions and physical health. The health psychologist also helps physicians and medical professionals understand the emotional effects of a patient’s illness or disease. They practice in the areas of chronic pain management, oncology, physical rehabilitation, addiction treatment, eating disorders, and others. This professional can be found in clinics, hospitals, private practice, and public health agencies. Some also work in corporate settings to promote health and wellness among employees, engaging in workplace policies and decision-making.