This month’s Healthy Habit Hack: Get the facts
Welcome back to the Healthy Habit Hacks blog series! We’re here to help turn your healthy intentions into habits. This month we’ll talk about gathering facts when starting new and breaking bad health habits.
When it comes to changing health behaviors, we often rely on the knowledge that we already have which may or may not have come from an up-to-date source. Maybe you remember your high school coach suggesting a weight training routine and you’re still using it – or maybe you heard cold turkey is the best way to quit smoking (which isn’t the case anymore)?
When embarking on a change, it’s best to do your research and find out what the latest science says, that way you’re more likely to succeed. But with so much information available this can be daunting and sometimes confusing. One place to start is to refer to the content from Vitality’s Newsfeed, goals, health results, health resources and program in general. The Vitality program uses sources that are approved by credentialed health experts so you can feel assured that the facts are based on recent guidelines.
You may also consider that when searching for health information online, typically government (.gov), higher education (.edu), and non-profit agencies (.org) sites will have credible information. The keepers of these sites are agencies or organizations that can be trusted because they don’t usually have any outside interests and they often have credentialed staff who review content.
Some things to look for when evaluating if the owner of the site you’re referring to can be trusted include:
- Does the site use science-based sources that when formed:
- sought broad public opinion
- used a consensus process
- looked at peer-reviewed literature?
- Do they stick to what they know and
- only provide information on their specific interest?
- Do they take steps to avoid conflicts of interest
- For example, are they independent of funders/advertisers/lobbying activities?
- Are they transparent and do they disclose
- conflicts of interest like funding sources, lobby activities
- sources of information
- the people who’ve reviewed their information?
- Do they hold themselves accountable?
- For example, do they have a regular review process?
- Do they have an expert board who governs them?
If you’re interested in improving your health information research skills, check out this tutorial from MedlinePlus -the National Health Institute’s consumer site. The tutorial guides you through how to evaluate a website. Or, view this simple checklist also from MedlinePlus.
In addition to knowing how to evaluate sites, speaking with your doctor or healthcare team can also be valuable. As part of their required continuing education, your doctor constantly reads and attends conferences that keep them up to date on the latest health information. Learn how to get the most out of your doctor’s visit here. Also, when you’re seeking mental health or medical care, do your homework first. Consider looking for a licensed psychologist for therapy or counseling to support you in breaking bad habits and reaching health goals. Refer to healthgrades.com or other reputable sources that provide reviews to assure that you’re finding a quality healthcare provider. Healthgrades is a site that provides these types of reviews – look for a provider that has the appropriate state and national licensures and certifications, and stellar patient satisfaction scores. Finally, benefits providers like health insurance and EAP are excellent sources of information and can link you to trusted care providers.
In getting back to finding the facts, here are just a few of our favorite sites to help you reach your health habit goals:
- General health and wellness – US Department of Health and Human Services: myhealthfinder.gov and health.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Healthy eating – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eatright.org; Intuitive eating.org
- Exercise – American College of Sports Medicine
- Sleep – Sleep Foundation
- Mental well-being – MentalHealth.gov, and Mental Health America: mhanational.org
- Smoking cessation – Smokefree.gov
- Alcohol use – Rethinking drinking
As a reminder, we’ve shared these monthly hacks so far this year: