5 Of Your Favorite TV Characters Who Are Doing Health ALL WRONG
By Janet Early
Ah, Ron Swanson. Many idolize Ron for his perceived All-American “macho” persona. Ron is also a bonafide carnivore.
He lives on a diet of red meat, fried meat, breaded meat and whiskey. A waiter once served him a salad at a wedding and Ron responded, “Excuse me, I think you gave me the food my food eats.”
There’s a photo of him at J.J.’s Diner commending him for eating 51 eggs in 20 minutes. He keeps an emergency sealed package of bacon in his ceiling at work. Just in case.
While Ron is fabulous, his diet is most certainly not.
Consuming a lot of red meat is associated with:
- Colorectal, breast and prostate cancer
- Gout and kidney problems
- Liver damage
- Estrogen dominance
- Weight gain
To worsen things, Ron Swanson straight up avoids greens and vegetables, missing out on vital benefits such as:
- Essential vitamins and minerals
- High antioxidant content
- Reduced risk of many of the above diseases, such as certain cancers and diabetes
- Improved cognition and mental clarity
- Better digestive health
- Lower risk for high blood pressure
- Lower risk for oxidative stress
Although this red-meat-centric diet works for Ron Swanson the character, in real life, a nutrition plan like this would lead to some serious health problems.
For that, I would say, emulate Ron in swag, not diet.
2. Olivia Pope – Scandal
Being Olivia Pope – Washington D.C.’s “fixer” – is no stress-free job.
Olivia handles the complex problems of top politicians that would otherwise be PR nightmares. Plus, she also manages her team of “Gladiators” and (not to mention) has an “It’s complicated” love affair going on with Mr. President himself.
Olivia also knows how to handle many a bottle of red wine. While red wine can have benefits in small doses, it seems like Ms. Pope indulges quite a bit, especially after stressful work days.
And don’t think we haven’t noticed that her wine glasses are 23oz, which could nearly fit an entire bottle’s worth of Pinot.
The health lesson we can take away here is that there are more beneficial ways to cope with stress than turning to alcohol.
Alcohol’s effects on the body, long and short-term:
- Reduced coordination and brain cognition
- Arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeat
- Increased risk of stroke and high blood pressure
- Liver damage such as steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis or cirrhosis
- Increased risk of certain cancers
Meanwhile, stress-reduction practices such as meditation, daily exercise and green tea:
- Improve cognition and focus
- Raise the level of antioxidants in the body and protect you from disease
- Enhance blood flow and joint circulation
- Encourage a healthy weight
- Decrease risk of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease
If you’ve watched an episode or two of Pretty Little Liars, you’ve bore witness to just how much coffee these high school girls drink.
When they’re not following someone suspicious or getting suspiciously followed, they’re discussing their mutual suspicions over coffee. On a rough estimate, Spencer – the biggest caffeine addict of the bunch – drinks 4-7 cups of coffee a day.
Too much caffeine can cause or worsen:
- Caffeine addiction
- Adrenal fatigue and hormonal responses to stress
- Muscle twitching
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart
- Breathing trouble
- Heart palpitations
- Diarrhea or vomiting
Plus… almost getting murdered by a mysterious harasser every week is seriously activating some fight-or-flight stimulation in poor Spencer. Talk about adrenal fatigue (and no wonder she needs all the coffee)!
This one may surprise you, but the overly-close relationship Ray has with his mother, Marie, could be pretty destructive in real life.
Ray’s parents live across the street from him and his family. Their proximity and Marie’s constant overbearing intervention into her son’s life creates all sorts of conflicts – to the extreme dismay of Ray’s wife, Debra (seriously, if you’ve watched the show, this is the plot of every episode).
The lesson we can take away here is one in how to reduce toxicity in relationships. According to Terri Apter, psychologist at the University of Cambridge, overbearing, controlling relationships tend to cause:
- Dishonesty – One person will lie and hide his/her true self in order to please the “overbearer.”
- Divided Romantic Relationships – Just look at all the fights Ray and Debra had about his mother’s intrusive behavior. Relationships in which there’s a third opinionated “participant” will experience turmoil. Partnerships should be between two people and two people only.
- Lack of Autonomy – If someone always tells you what to do and how to do it, it becomes easy to give in to those demands. Pretty soon, you may even develop a reliance on the very person who is acting so controlling and lose yourself in the process.
It’s important to find balance among the relationships in your life. Learn to make independent decisions, stand up to anyone who’s acting oppressive and make sure you are not short-changing an important relationship.
Carrie had the job, the apartment and the friends we all would have died for. But she also had a pretty nasty smoking habit that she, if the show were real life, would very likely have died from.
Carrie was a true-blue chain-smoker. She’s known for her romantic-tinted lifestyle of writing and having love affairs… but there’s nothing romantic about hacking up phlegm while climbing up 11 flights of stairs to a cramped Upper West Side apartment, as would have been the case if this was real life with a NYC chain-smoking column writer.
In this day and age, I don’t think I need to list out the reasons why smoking is bad for you. Instead, let’s talk about some of the positive alternatives Carrie should have indulged in while she wrote.
- Drinking herbal tea
- Squeezing a stress ball
- Taking occasional breaks
Also, none of the Sex and the City gals ever exercised. Daily movement could have greatly reduced the urge to smoke by promoting relaxation and increasing endorphin levels in the body.
So, if you’re “A Carrie,” it’s totally cool to get in touch with your creative wordplay and wear dope Manolo Blahniks, but just make sure you leave the obsessive smoking to the TV screen.
Can you think of any other TV characters with seriously questionable lifestyles? Share below!
Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
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