Tips for Forming Preventive-Health Habits

By Sally Vickers, MS, CHES, Public Health Educator, Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) Department, Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC)

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Regular flossing clears away plaque between teeth, and can decrease your risk for gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss.

Much of our daily lives are set around habits, structures, and patterns. Think about it. Most of us wake up around the same time each day, eat a relatively similar breakfast, and our daily habits continue on from there.

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Usually our resolutions get broken just a few weeks or possibly months after we make them.

Habits can be helpful or hurtful to what you would like to achieve in both the short and long term. You may have experienced it before. You set out to change your habits in the form of a New Year’s Resolution and try to start or increase some things, or limit or stop others. For instance, you may try to start or increase a habit of eating better, exercising more, getting at least seven hours of sleep, or flossing daily. Or you may try to stop or limit habits of smoking, eating junk foods, or alcohol use. But usually our resolutions get broken just a few weeks or possibly months after we make them.  Habits aren’t easy to change, unless you know some of the tricks of the trade, which is why the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) Department developed the 1-5-7 WOD (Wellness Objective of the Day) Challenge.

Preventive Health

The 1-5-7 WOD Challenge is built around some key habit breaking and making strategies that will help get you on the right track fast. For this 21 day challenge, the NMCPHC HPW Department is promoting flossing once a day (the 1), eating the recommended number of servings from the five food groups (the 5), and getting at least seven hours of sleep each night (the 7). These three behaviors were chosen because of the preventive health benefits they provide.

Flossing

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Flossing is a simple and important aspect of oral health

Flossing is a simple and important aspect of oral health. Regular flossing clears away plaque (a form of bacteria) between teeth, and can decrease your risk for gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss. And yet, the Fleet and Marine Corps Health Risk Assessment from 2012 found that more than 40 percent of respondents do not floss regularly. For more information on flossing and oral health, visit: Mouth Healthy – Gum Disease; Mouth Healthy – Flossing; American Association of Periodontist.

Nutrition

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Eat the recommended number of servings from the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein every day.

Eating the recommended number of servings from the five food groups helps ensure your diet includes the nutrients you need to maintain health and perform at your peak. Supplement use through liquids, powders, and tablets is often seen as a way to improve performance or as a quick fix for a poor diet.  However, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements, which mean there is no guarantee that the products are safe or effective. You can save yourself money and ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs by eating the recommended number of servings from the five food groups:  fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein every day. For more information on maintaining a healthy diet, visit: ChooseMyPlate Build a Healthy Meal; Food First, Supplement Second article; Energy Drink OPPS Info Sheet; Eat the Rainbow.

Sleep

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Some of us stay up too late playing video games or responding to work emails, others suffer from insomnia.

Sleep is the third focus of the 1-5-7 WOD Challenge, and is a vital function of our lives. But all too often, we don’t get the sleep we need to stay at our peak. Lack of sleep can create cognitive dysfunction, motor skill interruption, and increase risk for illness. Some of us stay up too late playing video games or responding to work emails, others suffer from insomnia. However, no matter the reason, there are things you can do that are proven to help you increase the duration and quality of your sleep.  For more information and tips to getting better sleep, visit: The Beauty of Sleep; NMCPHC Sleep Resource page.

Want To Get Started?

HPW’s 1-5-7 WOD 21 day challenge is designed to help you form healthy habits of these three key preventive health behaviors. The challenge starts off small, but by the end, you’ll be forming healthy habits of things you never thought you had time for. Take the challenge, and see how easy it actually is to start building healthy habits. For tips on forming healthy habits on your own, visit the HPW Shaping Healthy Habits Factsheet.