Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate your pride and patriotism with all of your friends and family. It's not a time for going on a beer bender or entering a hot dog eating contest and stuffing yourself until you can't feel one side of your face. By the way, if that ever happens, you're probably suffering from a stroke and need to seek medical attention immediately!
For some reason, people use the Fourth of July and many other holiday celebrations to do things to their bodies that they might regret, some sooner than others. Here is a list of unhealthy traditions that have become as much a part of Independence Day, than fireworks and Uncle Sam:
The Fourth of July weekend has become the most popular time to host some of the biggest eating contests in the nation. Many of these contests are televised locally, while some are even televised across the nation. That's how popular they are! Many of these competitive eaters are shown gobbling down ridiculous amounts of food under a small time frame. At least, that's what the audience sees. What they don't see is:
- Most competitive eaters train their stomachs to stretch for these contests. They don't eat that much food regularly.
- Most competitive eaters follow a strict diet regiment to prepare themselves for these eating contests.
- Study, research and preparation for these contests can start months in advance. Some competitive eaters train year round.
- An eating contest is a competition, not an excuse for people to go binge eating.
So, before you decide on entering one of these eating contests after seeing someone inhale over 60 hotdogs on national TV, consider some of the health risks:
- Increased risk in developing heart disease, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes.
- Stomach perforations from binge eating if you suffer from ulcers.
- Fracturing the jaw due to excessive chewing.
- Heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea and/or vomiting.
While there hasn't been any evidence of immediate health risks from binge eating during an eating contest, try and understand that the body was not meant to handle that much food in one sitting. Also consider how unhealthy most of the foods used in these contests are by themselves. It's a mystery why you never hear about a broccoli or spinach eating contest.
Too Much Spicy Food
Just like eating contests, the Fourth of July weekend has also become famous for chili cook-offs and overindulging on spicy foods. While eating these types of foods isn't necessarily bad for a person's health, the fact that it has become a Fourth of July tradition to forget about moderation makes it an entirely different story. Here are some of the potential health risks for going overboard with the spicy food:
- Some studies have shown a connection between chili pepper and stomach cancer.
- Eating too much spicy food can lead to heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion.
- Spicy foods can lead to intestinal disorders like diarrhea, upset stomach and painful bowel movements.
- Can cause burning sensation on the skin.
- Possibility of insomnia or some other disruption in sleep due to increased body temperatures.
Fourth of July celebrations are a popular time for people to gather and celebrate with a few drinks. This is fine, as long as they are drinking in moderation and have designated drivers to take them home. What's not fine is spending a day at the park beside the keg, drinking more than you normally would in an entire month! Here are the potential health risks for partaking in this type of behavior:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Liver disease
- Brain damage
- Physical and mental impairment
- Stroke and heart disease
- Driving under the influence
- Unintended pregnancy
- Physical injury from accidents caused by excessive drinking
- Sexually transmitted diseases due to impaired judgment and poor decision making
Excessive drinking can also lead to other problems other than health-related issues:
- Legal trouble
- Unsafe environment for families and children
- Inappropriate behavior
Don't let the Fourth of July be an excuse to make poor decisions with your health and safety. Think about self-control and moderation, and celebrate the real meaning of the holiday by honoring the nation's independence in a healthy and respectful way with friends, family and your neighbors.