CINCINNATI - Certain habits are a no brainer as being harmful to your health, such as smoking and pigging out on bags of Skittles. But could ringing out your stinky sink sponge be just as bad for you?
As medical advice constantly changes and new research gives advanced insight, it's no doubt that health conscious people feel a bit of whiplash (eggs are good for me one day and not the next? And let's not even get started on the coffee debate).
ABC News has compiled a list of 9 everyday health habits we may want to reconsider:
- Birth Control Timing: If you have a bad habit of forgetting to take your birth control pill on time, you may want to reconsider if you don't want the stork bringing you a surprise baby. Between two and nine women out of 100 get pregnant each year mostly because of errors like skipping a pill, according to Lauren Streicher, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. If you miss your daily dose: "Take it as soon as you remember, or take two the next day," she says. "If you skip two pills, take two pills for two days, and use backup birth control, like a condom, for a week."
- Sweetening Your Drink: If you order your daily sugar and syrup with a side of coffee, you're probably loading up on empty calories that can add extra padding to your midsection. Even if you only use half-and-half and a few packs of sugar in your morning Joe, you could be adding 50 extra calories per cup. If you're searching for a healthier option, a bit of milk and sugar are "not a problem," says Kelly Morrow, RD, associate professor of nutrition at Bastyr University in Seattle. Make sure you stick to real milk because low-fat, non-dairy creamers are typically made of mostly corn syrup.
- Weighing Yourself Often: If you weigh yourself after every meal and between every run thinking it will help you lose the extra pounds, you may be wasting your time, according to a recent review of research in The New England Journal of Medicine. Though Rena Wing, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Brown University and director of the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I. says that weighing yourself once a day (in the morning after you go to the bathroom and before you put your clothes on) can be helpful to keep you in check with pounds you may be gaining or losing. "Daily weigh-ins allow you to detect small changes before they become big changes," Dr. Wing told ABC News. "If you're up 1 pound, you can adjust your eating for a few days and lose it. If you're up 10 pounds, that's going to take some time and work."
- Ringing Sponges: Throw those grimy sponges down the disposal, and hit the switch! According to a study in the American Journal of Infection Control, squeezing out a wet kitchen sponge can leave up to 1 million potentially illness-causing bacteria on your hands. A helpful tip? You can reuse those sponges by either running it through the dishwasher or zapping the bacteria in the microwave said Marianne Smith Edge, RD, senior vice president of nutrition and food-safety communications for the International Food Information Council in Washington, D.C.
- Eating At Your Desk: If you typically find yourself too busy to take a lunch break and usually scarf down your meal at your desk, you're more likely to overeat, according to research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Jeff Brunstrom, PhD, professor of experimental psychology at University of Bristol in England, said when we eat while we are distracted, we aren't really focusing on what we are putting in our mouths. "That blunts the satiety"—that is, fullness—"response and leads to overeating," Brunstrom said. A trick? If you absolutely can't get away from your desk for lunch, at least turn away from your computer while you eat.
- Distracted Everything: We all have heard the horror stories associated with texting while driving, but texting while walking can have some dire consequences as well. According to a study, people who navigated busy intersections while playing on their smartphones were four times less likely than non-texters to look before they crossed, cross with the light or stay in the crosswalk. "Crossing less cautiously and spending more time in the intersection raises the risk of being hit by a car. We certainly saw some near-misses," says senior study author Beth Ebel, MD, director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington. "It's dangerous to text when you're doing tasks that require your full concentration."
- Public Restrooms: Who hasn't been afraid to sit down on the seat of a public toilet? Who knows who was on that seat before you or what germs are lurking. But according to research done at the University of Arizona, the toilet is probably the cleanest thing you'll touch in the bathroom. The reason? Many women either use seat covers
- or wipe the seat before ever using it. "There's this idea that if you sit on a toilet seat you're going to get some dreaded disease," Dr. Streicher says. "That's just not going to happen. Things like gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV don't live on surfaces. And your vagina doesn't touch the toilet seat; it hangs over the bowl."