All too often having a cable TV subscription has become the norm in households across America. In a recent study done by the FCC, they calculated that the average monthly bill is $64.41 and steadily on the rise. (That’s $772.92 per year!) There has never been a better time to consider cutting this monthly bill and putting these savings towards living a healthier lifestyle. This money saved can be easily applied toward buying real groceries as specified by our diabetic meal plan or paying for a gym membership. Eating real food does, in fact, cost real money. These choices will accelerate your pace of reversing your diabetes. Keep reading for options to cut the cable TV.
The costs of watching excessive amounts of television also extend beyond the financial to your health. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association did meta-analysis to calculate the association between the amount of television watching and type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Their findings are frightening. The concluded that “prolonged TV viewing was associated with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality”. The risk of all case mortality increased with those people watching more than three hours per day. There has also never been a better time to cut your cable television viewing, for both the cost and health benefits.
“But how will I watch Oprah or the local news?” Taking that first leap from cable TV is easier than you think. Gone are the days of fiddling with “rabbit-ears” to tune into your channel. There are affordable “rabbit-ear” options for HD televisions that allow picking up your local channels – in HD quality for pretty much free. Amazon offers this sleek indoor antenna for just $21. If you’re feeling handy, you can even build your own HD antenna to save a few more bucks. If you live an apartment building there is a chance that local TV is still piped through the coax cable, even without a subscription to cable TV.
STREAMING OPTIONS TO CUT THE CABLE TV
The big content producers are slowly realizing that the world of television is shifting to the internet. In the past few years, more and more companies have put streaming programs and sports online. Some shows now are available for free online, but they might air after the original broadcast on the respective paid channel. If your computer and TV both have HDMI ports, you might consider connecting them together to view your shows. All you need is an HDMI cord. Two of the largest paid services for streaming content are Netflix and HBOGo, although they still cost less than the average cable TV bill (about $8-15/month). And both Netflix and HBOGo have been delivering original, award-winning content.
While some modern HDTV’s have an interface that will connect to streaming providers, others need some more hardware. Below is a short list of the best media streamers to date. These all cater to different needs, so read up on them to make sure they work with any subscriptions or preferences of yours.
- Roku 3 is extremely fast and has great access to TV and movies, not to mention Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus and many more. It comes with a handy remote or can be controlled via an app on a smart phone.
- Roku Streaming Stick is ideal for wall mounted televisions. They offer similar content to the one above and comes with a remote.
- Amazon Fire Stick is a must for anyone that watches most of their content from Amazon. It also comes with a remote but offers slightly less content than the Roku’s above.
- Google Chromecast is the most affordable option for a streaming stick. However, it does not come with a remote and requires you to use a phone, tablet or computer to control it.
PLAY VIDEO GAMES INSTEAD
Watching movies or television can be quite passive and sedentary, but actively playing video games produce much more brain activity – for the better. The engagement needed to figure out how to get to the next level or conquer the evil villain in a video game uses the higher brain regions, such as the neocortex and mid-brain. Conversely, the act of watching television reduces the amount of higher brain activity and transfers most activities down to the lower brain regions.
For those with children that suffer from obesity, video games could prove a much healthier alternative to television. The downside of children’s programming are commercials, specifically those for unhealthy food and beverages. Marketing departments from the food industry strongly understand that forming connections with consumers as young as possible produces the most lucrative and loyal customers. This is why the amount of money spent annually on food marketing budgets exceeds $5 billion. One can be certain that healthy produce and good eating habits are not being repetitively projected to child’s absorbent mind on television.
Another potential benefit to children playing video games is the social learning aspect of this activity. Many games have multi-player modes which allows children to interact, compete and sometimes collaborate on the mission of the video game. Getting healthy social interactions is growing harder in this digital age and video games can help on that front. Some video games even have multi-player modes that allow for social interactions around the world with others. This is a type of social development that could never occur from just passively ingesting television programs.
The more advanced game consoles have brought about a new genre, one that has been dubbed “exergaming” and it can yield benefits beyond social and cognitive. Exergames are video games that are based on physical body movements, above and beyond just using your fingers on a controller. A study examined the potentials of using exergaming in physical education settings for children. They concluded that exergaming got inactive children to be 10X(!) more active during the classes.
MOVE YOUR TV OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM
Where your television is located in your home or apartment greatly affects your amount of viewing time and, consequently, the amount of weight you could gain. Having your television in the bedroom, or your child’s bedroom, makes it easier to consume many more hours of programming. The more television programming consumed, the higher the risk of being influenced by food marketing and the lower the chance of of being active or reading. Studies have been conducted over long periods of time with children and their viewing habits. This study found a strong correlation to television time in the bedroom associated to higher BMI, waist circumference and body fat in children.
Adult television watching has also been studied to similar results for those with children. This study concluded that sedentary television watching is a distinct risk factor for adverse health outcomes. This trend continues in many professional research projects. Another study followed some 50,000 women for six years and concluded that for every two hours of daily television the women watched, they had a 23% higher risk of becoming obese and a 14% higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
The simple act of moving your television out of your bedroom and into your living room is a powerful behavioral hack. This technique can cut your passive hours without much difficult change of your personal habits. Getting several easy wins like this can produce noticeable changes to your health and wellness. Being informed of the consequences of your actions can often prove the catalyst needed to make changes. Please learn from the hours of painstaking work that went into these studies and do your best to avoid becoming one of these TV statistics yourself.
THE DANGERS OF EATING WHILE WATCHING TV
When you eat while you watch, you do not watch what you eat. The sedentary act of watching hours of television slows your metabolism and calorie burning to the lowest levels of your day. Your circulatory system pumps blood and nutrients throughout your body less and less efficiently with every hour of television that passes. Add in some secondary eating to this precipitous mix of bodily functions and the pounds cannot help but pile themselves on your midsection and thighs.
One of the leading causes of obesity and diabetes is the amount of secondary eating that happens throughout your day. Secondary eating is the term applied to eating between meals, usually not out of hunger, but cravings. When you eat a full lunch and then walk past the break room at work and grab a donut or a slice of birthday cake you are secondary eating. The problem with secondary eating is that we, as a nation, are eating out of boredom, stress or just opportunity. Not only does this constant eating make it extremely difficult for a diabetic to manage their insulin and blood sugar levels, but the added calories mean that you can unconsciously be eating a 3,000+ calorie daily intake.
It’s commonplace to make a bowl of popcorn when watching a movie, but what else do you eat when you watch TV? All too often the seemingly constant commercials for highly processed fast food or junk food penetrate our mind. Then without much awareness you find yourself grabbing a bag of chips or something from the fridge to nibble on while watching The Bachelor. Unfortunately many processed foods have been carefully designed for craveability. This means that food scientists, not cooks nor chefs, have spent months creating recipes that keep you coming back for more, even after you’ve consumed an entire full-size bag. (I’m looking at you, Doritos!) As you watch your shows or movie it’s easy to mindlessly over-consume. As good a good habit, try not to eat while watching TV or only eat healthy snacks while on the couch. Carrot sticks and humus count as healthy. Or red pepper slices and pesto.
An excellent exercise for everyone to go through, overweight, skinny or obese, is one of mindful eating. It can make you much more aware of your eating habits, both good and bad. Being mindful or meditating for a few minutes before eating can greatly reduce the amount of food you consume and encourage the most out of the nutrients from the food. This excellent video explains the concepts of mindful eating:
EARN YOUR TV TIME
American adults watch a staggering amount of television. In 2013, the US department of Labor conducted a time use study and found the average adult watched 2.8 hours of television per day. Unfortunately, they did not report how much time we spent exercising nor cooking per day, but I am guessing that it was much less.
Let’s be realistic – people are not going to stop watching so much TV. But is there any way to make watching all of this TV less worse? Dr Robert Lustig suggests earning your TV time based on your time spent being active. He challenges his patients to earn their time 1:1, meaning 1 hour of exercise earns you the privilege of watching 1 hour of television.
Another excellent option for those frequent TV watchers is to do a commercial break workout. This simply means that every time a commercial comes on, you get off the couch and do an exercise. Sit back down once you’re done and do another exercise for every commercial. A fun alternative is basing your exercise off of what happens on your show. If they mention “junk food”, you do 25 jumping jacks. Here’s this commercial break workout routine. To save this workout routines, just right-click and hit save as. If you have a chair and a wall in your room with your TV you can also do the 7-minute workout.
In our house, we multi-task when the TV is on. Our living room, dining area and kitchen all occupy a common space. This means we can watch Chopped or Master Chef Junior while preparing the week’s lunches or that night’s dinner. If you have the space for a TV in your kitchen, you can multi-task as well. It’s one good way to feel more productive about your TV time.
SHARING IS CARING
Has this article helped you learn more about how to cut the cable? If you enjoyed this article, others may also find it useful. If we’ve earned it, can we kindly ask that you share this article online or through email? A referral is the greatest compliment a customer can give a business and we thank you for helping us spread the good word to the millions who suffer from this troubling disease.