On Nutrition: Deadhead damaging health habits | Lifestyle

The rich array of daisies in my garden are now spent and faded, not nearly as fresh and vibrant as they were in the spring. So I decided to teach my grandkids how to remove (aka “deadhead”) the dried-up flowers to help direct the plant’s energy toward making new blooms.

“This is very satisfying,” my maturing 10 year-old granddaughter remarked as we removed used-up flowers to make room for new growth. “Actually ... it’s really fun!”

Later, as we admired our work, I found an article on plants that reminded me of some “deadheading” I may need in my own life. Pardon the questionable analogies, but perhaps you can identify.

Periodically remove old blooms that sap strength and energy. The last thing I need is to hang on to “old blooms.” That means I need to know the right techniques to rid my body of unhealthy growth. For example, I can nip my tendency for mindless snacking in the bud. Then I can redirect my energy toward more worthwhile pursuits, like taking a walk and rejuvenating myself more often with water.

Know your own needs. Only certain types of plants need to have their dried-up flowers deadheaded, I learned. Likewise, I need to get the facts from health experts before I jump into a technique that may harm me in the long run. Good places to start include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ( and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website,

Pinch in the right place. Oh, how I wish I could pinch off extra love handles as easily as I pinch dead flowers from my plants. Perhaps I can start by pinching my mouth shut more often.

Inspect your blooms regularly. My bathroom scale is a good reminder to remove unwanted blooms from my personal “garden” as soon as they pop up. This one habit can help me stay free of any excess foliage that can sap my energy and weigh me down.

Guard your garden from pests. They can sneak up without warning, such as when I grab a handful of M&M’s every time I feel stressed.

If you have ideas on how you tend your own health garden, drop me a line. I’d love to share your personal tips with other health gardeners.

In the meantime, look for creative ways to deadhead damaging habits. Learn as much as you can from reliable professionals. And may you thrive in your own garden for years to come.

(Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist and syndicated columnist. She is the author of "Quinn-Essential Nutrition: The Uncomplicated Science of Eating." Email her at [email protected].)

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