Dr. Kim Foster: Wicked Health


What is Wicked Health?

And…How Shopping Can Save Your Life

So, I’m curious: anybody out there perfect? Show of hands?

Yeah, me neither.

When it comes to healthy living, we all have a pretty good idea what we’re supposed to be doing. Yet, oh-so-curiously, we don’t live that way 24/7. Here are a few of my confessions: I love French fries. I need brie. Life is not worth living if I can’t have coffee.

So the question is, can a person enjoy those things and still be healthy?

My professional opinion: you betcha.

In fact, I believe you can be healthier in the long run if you allow a few indulgences. You need to work hard to make healthy choices, yes, but it’s important to grant yourself treats from time to time. A no-salt, no-fat, no-carb lifestyle is, let’s face it, no fun. Most of us, if we attempted to contort ourselves into “perfect”, would fail. And perhaps give up altogether. But if we cut ourselves a little slack, allow a vice or two without being consumed by guilt, a healthy lifestyle is way more sustainable in the long run. And then you’re really winning. Then you’re Wicked Healthy.

In my view this is especially important for moms. I mean, honestly. Do we really have to give up chocolate? Alcohol? Movie popcorn? As mothers, don’t we already suffer enough? (Kidding.)

(Sort of.)

Somewhere there’s a sweet spot. A middle ground between making healthy choices and indulging yourself in this one life you’ve been given.

There are ways to do it, though. And that’s what I’m here to guide you through. Moms are a time-starved group. We need straight-up information and we need it fast. We need to know which health maneuvers are worthwhile (like…getting enough sleep—even if you have to beg, borrow or steal it) and what we can ignore (excessive housecleaning? Skip. And that’s my official prescription.)

Another thing I like to write about, and something you’ll see frequently on this blog, is the hidden health benefits of things commonly regarded as sinful. And I’m going to start by giving you permission to do something you probably consider a vice.


Oh yes, it’s true. In a recent study, seniors who shopped every day had mortality rates 27 percent lower than their peers who rarely or never shopped.

You read that right. Shopping. Every. Day. Now that’s retail therapy, people.

So what’s up with that? Well, this particular study didn’t unearth the reasons for the association between shopping and longer life, but there are a few theories. It could be that daily shopping is simply an activity that healthy seniors already do, of course. But it may be more than that. Shopping may actually be good for us. Daily shoppers may do a better job hitting the market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Perhaps the benefit comes from the social factor, from being an active member of the community.

Or maybe there’s an emotional/cognitive benefit. Shopping feels good, right? Other research has suggested that shopping may increase dopamine levels in the brain. And dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and satisfaction.

I suspect a key factor is exercise. Truth is, there’s a lot of walking that happens when you’re shopping. British researchers tracked this, in fact, and found that women take an average of 7,300 steps per shopping trip, close to the oft-recommended 10,000 steps per day.

Whatever the reason, while we’re waiting on further research to fully explain the health benefits of shopping…I am already out there. VISA card in hand. Forward this link to my husband if he’s looking for me.