Take care of yourself. School can be stressful and fried foods and soda pop can look pretty attractive (especially when it’s fairly new—you may have, like me, eaten well at home. The grass always looks greener on the other side). Be careful. It might be liberating not to have Mom leaning over your shoulder at every meal, telling you to eat your vegetables—but you do need those fruits and vegetables. Eating badly will catch up with you quickly. Beyond possible weight gain, your energy decreases and you have fewer defenses against getting sick.
Fat and fat sometimes seems to be all anyone talks about when they talk about health, but skinny and healthy aren’t the same things. Some people are going to be heavier than other people—don’t look to the media for models of what’s healthy. Just keep fit and eat well. Have those balanced meals and exercise. Go on walks. Join a sport. Keep active. Don’t let the opportunity to sit around all day (inside school and out) turn you lazy. Mormonism promotes exercise and other healthy habits through a commandment called the Word of Wisdom, which was revealed to Joseph Smith by God.
And then there are the things that you should avoid at all costs: things that will destroy your health very, very quickly. Drugs are foremost here. Don’t smoke. It’s not only Mormons who avoid smoking now—most people do. Some decades ago, smoking was fashionable. Here’s celebrities taking a good long drag, there’s movie characters with cigarettes hanging from their lips. Recently, the public opinion has moved wildly to the other end. Now that we know scientifically that smoking is not only unhealthy, but eventually deadly, the public pressure to smoke will be much less, but people still pick it up. Why? Because it’s addictive. It gives you temporary good feelings or relief—the downside being that you’ll just need another smoke to get that kind of feeling again.
Most drugs have those addictive qualities. You have to wonder, otherwise, who would find sticking needles in their arms a good idea? Even when drugs like meth or heroin are ruining someone’s life, even when their bodies start deteriorating, even when their addictions lead to worse addictions and worse crimes, they keep taking them, because that’s what their body screams at them to do.
Alcohol is not illegal (unless you’re under twenty-one, of course, and quite a few people “cheat” before that point), but has some of the same qualities as drugs. Alcoholism is a real danger and destroys people as thoroughly as other addictions do. When under alcohol’s influence, you’re less safe. You may treat people nastier than before. You may end up even sleeping with someone or driving and possibly killing others or yourself on the road. Don’t even risk it. Don’t ever take a drink.
In Mormon belief, tea and coffee should also be avoided. Although the drugs and caffeine in tea and coffee aren’t quite so powerful as to destroy lives, they can be addictive, and people often end up depending on, say, their first cup of coffee to wake them up each morning.
Never abuse prescription drugs or household chemicals, either. Never seek for a “high.” The consequences are always far, far worse than the experience. Take care of yourself. Look for those things that’ll make you feel good in the long run—those things that will keep you healthy. Mormons believe that health is a result of active choices as well as choosing to avoid unhealthy ones.