14 Feb

7 Tips for building healthy habits this year.

Building consistent healthy habits are essential to our health. The lifestyle habits we create can make or break our chances of living a happier and healthier life. But, building healthy habits doesn’t need to be hard.

Nutrition experts share their tips for making consistent healthy choices to improve your general health and well-being.

1. Add Plants
When it comes to healthy eating, a lot of us can’t see the forest for the trees – we get hyper focused on specific nutrients or foods, even though we aren’t yet getting the basics right. It doesn’t matter if you’re choosing white rice instead of brown, or green tea instead of coffee, if you’re not consistently eating 5 serves of veg and 2 serves of fruit each day. So instead of cutting out foods you love, try shifting your focus to what you can add to your diet – specifically veg and fruit!
Look at every meal and snack as an opportunity to add some plant foods. Cereal for breakfast? No problem, just top it with berries or a banana. Eggs on toast? Spinach or mushrooms is a worthy side dish!
Set yourself a challenge for how many plants you can eat each week. If you’re not a veggie lover right now, that’s okay, just start small and build your way up. Something is always better than nothing.

2.Enjoy meals with others
There’s something special about sharing a meal with loved ones. Food is not only fuel for our bodies, it is central to our health, relationships, culture and well-being.

  • Enjoying meals with others can be a great opportunity to:
  • Try new ingredients and recipes
  • Share food traditions and cultures
  • Model healthy eating behaviors
  • Help build relationships

It may seem a bit tricky with busy schedules but remember that there are many benefits of eating with others so try to put away any distractions and use mealtimes as a chance to connect with those around you.

3. Drink water before anything else
Staying hydrated is vital for our health and although we’ve heard it many times, it’s often overlooked. Our bodies are 60% water and not drinking enough water can lead to more than just dehydration. In fact, low levels of dehydration are linked to fatigue, headaches and increased cravings. Although it is imperative to drink water throughout the day, one of the best (and easiest) times to drink water is first thing in the morning. So, before you start sipping on your morning coffee, drink a glass of water. Not only is it refreshing, but it can help to hydrate the body while aiding digestion and metabolism at the same time.

4. Walking for good Health
Walking is a great way to stay active and improve your overall health. It’s free, requires no special equipment and can be done at your own pace at anytime and anywhere.

  • Here are some tips to incorporate more steps in your busy lifestyle:
  • Park your car a bit further out in the car park
  • Get off public transport one stop earlier
  • Take the stairs instead of using the lift
  • Walk to your favorite local coffee shop instead of driving
  • Walk your dog, or your neighbors’ dog
  • Walking with friends
  • Join a walking club

5. Add flavour with fresh herbs
Adding fresh herbs to your meals is a great way to add flavour and colour, plus they have some fabulous health benefits too!
There is now ample evidence that herbs possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. Why is this good? These properties contribute to glucose and cholesterol-lowering activities, as well as containing compounds that affect cognition and mood.
If you have recently changed your eating patterns to reduce processed foods and are finding your tastebuds are taking time to adjust to a more Iow-fat or low-salt diet, adding herbs is a great way to enhance the flavour of your meals – which in the long term will help ensure you continue your healthy habits.

6. Sleep
Sleep is vital to our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Sleep recharges the body and mind for daily cognitive and behavioural functioning, supports a healthy immune system and can even affects your mood. Though we are all different, most adults will benefit from around 7 to 9 hours sleep. Try these tips if you are struggling to get enough Zzz’s:
1. Consistency is key: Establish a regular sleep routine aiming to go to rest and rise around the same time each day.
2. Move your body: Physical activity during the day whether it be a running, resistance training or yoga, etc., can help promote good sleep (just try not to do your exercise close to your bed time).
3. Set the mood: Create an environment that supports sleep – a comfy mattress, pillows and sheets, dim lighting and cooler bedroom temps will help lull you into slumber.
4. Delight in a digital detox: Refrain from your tech devices an hour or so before bed to allow the body’s natural rhythm to guide you to sound sleep.

7. Food for the soul
Sometimes we get so fixated on own life, our past/future journey and/or our family, that it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of what life is all about. “If you want to feel good, do good” – sounds great in theory but not sure where to start?
1. Do kind things for others
2. Volunteer your time, energy and skills
3. Help out a friend in need
4. Thank the people you’re grateful for
5. Make something happen for a good cause
Research shows that our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know.

Happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend’s spouse) by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%. Now, there’s some stats to smile about!

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