I’d like to start by saying that this isn’t a list of your typical New Year resolutions, which are usually unrealistic and forgotten by the end of January. This is a list of a few health tips that can be implemented now or throughout the year and is aimed to be used lifelong. My health tips are simple, realistic and easy to do day in and day out.
Sit less and move more
This can be as simple as going for a 45min walk once a week. I would suggest building this up to 3 times per week for more cardiovascular benefits. Going for a brisk 45min walk and including stairs and/or hills into the exercise can really get the heart pumping, burn calories and get you into the fat burning zone. Walking is low impact and an excellent exercise that can be started at any age. If you are already a gym goer, but took a break over the Christmas period, now is the time to get motivated again.
Set up regular meal times
Parent and work schedules are often jam-packed and vary from day to day. Whether it’s managing work deadlines, household duties, kids activities, or a busy social calendar, we are on the go so much that we don’t make time to eat! Over time, we can suppress our body’s hunger cues and it gets more difficult to stick to a regular eating schedule. This can wreak havoc on your mood, energy and metabolism. One of the best ways to get your body on track is to commit to regular meal times. Eating regular meals will keep blood sugars stable and keep your energy levels on an even keel throughout the day. No more spikes and crashes.
Eat more Vegetables
Sounds obvious and simple to do but in fact there has been days that I realise I’ve barely had any vegetables that day let alone the recommended 5+ portions. I’m not keen about eating vegetables at breakfast, so I really have to be mindful of eating enough vegetables at each lunch and dinner. Soups are the perfect way to add an abundance of vegetable to your diet. Winter is also the perfect time to be making warm hearty soups, but there are also plenty of recipes for spring and summer soup ideas as well. Did you know that vegetable soup is a staple of the French diet eaten throughout the year?
If I am making a salad, I like them flavourful and colourful! I tend to have a variety of raw vegetables including salad leaves, fresh tomatoes, grated carrot and sweet peppers. Then I also add cooked vegetables, like, steamed broccoli, kale, carrots or beetroot. I like to use canned mushrooms, artichokes, peppers or tomatoes that have been marinated in olive oil and herbs – this is a easy and quick way to add more flavour. I would then think about my protein source whether it’s a meat, fish or vegetarian source, adding healthy fats and more herbs. For dinner, I suggest to prepare at least two different vegetables to have alongside the rest of your meal. Mix it up at each meal and try different vegetables each week.
Vegetables are an excellent source of fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Consuming a variety of coloured fruits and vegetables have shown to promote longevity, disease prevention and overall wellness.
Be mindful of what you drink
I’m not going to say to stop drinking coffee because I look forward to my morning cappuccino and I couldn’t give it up either. But, what I do suggest is to be aware of how many coffees you are having per day and why you are having them. Is it purely for the social aspect, do you like the taste or do you need caffeine to function in the afternoon? One of two coffees per day is fine, but coffee is still dehydrating so you need to make sure you are drinking plenty of water in a 24hr period. When the body is dehydrated, it doesn’t run efficiently. Drinking water has plenty of benefits including increasing energy, flushing out toxins, improving skin complexion and boosting immunity. Aim for 2-3L of water each day, depending on your individual needs. Caffeine may also deplete the body of important nutrients like iron, zinc and B vitamins, so it is important you are eating a balanced diet as well. If you are consuming excess caffeine from sources like coffee, energy drinks and/or chocolate in order to get through the day then you need to assess why and it is best to speak to a qualified practitioner who can give you dietary and lifestyle advice.
Stop Cutting Out Foods
Many of us wake up on New Year’s Day and resolve to totally overhaul our diet, cutting meat, gluten, sugar, and carbs. Instead of saying I’m going to cut dairy and gluten and sugar and processed foods knowing you’re setting high expectations on yourself and in fact that’s not going to happen. Just say to yourself, I’m going to try to eat a well balanced diet and if sometimes I have sugar then that’s okay, but my aim is to live a healthy lifestyle. If you are going to cut out something, then just do one thing. It’s much more manageable and sociable! Stop putting so much pressure on yourself.