10 Healthy habits to start today! Start today!
“A few small changes in the right direction can help improve your life now, and taking it a step at a time means you’re more likely to succeed. ”
Nearly two thirds of people are overweight or obese putting themselves at risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression and osteoarthritis. Excess weight is caused by excess calories so both exercise and calorie restriction are needed to fix this problem. It’s about balance and portion control along with moving a bit more. So by starting today, in just 3 weeks you’ll have established new, healthy habits you won’t want to break. Getting started is key, so there’s no better time than TODAY!
1. Eat a veriety of foods
It’s all about variety and balance! Think about what you eat over the week rather than just one day. For good health, we need over 40 different nutrients and no single food or food group supplies them all, so vary your diet and aim to eat different foods not just the same few.
2. Enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables
For the vitamins, minerals and fibre we need, vegetables are vital. Go for colour and variety and aim to eat different vegetables (Recipe: Vegetable Skewers) with each meal. 5-a-day is the bottom line –more if you can, as recent research shows that ideally, we’d aim for 7! Fruit is an ideal snack or pudding (Recipe: Oriental orange salad) and raw or cooked counts, even dried fruit in moderation – A portion of fruit or veg is 80g, around one handful. 30g of dried fruit is a portion and only one counts each day.
(click here for more 5-A-DAY RECIPE INSPIRATION
3. Choose a fibre-rich diet with wholegrains
Wholegrain foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta, and cereals, increase our fibre intake which protects against many cancers and heart disease and makes us feel full longer. It’s a good idea to include wholegrains at most meals.
4. Attain / Maintain a healthy body weight
Eating a wide variety of foods, regularly, and in the right amounts is the best plan for a healthy diet. Skipping meals can mean you eat extra next time and/ or are tempted to snack on high calorie foods. So, eating regularly is a good habit to get into. Pay attention to portion size so you don’t eat too many calories. It’s easy to eat too much without noticing! For most of us a portion means: 70g cooked lean meat or 140g fish. Cook only what you need, extra food encourages us to eat more! Using a smaller plate helps you to eat less.
5. Pay Attention to Protein
Eat fish twice a week, and make sure at least one is oily fish such as salmon or mackerel. The omega-3 fatty acids oily fish contain are linked to improving everything from heart health to brain function and mental wellbeing. Enjoy good quality lean meat (if you eat meat) and try a meat-free day or two, with meals based on beans and pulses (Recipe: Roasted chickpeas). Include plenty of seeds and nuts, for example as topping on your salad (Recipe: Sunflower Seed Granola), in your diet – if you’re vegetarian this is essential! They’re mini powerhouses of vitamins and minerals.
6. Reduce sugar and salt
Sugar provides sweetness and we are programmed to enjoy the taste, but sugary foods and drinks are best consumed in moderation, as an occasional treat. If you fancy something sweet try fruit instead. If you do want a dessert, sweeteners work well in recipes instead of sugar, (Recipes: Classic Desserts). For tea and coffee, sweeten with a sugar substitute such as Hermesetas mini sweeteners – there are different types so you can find one you like. They all count towards your daily fluid intake too. High salt intake can mean high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.
There are different ways to reduce sugar and salt in the diet:
• When cooking, don’t add salt to the cooking water or when preparing foods
• Try cooking with herbs or spices such as chilli, curry powder, Chinese 5 spice or fresh coriander, you’ll probably find you enjoy the different flavours and tastes
• Don’t add salt at the table and avoid adding salt before tasting your food, you may not need any
• Choose lower sugar products on the supermarket aisles by checking labels and comparing products
• Go for sugar-free mixers when enjoying an alcaholic drink (Recipe: Rhubarb gin fizz)
• Choose diet drinks and low calorie cordials, or stick with refreshing tap water (Recipe: Virgin Mojito)
7. Drink plenty of fluids
Adults need at least 1.5 litres of fluids a day, more if it’s very hot or when you’re physically active. Check out fluids and fitness to find out more. Water is best and tap water is fine, sparkling or still mineral water if you prefer. Tea or coffee (Recipe: Sugar Free Lemon Iced Tea) count towards your fluid intake. It’s best not to add sugar so if you prefer it sweet try adding sweetener rather than sugar. Flavoured waters, fruit juices, soft drinks, and other drinks (Recipe: Vitamin cocktail) are all okay from time to time but shouldn’t be consumed in excess.
8. Get moving, make it a habit!
Today’s the day to get on the move! Physical activity is important for everyone. It improves overall health and wellbeing, burns off extra calories, is good for the heart and circulation, improves our mood and helps us focus. All that from just 20 minutes a day! You’ll soon start to see the benefits, so step up!
Make it part of your routine and aim to:
• Take a walk during lunch breaks (and stretch at your desk/workspace in between)
• Use the stairs instead of the lift
• Walk part or all of the way to work
• Get more active at weekends
9. Get cooking!
Cooking from scratch is the best way to eat more healthily as you know exactly what’s in the dish. By preparing simple, easy meals you can save cash and calories and it doesn’t need to take a lot of time, so try our super easy recipes! Ideal whether you’re a regular cook or just beginning, you can get these dishes to the table in the same time as many ready meals – after all, what do you actually do while you’re waiting for the microwave to ping?
10. Start today! And keep changing gradually
Gradual lifestyle changes are easier to maintain than major changes introduced all at once. For three days, try writing down all the foods and drinks you consume, and make a note of how much you move, so you can spot where to improve:
• Struggling with your 5-a-day? Salads are the most obvious way to get your veggies
• Skipping breakfast? A bowl of muesli, porridge (Recipe: Chia pudding with blackberries) or our healthy granola (Recipe: Crunchy granola) helps you include it in your daily routine
• Not moving enough? Taking the stairs daily would be a great first move