It's a new year and, for many of us, that means new year's resolutions and big plans. Whatever your health goals are this year, losing weight, improving cardiovascular health, getting fitter or just improving your diet quality, it’s easy to get bombarded with lots of conflicting information. Where do you start?
The truth is, healthy eating is nowhere near as complicated as it seems. It pays to focus the majority of your efforts on the aspects of nutrition that make the biggest difference long term. Sometimes we get bogged down in the small details, which often doesn’t promote action. It generally does the opposite and we procrastinate, confused about the first step to take.
No more procrastinating! Here are 8 healthy habits that you can apply straight away based on the solid basics of good nutrition. If you put your effort into focusing on these daily behaviours, you’ll reap the benefits of good health in no time at all!
1. Wake early to exercise
It may be hard to get out of bed - trust me, I’m the worst at it, paricularly in these cold winter months - but it’s so worth it to move your body before you start the day! Meet up with a friend for a brisk walk, head to the gym or pool or grab a workout DVD. You’ll love that exercise was the first thing you ticked off your list for the day!
2. Swap creamy desserts for fruity desserts
It’s OK to indulge every now and then, but if you really need to have something sweet after dinner why not try something fruity instead? Try fresh berries with a small dollop of sweetened cream cheese or chopped fresh fruit with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a drizzle of honey.
3. Say YES to breakfast
It’s undeniable that breakfast is important and well established as a healthy lifestyle habit. Prioritise breakfast. If you don’t, you’ll run out of time in the mornings and it won’t happen.
4. Get some sleep
Bed is probably my favourite place in winter. The good news is the longer you sleep at night the more likely you are to be a healthy weight! Staying up late has specifically been shown to increase the likelihood of a person overeating. So make sure you get to bed on time, especially when you’re waking up early to exercise!
5. Stick to the rule of twos
Too much alcohol can sap your energy, cause an intake of excess kilojoules (calories), deplete important energy releasing B vitamins, and cause headaches and an inability to concentrate. Following the rule of twos is a great guide to alcohol consumption if you like to enjoy a drink, or two! The rule of twos goes like this: “Two a day is plenty. Have two ‘miss a drink’ days a week. Two times two is a treat and two treats a week is too many”.
6. Fad diets are banned
This time of the year is when fad diet companies plague on innocent victims. If you’re looking to lose weight, resist the temptation to follow extreme dieting practices. Follow a program that encourages balanced eating, the development of long term habits and teaches you how to prepare and buy healthy food.
7. Be a good snacker
Snacking can be either extremely helpful or extremely damaging to your weight loss or healthy lifestyle choices. Snacking well comes down to being organised so you have something healthy on hand when you need it. Snack on whole foods like fruit, nuts, yoghurt, eggs, tuna, wholegrain crackers, cheese and vegetables.
8. Eat 5 a day!
Fruit and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Be diligent in ensuring you are eating these amazing foods and encourage your family to do the same. The 5 A DAY campaign is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers.