Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean hours of training and workout at the gym or only like eating leafy veggies and salads. One can also lead a healthy lifestyle by making easy-to-manage healthy choices in your day to day living.
‘Healthy living’ to most people means both physical and mental health are in balance or functioning well together in a person. In many instances, physical and mental health is closely linked, so that a change (good or bad) in one directly affects the other. Consequently, some of the tips will include suggestions for emotional and mental ‘healthy living’.
1. Enjoy the experience
The word “diet” comes from the Greek word “diaita,” meaning “a way of life.” It’s not just about the food you eat but rather about sharing it with friends and family and taking time to stop and enjoy the experience.
2. Eat a variety of foods
For good health, we need more than 40 different nutrients, and no single food can supply them all. It is not about a single meal, it is about a balanced food choice over time that will make a difference!
· A high-fat lunch could be followed by a low-fat dinner.
· After a large meat portion at dinner, perhaps fish should be the next day’s choice?
3. Base your diet on plenty of foods rich in carbohydrates
About half the calories in our diet should come from foods rich in carbohydrates, such as cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. It is a good idea to include at least one of these at every meal. Wholegrain foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta, and cereals, will increase our fibre intake.
4. Replace saturated with unsaturated fat
Fats are important for good health and proper functioning of the body. However, too much of it can negatively affect our weight and cardiovascular health. Different kinds of fats have different health effects, and some of these tips could help us keep the balance right:
· We should limit the consumption of total and saturated fats (often coming from foods of animal origin), and completely avoid trans fats; reading the labels helps to identify the sources.
· Eating fish 2-3 times a week, with at least one serving of oily fish, will contribute to our right intake of unsaturated fats.
· When cooking, we should boil, steam or bake, rather than frying, remove the fatty part of meat, use vegetable oils.
5. Enjoy plenty of fruits and green vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for giving us enough vitamins, minerals and fibre. We should try to eat at least 5 servings a day. For example, a glass of fresh fruit juice at breakfast, perhaps an apple and a piece of watermelon as snacks, and a good portion of different vegetables at each meal.
6. Sugar and salt intake should be reduced
A high salt intake can result in high blood pressure, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are different ways to reduce salt in the diet:
· When shopping, we could choose products with lower sodium content.
· When cooking, salt can be substituted with spices, increasing the variety of flavours and tastes.
· When eating, it helps not to have salt at the table, or at least not to add salt before tasting.
Sugar provides sweetness and an attractive taste, but sugary foods and drinks are rich in energy, and are best enjoyed in moderation, as an occasional treat. We could use fruits instead; even to sweeten our foods and drinks.
7. Eat at regular intervals with controlled portion size
Eating a variety of foods, regularly, and in the right amounts is the best formula for a healthy diet. Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in helpless overeating. Snacking between meals can help control hunger, but snacking should not replace proper meals. For snacks, we could choose yoghurt, a handful of fresh or dried fruits or vegetables (like carrot sticks), unsalted nuts, or perhaps some bread with cheese.
Paying attention to portion size will help us not to consume too much calories, and will allow us to eat all the foods we enjoy, without having to eliminate any.
· Cooking the right amount makes it easier to not overeat.
· Some reasonable serving sizes are: 100 g of meat; one medium piece of fruit; half a cup of raw pasta.
· Using smaller plates helps with smaller servings.
· Packaged foods, with calorie values on the pack, could aid portion control.
· If eating out, we could share a portion with a friend.
8. Drink plenty of water
Adults need to drink at least 1.5 litres of fluid a day! Or more if it's very hot or they are physically active. Water is the best source, of course, and we can use tap or mineral water, sparkling or non-sparkling, plain or flavoured. Fruit juices, tea, soft drinks, milk and other drinks, can all be okay - from time to time.
9. Maintain a healthy body weight
The right weight for each of us depends on factors like our gender, height, age, and genes. Being overweight increases the risks of a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. Excess body fat comes from eating more than we need. The extra calories can come from any caloric nutrient - protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol, but fat is the most concentrated source of energy. Physical activity helps us spend the energy, and makes us feel good. The message is reasonably simple: if we are gaining weight, we need to eat less and be more active!
10. Get on the move, make it a habit! Challenge yourself!
It may sound completely absurd, but try brushing your teeth with your opposite hand. Doing so will force you to think with a different part of your brain, helping to foster creative thinking. Within days, you’ll notice a cascade of new ideas that may just have you trying tofu next week, kickboxing next month or a half marathon by the end of the year!
Physical activity is important for people of all weight ranges and health conditions. It helps us burn off the extra calories, it is good for the heart and circulatory system, it maintains or increases our muscle mass, it helps us focus, and improves overall health well-being. We don't have to be top athletes to get on the move! 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity is advised, and it can easily become part of our daily routine. We all could:
· use the stairs instead of the elevator,
· go for a walk during lunch breaks (and stretch in our offices in between)
· make time for a family weekend activity
11. Get enough sleep
Make a special effort to get enough sleep and to sleep well on a regular basis. Sleep impacts energy levels, ability to make good decisions and to put your best face forward — all of which can impact self-confidence and more.
12. Know your limits
The healthiest version of ourselves lies somewhere between giving ourselves grace while still having challenging goals. A good place to start is by being honest with yourself about what works for you and what doesn’t.