I love new year’s! It means summer, holidays and the chance to establish new healthy routines for me and my family.
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
Say hello to gorgeous sun rises! It may be hard to get out of bed (trust me, I’m the worst at it) but it’s so worth it to see a beautiful sunrise and 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. Water with a twist
Fill up a big jug with water, add the juice from 1 lemon or lime, a couple of slices of cucumber and 3-4 fresh mint leaves. Keep it in the fridge. Good hydration is very important and knowing that you’ve got a zesty fresh drink already made up is a great reminder to keep you drinking throughou the day. Aim to finish your jug by the end of the day.
3. Say NO to sausages
As we enjoy the summer months, there are BBQ’s a plenty! I don’t know about you but I find myself eating way too many sausages over the season. Sausages are high in saturated fat, extremely high in salt and contain lots of other ‘fillers’ and additives. Try chicken breast marinated in lemon juice and fresh herbs or fresh minute steaks. Vegetable kebabs are delicious chargrilled on the BBQ and nothing beats prawns or a fresh fillet of fish! Yum!
4. Give natural yoghurt a try
I love a good quality natural yoghurt. Find one with live cultures, which is great for boosting gut health and choose an unsweetened variety. You can always add a tiny bit of honey or some fresh fruit to give it the sweetness you need!
5. Swap creamy desserts to fruity desserts
Ice cream has summer written all over it. 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 frozen fruit blend popsicles, 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.
6. Make ‘buffed up’ sandwiches
One of the things that I love most about this time of year is going on picnics. A ‘buffed up’ sandwich is one that contains lots of fresh salad vegetables: grated carrot, rocket, baby spinach, cucumber, tomato, sprouts, red onion, beetroot, etc. This kind of sandwich is much more filling than one that just contains ham and cheese or other processed meat or spread. Plus, it’s heaps more nutritious as well.
7. 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.
8. Get some sleep
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!
9. 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, 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”.
10. 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 this summer, 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.
11. 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.
12. 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. A change of season means we can enjoy some new produce as well which is always exciting. Aim for 5 serves of fruit and vegetables (3- 5 cups) each day!