January’s 31 Top Tips for a Healthier You
Happy New Year to all my followers out there. Over the 31 days of January I will be posting a simple healthy lifestyle tip every day to help you ingrain some new habits into your life. These small changes add up to a large change over time. They will be to cover all aspects of lifestyle and health, from diet, cooking to fitness, sleep, and wellbeing. Take them or leave them but you may come across something you can easily adapt and incorporate into your daily life.
Tip 1: Find a new recipe, plan, buy and cook it each week. You will soon have a selection of healthy meal to cook after a couple of months.
Tip 2: Try to give yourself at least 3 consecutive alcohol free days a week. The more the better.
Tip 3: Set yourself a goal for the day or week. It can be anything but make sure there is a goal to achieve something that is purely for your enjoyment and pleasure. A bit of time for you.
Tip 4: Try to get into a habit of a consistent wake up time in the mornings and stick to it. At least 6 days a week. Have one day off if you like. It will improve your quality of sleep, making your more aware of going to bed when you are tired. Your body circadian rhythm will adjust accordingly and result in a more well rested mind and body. This is very important you’re your physical recovery/ weight loss and mental capacity.
Tip 5: Late back from work? Buy and use a slow cooker so your meal is ready for you when you get in. Alternatively, prepare and plan for your meal to be quick, easy and healthy to cook when you get in. Again it’s all in the planning.
Tip 6: Take the stairs instead of the escalator/lift. Walk to the next bus stop instead of the first. Park the car further away to the super market entrance than normal. Walk to the person in the office and talk to them instead of emailing them. Go for a walk with friends instead of a coffee. Walk to work or to lunch or to the shops. Stand or go for a walk whilst on the phone to friends/family. All of these will increase your steps and general activity. They all add up to more calories burnt.
Tip 7: Eat oily fish 2-3 times a week to increase omega 3 and vitamin D. Reduce Omega 6 which counters the benefits of omega 3 (reducing blood triglyceride/ fat levels and depression among a few) by reducing corn, sunflower and soya bean oil. Avoid soya milk and margarines, having real butter instead. Sources of oily fish are mackerel, tuna, trout, herring, pilchards and sardines.
Tip 8: Want to sleep better? Try to keep your bedroom a retreat to relax and rest. Avoid laptop, TV, tablet or phone screen time 30-60 minutes before bed. This helps reduce the stimulation of the brain. Try listening to music or reading to relax before going to bed.
Tip 9: Cut out sugar in drinks, substitute it with cinnamon in coffee, avoid all fizzy drinks. Try to avoid artificial sweeteners as there is potential for them to have a harmful effect on health and your consequent appetite/eating habit following consumption.
Tip 10: Organise an activity (running, walking, cycling, and sport) with a friend, work colleague or group. You are more likely to do the activity and gain more enjoyment out of it than if you commit to someone else; letting them down if you pull out. This is a great way to reinforce a new routine and make it a habit.
Tip 11: Eat slower and be fuller. This allows for signals of being full time to get to your brain from your stomach. Chew your food longer and this will reduce the speed of your eating and help you savour the flavour and gain more enjoyment from your food.
Tip 12: Recognise when you are stressed. Take time out, make time for yourself and do what you need to so you can unwind. Being stressed has many effects, bodyweight, sleep, concentration, eating habits and muscle tension are but a few. Try to figure out the source of the stress and a plan to combat it.
Tip 13: Always have a glass of water before a meal and another during to help increase the feeling of fullness, reduce the emptying of the stomach and therefore reducing the absorption rate of the foods eaten. This all helps to keep you from overeating and a steady release of energy for longer.
Tip14: Office based? Do more steps in a day at work but setting a timer to get up and move. Go and make a drink or walk to talk to a colleague. Alternatively do some chair based stretches for the chest, hamstrings, gluts, neck, abdomen and back to keep you supple. All of these you could be done discretely whilst sitting.
Tip 15: Always read the labels of your food you’re eating. Know what is in it. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it or know what the ingredient is then it’s mostly likely not natural and not necessarily the healthiest. Be aware of the sugar content (90g a day soon adds up) and the vegetable fats
Tip 16: Are you hungry? Really hungry, instead of reaching immediately for food have a drink and wait a bit longer. Maybe keep a glass of water next to your computer on your desk, every time you lose concentration have a drink. Keep our hands busy when watching TV at home have a hot cup of green tea instead of eating/picking at food to keep your hands and mind occupied.
Tip 17: Add protein to a meal to reduce the glycaemic index of other food stuffs eaten with it. It also helps suppress appetite for longer and increases fat burning. 25% of the calories of protein eaten are lost in the digestion of that protein. In comparison to 5% for fat and carbohydrates.
Tip 18: Buy a pedometer to count your steps for the day. It could be a Fitbit or similar or a simple pedometer on your waist band of that is £5-10. Set little goals and keep track. An easy way to monitor how active you are that doesn’t have to break the bank.
Tip 19: Sugar is normally hidden in the ingredients as glucose/glucose syrup/ fructose/ syrup/ fructose syrup. The ingredient list is in order of amount within the product. Keep an eye out to see how much sugar is in your food.
Tip 20: Try not to snooze the alarm. If you snooze the alarm you won’t get a restful or useful sleep. It takes time to get into REM (rapid eye movement) and deep sleep so by snoozing the alarm for 10 mins you won’t be any more rested. On the count of 3 get out of bed. Make a routine that wakes you up and something to look forward to. For example a shower followed by a coffee/tea and 5 minutes reading the paper. Make sure the heating comes on prior to your regular get up time, it’s never nice getting out of bed into a cold room.
Tip 21: Try to gain 2 portions of veg to 1 portion of protein (meat, fish etc.) in each meal– try to have 2-3 different colours of vegetable on your plate to ensure a range of vitamins and minerals.
Tip 22: However bad your day has been or you think it is going to be, pick out at least 3 positives from the day. Regardless of how small they are. Find the good out of the bad.
Tip 23: Eat veg raw e.g. carrot / celery sticks for the most benefit, Steam instead of boil and don’t cook them until they are limp. Allow them to have crunch. The softer they are the less nutritional content they have. Even add them to portions of rice, lentils or quinoa.
Tip 24: Keep your sports kit in the car or ensure your gym isn’t too far away out of your commute or place of work/ home. This will reduce the number of excuses you will try to make to get out of exercise.
Tip 25: Eat fresh or from frozen vegetables as they lose nutritional content as they get older. Frozen veg keeps its nutritional value and also reduces the excess waste if your meal plans don’t work out for the week.
Tip 26: Got old vegetables hanging around? Make a soup. A great way to get plenty of vitamins and minerals in one meal as well as make use of old veg. Soup is better at reducing appetite for longer than eating the solid equivalent. Warms in winter too.
Tip 27: Work out on an empty stomach (fasted state). It could help increase the mobilisation and metabolism of fat. Most people prefer to do this in the morning and having a coffee prior could also help mobilise fat making it available to burn. Make sure you drink plenty of water, don’t work out too intense until use to your fasted work out and eat soon after for a quick recover.
Tip 28: Add spice. Tumeric reduces fat storage and increases sensitivity to insulin. Add chilli to boost your metabolism. It adds flavour and can turn something bland to something far more edible and enjoyable.
Tip 29: Add more fibre: eat fruit and berries instead of their juice, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholemeal grains, lentils and beans. This will keep your gut healthy and increase the indigestible fibre the gut muscles needs to work against keeping your transit times regular. It will also help increase the intestinal flora (bacteria) the gut needs to keep a balanced environment for full digestion.
Tip 30: Use a smaller plate for your main meals to reduce portion size and total kcal intake. Simple but effective.
Tip 31: Have high protein snacks & healthy snacks e.g. Boiled eggs, cottage cheese on Ravia or wholemeal bagel, Biltong (like beef jerky), dates, figs, nuts (brazil nuts, cashew, almonds), seeds (pumpkin, chia seeds in a mixed bag) and 85% dark chocolate. There is no need to starve yourself, it just takes time to find something that works for you.