10 Tips for Healthy Living
Feeling sluggish and overall under the weather? So are we! Follow these tips, courtesy of Christy Maskeroni, MS, RD, to live your healthiest life.
This is one of the most integral parts of your overall health and well-being! Sleep restores the body, controls appetite and stress hormones, and keeps that memory sharp (just to name a few). Without sleep, your risk for disease increases, your concentration reduces, your energy decreases, and your stress hormone production/response (cortisol, adrenaline) increases, and your hunger hormone (ghrelin) is stimulated. All of these have a huge impact on your overall health, longevity, and weight. Bottom line, aim for AT LEAST 7 + hours.
Whether its physical, emotional, or environmental stress, any or all can impact how healthy you are. Thankfully, a few minutes a day can make a difference. When feeling these stresses, take a moment to yourself to take a few deep breaths or meditate. If this idea is new to you, try placing your hands on your stomach, allowing it to inflate and deflate while repeating "breath in, breath out", "inhale, exhale", or whatever will keep your mind off of the daily stresses. This is an extremely beneficial (and inexpensive) way to keep the mind and body in balance. Exercise, a walk, or any activity you love to do are also great ways to de-stress.
3. Stick to real foods
Try to avoid packaged and processed foods as much as possible. Many contain unnecessary calories, salt, and fat that will not benefit your health. For example, instead of grabbing peanut butter and crackers from the corner deli or vending machine, make your own with natural peanut butter and whole grain crackers. Have a whole grain roll instead of a croissant or whole grain crackers and cheese over cheese flavored crackers.
Many know the benefits of exercise: improved mood, mental focus, reduced risk for diseases, and controlled weight. If you are having trouble staying motivated, find something that you love to do. Exercise doesn't have to mean going to a gym or lifting weights. It can be dancing, walking with a friend, biking with your kids, paddle boarding, doing yoga, or climbing stairs. Whatever you love, do it!
5. Drink water
Dehydration can lead to false hunger, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches. Get a liter size bottle or keep a pitcher and glass at your desk and continue to fill it throughout the day. Aim for at least 2 a day. If you need a bit of added flavor, try sprucing it up with sliced cucumbers, oranges, lemons, mint, berries, or limes.
6. Cook at home
The average meal when you are dining out is at least 800 calories (excluding drinks or dessert)! Knowing what goes into your food will help keep your health and weight in-line. And, preparing food at home is the perfect way to do this. It doesn't have to be complicated-try roasting your favorite vegetables with a lean protein in the oven with a little garlic and olive oil OR an egg white omelet with tons vegetables, sliced avocado, and salsa OR pick up a rotisserie roasted chicken, some mixed greens, already sliced veggies and create the perfect salad.
7. Put it on a plate
Instead of sticking your hand in the bag or dipping the chip into the dip, put it all onto a plate. Whether you are at home preparing dinner for you or your family or enjoying a party with friends, putting your food on a plate (or even a napkin) is a simple way to keep you focused on what you are putting into your body.
8. Chew your food
We have all been in the "hurry-up-and-eat" situation. Take some time to notice what is in front of you. Chewing your food thoroughly secretes the necessary enzymes to digest your food properly AND it slows down the eating process so you feel fuller sooner. Try chewing your food at least 25 times – you'll be surprised at how long it takes.
9. Sit down
This goes with the same line of thought as above. Sitting down will help slow you down AND put your digestive organs in the right position to digest your food properly.
10. Enjoy your food (and life)!
Food is good and good for you. There is a reason why you need healthy foods in your diet. Restricting foods or food groups (unless it is because of allergies/intolerances) will lead to fluctuations in weight, irritability, and nutritional deficiencies. If you want it, have it. If you can do without, then do so.