Healthy living is not just a trend; it’s a way of life. It is also a long term commitment, not a passing fad. Several steps can be taken to make your present and future healthier. Here’s the checklist you need to live a healthy life.
Easy Steps To Living a Healthier Life
#1 Take Stock of Your Situation
The first step towards healthy living is to get a handle on the status of your health. To assess how healthy you are, the first thing you need to do is make an appointment with your dentist and your doctor. Also catch up on routine immunizations and screenings and take any questions the doctor may have.
Gauge the girth of your stomach next. Measure the weight and the height to check the BMI and measure the waist circumference to see if you are overweight and if your waistline is approaching epic proportions. It is also important to record how much physical activity s experienced in the day and how intense the activity is. How varied is your workout routine and what is the extent of your level of involvement and engagement in it? The Center for Disease Control/CDC holds that adults need at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week or 15 minutes of high intensity aerobic activity and muscle strengthening at least twice per week.
Another good way to keep track of what your current status of health is involves writing down everything eaten for the day and not skipping items one is embarrassed about.
An area you should also check up on is your mood and energy. Healthy living should incorporate emotional wellness as well as adequate rest. Check how your mood has been lately and the extent to which you have experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression. Also check if you are getting a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night or not.
Finally, consider your social network. Study the strength of your connections with friends and family. Check if you are plugged in with social and spiritual groups that enrich life. There is an urgent need for positive and lasting relationships.
#2 Organize Yourself
Get rid of all the items you can do without or things that are just not good for you. It could be that secret stash of doughnuts in the fridge or processed junk foods that contain sugar, unhealthy oils and white flour.
#3 Take Supplements
Take supplements such as Omega 3, magnesium, zinc and iron. Each of these supplements has health benefits. For example, Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, walnuts and flaxseed are perfect for improving skin health, fending off stress and reducing bodily inflammation.
#4 Address Emotional Eating Problems
Emotional eating occurs when one eats to counter an emotion rather than feeling hunger. For instance, you may choose to eat more when you are stressed out, frustrated or unhappy? Another trigger for emotional eating can be blocks at work. Emotional eating will never leave you feeling happy as you try to fill a hole that has no relation to food. Remember that food is not the cure for love or happiness deficits in your life. Address this issue before it spirals out of control.
#5 Eat Smaller Meals
If there’s a choice between several small meals and a huge one, always choose the smaller ones. This is because it leads to the evening out of energy distribution. It also works out well for the stomach because the gut does not get stretched from digesting massive food volumes Eating when you feel hungry and stopping at the point of satiation. One does not need to wait till an official meal time before starting to eat. Always listen to your body and what its message is for you.
#6 Avoid Trigger Foods
Trigger foods can be the reason fro binge eating. Your trigger foods may be different from someone else’s but the chances are high that it will be stuff like pastries, crisps and donuts. Trigger foods are processed and junk foods like candy, chocolates, cookies, confectionary, chips or anything with a high degree of refined sugars, flour and sodium. These foods can further trigger hypertension and it is important to move them from the diet.
#7 Eat Reasonable Portions
The most important point is to stop eating when one feels full. Most people depend on external cues to see if one feels full such as when one has finished eating or the plate is empty. These are not relevant. One should check out internal cues such as when the stomach feels full or not. Stop eating when 3/4th filled, for if you eat till you’re totally full, the chances of being bloated are high. Listen to the gut and learn when the time to stop arrives.
#8 Cut Down on Deep Fried Foods
Deep fried food items are rich in acrylamide which is a potential carcinogen. According to a report by BBC, ordinary bags of chips contain five hundred times the substances allowed in drinking water by the WHO. When you consume oily food, you will feel sluggish. Instead, go for food that is healthier such as raw food, steamed, stir fried or even grilled. Lower the intake of junk foods like chips, wedges, doughnuts and fries.
#9 Cut Down on Sugar Filled Drinks and Foods
Sugary foods include pastries, chocolates, candy bars, cookies jelly doughnuts and cakes. These trigger an eating binge due to the rush of sugar. Eating these once in a blue moon is fine, but eating them with alarming regularity can have severe repercussions for your health. Opt for healthy snacks instead.
Don’t go for fizzy soda and sugary drinks either. Remember that soda being an artificial stimulant, leads to weight gain. Opt for water, veggie juices, green tea instead and keep your body healthy.
#10 Avoid Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, but there’s a reason alcohol is worse than coffee. Alcohol repeatedly impacts the body and the health negatively. Alcohol impacts the effective functioning of liver, lungs, brain and other organs. If alcohol has been drunk regularly, it’s time to lessen if not eliminate it completely.
#11 Watch Out the Glycemic Load or Index
Glycemic index is the index that indicates the ability of carbohydrate foods to increase blood sugar levels. While 100 represents pure glucose, this means rapid ingestion, digestion and absorption of glucose by the bloodstream. Eating foods that are high in glycemic index are the reason for sugar spikes and diabetes in the long run. GI of 55 or below is considered to be on the lower side. High GI foods include mashed potatoes, white bread/rice or bagel and coke. Glycemic index is just one aspect of the food. We also need to consider glycemic load which is based on how blood glucose levels rise, in response to certain amounts of the food being consumed. Glycemic load is calculated by multiplying the Glycemic Index by the amount of carbs consumed, divided by 100. A low glycemic load of 10 or lower is okay while 20 or above is high.
Fruits may have high GI but low Glycemic Load for quantities consumed. Watermelon has a GI value of 80. But a single serving of watermelon has such less carbs of around 5-6 grams that glycemic load is roughly the same. Eating goods with low GI but in massive quantities can impact health negatively. Macaroni has a GI of 50, but a massive serving of 180-250 grams leads to a glycemic load valued at 24. Lower the glycemic load of food by pairing it with protein and fats.
#12 Opt for Organic Foods
Organic foods are produced sans synthetic inputs like chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Additionally, these are not made with GMO foods, and not processed with additives, chemicals, solvents or harmful irradiation. More supermarkets offer organic options. Organic foods are more expensive but the truth of the matter is they yield better health.
#13 Prepare Your Own Meals
Whenever possible, your own meals should be prepared. When you make your own meal, you are aware of what goes into them. The choice becomes easier rather than opting for less than optimal options in restaurants. Choose quality kitchen equipment and the best tools such as blenders and ovens for baking and juicing healthy foods.
#14 Learn When To Say No
Don’t eat just because you are with friends and you are being offered food. Say no when you need to and don’t eat if you don’t feel hungry. Eat exactly what you need to. It is better to eat less and in line with energy needs rather than eating excessively and work off excessive calorific intake via exercise. When one eats too much, the digestive system undergoes a strain. Similarly, if exercise is excessive, the body is strained.
#15 Give Up On Smoking
Smoking is harmful for health, as it increases the chances of lung and kidney cancer as well as esophageal cancer, cardiovascular diseases and much more. Opting for lite cigarettes is not beneficial either. If you are smoker, remember that you are damaging your own lungs as well as those of others. A critical point here is that passive smoking is known to cause the same long term diseases as direct smoking. There is no risk-free level when it comes to passive or second hand smoking either.
#16 Eat Healthy Snacks
If you feel hungry at work, eat snacks which are nutritious such as fruits, yogurts, veggies and juices. These are high in nutrition and don’t give the sugar rush. Be ready with these so you can munch when you feel like it and have enough to satiate yourself. Avoid candy bars and cookies.
#17 Eat Healthy Veggies
Vegetables are teeming with minerals and vitamins that keep a person energized and healthy. So make sure you take at least 5 servings of vegetables in one day.
#18 Make Juice By Blending
Don’t opt for artificial juices. Instead make juice by blending to get the right vitamins and other nutrients. Juicing refers to when the juice is extracted using a blender. Through blenders, fiber is not filtered out so the juice is drunk with the fiber. Juicing without fiber creates sugar spikes and causes an imbalance due to loss of fiber.
Juices and smoothies complement each other as juices give the digestive system a break from breaking down the food while retaining fiber for healthy gut bacteria, smoothies are perfectly blended and fiber rich.
#19 Go For Regular Checkups
Certain diseases don’t show up as symptoms until it’s too late. Blood tests are essential for blood sugar, minerals and vitamins along with standard tests like urine assessment. More elaborate tests include PAP smear and mammograms for women and colonoscopy etc for both at recommended intervals.
#20 Enrich Your Diet
- Vitamins and Minerals
Even if you eat healthy foods, there are chances that certain vitamins and minerals may not be ingested. Certain items rich in specific minerals and vitamins are uncommon in your diet. Vegan diets also come with health benefits, but lack essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B12 and Omega 3 DHA or EPA. This can be countered by taking supplements, if your diet lacks these foods.
- Prebiotic Foods
Prebiotics are essential for gut bacteria to flourish and come across as fertilizers for the microbiome. Research shows a link between overall health and gut flora. When it comes to prebiotic foods versus supplements, taking natural food sources is the best option. These include raw onion, raw leek, potato starch, raw garlic and unripe banana.
- Fermented Foods
Wild fermented foods are a wonderful source of probiotics or good gut bacteria. These include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, pickles and tempeh. Instead of brands from stores, opt for wild fermented foods even if you are shopping in a health store. Commercially fermented foods contain a minimum 1-3 strands of probiotics. This is in contrast to a healthy gut environment having 20 to 30 thousand species of gut bacteria.
Whether you take commercially fermented food or probiotic capsules, which have 3-40 species for the long run, it impacts the diversity of gut flora. There is a chance of creating a monoculture. In contrast, wildly fermented foods in homes or gardens in open spaces have thousands of different bacteria species.
#21 Eat a Healthy & Clean Diet
Eating a diet which is healthy is part of being a healthy person. This is because clean diets help to keep the weight in check. This also improve the health and quality of life, as one ages. Food groups have certain benefits, and more fruits and veggies while less processed foods can benefit the body in myriad ways. Don’t go on a super restrictive diet though, as this can boomerang on you. Whether you eat more fruit or eat more veggies, the benefits are many. Add fruits and veggies whenever you can from tomatoes in sandwiches to peppers on pizzas. Next on the line is the use of a healthy salad dressing. If full-fat dressing is generally the norm, try to switch to a lighter version for cutting down on your calories. Additionally, eat low or fat-free dairy. Switch to skimmed milk or fat-free yogurt for the best way to cut down on calories without changing your diet too much.
Another good way out is to go through the cabinet or fridge and pick three foods eaten every day. Write down nutritional content and study if you can find healthier options. Choose foods that contain low amount of unhealthy fats. Opt for low sugar and organic ingredient items. Cut down on sweets, and choose whole grain bread, whole fruits and freshly squeezed juice instead. Weight loss and staying fit is all about balancing the calories taken in and out. Don’t starve yourself because if you do, you’ll pile on the pounds as the body will go into fat storing mode, because you are dieting.
#22 Drink Plenty of Water
It’s important to carry a water bottle everywhere you go. That way you can drink H20 when in need rather than resorting to a can of soda. It is essential to consume at least 8-10 glasses of water in a day to keep bodies properly functional. Enough intake of water is essential for eliminating toxins, keeping you in good health and helping you to remain hydrated.
Most of us don’t drink enough water in a day. Water is critical for the body to function. Over 60% of the body is made of water. Water is required to carry out bodily functioning, remove waste and carry oxygen and nutrients around the body. As water is lost every day through urine, bowel movements, perspiration and breathing, we need to work on our water intake.
Drinking water also helps in losing weight. A study found that among obese or overweight people, water drinkers lose 4.5 more pounds than the control group. Researchers believe this revolves around drinking more water to fill the stomach, making you less hungry and more likely to eat excessively.
The amount of water required depends on age, humidity, weight, level and physical activity. While the earlier metric involved drinking 8 glasses of water, now the recommendation is to drink when you feel thirst too. We also get water in the food we consume. If there is dryness of lips, mouth or less urination, one is not hydrated enough. You need to check water intake consequently.
#24 Sleep It Off
Most people need at least eight hours of sleep every night. There is a reason for this. Sleep lowers stress and inflammation, apart from allowing cells to recharge and repairs damage. It helps in maintaining optimal physical and mental functionalities.
For getting enough sleep, you need to switch off computers, cell phones televisions and any other impingement from the outside world.
#25 You Need to Exercise
One needs exercise, but we use so many excuses in a day to avoid it. Lack of time, inability to understand where to start, lack of motivation or injuries can be a real problem. But when carried out safely, exercise is a very good means of keeping yourself fit, toned and healthy.
It’s great if you can exercise each day as you sweat, reaching your target heart rate zone or strengthening the body. Moderate intensity activities like chores and walking can also make a difference to your health.
Regular exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. It also improves the stability of the joints and increases the range of motion. You can ward off lack of flexibility as you age by exercising daily. It is also crucial to maintain bone mass. You can also fend off osteoporosis and fractures this way. Work on improving your mood and countering depression and anxiety besides enhancing self esteem. Lower stress and improve your memory through regular exercise as well.
Even if you opt for tiny changes and some weight loss, you will notice the benefits immediately. CDC notes that those who are above their ideal weight can lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol by reducing 5-10 percent of total body weight.
#26 Cut Down on Bad Fat, Stock Up on Good
Fat is a micronutrient that is critical for a healthy body. While fat is not a problem, saturated and trans fat are. These are found in many products. Instead, we need healthy fats like poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats.
The first and most important step is avoiding bad fats. Trans fat, for example, increases harmful LDL cholesterol and reduces bad HDL cholesterol. Common sources of trans fat include french fries, pastries, margarine, commercial cookies and partially hydrogenated oil in food items. Avoid bad fats like saturated fats which drive up total cholesterol and bad cholesterol like LDL.
This blocks the arteries. Common sources of bad fats include red meats, cheese, and commercially prepared items. Instead, take in good mono and poly unsaturated fats.
These include peanut oil, olive oil, canola oil, most nuts, safflower and sunflower oils and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats are essential for boosting cholesterol profile and lowering triglycerides and LDL and common sources of these include salmon, sardines, mackeral, walnuts, flaxseeds, canola oil and unhydrogenated soybean oil.
#27 Develop a Hobby
Whether it’s just writing a diary or engaging in some recreational activities like gardening that deeply interest you, it’s important to have some passion in life. You cannot relax if you do not engage in activities you enjoy. Come up with a hobby or an everyday activity which fills you with joy and releases feel good endorphins.