5 healthy habits to start today

Weight loss may be the sexiest result promoted in the media, but health is what will give you quality and potentially more years to your life. There are many factors that are linked to health. Here are 5 healthy habits that can help in keeping you healthy for life.

Picture of girl exercising

Exercise for more than weight loss

Alongside nutrition, exercise is often pushed by the media as a tool for weight loss. Unfortunately, you cannot outrun a poor diet.  Research suggests that exercise is best used as a strategy to maintain a healthy weight.

There are many reasons to exercise – such as improvements in blood sugars, organ health, mental health, better sleep quality, reduced risk of some cancers and release of protective chemicals in your brain which help your brain work better and stay healthy.  Find your reasons beyond exercise which make you want to move as this will help you keep moving for life.

Eat mostly wholefoods

There is no such thing as good and bad food or drink. Food that makes up most of your weekly diet should be whole foods. This includes lean meats or alternatives like nuts, seeds, eggs and tofu, fruit, vegetables, dairy and whole grains. An example would be whole grains include quinoa, brown, black, or red rice, whole grain pasta and couscous.

If you indulge in special treats or even a glass of wine, you can still enjoy these but stick to smaller portions or a standard alcohol drink size.  Limit these treats to once or twice a week and savour the experience rather than binging, by taking the time to appreciate each bite or sip.

Picture of a healthy smoothie
Picture of Beef broccoli noodles stir fry meal prep lunch box container

Plan your meals

Food preparation is not just for bodybuilders. It allows you to take control of your health and decide what you want to eat. Set a time once or twice a week to prepare meals and snacks in advance. Food can be safely stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. The rest should be put into the freezer. Before you shop, make a list of the foods you need to make a balanced meal. It does not need to be hard so try some of these.

Super gut-loving sandwich: Two tablespoons of 100% peanut butter with a pouch of South Australian Gourmet Fruit Custard with Added fibre and sliced banana. The banana can be sliced just before eating and the peanut butter can be spooned into a small container for transport.

Easy rice meal: ½ cup of whole grain rice (you can buy ½ cup already cooked from the long-life section of your supermarket. Simply microwave before eating) with 1 cup of pre-cut frozen vegetables and a tin of tuna or salmon in Springwater. Option to add your favourite herbs and spices for additional flavour.

Pizza lovers: Wholegrain pizza using a small tin of tomato pasta sauce, 40g of shredded cheese with ½ cup of your favourite vegetables to top.

A salad made right: Make a salad and side with some wholegrain rice cakes. Remember for a meal to be complete it cannot just be lettuce and tomato but needs a lean protein and whole grain. So, in your salad try adding some cheese, turkey or chicken breast or some legumes.

Picture of Banana smoothie with oatmeal, peanut butter and milk

Prioritise sleep

Research shows that getting less than 6 hours a night is almost the same as giving your body no sleep at all! Having inadequate sleep is linked to poor health outcomes like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and poorer immunity. One of the 5 healthy habits to start today is to aim for at least 8 hours a night. Some good strategies to try include:

  1. Switch off from technology at least 2 hours before bed. The blue light from the screen can disrupt your sleep hormone melatonin and make it hard to fall asleep.
  2. Try not to eat your last meal around the same time as when you switch off from technology. It can be difficult to fall asleep on a full stomach to make sure you give yourself enough time to digest your food properly before heading to bed.
  3. Mind the alcohol. Alcohol can make you feel dozy, but it does not help your body’s quality of sleep. Stick to drinking 1-2 glasses 1-2 times a week at most.
  4. Stick to a routine. Routine helps sleep, aim to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time each day to assist your body clock.
  5. Create an environment that makes you want to sleep. Whatever this is to you, create your best sleep space.
Picture of friends together with smoothies

Remember your friends

Social health and community are vital for mental health. Make time to include social activities each day.

Research shows that you need roughly 2 hours of human contact a day to support your health. Eating is a great time to connect and the kitchen table has been replaced by many for the tv couch. Make the time to connect with your family or partner at dinner or breakfast or both!

Take home message:

Health gives you the quality of life to be able to live your best life. You deserve this, so get on board with these 5 healthy habits that you can easily start today.