I was recently asked this question by a friend. She wanted a few tips to help her get started with making some changes to her lifestyle. So I sat down and thought about some tips that won’t cost much and can be implemented from today.
Get more sleep
We all know that quality sleep is important for good health. There’s no official consensus on exactly how much we need as individual’s needs vary but studies suggest 7-8 hours are ideal for most people.
Have phone free time at weekends and avoid blue light from phones, tablets and laptops for at least three hours before you go to bed. This type of light suppresses melatonin production and alters circadian rhythms. Not only does this affect our ability to fall asleep but also affects sleep quality.
Build movement into your day.
Take frequent breaks from your desk to stretch and regular 5-10 minute walks. Find a form of movement you enjoy and incorporate it daily. It could be a morning run, Pilates video in your living room or a workout class with a friend. More importantly, enjoy yourself.
Greens with every meal.
Add greens to meals, as often as you can. Whether it’s a side salad with your spaghetti, an extra side of broccoli in a restaurant or a handful of kale in your smoothie, get those greens in. Greens, especially dark leafy greens, are some of the richest sources of minerals and vitamins, particularly iron, calcium and Vitamin K.
Make sure you are properly hydrated.
Drink enough water – around 1.5 to 2 litres is ideal for most people. Sparkling, plain or with a slice of lemon and fresh mint all work great. Avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks and excess caffeine.
Opt for healthy fats
Swap saturated fats from cheese/ meats for healthy fats such as avocado, chia seeds, flaxseed and raw and unsalted nuts, especially walnuts and almonds. These are so important for healthy skin and hair. Fat is also essential in helping us absorb Vitamins A, D, E and K, which are all fat-soluble vitamins.
Add spices and fresh herbs to your food.
Fresh herbs and spices pack a punch in terms of antioxidants and micronutrients and add heaps of flavour to meals. My favourites are cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, dried basil, paprika and fresh coriander. Top tip: keep your spices fresh in sealed glass jars. If doesn’t smell of anything, it probably won’t taste of anything!
Cuddle an animal.
Stroking an animal reduces blood pressure and stress as well as making you feel happy. Studies also show benefits for cardiovascular health. If you don’t have a pet, then visit a friend who does.
Pack healthy snacks.
Always carry plant-based snacks, preferably homemade, in your handbag. A piece of fresh fruit, unsalted nuts with a little dried fruit, energy balls or roasted chickpeas are perfect for those snack attacks.