Nutrition: Change one thing today for better health in the long-term

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WHEN it comes to health and wellness, there are plenty of quick-fix promises that sell books, magazines and social media accounts. There are lots of ‘dos and don’ts’ on how to keep yourself healthy and plenty of advice like “cut the carbs”, “don’t eat sugar”, “don’t snack”, “avoid alcohol”, “count calories” – being healthy can seem like an impossible task.

What if there was an easier way to look after yourself than going to these extremes? Making small changes that are easy to manage and that you can stick to every day are likely to be of greater benefit to your short-term and long-term health goals than any crazy fad diet.

Most of us know what is and isn’t good for us. A healthy, real food diet, cooking from scratch, regular exercise, getting out into fresh air, taking time for relaxation, time with good friends – all of these things help increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.

Health sells and the stories that people want to hear are how we can transform our bodies, shape and life. But the reality is that, for most of us, it is the small wins that will make the biggest difference to how we look and feel. These small changes could have a significant impact on our health.

So, pick the one thing that bothers you the most – the one thing that you suspect has the strongest impact on your wellbeing – and focus on that for now. It’s a good place to start. Once you have conquered that, you can move on and tackle the next thing – one step at a time.

CHANGE ONE THING

It can be good idea to set yourself a goal – for some people that will be to change one thing each week, or focus on one thing a month. Whatever works for you. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

If you drink alcohol most days and too much of it on many of those days, cutting back or going sober would make a difference in how well you sleep, how much you weigh and how likely you are to suffer from heart disease, cancer, dementia or liver disease later in life.

If your life revolves around sugar, removing it from your diet could reduce pain and inflammation, put an end to cravings and binges, improve your mood and protect you from type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, dementia and depression. But start small. Cut out your daily biscuits, drink water instead of squash, or have chocolate twice a week instead of every day.

If sleep is an issue for you, get into the habit of switching your screens off at least an hour before you go to bed, get to bed earlier and avoid caffeine from early afternoon.

If exercise is lacking from your life and you would like to change that, find a type of exercise that you will enjoy and do it. If you are not sure, try out different things. Think back to when you were a child: What did you love then? Could you revive that love you had for cycling? Would it be worth dusting off your Rollerblades?

I’m not saying that any of these changes would be easy, but you don’t have to turn your whole life around to be healthier in the future than you are now. If you decided today to become a health saint from tomorrow and were actually able to do that, then, yes, you may become 100 per cent healthy. But how realistic is that?

Get real, go easy on yourself and take it one step at a time. That way, little by little, step by step, you have the power to transform your health and feel so much better.

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