Humans are creatures of habit, and some habits are hard to control or kill. But why not change some habits by doing the same things in new ways? Like trying new ways of exercising, new foods that enrich you, or new cooking methods that challenge you. Changing habits takes effort, consistency, and most importantly, the “intention” to try different ways of doing things, but making these changes can enhance our health and well-being and lead to new, positive habits.
As a health and wellness coach who tries to look above and beyond the food, exercise, health, and fitness hypes and fads, I think some habits transcend time and place and go beyond fads. They are easy to follow no matter where you live, what you do, and how you want to live your life.
Here are seven “new” habits for healthy living that require a little work and strong intentions:
1. Drink the nectar of life: Experts recommend drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, particularly during the first half of the day so you don't wake up in the middle of the night too often. The amount needed actually varies from person to person, depending on activity level and climate.
If you’re not a fan of plain water, add a twist of lime, lemon or orange rind, or increase your intake of foods that are 85 to 95 percent water, such as celery, tomatoes, oranges, and melons.
2. Chew on this: Take smaller bites, chew carefully, and make sure you spend at least 15 to 20 minutes eating and enjoying your food. Because the brain needs between 20 and 30 minutes to realize you’re full, eating slowly will help you consume less and enjoy the food's flavors and aromas more. I have noticed that when I chew food longer, I tend to eat less than I otherwise would.
3. Remember, portion control is in your hands: All it takes is one hand to make sure you're eating the correct portions. When planning or creating any meal, portion out a palm-size amount of meat, tofu, or other protein; at least two handfuls of vegetables; no more than one handful of fruit; and a thumb-sized portion of fats.
This is known as the 1Palm-Protein; 2Hands-Veggie; 1Hand-Fruit; Thumb-size-Fat Method. The actual amounts of food you need varies from person to person depending on activity levels, genetics, age, gender, etc., but this method is a good ballpark estimate.
4. Don't box yourself in: Challenge yourself by staying away from any food that is packed in a box or package. (Obviously, exceptions to this are frozen veggies and fruits, unsweetened milk or yogurt, and “whole” foods with single ingredient labels that come in a package, like oats, applesauce, flax-seed powder, seeds, nuts, whole grains, etc.) You get the point – educate yourself and use some common sense..
5. Practice the art of substitution: When you crave sweet things, instead of snacking on cookies or doughnuts, eat 1 to 2 tablespoons raw honey with unsweetened yogurt or a handful of berries or an apple or applesauce
6. Indulge in mindful eating: For me, eating mindfully means slowing down, expressing gratitude for the food we eat, being satisfied with the food, and paying attention to why we eat. If you get into the habit of mindful eating it will help steer you away from unhealthy relationships with food. Mindful eating is highly individual and it does not have to be stressful. Some people think that if you ever eat a speck of white sugar or a grain of refined wheat, you’re not eating mindfully. I personally think that mindful eating is best attained by striving toward an ideal of eating lots of veggies, vegetarian protein-rich foods, occasionally eating lean no-vegetarian protein-rich foods, and minimally processed foods, and then eating off-limit items on occasion when you’re being mindful. It’s all about progress over perfection.
7. Listen to your body: Don't underestimate the art of listening to your body and focusing on feeling your best. Each of us has different needs and desires, whether related to food, physical activity, relationships, or work. Unfulfilled, these needs can cause stress, which we sometimes try to alleviate with food. You can eat as healthy as you want, but if you're unhappy with yourself or your current state of being, stressed with work and life, and not aware of and living in the here and now, nothing you eat can change that. Self-care and self-awareness is a huge step toward finding more balance in your life. It takes some effort, but if you have the intention, you're on the right path.
And if you need some guidance in your journey to better health and wellness, I am here to help you get there. I would love to hear from you so feel free to send me a message here.