Finding your healthiest self doesn’t have to be about extreme changes. Simple amendments to your diet and lifestyle can actually make a huge difference in how you feel day-to-day. In my experience, making small changes actually has a bigger long-term impact on health because you’re far more likely to stick with them and consistency is far more beneficial than a short-lived extreme ‘diet’ or ‘detox’ which you then abandon completely because it’s not sustainable.
I also suggest rather than committing to something ‘forever’ start with saying you’ll try it once or for a week to see how you get on. It’s fine to admit something doesn’t work for you and let go of something if it doesn’t feel helpful.
When I work with clients I always aim to help them to try small, simple diet and lifestyle changes to see if it has an impact. They are often surprised by how much of an impact even small changes can have. With all the ongoing chaos surrounding Covid, making big changes this new year may feel even more overwhelming. So instead try one or a few of these simple actions:
- Set a bedtime – we should be aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep a night for optimal wellbeing. As children, we usually had a bedtime routine but we stop this when we become adults. Set yourself a bedtime and create a bedtime routine which works for you. Try to include wind-down time relaxing and switch off tech at least 30-mins before you get into bed. Set an alarm to remind you to start your bedtime routine – we all know how easy it is to lose track of time while watching Netflix!
- Start your day with hot water and lemon. After all that time asleep your body needs rehydrating. Hot water and lemon is a great way to not only rehydrate your body but to kick-start your digestive system ready for breakfast too. Find out more reasons why hot water and lemon is a great way to start your day in this blog.
- Set a caffeine cut-off point – even if you’re someone who doesn’t struggle to fall asleep after a cup of coffee, the research shows that your sleep may not be as restful or restorative if your body is still trying to process caffeine. Try to stop drinking caffeine at least 6 hours before going to bed.
- Increase your intake of plants – I’m not just talking about fruits and vegetables but also plant proteins like lentils and beans. These foods are packed with fibre which is essential to good health. It helps keep your bowels moving, eliminating waste and feeds the good bacteria in your gut. A healthy gut has been linked with a strong immune system and improved mood, amongst other things. Plants are also more filling and lower in calories than some other foods which can help support weight-loss. Why not try having one plant-based day a week where you avoid meat, fish, eggs and dairy and embrace plants as the heroes in your meals? I have lots of plant-based recipes on my website to get you started.
- Speak to yourself in a positive voice What have you told yourself today? Was it positive or negative? The thoughts we tell ourselves have a direct impact on how we feel and how our body reacts. Try speaking to yourself in a positive voice – if this doesn’t come naturally, try thinking “what would I say to my best friend/sister/loved one in this situation?” I would bet it’s a lot kinder than what you would say to yourself.
- Be more mindful – pick one activity you do every day and try to do it mindfully. By that, I mean being present and focusing on that one activity. Using the senses – what you can see, hear, feel, touch and smell while you’re doing that activity is a great place to start. It can be just 5-minutes a day but it will help to lower your stress levels.
- Move your body this doesn’t need to be any kind of formal exercise if you don’t want it to be, it can be as simple standing during a zoom call or marching on the spot during ad breaks. But if you do want to add more structured exercise into your life – go for it, why not take this opportunity to try something new or different online? Find something that works for you and which excites you, rather than doing something because you feel you should!
- Buy a non-plastic reusable water bottle to help you drink your recommended 1.5-2L of water a day. Choose stainless steel or glass, because plastic bottles – even BPA free ones – contain potentially harmful chemicals which could leak from the bottle into your water. Drinking from a bottle makes it easier to monitor how much you’re drinking and it’s more convenient to take it with you when you’re out and about. Sipping water regularly throughout the day is far more beneficial for staying hydrated than gulping large amounts once or twice a day.
- Plan your meals – I’ll be talking a lot more about this over the next 12-months as I firmly believe that planning your menu and having healthy snacks available at all times is the best way to keep healthy eating on track. Take the time to sit down once a week and look at what you have coming up, what days will you be home late and need something quick and easy, what days do you have more time to batch cook. Plan in your meals and write a shopping list or do an online order so you have all the ingredients you need to make the meals on your planner. By the end of a long day filled with decisions making another choice about what to eat maybe too much, so if you’ve already made that decision and the ingredients are there, you’re less likely to order a takeaway or reach for quick-fix junk food.
- Detox your space – This time of year is synonymous with detoxing our body and diet but what about your environment? I definitely feel like outer order creates inner calm for me, if my space is cluttered, messy or unorganised my mind feels chaotic and I struggle to focus. Take some time this year to detox your space by getting rid of anything you no longer love or need and organising what is left so everything has its place and it makes it easier to tidy up and stay on top of clutter.
- Swap to natural cleaning products chemicals and toxins are everywhere in our daily life and the impact they’re having on us is, in my opinion, not fully understood. Our systems are overloaded on a daily basis, so wherever possible I like to take control of the things I can change and use natural products to minimise this impact. One place where it’s easy to make swaps is the cleaning products you use around your house. As not only do these affect you at the time of cleaning but also every day after as the scents and chemicals linger in the air and the surfaces. Try brands like KinnLiving or Method or better still make your own! There are loads of recipes online or try my Homemade natural antibacterial surface cleaner as a starting point.
- Listen to inspirational Podcasts listening to podcasts is something I love doing while cleaning the house or getting ready in the morning. I favour podcasts which inspire me and focus on self-improvement, health and nutrition (no surprise there!) I have different podcasts to suit my mood but here are a few of my current favourites which you should hopefully be able to find wherever you like to listen to Podcasts.
- Happier with Gretchen Ruben
- The Calmer You Podcast with Chloe Brotheridge
- Feel Better Live More with Dr Chatterjee
- Happy Place with Fearn Cotton
What healthy living tips would you like more information on, perhaps in an online masterclass or a downloadable PDF? Let me know below so I can try and create something which will help.