Small decisions add up. It’s no different when it comes to building healthy habits. It will make a ripple impact across the rest of your life. Yet, you’re unsure where to start. Ultimately, it comes down to changing one habit at a time. Slowly begin by building the following 9 scientifically-proven healthy habits.
1. Eat at regular intervals.
If you’re not used to eating at regular intervals throughout your day, plan it. Sit down and make a plan outlining the times you want to eat. Aim to stagger these times about 3 hours apart and eat at least 3-5 times throughout your day. This further means getting a plate, sitting down, and mindfully eating or snacking at each meal. It also means limiting distractions when you’re eating. Avoid watching T.V. or continuing to work. Simply enjoy your food.
Studies show increased eating frequency can reduce hunger throughout your day. This can prevent you from indulging in unhealthy food items, as well as help ration your portions and limit your snacking. In other words, it may contribute to an improved caloric balance. You might not feel the need to have that office donut or two when you’ve just recently eaten your healthy snack or meal.
2. Stay hydrated
Interestingly, sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re, in fact, thirsty. The brain may interpret these signals the same. Get into the healthy habit of keeping water on-hand. Consider bringing a water bottle with you wherever you go. It will keep you hydrated, as well as provide you with an option to test whether you’re hungry or thirsty.
Further, water can help reduce your energy intake. A 2010 study published in Nutrition Reviews explored the impact of water consumption on energy intake. Researchers found that by replacing juice or milk with water, participants consumed fewer calories. That can help maintain a healthy weight, as well as promote weight loss. Water can help you avoid drinking your calories, so you can instead obtain them through the consumption of nutrient-dense foods.
3. Put a variety of colors and foods on your plate.
The more colors you have on your plate, the more nutrients you are consuming. Having a variety of colors and foods on your plate ensures you’re eating balanced meals with a high nutrient density - and not just empty calories.
In truth, many fruits and vegetables come in a variety of colors due to the nutrients they contain. These healthy foods are further low in fat and calories while providing you with ample vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The aesthetic appeal may also help you consume more healthy foods more often, as opposed to bland colored pre-packaged foods.
4. Pay attention to your portions.
In today’s society, portion sizes have gone slightly out of control. For instance, extra-large fries at McDonald’s are supposed to be a side order. Yet, they’re massive and rake in at about 510 calories. It’s easy to go overboard, especially when you add a hamburger or drink to your order.
Ideally, you don’t want to be eating at fast food places like McDonald’s. Not only are the portions containing more food than you need, but a lot of the food also contains low nutrients. Thus, tonight when you’re making a meal at home, consider your portion sizes along with what you’re eating. You may be consuming healthy foods, but if you’re overfilling your plate, it might be too much. A 2017 scientific review pointed out how portion control can impact a person’s energy intake. It might help you consume fewer calories and help you maintain a healthy weight. Do your research about the serving sizes of your favorite foods.
5. Add more fiber to your diet.
Research shows dietary fiber helps lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal issues. By adding more fiber to your daily diet, you can reduce your risk of chronic and life-threatening conditions, as well as improve your health.
The best way to obtain fiber in your diet is through fruits and vegetables. Easy go-to snacks include berries, oranges, melons, carrots, and broccoli. These foods also contain a ton of nutrients, making them ideal options to eat regularly. However, try to avoid drinking juice for fiber since it is often full of sugar and added preservatives.
6. Buy fresh, locally grown food - when possible.
Local food offers various health benefits for many reasons. When you choose locally-sourced food, you know it’s fresh and grown in season. This means that it’s unlikely there will be any kind of chemicals added since it’s going straight from the farm to your table. It further ripens naturally without the help of any sprays.
If it's not possible to find fresh fruits and vegetables, try to get your hands on dried or frozen alternatives. They have the same nutritional value, but has a longer shelf-life.
7. Get enough sleep.
Sleep plays a critical role in various systems throughout the body. In fact, not getting enough sleep can lead to an early death. It can further impact your quality of life by having detrimental effects on your mood, cognitive abilities, memory, performance, and more.
Most experts recommend that the average adult should get about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Yet, this time may vary depending on the individual. Ultimately, it’s essential to practice good sleep hygiene.
This involves a set bedtime routine, such as reading an hour before bed and waking up at the same time every morning. You want to ensure you sleep in a quiet, dark, and calm space. You should also consider reserving your bed for only sleep. This creates a strong association in your brain between your bed and sleep.
8. Move, move, move!
Various research indicates the health benefits associated with exercise. Regular physical activity is related to overall higher health status. It can further decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and more.
Assess your current habits and find two areas where you can add more movement. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
You don’t need to join a gym. Simply start adding tiny bits of movement into your daily life - walking, working around the house, or exercising at home. After all, the human body was made to move!
9. Manage your stress levels.
According to studies, acute stress in healthy individuals poses almost no harm. On the other hand, chronic stress is linked to numerous negative health effects. Thus, it’s critical to find healthy coping mechanisms and methods to deal with stress.
For example, meditation has become a popular trend to help individuals calm their mind and relax. Breathing exercises can also help you unwind. Try counting to four as you inhale, pausing, then counting to four as you exhale, and repeating this 10-15 times. Stress can further be handled by organizing yourself accordingly. Prioritize tasks and map out your day. This can lessen feelings of overwhelm, and help you tackle the day to come.
Add 1 Healthy Habit to Your Life Today
Remember to take it one step at a time. Avoid implementing all the 9 healthy habits above at once. Give yourself a few weeks to get used to it before adding another. Soon, you won’t even be thinking about whether or not you’re making a healthy choice. It’ll be a habit!
Do you feel that you could help others build better habits? Complete the quiz, enroll to Kilo Fit Academy, and become a health coach that improves the lives of others every day!