10 Healthy Habits to Embrace

Being 'healthy' means very different things to different people. For me it means feeling good in myself, feeling strong and not tired whilst eating well and enjoying myself. However, I have had quite a few messages recently asking for advice on how to become healthy. It is not an overnight process, but I have written a list of some really simple tips to embrace into your life that will benefit your health and wellbeing. 

1. Operation Hydration

When people ask me how they can become healthier my first question is always ‘How much water do you drink a day?’. According to a recent study, approximately 89% of Britain’s are not drinking enough water to stay efficiently hydrated. Shockingly, a quarter of people over 55 are not drinking any water throughout the day at all! 

Humans are made up of between 50-60% of water and when you become dehydrated, your mental and physical function can suffer. We need water to be able to transport nutrients, remove waste products and keep our body temperature regulated, and water is lost through urine and sweating so if you are exercising or it is a hot day, it is so important to drink more. 

The Eatwell Guide suggests that you should drink between 6-8 glasses of liquid a day, and this can include water, tea, coffee or milk. But try drinking between 7-10 if it is hot and you are sweating, or if you are carrying out long bouts of exercise.  

2. Get out in nature

Recently I have found that going for walks with Luna (my cockapoo puppy) have done the world of good for my mental health. We are up in the morning and go for a little walk before anyone else is even awake and just walking around a quiet field sets me up for my day. 

A few weeks ago, we went off to Malvern and did a few hikes around the hills. The views were absolutely beautiful and just walking around with greenery made me feel so relaxed and put me in such a good mood. 

Research has found that going out into nature helps to improve our mental health because we are moving around and getting some exercise, breathing in better air and it has shown to help us disconnect with our stressful busy day to day lives. 

3. Consistent wakeups

I listened to the Deliciously Ella podcast about sleep and they had expert Mathew Walker on discussing lots of different points. A lot of them I have started to incorporate into my life; no caffeine after lunch, turn electronics off etc. But one point about waking up consistently has stuck with me. Basically, the advice is to make sure you get up around the same time every day, even on the weekend. 
Consistent wake ups have been shown to benefit us as our bodies love a routine. They love to eat at similar times, wake at similar times, exercise etc. 

4. Carry snacks

When you are out and about, if you feel a little peckish you are more likely to buy some processed, high sugar content snacks. But if you put a few snacks in your bag this will help as you can just grab and go. Below are some of my favourite snacks that I have in my bag:
Pip and Nut Peanut Butter Sachets
Energy Balls

5. Two handfuls per meal

This is such an easy way to get your 5-a-day in. For your breakfast, lunch and dinner, add in two handfuls of vegetables or fruits per meal. It might sound like a lot but simply adding in a handful of blueberries and a banana to your porridge, or having a jacket potato with a handful of salad and peas. Easy peasy and can help you increase your fibre, micronutrients and fill your plate up with healthier foods. 

6.  Dinner for Lunch 

My favourite piece of advice is to cook once and eat twice. It not only saves money but saves so much time. If you are cooking pasta for dinner, double up the portion and pop it straight in a tuppawear box ready for the morning. 

If you cook your meals from scratch in the evening then this means you have a home-cooked, fresh meal ready for the next day. And you are always getting something different every day for lunch. My favourite is cooking pasta, vegetables, Quorn pieces, salad and hummus. 

7. Make a List 

Do you find that you get up in the night worrying about something you need to do tomorrow? I do it all of the time, especially the night before I have to go somewhere new and important. So what I do now is keep a little notebook and a pen next to my bed, and when thoughts creep into my head, I write them down. Even if it is silly things like ringing a friend to make sure they’re okay or booking an appointment. This helps to get your thoughts on paper and will help you sleep better as you won’t be lying there worried about anything. 

Also, I spend Sunday evenings writing a list of important tasks I need to carry out throughout the week and try to split the tasks up into days. I also highlight the tasks that are the most important so I know what to focus on. Helps me feel so much more organised! And an excuse to use some of those notebooks that I always buy! 

8. Cut down on caffeine 

Caffeine is something that most of us have in the morning to wake us up and will keep drinking throughout the day to keep us motivated and alert. However, this could be playing havoc with your sleeping pattern. On average the caffeine from a cup of tea will stay in your system for up to 5 hours, with a coffee staying in your system for around 6 hours. This means if you have a cup of coffee at work at 3pm, then it can have an effect on your sleep that evening, with one study claiming that caffeine consumption 6 hours before bed can cut down your sleep by 1 hour. Also, consuming a high level of caffeine can cause some common side effects including diarrhoea, increased heart rate and nausea. 

Therefore, it is recommended that caffeine consumption should be limited to the morning and should not be consumed after 2pm; a maximum limit is recommended at 300mg per day (around 3 cups of coffee). Those who suffer from heart problems or are pregnant should try to avoid caffeine altogether if possible. 

9. Rid the scales
A lot of people will encourage you to focus on the number on the scale when trying to be healthy because ‘losing weight means you’re becoming healthier’. This isn’t always the case. For example, over the past two years, I have gone from 
·     Barely eating and only doing cardio; my lowest weight
·     Eating reasonably healthy and only lifting heavy weights; my heaviest weight
·     Eating a balanced diet and exercising as and when I feel like it: who knows what my weight is now!

BMI stands for Body Mass Index and uses your height and weight to measure your body. But this cannot always be accurate. For example, if a bodybuilder were to get their BMI checked, they would be classified as overweight or obese because their muscle mass weighs a lot, or someone with an eating disorder may be tall and not so their BMI may be in the ‘normal range’ It really depends per person. 

10. Read a book 

Reading books has been shown to have so many benefits to our health. For example, reading helps to stimulate your mind and can help with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Memory has been shown to improve with reading due to the plotline, characters and the backgrounds you have to remember throughout the book. 

Losing yourself in a story also have been shown to reduce your stress levels as you are distracted with another story and not worrying about your own. 
Below is a list of some of my favourite books that I have recently read:

·     Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman 
·     Sister, Sister – Sue Fortin
·     The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn 
·     The Girl Before – JP Delaney

·     A Map of the Dark – Karen Ellis  

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