(Image from Max Pixel)
If you’ve been reading about nutrition and exercise for long enough you may have come across an article or video covering “blue zones” – areas of the world where people live longer and healthier lives than anywhere else. There are a number of factors that bind these countries together but one of the most prominent patterns is the fact that people from these areas generally eat less than the rest of us. In the majority of blue zones the average meal is smaller than those in the US and UK by at least a fifth. Try taking a leaf from their book and reducing the portions you have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you tend to make meals in a big platter that the family can help themselves to then try getting into the habit of serving up portions in the kitchen and freezing the rest.
When you make a point of surrounding yourself with reminders of the lifestyle you want to lead you’ll find it provides a lot of motivation for actually getting stuck into the routines of a healthier lifestyle. The more you can read, watch and generally learn about healthy eating and fitness the more naturally you’ll be able to fit those all-important lifestyle choices into your usual routine. Start by setting a short window aside every day just for sitting down with a (healthy!) snack and simply learning more about healthy living. Whether it’s watching healthy cooking videos on YouTube, trying a new exercise you can do at home or reading review sites like Bodygearguide, make sure you’re making a point to get your fill of fitness information on a regular basis. Get into a routine for this and you’ll be amazed at how much difference it makes to your mindset.
Diets that are heavy on the plants are not only rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients but are also much better for your weight and cardiovascular health. Of course there’s a danger of not getting enough protein if you make your diet too heavy on plant matter, however considering how meat-dense a typical diet is these days you probably don’t have too much to worry about! Try to start thinking of meat as more of a complement to your meals rather than the main attraction. Try subbing your usual dose of meat out for beans, nuts and legumes.
Some of the foods that are regularly touted as miracle workers – elk, sea vegetables, tofu and berries you’ve never heard of – might seem completely alien to you and literally quite hard to swallow. It may not always seem like it but it’s certainly possible to retrain your taste buds. Most of us naturally love salt, fat, sugar and so on because they’re prevalent in the diets we’ve been raised on and these are the tastes that we’re used to. However, if you make a point to eat healthier foods regardless of how they taste to begin with over time you’ll learn to like them. The easiest way to start is checking more labels and gradually cutting down the level of sugar in your diet.
Even the most cool-headed person you know gets stressed from time to time. While healthy people get affected by it just as much as anyone they all have some go-to methods for relieving stress whenever it arises. There are many healthy methods for de-stressing and most people will only need one that they can fall back on again and again. Go for a scenic walk, meditate for a while, meet your best friend for a coffee… It’s okay to treat yourself now and then but make sure you’re not leaning on unhealthy methods of stress-relief too much. This will only make you more susceptible to stress from other aspects of your life and could lead to you getting stuck in a health rut.