The new year often comes with new goals for self-improvement. For many people, this means enlisting new practices to improve their health. While fad diets and strict workout plans may catch your attention, simple health practices are more important to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Here are eight tips you can follow to start your 2020 in a healthy direction.
- Drink more water
It’s a known fact that drinking water throughout the day can help improve energy levels and aid in digestion. However, many students and young adults still don’t drink enough water to keep themselves going throughout the day. While the “eight cups a day” rule is reasonable to shoot for, according to Mayoclinic.org, it’s even more important to listen to your body and take in as much water as you need. This will most likely be more than just eight cups if you are active throughout the day.
- Eat more greens
Perhaps the simplest tip to keep in mind when putting together nutritious meals is to incorporate more vegetables. Adding something green to each meal is a great way to pack in nutrition and keep you feeling full.
- Everything is okay in moderation
Although working toward a healthier lifestyle this year may mean watching what you eat more closely, moderation is key. We all have moments where we crave unhealthy options, and that’s completely okay. One of my favorite ways to look at moderation is from the 80/20 perspective. If you’re eating clean 80% of the time and you eat unhealthy foods 20% of the time, it shouldn’t hinder your health. This mindset is great for making healthy living sustainable for the long run.
- Implement a multivitamin into your daily routine
If you ever find yourself losing energy as the day drags on even when you are eating right and exercising, you may be deficient in some sort of vitamin. For example, because I eat a plant-based diet, I tend to be deficient in iron and vitamin B. I found that the easiest way to eliminate this deficiency and maintain other vitamin levels was to start taking a multivitamin every morning. Not only can this be a preventative measure, but it’s also a great way to further nourish your body.
- Take portions into account
Sometimes the most difficult part about cooking and choosing foods for yourself can be knowing the proper portion sizes. It’s important for us to eat enough for our bodies to be fueled and ready to perform. However, it’s also important not to overwhelm our bodies by consuming too much, which has adverse effects on our health. A great way to learn about proper portioning is to eat slowly and listen to your body to determine when it is satisfied.
- Make eating a priority
Although this one goes without saying, many busy adults frequently skip meals due to having little time or forgetting entirely. Not only does going without food slow down our metabolism, it also can decrease our blood sugar, making it more difficult to think straight. This negative habit detrimentally affects our health and stands in the way of our productivity. There are many ways to counteract this, such as carrying snacks to eat throughout the day or meal prepping for the week. We should always make time for our health first.
- Don’t veto major food groups
In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle this year, it’s important to consume a balance of all the major food groups. The negative stigma around carbs and fats can sometimes alter our perceptions about health. Although an abundance of unhealthy carbs like pizza or pasta may not be the best option, our bodies do need complex carbohydrates. The goal should be to eat a balanced meal with some combination of vegetables, healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
- Listen to your body
This is perhaps the most important tip because it applies to every other tip. Knowing what your body needs and treating it well is the best way to start living healthier this year. Finding healthy food combinations that you actually enjoy not only makes healthy living easier but also sustainable. If going to the gym isn’t something you find enjoyment in, look into other exercise methods that could spark your interest. Health looks different for every person and it’s your job to discover what health means to you this year.
Paige Holloway is a Communication and Sociology major as well a write and assistant editor for On the Menu. Her interests include fitness, traveling and drinking iced coffee.