You may be aware of the healthy eating and exercise principles that equate to good health and longevity. They include things like:
- Eating lots of fruits and vegetables
- Limiting sugar and ultra-processed foods
- Moderating red meat consumption
- Increasing wholegrains, nuts and seeds compared to processed grain products
- Eating the right amount of energy for your body
- Including moderate to vigorous exercise regularly
While you ‘know’ these principles, they can often be hard to implement on a consistent basis because they are a bit vague. To really ‘do’ these things, you have to convert those vague principles into clear tasks that you can action every day or every week.
So, here are some practical, real-life, daily habits that you can try which will help you to meet the markers for good health and longevity.
1. Add nuts or seeds to your breakfast
Nuts and seeds are a great source of fibre, unsaturated fats, and micronutrients. Nuts and seeds are also an important component of the Mediterranean diet, which is one of the most widely studied dietary patterns for good health and longevity.
If whole nuts and seeds are not something you regularly plan into your lunches and dinners, adding a small amount to breakfast can be a great way to boost your intake. Even ½ a tablespoon on a regular basis can be beneficial. You could try:
- Adding a tablespoon of chopped pecans to your porridge
- Sprinkling 2 teaspoons of pistachios on avocado toast
- Top your jam on toast with a teaspoon of chia seeds
- Add a tablespoon of pepitas or pine nuts to your omelette
2. Pack yourself a lunch
Managing your energy intake and appetite are important parts of achieving good health long-term. One of the most common stumbling blocks to healthy food choices and appetite management is not giving yourself enough to eat throughout the day. It’s so much harder to make a good food choice in the afternoon or at the end of the day when you’re so hungry from not having had enough at lunch.
This can be especially true if you are working from home or you’re not working. When you have access to the fridge and pantry throughout the day, it’s easy to convince yourself that you will sort it out when you get to lunchtime. But then, come 12pm, you’re hungry but you’re not sure what to have. The prospect of having to decide, make, eat and clean up after a healthy lunch full of vegetables feels too hard. So, you make a ham and cheese toasted sandwich and plan to do better tomorrow.
If you can plan or even prepare a few aspects of your lunch ahead of time, you are far more likely to have a filling lunch that sustains you well into the afternoon. It’s also more likely that you’ll have a lunch with more vegetables and whole foods which we know (see No. 1 above) support good health and wellbeing long-term.
3. Fill your drink bottle at lunchtime
Being well hydrated has so many benefits to health including supporting your immune system, managing blood pressure and improving energy levels, but getting through the recommended 1.8 – 2.5 litres of water per day can feel quite daunting, particularly if you’ve reached 5pm and only had half of your 600ml bottle.
Breaking it down into smaller chunks of time means that you’ll get a lot closer to your water requirements. If you can get through one water bottle (600–800mL) by lunchtime and then through a second in the afternoon, you’re at least 60% of the way there! However much you have had by lunchtime, fill ‘er up and you’ll get that little bit closer to good hydration.
4. Go outside for a walk in the afternoon
Being physically active and getting outdoors have impacts on a HUGE range of markers for health. Being outdoors gives you the opportunity to meet your Vitamin D requirements, gives you access to fresh air and gives you the chance to get exposure to nature, which has impacts on circadian rhythms and sleep quality.
Moving your body and getting your heart rate up has positive impacts on cardiovascular health, brain health, muscle health, bone health, balance, and mood. That’s EPIC!
Building a habit of getting outside each day, in the sunlight and fresh air can tick SO MANY boxes for good health, it’s amazing. If a medication could do all these things, it would be branded as a wonder drug.
5. Have a vegetable snack
Another effective way to improve health and wellbeing is by increasing your vegetable intake. Vegetables are high in water, fibre and a myriad of micronutrients that allow your body to function well. Yet, the vast majority of Australian’s don’t meet the recommended amount of vegetables for good health and longevity.
For most people, dinner is the main source of vegetables, with maybe some leftovers or salad with lunch, but there is no upper limit for vegetable intake and your long-term health can benefit from every extra serve.
Why not try:
- Snow peas with a small tub of hummus
- A small bowl of vegetable soup
- Salsa on some rice crackers or rice cakes
- Cherry tomatoes and a tablespoon of basil pesto
- Premade vegetable fritters
For individualised advice and support our team of dietitians at The Healthy Eating Clinic want to equip you with habit-based nutrition advice so that you can eat well for the rest of your life! Make an appointment today
If you’d like to hear more about other hot topics in nutrition, be sure to subscribe to Kate Freeman’s podcast, The Daily Dollop. She’s a registered nutritionist and the founder and managing director of The Healthy Eating Clinic and hopes to inspire you with sensible, easy to understand nutrition advice in a 15 minute daily podcast!