Following our previous article 5 Daily Habits for Good Health and Longevity, here are 5 more easy ways to support your health long term.
1. Fill your glass with water in between drinks
It’s well understood that excessive alcohol intake has some negative health consequences, and that moderate consumption of alcohol can be beneficial.
Determining exactly what is moderate can be a confusing question. So, rather than get into the weeds of how many milliliters of wine you’re having, let’s simplify it and get into the habit of alternating wine and water.
You can do this with any alcoholic beverage. If you are having a beer, fill your bottle or can with water before you open the next. If you’re out for a meal, fill your wine glass with the table water before ordering another. Pacing your alcohol consumption is a surefire way to moderate how much you have and help your body cope as you do it.
2. Contain your leftovers when you dish up your meal
Managing your energy intake can be an important part of long-term health, and dinner is a common place where it’s easy to over-consume. It’s so easy to dish up more than you need or go back for seconds, particularly if your household cook has whipped up a family favourite.
Instead of feeling like you must dish up everything that’s been cooked or leave the pot on the stove for second helpings, try to get out a few food containers and dish up your leftovers when you are serving the main. That way half the cleaning is done, you have leftovers for another night or for lunch and you’ve helped manage your energy intake. BAM! Now there is an effective habit.
3. Sit at a table at dinner
There are many benefits to sitting down at a table to eat, not least of which is that when you eat without distractions (particularly screen distractions), you are much more likely to REGISTER that you have eaten. You are likely to eat more slowly, taste the food and allow your brain to get the message that your body is satisfied.
This process of sitting down and eating mindfully helps to foster a positive relationship with food and your body, which in an important part of long-term health and wellbeing, beyond the dynamics of nutrients.
4. Pair your sweet treat with a piece of fruit
It’s not unusual to crave sweet foods, particularly after meals and in the mid-afternoon. There are many physiological and cultural reasons why you find yourself looking for something sweet to eat.
Rather than feeling like you can’t have the sweet food you enjoy, like chocolate or a biscuit or some ice-cream, why not combine it with a naturally sweet whole food? That way you are meeting the physical/psychological and cultural drive for more processed options, AND you’re getting the health benefits from the fruit. It’s a WIN-WIN!
You could try:
- Ice cream with chopped fruit salad
- Chocolate with fresh strawberries
- A biscuit with sliced apple
5. Set out a meal before bed
Setting your future-self up for success with healthy choices can be as simple as laying a few things out before bed so that you don’t have to think about it the next day. This could be your breakfast, your snacks, your lunch or the ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner. If there is a meal you are most likely to miss or make a poor food choice, that’s a great meal to focus on.
If you tend to rush out the door without breakfast, set out the utensils on the kitchen bench. If you know that you struggle to avoid the chocolate biscuits at 4pm, get all your snacks for tomorrow together in one container or in a certain spot in the pantry. If you struggle to have a lunch ready, grab the things you need for lunch and have them ready to go in the fridge. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or meticulously nutritionally balanced. It’s just about saving your future-self from one more decision.
These are all small actions. None of these things on their own (or done occasionally) will make much of a difference to your health and longevity, but done consistently, habits like these can add up to support a long and healthy life.
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