12 Healthy Habits to Feel Better Long Term
Jan 12, 2020
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These 12 healthy habits are life-changing and will help you feel better long term. Sure, they might seem simple, but the results truly add up over time. Trust me on this one.
One of the things I love about starting a new year is that we tend to be more introspective, so it’s a perfect time to evaluate our habits and assess whether they’re serving us positively or not.
As many of you know, almost 8 years ago now I was diagnosed with celiac disease along with a handful of other autoimmune conditions, just for good measure, and since then I’ve been on a wellness journey, figuring out what works best for me and my body.
So today I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips with you, those healthy habits that I think are pretty darn important to boost your immune system, your overall wellness and to help you feel good for the long term. Let’s dive in.
12 Life-Changing Healthy Habits
1. Cook at Home
You’ve probably noticed by now that my website and YouTube channel is mainly healthy recipes, and that’s because when you cook at home you can control exactly what nourishment is going into your body as well as the quality of ingredients.
I get it that eating out is easy and fast and I’m all for eating out at a nice restaurant every once in a while, or grabbing take-out. But when take out comprises 80% of your meals, it’s time to re-evaluate.
Restaurant meals typically contain higher amounts of sodium, saturated fat, and just have more calories than home-cooked meals. And let’s be honest, they’re usually not starting with high-quality ingredients.
That’s why studies have shown time and again that people who cook for themselves more often than they eat out tend to be healthier overall.
2. You Can Eat Any Food Any Time of Day
I’ve traveled quite extensively and I’ve noticed this interesting thing, mainly in Western culture, and it’s that we have these notions of what breakfast, lunch and dinner should look like. A result of how we’ve been marketed to.
Breakfast is a bowl of cereal, maybe a slice of bread with jam or pancakes with syrup. And lunch might be a salad, sandwich or pizza, while our dinner might be chicken, beef or fish, with some veggies and potatoes or rice.
But in other parts of the world, food is simply food and it can be eaten any time of day. On Instagram you’ll often see me eating leftover salmon and sweet potato for breakfast or a couple soft boiled eggs and salad greens for dinner. The fact that you can eat any food any time of day is such a simple mindset shift and yet so important to remember.
3. Eat Vegetables at Breakfast
Building on that last point, you’ll do your body a world of good if you eat more vegetables at breakfast.
Breakfast is often one of our most beige meals, because of those previously mentioned foods like cereal, bread, pancakes, pastries or even oatmeal. So I challenge you to get creative with your breakfast, and opt for a heck of a lot more color.
Sneak spinach and other vegetables into a breakfast scramble, top your bread with sautéed veggies or healthy protein and fats instead of butter or jam or even better, swap your bread entirely for sweet potato toast.
4. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate
Often you’ll hear folks in the wellness space saying that when you wake up in the morning the first thing you need to do is drink water with lemon or water with apple cider vinegar.
And if you have lemon or apple cider vinegar, that’s great, but I’m going to simplify things for you and say just drink a glass of water, and not only in the morning, but many times throughout the day.
Water is essential to life and your body needs it to function properly. But in the morning, water will increase your mental clarity and level of alertness and it will jump start your metabolism. So before you grab a coffee or tea, drink a large glass of water FIRST and then make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day.
5. Keep Healthy Snacks Visible
I tend to get the munchies between meals, especially as I work from home, so I’ve found that it’s important for me to keep healthy snacks front and center.
If I open the pantry and I see chocolate right in front of me, I’ll admit that it would challenge even my will power not to grab it. So instead, I keep chocolates low and out of sight in my pantry and keep healthy snacks like nuts front and center.
The same goes for my countertop and fridge where fruit is always visible and veggies are meal prepped and ready to be eaten. At the end of the day, it’s all about helping yourself to make healthy choices.
6. Meal Prep and Meal Plan
It should come as no surprise that I’m a fan of meal prepping, as those are some of the most popular videos on this channel. But I do meal prep for 2 main reasons:
- It saves time in the kitchen during the week
- It ensures healthy meals can be made fast and easy.
When I contemplate what I’m going to meal prep I’m actually doing mental meal planning as well, thinking about what I’d like eat later in the week. And I’ve found that planning ahead is 90% of the work when it comes to staying on that healthy path and making healthy choices.
7. Move Your Body
For many of us, myself included, we sit at a desk for the majority of the day and this is doing our bodies no favors. Movement is critical for maintaining bone density, flexibility and muscles but let’s not forget that it also helps to boost our immune system and reduce stress hormones.
So focus on moving at multiple times throughout the day, which could be standing and stretching at your desk, going for a walk around the block, doing yoga, going on a hike or riding bikes with your kids.
The more you can move and keep the blood flowing throughout the day the better. And there are apps and timers, like Time Out or Pomodoro, to remind you to take a break and move if you need the little nudge.
8. Get Into Mother Nature
There’s this amazing healing and rejuvenating that happens to our bodies when we surround ourselves with green trees, lush grass, and blue waters.
For me, the impact on my stress levels is almost immediate and I can just feel any anxiety I might have simmer down. That’s why you’ve seen me hike on nature trails or rollerblade on the boardwalk along the beach, breathing in that beautiful fresh air.
When we get out into mother nature not only do our brains gets some much needed downtime, but our bodies will get some vitamin D, and our immune system will get a refresh. And you’ll notice afterwards that it’s virtually impossible to not feel more calm and centered. So I always aim to get at least 2 hours of one on one time with mother nature every week.
9. Get Away From Your Screen
We’re all incredibly connected today with laptops and mobile devices and it can be so hard to turn off, but that’s exactly why it’s so important that you do turn it off and make it a priority
Looking down at our phones not only causes horrible posture and spine alignment, which then throws off the delicate balance of other things in the body, but I think we’ve all read enough studies to know that it’s not good for our mental health either.
So set boundaries with your screen time, turn off pop-up notifications and when you’re at home, try to completely unplug. Instagram and YouTube will still be there tomorrow, but you might find that you now have time to take that walk, read a book, or meal prep a few veggies for the week.
10. Downshift and Manage Stress
Out of all the tips I’m sharing with you today, the one I’m constantly working on, and probably always will, is managing stress.
There’s a reason I called my business Downshiftology and that’s because sometimes we share what we most need to learn. The simple fact is that we will never live in a world that’s completely stress free, but, we can learn to manage our stress better with practice.
Meditation, yoga and acupuncture are great ways to reduce stress and calm both the body and mind. And I’m a huge proponent of all three. But even just 5 minutes of closing our eyes and taking several deep breaths works wonders as well.
I always say that sleep and stress are just as important as food, in terms of the impact on the body….so if you feel your anxiety or tension level is high, take that as a signal that you need to have a quick time out and deep breath.
11. Make Sleep a Top Priority
So speaking of sleep, it truly is one of the most important, yet often overlooked factors of staying healthy. When we sleep our brain is repairing and renewing cells, the body is regenerating and producing critical hormones and our immune system is fighting infections.
There’s a whole lot going on while we’re getting shut eye, and that’s why sleep deprivation is tied to soooo many different health issues.
For optimal long-term health, sleep needs to be a top priority and we need to remember that it’s absolutely essential to our emotional and physical wellbeing. In fact, I think it’s so important that I’ve already made a separate video with some sleep tips, so if you haven’t yet watched that make sure to check it out.
12. There is No One Size Fits All
If there was one health tip I could scream from the mountaintops, it’s this. There is no one size fits all when it comes to diet, health and wellness.
A certain diet or supplement may have been beneficial for your co-worker, or sister or mom, but it may not be for you. And that’s because you have different genetics, a different microbiome, different stress levels, and different well, pretty much everything.
The best thing you can do for your own health is to figure out, really figure out, what make you feel your absolute best.
And then remember that what may have made you feel good last year, may not be the same thing that makes you feel good this year, so it’s okay to change. Our bodies are not static, they’re always changing, and so we must be open to change as well.
Now I’m sure I could go on with more healthy habits and tips but I think those 12 are the ones that have helped me more than I could have ever imagined. And I think the takeaway here is that none of these are necessarily earth shattering. In fact, many of them you probably already knew, but it’s actually doing them that’s key. Because it’s a cumulative effect of all of those small habits that really adds up over time.
If f you have additional healthy habits or tips to share with the community, share in the comments below!