Guest Post by Andrea D’Ambrosio, RD, owner of Dietetic Directions
While it’s trendy now for many people to go on a “spring cleanse”, in reality, they’re expensive, strict and potentially dangerous. (No matter what Gwyneth tells you!) If you are looking for a bit of a “spring reset”, ditch the detox and try a meaningful and sustainable change instead. Here are my five “heavy-hitter” habits that you can adopt now to improve your health.
1. No “Thirst Cue” Needed
Let’s start off with possibly the simplest (though not necessarily the easiest) habit to change. If you are like most people, you likely miss (or ignore) thirst cues during a busy day. This new habit will take advantage of visual cues as one of the most powerful ways to motivate behaviour change.
If you have a desk job (or any job really), try putting a larger glass of water very close by – this could be by your computer or in a portable bottle. You’ll be surprised how often you will take a swig when it’s right in front of you! I find this trick even works for people who don’t enjoy drinking water. Try it out, bet you’ll be better hydrated.
The amount of water a person needs depends on their activity level, their dietary intake and even the outside temperature. People do not necessarily require 8-13 cups of water per day since they will receive varying amounts from their food and other beverages as well. An estimated 20% of our daily water comes from solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
2. Get Up, Stand Up
Did you know that the vast majority of us spend more time sitting than we do sleeping? Scary, but true, considering our commuting time and sedentary jobs.
Set an alarm to remind you to get up from your desk at least every hour or two throughout the day. It is so important to stand up and take the time to move around. Walk over to ask a colleague a question instead of e-mailing, or move your garbage to the other side of the room.
It is estimated that we burn an extra 50 calories per hour when standing, compared to sitting. This might not sound like a lot, but if we stand intermittently for a total of an extra hour a day, this could amount to a five-pound weight loss over one year. Research supports sitting less decreases risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2014)#DYK we spend more time sitting than we do sleeping? Stand up to lower disease risk -@DAmbrosioRD Click To Tweet
3. Plan for Success
In the working world, we plan for specific outcomes and then work in order to bring these outcomes into fruition. Healthy eating works the exact same way. If we want a certain result, we need to put thought and planning into making it happen!
Take 15 minutes and plan your meals for the next day or the week ahead. I know it sounds annoying, but it gets easier with practice. To get started, I advise my clients to reflect on the previous day and make a note on what meals left them feeling energized and which ones did not. Working with a dietitian helps in strategizing to decrease your stress when life gets busy.
Thinking about trying your hand at meal planning? Find out How to Make Meal Planning & Meal Prep Work for You, then get started with Vincci’s 6 Steps to Healthy Meal Planning.
4. Get Back in the Kitchen
According to a recent poll, 43% of Canadians say they do not cook balanced meals for themselves or their family on a regular basis. Time constraints are the number one challenge in planning and preparing meals. Cooking puts you in the drivers seat for the foods you put into your body. Research shows that those who cook their own meals tend to have healthier diets (more vegetables, whole grains and less sugar, fat and calories).
Get cooking one extra time per week. Make it fun by trying new recipes, cooking with others or batch cooking so you have leftovers on those busy days. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; an egg sandwich on a whole grain English muffin with a side of veggies is far better than something you can pick up at a fast food restaurant!
Ready to get started? Check out Vincci’s Secrets to Effortless Cooking.#DYK that 43% Canadians don't cook regularly? Try to cook one more meal this week -@DAmbrosioRD Click To Tweet
5. Get Your Shut-Eye
Did you know that lack of sleep triggers an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone, which in turn can raise your risk of heart disease? Inadequate sleep can also lead to increased hunger, reduced immunity and changes your body’s ability to control blood sugar, which can increase your risk for diabetes.
Make sleep a health priority! Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Try to establish a bedtime routine by spending time relaxing beforehand without screens like the computer, TV or cellphone. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants.
Small changes repeated over time create healthy habits. Make yourself a priority by setting new habits for your health and well-being!Small changes over time create healthy habits. Make yourself a priority -@DAmbrosioRD Click To Tweet
Please join the conversation and add your own healthy habit ideas that have worked for you in the comments below.
Andrea D’Ambrosio is a Registered Dietitian, a health-enthusiast and an adoring foodie with an insatiable appetite for nutrition research. As owner of Dietetic Directions, Andrea has the mission to inspire you through motivation and guidance to achieve life-long health behaviour changes. Andrea believes that the foods we eat should not only nourish the mind and body, but also serve as sources of enjoyment, enhance social connectivity and provide feelings of vitality. Find out more about Andrea.