This is the second part of a short series I started to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle (for part one click here). It’s a list that includes both basic tips that are worth remembering and a few ones that may surprise you, but play an important role in making healthy living a long-term goal of yours. So, here are
10 more tips on a healthier lifestyle
1. Nuts and seeds –
are high in protein and packed with vitamins. Although we are often warned of their particularly high fat content, they are usually high in only the important fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Nuts (unsalted) as a snack are fine, but they are very easy to overindulge with, so be careful. Nuts and seeds in salads, pasta and other foods are a good and easy way to add nutrients and flavour to your cookery.
2. Cooking method –
in terms of retaining nutrients, steaming is generally best, followed by grilling and then boiling in limited water (you should also include the juice and keep the lid on the saucepan). In all cases, you should cook for the minimum amount of time and serve as soon as possible, and include the water (at least some) of boiled food, as it will contain much of the lost nutrients. It is best to prepare vegetables immediately before cooking them, as it limits their exposure to air and light, both of which destroy vitamin C – which is why the so-called fresh food from your greengrocer is not necessarily the best choice. Frozen food may lose much of its water-soluble vitamins when it is thawed, so cook from frozen and use the minimum amount of water.
3. Shopping –
most genuine intentions for a more wholesome diet are already doomed in the place where you do your main shopping. It is a good idea to write a shopping list before you are anywhere near the supermarket, and try not to add too many extras when you get there. Also, avoid the so-called health shops unless it’s for a particular item that you cannot get elsewhere; they are very expensive and often make exaggerated and unfounded claims. However, buying the cheaper foods may not be saving as much as you think – it may even work out more expensive. For example, wholemeal bread is often only a little more expensive than white bread (and far better nutritionally), and it will keep you satiated for longer, so you will use less of it. In any case, the ‘own brand’ foods are often less than half the price and just as good.
4. Eat slowly –
chew your food properly and drink a little water with each main meal as required; both help with digestion, and may also help with satiety.
5. Diet food and snacks –
are little or no better than what they are replacing, though they are likely to be more costly. The sweet snacks add the further problem of bad programming – that is, they instil the idea that sweet snacks are a good option between meals.
7. Fat –
remove visible fat from meat. Remove the skin from poultry, and prefer the breast (white meat) to the leg (red meat), as it contains much less saturated fat.
8. Be active –
a simple way to increase activity levels is to choose more active alternatives whenever possible or convenient, such as using stairs not lifts or escalators and walking or cycling instead of driving. As you are reading this article, you probably have an interest in exercise, but sometimes variety is lacking in sportspeople. Try some other sports or activities from time to time; perhaps you lift weights or play football regularly, so why not try swimming, climbing or tennis once in a while? Interactive sport/exercise video games are also a great way to enjoy exercise.
9. Finished work does not mean finished for the day –
after work, people often have the habit of winding down by sinking into an armchair. This can be a poor routine, especially for those involved in sedentary work. Try to plan at least one night a week of sport, exercise or other activity after work that does not include training at home. Remember, exercise buys you energy!
10. Join a club or society – …on your own!
Sports gyms are fine, but they do not suit everyone and are notoriously expensive and often off-putting to those new to exercise. But there are many alternatives that are cheaper and perhaps preferable! Many adult education centres offer very cheap sports classes, from as little as £2.00 a session, including squash, tennis and badminton and many offer ‘ladies only’ and ‘over 50s’ classes. If competitive sports do not interest you, there are many activities that might, such as nature trail and Nordic walking clubs. So…why join a club or society on your own? In my experience, those who won’t join a club unless ‘my friend comes with me’ are not joining for the right reasons. When one is late, the other is too. When one leaves, the other does too. You can only get fit for yourself, so don’t wait for someone to join with you; just do it! You will make new friends and meet likeminded people when you get there. If your old friends join later, all the better!