Healthy living is simple – eat more fruit and vegetables, keep hydrated, exercise, avoid processed foods etc. – but it can be difficult to do! In todays fast-paced and stressful society, most of us tend to look for the easier, more convenient options. We lead very sedentary lifestyles and tend to reach for processed, nutritionally lacking foods. A complete diet and lifestyle overall can be daunting but you can make it easier by gradually introducing small changes and simple additions over time. Eventually they will become second nature. Here are some of my top tips:
- Keep Hydrated
If you’re feeling tired, irritable, have headaches and dry skin, then chances are you could be dehydrated. However you don’t have to go guzzling litres of water as any drinks or foods that contain water are counted towards your recommended 2.5 litres/day for men and 2 litres/day for women. Water is obviously a great source but if you’re not a big fan then why not try adding slices of fruit of even mint leaves to give it some natural flavour. If you don’t like drinking tap water and don’t want to keep buying bottled water why not invest in a reusable bottle with built in filter such as one of these…
2. Get enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin, can be quite elusive for those of us living in Ireland. The sun is our main source of Vitamin D however we rarely ever see it! It plays a huge role in bone health and current recommended intakes are being revised as it has been found that many people are deficient. There are very few good dietary sources but the best are oily fish such as trout, mackerel and salmon. If you don’t eat fish then you could benefit from a supplement but check with your healthcare advisor first, particularly if pregnant.
3. Stir-fry your vegetables
Stir frying is one of the healthiest forms of cooking, not to mention quick, cheap and tasty. Because it’s so fast it means nutrients don’t have time to leach out of foods in the same way they do in slower cooking methods such as boiling. Also, because the vegetables are coated in oil it prevents any Vitamin C they may have from being oxidised by air. It’s also a fantastic way to get more vegetables into your diet!
We all know how important exercise is yet most Irish adults don’t get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week – most expressing that they don’t have time. Considering that you have 10,080 minutes in a week, minus 8 hours a day for sleep and 40 hours for work, you’re left with 4,320 minutes (72 hours)! Surely you can fit in a brisk walk if you really want to. If you’re still stuck for time then consider that 75 minutes of vigorous exercise is equal to 150 minutes moderate. Also, don’t forget to include some strength/weight bearing exercises as these are very important for bone health, particularly in women.
This is key! Make sure you stock your fridge and presses with healthy, nutritionally dense foods, pre-prepare and freeze some midweek meals, have some healthy snacks on hand and make an exercise schedule. That way you won’t be left stuck on a Wednesday night with nothing in the fridge, no set workout plan and end up sitting on the couch and ordering a takeaway. One of my favourite time saving tips is to chop up your favourite fruit and vegetables, put them in sandwich bags, stick them in the freezer and in the morning take one out, blend with some liquid and you’ve got a delicious juice ready in seconds.
Extra Information Links:
- European Food Safety Authority – Water Intake Guidelines
- Food Safety Authority Ireland – Vitamin D guidelines
- Get Active Ireland.com
I originally wrote this piece for Evergreen Health Stores free newsletter. Watch out for issue two coming out in February 2016.