These days we’re constantly inundated with news and tips about improving our health. While some of these stories have merit, there is also a lot of noise out there that can create confusion about “what it means to be healthy.” We’re here to help reduce some of that confusion by sharing six tips that matter most in the pursuit of overall health and well-being. Keep reading to learn about these tips and how implementing them in the new year can help you feel good.
1. Stay on top of preventive care. This includes annual physicals, age-appropriate screenings and immunizations, and dental and vision exams. The new year is a perfect time to discuss with your doctor what preventive care measures you may be due for and begin to schedule appointments throughout the year.
2. Focus on healthy foods. Take a look at your eating habits and see how they stack up with the basic nutrition guidelines below. What do you do well? In what areas can you make improvements? Choose one to two areas to focus on, and then when you get good at them, select another to work on. Small steps can add up to big gains when it comes to making healthy changes!
- Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining a healthy body and a healthy weight, as they are high in fiber, full of vitamins and a source of carbohydrates. Try to eat fruits and vegetables of varying color for greater nutritional benefit.
- Aim for a quarter of your plate at each meal to be a grain. These foods are carbohydrates, the main source of energy for your body. Make half your grains whole grains for added nutritional benefit. Limit refined grain products such as white bread, baked goods or other sweets.
- Make protein one quarter of your plate at each meal. This macronutrient is essential to the building, maintenance and repair of body tissues including skin, organs and muscles. Choose proteins wisely. Seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts and beans are all excellent sources of protein. Limit certain proteins like fatty cuts of beef, pork and high-fat dairy products.
- Reduce your fat and sugar intake. You don’t have to stop eating your favorite snacks and treats to eat healthy, just eat them in moderation. Adopt an 80/20 rule: Eat healthy 80 percent of the time and unhealthy 20 percent. You can improve your eating even further with a 90/10 rule!
3. Exercise. We know we should do it—but many of us don’t get enough. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. You’ve heard it before and know it’s true—exercise works wonder for your mood, mind and body. Make this year the year you begin a regular workout routine!
4. Improve your sleep habits. Sleep allows your body to repair and restore itself, as well as gives your conscious mind an opportunity to rest (and these days, you know it is greatly needed!). Sleeping too little or too much can have negative effects on your health. General recommendations are getting seven to nine hours each night. Find you sleep sweet spot (number of hours that help you feel your best) and aim to focus on waking up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time to meet it—yes, even on weekends! Consistency is key when it comes to sleep.
5. Drink more water. Water is vital to body function (most of the body is made up of water!). Yet, many people choose other beverages over water to satisfy their thirst. While most beverages have hydrating properties, water is the healthiest option as it is free of caffeine, sugar, calories, fat and sodium.
6. Make you your number one priority. We often are caught up helping others and putting areas of our lives first that don’t necessarily contribute to our well-being (think needy friend or family member who always seems to need help at the worst time). It is vital for your health—and your ability to help others—to put yourself first. Say “no” when you need to, and tend to your own needs first.
Commit to making healthy changes in 2022 to improve your well-being!