When the new year rolls in it can be tempting to sign up to the next fad diet or set yourself some very unrealistic goals despite how good your intentions may be. This year, try incorporating one or two of the realistic goals below that your body and health will thank you for.
1. Aim for 30 different plants per week
We know from thousands of studies how important it is to have a healthy gut. One of the largest International studies on gut health found that people who ate 30 different plant-based foods a week had more diverse populations of microbes living in their intestines. When it comes to your gut health, diversity is a good thing! Plant foods include things like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and wholegrains (rice, oats, seeded bread, couscous, quinoa etc). Getting 30 plant foods per week may seem hard but it really isn’t! Some tips to help achieve this include:
- Aiming for at least 3 different coloured fruits or vegetables at main meals
- Adding fresh herbs to meals
- Adding four bean mix to salads
- Adding fresh or frozen fruit to smoothies, salads, oats, muesli and yoghurt
- Swapping meat for tofu, beans or lentils a couple of times per week. Try a vegetarian meal from Activate Foods.
2. Move your body for 30mins per day
Did you know only 15% of Australian adults are currently meeting the physical activity and muscle strengthening activity guidelines? We should all aim to be active most days of the week. It is recommended that adults should do either:
- 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity – such as a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn or swimming
- 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity – such as jogging, aerobics, fast cycling, soccer or netball
- an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.
In addition to this you should include muscle-strengthening activities as part of your daily physical activity on at least 2 days each week. This can be things such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges or lifting weights.
Exercise has lots of benefits aside from weight loss including reducing your risk of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, improving blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, improving bone strength, improving mood and brain function and increasing life expectancy!
3. Prioritise 7-9hrs of quality sleep
Poor sleep can start a whole cascade of health issues. A lack of sleep is associated with increased inflammation, poor mental focus, impaired fat loss and negative impacts on heart health. Things that can negatively impact your sleep include light, noise, heat, alcohol and caffeine. Our top tips for better sleep include:
- Sticking to a consistent sleeping schedule
- Limiting caffeine after midday: Even if it doesn’t stop you from falling asleep, caffeine can still impair the quality of your sleep. Avoid it within the six hours before bedtime.
- Avoiding alcohol and food close to bedtime
- Avoiding screens before bed: You should avoid bright lights and blue lights during the two hours before bedtime
- Trying a meditation app before bed
4. Cut back on alcohol
It's probably no surprise that many Australians have been drinking more over the past couple of years during the pandemic. Current recommendations are that men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. A standard drink is equivalent to:
- 100mL wine
- 285mL full strength beer
- 30mL spirits
Cutting back on alcohol has all kinds of health benefits including lowering blood sugar levels, weight loss, improving blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, improving sleep and mood and much more! If you currently drink every day think about adding in one or two alcohol free days or consider cutting back the amount you drink.
5. Include a meat-free meal 2-3x/wk
Plant-based diets which emphasise eating food such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and wholegrains are not only better for your body but also the environment. Studies show that people who adopt a plant-based diet tend to weigh less and have lower rates of chronic diseases. Include a meat-free meal a couple of times per week and you can still reap the health benefits. Why not try one of the many plant-based meals Activate Foods has to offer.
Some of my favourite meat-free meals include:
- Vegan Roast Pumpkin & Chickpea Tabouli Bowl
- Vegan Braised Chickpeas, Fennel & Olives
- Vegan Butter Vegetable Curry
- Vegan Red Lentil Dahl
- Vegan Wild Mushroom Shepherds Pie
- Vegetarian Lasagna
Is 2022 the year you want to improve your health and prioritise self-care? Why not book in with one of the friendly dietitians at Eatsense. Book an appointment here: https://eatsense.com.au/contact-book-appointment/