Achieving overall wellbeing comes down to the small choices you make each day – your daily habits. Observe your habits, identify small improvements and hone them little by little. Small steps, repeated. Over time, these positive increments bring about measurable results. So, whether you would like to boost self-confidence, build resilience, communicate more effectively, connect more deeply or simply become a healthier person, focussing on these three simple daily habits can lead you there, one step at a time.
THE 4 HOUR FUEL RULE
My first recommendation is not to do with what you eat, but how you eat. To maintain high energy levels and avoid crashes, the aim is to eat regularly and avoid going for long periods of time without eating or skipping meals. It’s also important to recognise the symptoms of feeling tired and avoiding the mid-afternoon slump where you need a cuppa to get you through the afternoon. Our body takes about four hours to process a meal, so if we go too long without eating, we will run out of fuel. Get off to a good start and aim to eat breakfast within one hour of getting up and then a meal or a healthy snack every four hours or so after that. So if you have breakfast at 7am, you need to be eating a healthy snack by 11am. If you have lunch at 12.30pm, you should not be waiting until you get home at 6.30pm to eat next. Instead, fit in a healthy afternoon snack by 4.30pm. That should help to keep you going in the afternoon and avoid the hangry snacks. Try to identify where your biggest gap is and whether you need to be spreading your food out better during the day to keep you going. This will have a positive impact on your mood, energy and hormone balance allowing you to focus on bigger picture goals.
EAT A WELL BALANCED PLATE
Even if we are eating the right foods, it’s also important to eat them in the right proportions to get the most from them. The World Health Organisation recommends that we eat at least five portions of vegetables a day – that’s around 400g. Most of the Irish adult population eat approximately 200g. If you are in the habit of loading your plate up with carbohydrates like pasta, potatoes and rice, perhaps this is good place to start. Build the habit of filling half your plate with vegetables, ideally one quarter greens and one quarter coloured vegetables. Remember, potatoes don’t count as a vegetable because of their negative impact on blood sugar. Then add one quarter of lean protein, which is needed for repair and to build muscles. Protein is a power house that literally helps to keep us feeling fuller for longer. Lastly, the final quarter of a well balanced plate should contain a slow releasing carbohydrate. Think wholegrains – brown rice, wholegrain pasta, proper brown bread and sweet potatoes, even a garden spud in its jacket. This is a well balanced plate.
Remaining present in the now means we are more likely to stay on track and less likely to make unhealthy food choices. If introducing meditation seems like a stretch, mindfulness may be more accessible and realistic to achieve. Rooted in Buddhism, it is the simple practice of being purposefully focussed on the present moment, without judgement. Practicing mindfulness has been scientifically shown to enhance many attitudes that contribute to an overall greater sense of satisfaction in life. In short, being mindful makes it easier to enjoy the moment as it happens. Through focussing on the now, those who practice it regularly find they become less preoccupied and more present. Thus, they are less likely to worry about the future or ruminate over past regrets. Scientists have also found that mindfulness techniques can boost physical health in a myriad of ways. It has been shown to help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, support sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. The beauty of mindfulness is that it requires zero equipment and you can practice it at any time. For a free 30 day taster, check out the Headspace app.
Sorcha Molloy BSc (Hons), MBant runs the Glenville Nutrition Clinic Galway which specialise in women’s health and supporting couples planning to conceive. If you wish to contact Sorcha to make an appointment, call 091 726344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org