Habits to Form Now for a Healthy 2024
Are you one of the many people who feel the pressure to make New Year's resolutions every year, only to feel like you've failed by the time February rolls around? It's a common feeling, and it can be discouraging to set goals and not achieve them. But the truth is, you don't have to wait for a new year to make positive changes in your life.
Improving your health and well-being starts with the everyday choices you make, rather than just relying on a gym membership or trendy smoothie. It's important to recognise that small, consistent changes in your lifestyle can add up to significant improvements in your overall health and well-being.
No matter what your age or current health status, it's never too early or too late to start prioritising your health. By adopting these 5 habits, you can set yourself on a path towards a healthier and happier 2024.
Aim for a variety of plant foods each week
Did you know that by embracing a colourful and diverse array of plant-based foods, you could elevate your health and even boost your lifespan? Numerous studies have found that following a lifestyle abundant in plant foods could drastically slash your chances of encountering a myriad of health risks—from heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, to depression and even cognitive degradation. And for those considering vegetarianism or veganism, there's some added good news – these diets, naturally loaded with plant foods, have been linked to a significant 12–15% decrease in the risk of premature death.
Leading gut health expert and professor Phil Spector suggests a transformative yet achievable target is to consume around 30 different plant varieties each week. Having a diverse and balanced diet of plant-based foods has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved gut health, reduced inflammation, and a lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
So, how do you start incorporating more plant varieties into your diet? Start by introducing a wider range of vegetables in your meals. Spice things up by adding different colours and textures to your salads or stir-fries. Consider bell peppers, radishes, zucchini, and asparagus - the options are endless.
The secret here lies in variety; don't just focus on vegetables. Invite fruits, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and legumes to the party. For instance, a hearty oatmeal topped with bananas, blueberries, flax seeds, and cashews for breakfast counts as four plants already!
If you feel adventurous, utilise the power of aromatic herbs and spices. They count towards your target and are a simple way to elevate the flavour of your dishes. Think fresh mint, rosemary, or a pinch of turmeric. Super healthy and packed with flavour.
Remember, you don't need to go full-throttle and incorporate all 30 different plants right away. Approach it progressively—introduce a few new plant varieties each week and watch your dietary landscape transform. By the end of the month, you'll have likely reached your goal.
As you embark on your journey towards a healthier 2024, it's important to remember that supplements can be a powerful tool to help you achieve your health goals. Along with a balanced diet and regular exercise, supplements can help fill any nutritional gaps and fortify your daily health. In particular, a daily multivitamin is an invaluable addition to your regimen. This handy supplement is packed with a variety of essential vitamins and nutrients that can enhance your day-to-day well-being, boost your immune system, and promote energy and vitality.
Of course, remembering to take your supplements can be a challenge, especially if you have a busy schedule. However, there are several strategies you can use to make it easier to stay on track. One useful hack is getting yourself a pill box. These boxes come with 7 compartments, 1 for each day of the week, making it easier to organise your supplements and ensuring that you don't forget to take them. Whether you keep it on your desk, in your bag, or on the kitchen counter, placing it somewhere visible will serve as a daily reminder.
Our Pill Box is made using 50% eco-friendly wheat straw plastic, which is better for the environment. The high-quality pot has a clip clasp to keep your supplements secure. The foldable and compact size makes it perfect for transporting your daily supplements on the go.
Another useful tip is aligning your supplement intake with other daily routines. For example, make it a habit to take your multivitamin right after your breakfast or just before you go to bed. This way, it becomes an integrated part of your day, reducing the chances of skipping or forgetting.
Add some movement to your day
Exercise is more than simply stretching your legs or lifting a few weights. It’s a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle that can significantly enhance your quality of life and even provide relief from chronic health conditions. And, the best part is that you don't have to be an athlete to reap the benefits!
To start your fitness journey, begin with small steps. Avoid pushing yourself too hard too fast and take it easy. Step into movement gently by engaging in activities like a short walk, light yoga stretches, or any other activity that you find manageable and enjoyable. This approach will help build your confidence and prevent burnout.
Next, make your fitness routine enjoyable by adding fun activities into it. Forget about the "no pain, no gain" mantra and choose activities you love. Dance your heart out, spin some wheels, or take a dip – find what makes you feel energised and excited to move. When you enjoy what you're doing, you're more likely to stick to your routine and achieve your fitness goals.
Finally, it's important to set aside a fixed time and place for your workout routine, just like you would for any other important activity, such as going to work or brushing your teeth before bed. Consistency is critical for long-term success, and making exercise a part of your daily routine will help you reach your fitness goals.
Develop your sleeping pattern
Developing a good sleeping pattern is often overlooked when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But did you know that sleep is crucial for restoring and rejuvenating our bodies and minds? It not only refuels our bodies, but also sharpens our focus, balances our mood, and bolsters our immune systems. That's why getting adequate sleep should be a top priority for everyone this year.
So, how much sleep do you need to reap these health benefits? According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. That's right, 7 to 9 hours of restful and peaceful slumber. However, if you're struggling to achieve this goal, don't worry, you're not alone. Consistently getting quality sleep can be challenging, but it's definitely not impossible.
Firstly, transform your bedroom into a haven for sleep. Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Consider investing in a comfortable mattress, plush pillows, and cosy bedding to create a comfortable environment for better sleep. It's also essential to limit your screen time 1-2 hours before bed, as the blue light from electronic devices can interfere with your body's natural sleep cycle.
Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can signal to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. This can include taking a warm bath, practising a relaxation technique like meditation or yoga, or reading a book.
Another important factor in promoting healthy sleep is maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
Finally, some people find that taking sleep-supporting supplements can help improve their sleep quality. That's why I love recommending Nutravita’s Natural Night Complex to my clients. With calming botanicals like lemon balm, relaxation-inducing amino acids, and sleep cycle-supporting minerals like Magnesium and Vitamin B12, it's a great option for those who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.
Prioritise your happiness
Let's talk about something that's often overlooked but incredibly important - prioritising your happiness. It's not just another item on a to-do list; it's about making a commitment to yourself and cultivating joy, peace, and satisfaction in your life.
So how can you make happiness a part of your daily routine? It starts with appreciating the present moment. Too often, we get caught up in worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, and we forget to enjoy the beauty of the here and now. Take some time for yourself to relax and be fully present, whether that's by listening to your favourite music, reading a book, or taking a leisurely walk. This mindful approach to life can have a significant impact on your happiness levels.
But don't stop there - it's important to incorporate play into your life as well. We often think of play as something only for children, but it's just as important for adults. Whether it's playing a board game with your family, dancing like nobody's watching, or playing fetch with your furry friend, make time for activities that bring you pure joy. These lighthearted moments can serve as vital detoxifiers in our busy, stressful lives.
And last but not least, cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Take a moment each day to reflect on the good things in your life and express gratitude for them. Make it a routine to jot down three things you're grateful for each day. Over time, you'll notice how this simple habit can work wonders in boosting your overall happiness. Remember, a happier you is a healthier you.
Riya Lakhani-Kanji MSc ANutr is a registered nutritionist and health writer with a special interest in plant-based nutrition. She has completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, and has developed a passion for writing about all things plant-based.