We all have non-negotiables in our lives, whether it is our morning coffee, a weekly massage or a night watching our favourite TV series. Its something we look forward to, something we think helps us function or even our reward to get us through a hard day. Similar to having and using non-negotiables in this way, I have non-negotiables for health. Certain things I implement and live by daily to make sure I am looking after my health and happiness. As I love to share my knowledge and what I have learnt best benefits health over the years, here are my top 5 non-negotiables for a healthy day:
Not a surprising nor fancy pick, but definitely had to make the list! We each need individual amounts of fluid daily dependent upon weight, food intake, level of activity etc but generally 1.5-2L is a good target to aim for.
Hydration helps to increase metabolic rate as muscle contains 75% fluid. We also need water to transport nutrients throughout our body and aid overall digestion. Hydration also helps with concentration, alertness and short-term memory retention. Overall, this will help us get through the day with focus and clarity, minus the coffee!
Easy ways to increase hydration:
- Swap coffee for herbal tea
- Add fresh sliced fruit to water for extra flavour
- Have a vegetable soup for lunch
- Snack on vegetables and fruits with a high water content (eg capsicum, cucumber, strawberries)
- Get up from your desk and have a glass of water every 30mins
Movement & Fresh Air/Sunshine
Movement not only benefits physical health but also psychological wellbeing! Getting outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine is a stress relieving and fatigue fighting activity accessible to everyone. In fact, we are hearing more and more about the negative health impacts of prolonged sitting. Research suggests an hour or more of physical activity can overcome such detriment. Whilst an hour may not be achievable for all, every little bit counts and don’t forget the positive effects of incidental exercise.
Tips to be more active:
- Go for a walk at lunch
- Wake up 30mins earlier and exercise
- End your day with a gentle stroll around the block
- Walk to coffee or the shops instead of driving
- Catch up with a friend for exercise
- Cycle to work
- Join a sport team or walking group
- Schedule in play time with the family and kick the ball around
- Get up every 30mins from your desk and go for a brisk walk
Many of us are reporting feeling stressed on a daily basis. Stress can place great strain on the body and negatively impact overall wellbeing. Practicing mindfulness can help draw your attention away from what you have to do and let you be present in the moment and check in with yourself. Whether it be setting aside 5-10mins to practice breathing deeply or just eating without distraction, every bit counts and in the long run will add time to your day!
For more ways to easily incorporate mindfulness into your day read here.
We have been told since childhood to eat our vegetables and it could never be truer than now! Vegetables are a natural source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Eating more fruit and vegetables has been shown to increase happiness and life satisfaction. Increased vegetable intake is also linked to decreased chronic disease risk.
Which vegetables are best? Those richest in antioxidants have the greatest benefits so always pick the brightest kinds such as capsicum, tomato, red cabbage, carrots, sweet potato, beetroot, kale and spinach.
Ways to increase vegetable intake
- Aim for ½ plate vegetables at each meal
- Snack on a fresh vegetable juice
- Snack on chopped vegetables with dip
- Try a vegetable based soup for lunch
- Add left-over roasted vegetables to scrambled eggs at breakfast time
- Grate and add to sauces and stews
- Try zucchini noodles in replace of pasta or cauliflower rice
Cooking at Home
The number one way to control your diet and health is to cook your own meals regularly. Studies have shown that people who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume less kilojoules than those who buy food out. We are more likely to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and less poor quality fats, sugar and refined carbs when cooking at home. Another benefit of course being eating as a family and spending time with loved ones.
Whilst this is not possible for everyone at all meal times, prioritising even just one meal per day to be home cooked and wholesome can contribute towards greater health.
For those who are time poor, preparation is key:
- Have an idea in mind what you will cook
- Buy your ingredients on the weekend or during lunch at work
- Do any necessary prep on the weekend or when you have spare time
- Pick something you will both enjoy cooking and eating as then you are more likely to do it
- Think about how you can use leftovers the next day