Do Diet

Seven healthy habits you should form this year

Adopt one (or more!) of these easy expert-approved habits to achieve your healthiest year ever.
By Text Madeline Cravit and Kristene Quan. Consulting nutritionist Rachel Caven. Consulting dietitian Mary Bamford.
Seven healthy habits you should form this year

Photo, Foodcollection, RF Getty Images.

Do Diet: Kick-start a good groove

Sneak in extra greens

If eating seven to 10 servings of fruit and veg a day seems daunting, commit to slipping some into meals on the sly — you won’t even taste them, says nutrition expert Rachel Caven. Toss spinach or kale into your morning smoothie, your soup at lunch or your evening pasta. “Full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, leafy greens give you the biggest nutritional payoff,” she says.

Make It a Habit: Keep a tub of pre-washed, ready-to-go greens (spinach, kale or chard) in the fridge so you can use them without missing a beat.

kalePhoto, Foodcollection, RF Getty Images.

Track your water Here’s a little trick to help you amp up your daily dose of H2O: Use a water bottle with measurements on the sides and write different times of day at every quarter of a litre to help you follow a drinking schedule. Rachel Caven also recommends setting an hourly alarm on your phone until taking regular sips becomes routine. Or try apps like Waterlogged and iDrated, which track your water intake to help you stay hydrated all day long. Seven healthy habits you should form this yearPhoto, Istockphoto.

Savour every bite

Eating meals more mindfully can make a huge difference to your health. “If you’re not paying attention to your food, your brain doesn’t realize that it has eaten and will want to eat more later,” says Rachel Caven. When you sit down for a meal with a proper plate (as opposed to Tupperware!) and cutlery, it changes what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat, adds registered dietitian Mary Bamford. You’ll eat less food more slowly and will actually enjoy the experience. And make a habit of eating with your eyes up, she adds, which prevents you from scarfing down what’s in your mouth in order to get to the next bite, which is what happens when you’re looking down at your plate.

eggPhoto, Roberto Caruso.

Start smart

When you kick things off with a balanced brekkie (protein, whole grains and fruit) you’re more likely to make healthy choices throughout the day. “When we skip breakfast, our bodies enter a survival state, promoting body-fat storage,” says Mary Bamford.

Make It a Habit: If you can’t eat a lot right away, start with a little yogurt or fruit, and then eat a larger meal when you would usually have your morning snack.

granolaPhoto, Getty Images.

Sweat for better sleep

Research shows a good gym session improves the restorative quality of your sleep. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found just 30 minutes on the treadmill helped women with insomnia sleep an average of 45 minutes longer most nights — they even felt perkier when the alarm went off. It also helps if you purge nagging thoughts before bed, says Dr. Jacqueline Brunshaw from Cleveland Clinic Canada.

Keep a pad of paper by your bed for those last-minute additions to tomorrow’s to-do list. “You’ll never fall asleep if you have to remember to remember,” says Brunshaw.

Seven healthy habits you should form this yearPhoto, Getty Images.

Count your steps

“Physical activity isn’t only about weight loss,” says Rachel Caven. “It’s essential for the lymphatic system, and it’s a great stress reliever.” To get you in the habit of moving more, Caven recommends investing in a pedometer or downloading an app that counts your steps. “For the first week, just keep track of the number of steps you do normally,” she says. “Once you know your average, keep increasing it until you reach a minimum of 10,000 steps a day.”

Seven healthy habits you should form this yearPhoto, Getty Images.

Pick one vice

Sometimes the hardest part about forming good eating habits is balancing them out in your social life, says Rachel Caven. “Most people eat well during the workweek but fall off the wagon when they go out with friends.” Introducing the “one thing” approach: “Whether it’s the breadbasket, a glass of wine or dessert, choose the one special thing that you want most, savour it — and leave it at that for the night.”

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Seven healthy habits you should form this yearPhoto, Istock.


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