Eat this. Drink that. Do this. Do that. Before I dive into some healthy tips that I live by… you’re probably asking yourself, “Why should I trust this chick?” Even though I don’t quite have the credentials of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (although, that’s the goal here soon!), I am a nutrition student at Colorado State University and love to always be informed of the best practices for optimal health.
These 10 healthy tips are things I try to practice in my everyday life and recommend to others as well. Don’t worry — if you still don’t fully trust me, I plugged the experts too.
“Whole” or no go
More ZZZs please
Yes, yes, yes. You’ve been told a million times that you need more sleep, but what you may not know is that your health can take some real hits without proper rest. Weight gain, poor workout performance, and increased risk for certain diseases are just a few of the possible negative health effects. So next time you hit the pillow, make sure to shoot for the recommended 8 hours of sleep!
Let’s get steamy
Never know how to handle those veggies when it comes to mealtime? Turns out that steaming is one of the best methods for getting the maximum nutrient content because it retains the most water! If you are in a hurry at dinner time, throw your veggies into a ziploc bag and microwave them for a few minutes!
Sometimes it’s simple trade-offs that can make the greatest impact on our health. Try to implement small changes in your daily life like choosing skim milk or almond milk instead of whole milk for that bowl of cereal. Or choose to satisfy that late night craving with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Or instead of just drinking fruit juice, try to eat the fruit in its whole form (it will have more fiber, nutrients, and natural sugars this way)! Here are some more ideas for possible swaps.
Most know that breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, but what goes into that meal is just as important. Make an effort to make your breakfast high in protein and fiber to satisfy you throughout your mornings. To avoid skipping breakfast when you are running late, try these make-ahead breakfast recipes for a balanced breakfast.
Chug, chug, chug (water)
Hydration is a super important part of staying on top of your health. Aim to drink half your bodyweight in ounces. So for example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should shoot to drink 70 ounces or about 9 cups a day. Time to fire up those water bottles (or gallon-sized water jugs if you prefer).
Find fitness for you
Fitspiration is all around — magazines, Pinterest, endless Instagram fitness accounts. But ultimately, everyone is different, especially when it comes to their ideal workout plan. Get creative and try different workouts to find what works best for you. Whether it’s the squat rack, cycling, weight training, a 10 minute ab workout, walking, dance classes, or joining a water polo team — any fitness is good fitness.
Added sugar, not so sweet
Oh sugar. The big bad guy in the nutrition world. While I don’t think added sugar is the worst thing, I think it can have certain health implications when it is over-consumed — just like anything. It is important to become aware of the potentially harmful effects of our everyday sugar-filled foods and try to reduce our added sugar intake.
Try things like cutting back on sugar-sweetened beverages, opting for fruit for dessert, or aim to make your own granola bars without all the added sugar. On a side note, right now it is difficult to tell which sugars are natural vs which sugars are added, but stay tuned as the new nutrition facts labels rolling out will make this more clear.
Snack time is the best time, and there’s no need to feel guilty about it either. Healthy snacks are a great way to curb cravings, keep your brain fueled, and control weight. Try pairing hummus and veggies or an apple and some nut butter next time that 3 o’clock stomach growl sounds.
Make your plate MyPlate
When I say this, I don’t mean to say that you have to divide out your food perfectly into the MyPlate categories, but do strive to make your day of meals and snacks balanced with grains, protein, veggies, fruit and dairy. Confused about portion sizes for these? Well then, your right hand just became your right-hand-man. Use your palm to measure out a portion of protein such as chicken or beans. A fist represents a serving of vegetables. A cupped hand represents a serving of carbs. Thumbs up– the top of your thumb is a portion of fats like peanut butter or salad dressing.
Like any good message on health, it’s all about balance. So while it may not be practical to try everything at once, try to think about what make sense for you and slowly start to implement it into your everyday life. You may just start to see yourself becoming a happier and healthier human!