Want to live longer? Continue exploring the healthy habits Harvard scientists say will increase your life by a decade.
Missed our Pt 1? Don’t worry – delve into the first two behaviours that have shown a clear and positive association with good health and long life, here.
Healthy lifestyle habits
Eat a healthy diet
Healthy eating can enhance a health-conscious lifestyle in a variety of ways – not just with regard to physical fitness and weight loss, but also as far as mental performance and daily energy are concerned.
Experts suggest forming healthy eating habits by keeping it simple with whole foods and lots of fruits and veggies. Be mindful of what you’re eating, and don’t force yourself to eat things you don’t like nor deprive yourself of foods you love.
While some diets, like the Mediterranean diet, focus on eating more nourishing foods, others like keto focus on restriction, and are only suitable for certain people (with doctor supervision!). Avoid fad diets and stick with a guide that will be easy for you to follow while filling yourself with tasty and healthy foods.
A healthy, balanced diet is key. Consume at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day; eat beans, fish, eggs, meat and other protein; opting for (small amounts of) unsaturated oils and spreads; having some dairy or dairy alternative; drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day; basing your meal on higher fibre starchy foods such as rice, potatoes or pasta.
“Food should be enjoyable,” says dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin, RD. “You should be eating what you like to eat and want to eat.”
Limit alcohol intake
Month-long non-drinking campaigns like Dry January and Stoptober are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. Health experts reveal the life-changing effects of alcohol on the body — higher alcohol consumption is linked with serious illnesses, such as heart disease, higher blood pressure, and cancer.
Most of us are guilty of indulging in one too many drinks, especially habitual drinking. You know what we mean: “Friday afternoon knockoff drinks,” “finished cutting the lawn, time for a beer,” “day in the park with friends – bust out the drinks.”
If you’re looking to cut back on your alcohol intake, there are a number of things you can do to help make the smooth transition.
Consider your week and whether you have a specific drinking habit or routine. If your goal is to cut down your alcohol intake, work towards setting alcohol-free days or limit the number of drinks during one sitting.
Replace one habit with another one. Choose a pleasant substitution for when you’re reaching for a beer or cocktail. Consider a non-alcoholic drink, like a fruity mocktail or iced tea. Find activities that you enjoy and are fulfilling, like going for a walk or bike ride. Perhaps tap into your creative side and try painting or pottery. Try this for two weeks until it becomes your new habit. This may limit excess consumption due to boredom!
Maintaining a healthy body weight
Reaching a healthy body weight is an achievement in itself – a massive win and something that should be celebrated. However, many have fallen victim to the yo-yo weight effect or weight cycling, a cyclical loss and gain of weight.
Maintaining a health body weight is as much about a healthy mind and mental wellbeing as it is about eating healthy.
Healthy mind, healthy body
Shaping a healthy mind for a healthy weight requires managing stress, developing and maintaining personal relationships, creating a positive body image, dealing with depression or anxiety, and exercising your mind.
Whether the result of unhealthy stress-induced behaviours or high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, or a combination of the two, stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
How to break the cycle of stress and weight gain?
- Incorporate stress-relief remedies into your daily like de-stress aromatherapy
- Make exercise a priority
- Eat healthier comfort foods
- Practice mindful eating
- Drink more water