The idea of "getting healthy" can sometimes seem overwhelming, if not outright impossible. In the days of office parties, rushed lunches, and movie snacks, it can just seem incredibly hard to actually do. However, there are a ton of super simple ways to be healthier right now, and they don't have to feel radical or life-changing.
A special health report issued by Harvard Medical School in 2014 even stated that people can see remarkable changes in their overall health and longevity by just taking things one small step at a time. "These changes don’t require you to clean out your pantry, invest in gear, or carve out extra hours from your day. Instead, you learn to replace old habits with new ones," the report stated.
I, for one, have always had trouble with the idea of implementing small daily changes in my life. Instead, I often tend to go with the "all or nothing" approach, eating healthful but restrictive foods and exercising for a few weeks or months, only to eventually give the routine up entirely.
If this sounds familiar and you find yourself yo-yoing with healthy habits the way I do, here are seven small but achievable steps you can start doing right now to feel healthier day-to-day.
1. Be Conscious Of Stealth Sugar
In an article for Health, founding director of the Yale Prevention Research Center David L. Katz, MD, said to watch out for hidden sugars in foods that you might not even consider as "sugary," like ketchup and barbecue sauce. "Once you get rid of that hidden sugar, you’ll start to prefer less-sweet foods," he said.
2. Make Your Meals Last 20 Minutes
Katz also recommended making sure you make all your meals last 20 minutes, no matter the size. Do this whether you eat out at a restaurant or even sitting in front of the TV, and you'll likely eat smaller portions overall since it takes about 20 minutes for your body to register that you're full.
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3. Toss The Junk Food Right Now
In an article on simple strategies for getting healthy, Leo Babauta, founder of Zen Habits, said to get rid of all the junk food in your house right now. You can always go out and get a particular food when you have a craving, but it won't be on your shelves actively taunting you and testing your willpower.
4. Make Water Or Tea Your Default
OK, this is one that you probably hear all the time, but there's a reason. Babauta said most people rely on sugary or chemical-infused beverages to get them through the day, but making sure you're actually hydrated is one of the easiest and most helpful things you can do for yourself. I personally invested in a super cute water bottle that I really like carrying, and the fact that I'm actually excited to use it means I drink more water than I used to almost every day.
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5. Walk More During Your Commute
POPSUGAR health editor Lizzie Fuhr recommended simply incorporating more walking into you daily routine. "If your commute includes a drive, something as simple as parking your car in the back of the lot is a healthy change worth making," she said. And if you take public transportation to work, try getting off a stop before you usually would and walk the extra few blocks.
6. Always Have Snacks
Healthy snacks, that is. Fuhr recommended simply keeping healthy snacks around at all times so that you don't just go for the unhealthy options that might be more readily available. I personally always keep a bag of carrots in my fridge and try to keep almonds in my bag whenever I run errands. It usually gives me the willpower to hold out until I can get home and eat the healthier options I have there.
7. Buy Frozen Foods
In a piece on smart tips for eating healthy for Today, Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, actually recommended buying frozen fruits and vegetables over fresh ones that spoil quickly. "Most people look at me funny because they know I'm an advocate for fresh food," she said, " [but] fresh food isn't going to do much for you if you don't eat it! Most of us have the best of intentions when it comes to weeknight cooking, but with crazy, busy schedules, we're challenged to cook our fresh produce in the short window it lasts in the refrigerator."
Healthy choices shouldn't make you feel completely restricted, nor should you feel like you're living a life of deprivation. Most of the things we can do that are best for our bodies are actually incredibly simple and don't entail an overnight lifestyle overhaul.
Images: Pexels (2); Moyan Brenn, Sean Freese, Jonathon Pincas, epSos. de/Flickr