A healthy lifestyle should never mean that we never get to indulge, nor that we should have to live our lives between the gym and the salad bar. In fact there are actually a ton of easy ways to be healthier that really don't have to impact our daily routines all that much, and at the same time will make a big difference in our overall health.
I know I've said it before — I'm often a person who gets in "extreme modes," meaning that when I'm "being healthy" I work out like crazy and eat a super particular diet, only to eventually yo-yo to the opposite extreme, where I eat whatever and whenever I want without thinking about my long-term health and hardly exercise at all. For some reason I get into an "all or nothing" mindset when it comes to my personal fitness, and — perhaps expectedly — this never really pans out.
This is why my goal for the upcoming year is to take a moderate, and most importantly, sustainable approach to health and fitness this year. I want to incorporate realistic healthy changes into my routine, without having to feel like I'm having a lifestyle overall. If any of this sounds familiar or relatable, and you're also looking for totally manageable ways to be healthier day-to-day, here are seven small tips that will make a big difference when it comes to your health:
1. Floss! (Seriously)
Flossing may be the thing that many of us skip when we're super tired, but in a piece for Heathline, Dr. Ann Laurent, owner of a dental practice in Lafayette, Louisiana, said that if you have to skip one, she would actually recommend skipping brushing over flossing. She noted that flossing does a great deal in removing plaque buildup, which can cause gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
2. Don't Drink Caffeine Six Hours Before Bed
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine as early as six hours before bed (and that includes sodas and many teas!) has "important disruptive effects" on our sleep patterns. So if you always wake up feeling tired, switch to non-caffeinated alternatives by mid-afternoon to help ensure you get all the sleep your body needs.
3. Double The Veggies
This is a crazy simple tip from Registered Dietician Sidney Fry on CookingLight.com; when making a recipe, such as a soup or pasta, simply double the amount of vegetables. "You are already doing the prep work; so a little extra chopping can go a long way for your vegetable intake," she said. Plus, she noted that for most recipes the added veggies will not alter the flavor. This also means you'll be doubling all the good-for-you fiber, vitamins, and minerals with each serving.
4. Box Half When Eating Out
A piece on CNN.com about eating healthily while eating out recommended simply asking your waiter to box up half of your meal before it reaches the table. This will prevent you from eating more than your body needs just because it's in front of you. This is especially helpful considering that the average restaurant meal serves at least two people.
5. Alternate Caffeinated Beverages With Water
In a piece for SFgate, sports medicine writer Jan Annigan suggested alternating every caffeinated drink you have each day with a glass of water. "The diuretic effect of caffeine increases your urine output. The more you drink in a short amount of time, the more water you could lose," she said. So keep this in mind after your morning java!
6. Eat Every Two-To-Three Hours
As someone who loves to eat, this particular tip is music to my ears. In a fitness piece for Women's Day, Dallas-based fitness trainer Scott Colby said that going too long between meals is not great for our metabolisms, and that eating a few light snacks every few hours between reasonable meals is actually way better for our bodies than hungrily waiting five or more hours between lunch and dinner.
7. Eat A Salad A Day
In a piece on small diet changes for healthier bodies for Shape, celebrity yoga instructor and creator of Yogalosophy Mandy Ingber recommended simply replacing one meal with a hearty salad every single day, no ifs, ands, or buts. "Replace your lunchtime meal with a large salad loaded with healthy greens," she said. "If you are a meat-eater, add some lean protein. Load your salad with avocado, nuts, and all sorts of veggies that add color to your meal." This will ensure you're always getting a dose of healthful vitamins and minerals, regardless of what you eat the rest of the day.
A healthier lifestyle should never feel out of reach, and in fact, a huge part of the process is often just altering our mindsets about what "healthy" is and implementing small and practical daily changes.