You don’t need to overhaul your diet and exercise routine in order to become healthier. You can live a healthier life by making small, simple tweaks to your everyday routine. In fact, small changes can have more of an impact on your weight, health, and fitness than any one diet or workout regimen.
“A lot of women believe they need to change everything, but in reality small tweaks to your diet can make a huge difference,” Dawn Jackson Blatner, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, told Fitness. Ready to start making small changes to your everyday routine? Keep reading to discover five easy habits that will make you healthier.
1. Drink water before every meal
Guzzling a glass of water before every meal can help you lose weight, improve your skin, and feel more energized. Not only does drinking more water ensure you’re hydrated, but Self notes that it can also cause you to eat fewer calories. Water takes up space in your stomach and makes you feel full, which means you won’t need to eat as much in order to feel satisfied. In addition, sipping water throughout your meal is a great alternative to the calorie-riddled beverage you may have had otherwise.
“What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake,” Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, author of The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan, told WebMD. Furthermore, Women’s Health states that water helps plump up your skin, causing wrinkles and pores to become less noticeable. Drinking water can also cause you to feel more energized by preventing dehydration, according to WebMD.
2. Make one of your meals healthier each day
Forget fad diets and strict healthy-eating rules. Instead, follow Inc.’s advice and focus on making one meal healthier every day. Not sure which meal to focus on? Inc. suggests giving your lunch a nutritious makeover. Pack a small serving of protein, a side of veggies, and one serving of fruit – for example, packing a chicken breast, some carrots, and an apple; or a can of tuna, a few cucumbers, and a banana would both be nutritious lunch options, explains Inc.
You can also take Help Guide’s approach, which involves making small additions and swaps to at least one meal each day. Add a colorful veggie salad to your dinner, or use olive olive in place of butter when you’re preparing a dish. Once you start eating healthier, there’s a good chance you’ll want to start giving more of your meals nutritious makeovers!
3. Walk more
On average, people spend anywhere from 7.7 to 15 hours a day sitting, according to Just Stand. Sitting for long periods of time can cause several health issues, including obesity and metabolic syndrome, explains Mayo Clinic. Furthermore, too much sitting can also increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: Walk more!
If you can’t fathom setting aside a large chunk of time to get in a workout, there are easy ways to sneak in extra movements throughout the day. Greatist suggests running errands on foot, taking the stairs, parking farther away from your destination, or getting off the subway one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way. It may not seem like much, but that extra movement does make a difference. U.S. News & World Report recommends standing at least once every 30 minutes while you’re at work. During that time, find work activities you can do standing up, like taking telephone calls or discussing a project with a co-worker.
4. Add vegetables to everything
Vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals, states Joy Bauer. The nutrients in vegetables can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, slow bone loss and decrease the risk of fractures, keep your skin healthy as you age, maintain blood pressure control, and keep you feeling full, Joy Bauer explains. With health benefits as noteworthy as these, it’s important to eat as many vegetables as you can each day.
Gaiam Life suggests aiming for five servings of vegetables a day, noting that many of the most powerful phytonutrients are in the veggies with the boldest colors, such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and leafy greens. Greatist recommends getting a tad creative with your veggie consumption: add spinach to your smoothies, cauliflower to your scrambled eggs, or a variety of produce to your mac and cheese. Just remember, every time you prepare a meal, ask yourself: “What vegetables can I toss into this dish?”
5. Get a good night’s sleep
A little extra sleep can drastically improve your health. Not only will it cure your under-eye circles and boost your energy, but Health states that getting adequate amounts of sleep can improve your memory and quality of life, curb inflammation, sharpen your attention, help you maintain a healthy weight, and lower your stress. WebMD explains that an average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep per night, but does note that some people can function with 6 hours of sleep, while others need 9 or more. To determine how much sleep you should be getting each night, the National Sleep Foundation suggests experimenting with your hours of sleep and assessing how you feel each morning.
Make note of whether you are productive and happy when you get seven hours of sleep; if you aren’t, bump it up to 7.5 hours, and continue doing so until you begin to feel energized and healthy throughout the day. If you have trouble sleeping, Gaiam Life recommends trying relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, before going to bed. Eating a small snack, like whole grain cereal with milk, oatmeal, or cherries, can also help, and it’s important to keep your room dark and free of electronics. If you can’t imagine going to bed an hour or two earlier each night, start small. Go to bed 5 or 10 minutes earlier for a week or two and gradually increase the time. Once you notice the boost in your energy and mood, you won’t want to go back to feeling sleep deprived!