Pace yourself on the path to good health

SOUPER FOOD Delicious soups give your health a boost. Picture: Shutterstock

With January safely over, now could be the time to set long-term health goals for the year and beyond, says health and wellbeing expert Monica Price….


January is the winter month known for setting New Year’s resolutions, starting a new diet, and contemplating changes to improve your health and wellbeing.

Yet, rather than setting yourself goals in January that may be difficult to achieve, why not use February to look at more realistic goals to help you to feel better about yourself.

Try the SMART approach – Small, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

Starting with food, instead of starting a new ‘fad’ diet, simply make your diet healthier – by adding more fruit, vegetables, fish, lean meats and plant-based foods to your weekly menu.

Cut down on your sugary food and drink. Too much sugar in your diet can not only lead to weight gain, but also affects the way your pancreas produces insulin, increasing your risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Use your freezer as your friend and cook more than you usually do. You can then portion these into containers and you are ready to have a healthy meal in minutes when you don’t really want to cook.

Try making delicious and tasty vegetable soups. You can add any leftover vegetables, beans, lentils, spinach, watercress, onion and garlic for a dish packed with essential nutrients.

Instead of eating your fruit cold, why not slice and warm it up? Good choices are apples, fresh or frozen berries, pineapple or orange. These can easily be frozen so you have them to hand.

Try swapping just one or two of your snacks high in fat, sugar and salt to a healthier option.

Keep your body hydrated and drink more water. Your body is mostly made up of water – nearly two-thirds – so it’s important to aim for six to eight glasses a day. Try having a glass of water, instead of a fizzy drink or coffee for example. Add fresh fruit to your water to change the flavour. Hydration is needed for your heart and circulation, digestion, for temperature control and for our brain to work well.

Moving on to exercise, in these darker days do try to go outdoors as much as you can during daylight hours, and embrace nature.

A short walk or cycle ride is not only good for your body, but exercise helps to release endorphins and contributes towards a better mood and wellbeing.

If you are unable to go outdoors, make sure you have plenty of indoor plants. They not only look nice, but research has found that friendly bacteria in plant soil (Mycobacterium vaccae) trigger the release of serotonin, which can help alleviate symptoms of low mood and depression.

Variety is important, so take up a new hobby that you really enjoy. You are more likely to stick to it if it’s something that makes you happy.

Remember – you have a whole new year to make changes, so treat your New Year as a marathon, rather than a sprint.

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