If you’re into healthy diets or simply cutting down on the sugar, this post will be for you. I talk about several good habits that will benefit your lifestyle as well as your health and suggest ways to become better at breaking old habits. Recently I’ve been trying to change my diet a bit and make some changes as some of the tiredness and general not feeling so great days have been worrying me, and although I have made many attempts at the past in order to properly cut out unhealthy and fatty foods, that isn’t for the best. So, after a few weeks of trying things out, I’m writing about some healthy eating and lifestyle changes that have actually made a difference to my daily life and helped deal with my tiredness, both physically and mentally. Here are the ways I’ve been working on being healthier without splashing out on a gym membership or cutting down completely on the carbs; it’s all fairly easy to do and can be done if you have a little motivation.
Just before reading, you should know that writing about food is NOT my niche and it is simply something that interests me and would fit in nicely with my blog. Please don’t take this post as a guide of what you should and shouldn’t eat because this is just a personal challenge where I try to change old eating habits in order to become a little healthier and maybe improve my mental health. If you want proper answers about good diets, talk to your doctor, a dietician, or go to Google!
#1: More Water
Drinking more water has been something I fall behind in, as I’m one of those people who won’t take a water bottle into most lessons and I definitely don’t remember to drink it regularly throughout the day at home. However, after flavouring it with lemon, lime or cucumber and just making an effort to drink it more frequently, it’s become an easy habit to start implementing. I also think it improves my concentration whilst studying and also my ability to focus in lessons, so it’s a win-win! I now drink around 3 bottles at school, in addition to some in the morning (most mornings…) and green tea, which is a big step up from what I used to drink.
Smoothies are both healthy and taste AMAZING, so this wasn’t a difficult habit to get into. Although they aren’t an everyday food due to high sugar content, I love having a green smoothie when we’re eating out or at the weekend as they’re full of useful vitamins and minerals as well as being one of your five a day. I also feel like they have a lot of energy and whilst it not be the best way to power up, it’s definitely up there. Drinking smoothies mean my five-a-day is more commonly implemented and I am less tired, perhaps due to the important stuff in the drink.
#3: Hot Chocolate Substitute
Hot chocolate or the occasional iced coffee in Costa or Starbucks has been replaced with green tea, which not only has hardly any calories, fat or saturates, it’s bursting with vitamins and has dozens of health benefits. Those include reduced risks of many types of cancer, diabetes, promotion of healthy weight loss, better sleep patterns, allowing better or faster brain function, helping with indigestion and stomach aches, as well as having good mental health benefits. I find that green tea calms me down and it is also a good way to wind down and relax, as well as helping settle my sleep schedule. This is definitely a good way to cut down on the early morning or late night calories as well as unnecessary sugars, plus being genuinely tasty.
#4: Breakfast Swaps
Having an unhealthy and processed breakfast means the first meal of the day only gives you a boost of sugar and no real energy, as well as being high in fat and sugar and just generally unhealthy. Because I have around ten minutes for breakfast per day, I usually just went with whatever was on the table and didn’t question the amount of sugar in processed bakery items, yogurts and fruit juice. After swapping sugary bread products for pitta bread, which I am completely obsessed with, my breakfast has become much healthier. It now consists of green tea or orange juice working on an alternative schedule, as well as pitta bread with butter or houmous. Another food that can replace sugary products is porridge, as it contains carbohydrates and means you will be feeling full for longer; arguably, though, it isn’t the nicest, which is why some may head to the bakery aisle straight away. This provides liquid, without being coffee that may cause other problems, as well as a source of slow-release energy for those long days where you need a boost. Yes, changing a whole meal can be difficult, but I feel a lot healthier after finishing this one than after having a bakery product and sugary juice. If the meal is too much to start, cut down on one food instead and go slowly.
#5: Getting Out More
It can seem like hard work to put on an extra layer and brave the chilly weather at the moment, but really, getting outside a little more often and having some fresh air is SO good for you. This is one I find quite difficult because my school routine means I don’t have that much free time after completing homework, but a half hour walk has been something I’m trying more often. I also have the option to walk an extra fifteen minutes from my bus stop to my house, which provides an extra amount of fresh air, but it’s still something I feel I should do more. As well as doing after school walks, my family tend to make the most of weekends and often spend time outside, which is a good way to reduce stress levels and alleviate any low spirits. I also think that having time to yourself, especially time where you are alone and outside, can allow you to think things through properly and concentrate on yourself, an important way to improve mental health.
#6: More Exercise
This is definitely one I would like to improve because it has so many benefits, all of which are easy to apply to my daily life and see a positive change. Further, my lifestyle enables me to exercise when walking to and from school (between bus journeys) which accounts to around 45 minutes of walking daily, more if I walk home from a bus stop. I’ve also been trying to work out daily, complete stretches to improve my flexibility and enhance my gymnastics ability, and start doing training more often, all of which is good exercise and provides a pretty strenuous workout; in addition to this. a two-hour training session on Saturdays. This means the amount of exercise I do weekly has increased greatly, mainly after restarting gymnastics after an injury.
#7: Home, Not Shop
Eating food at home rather than getting a snack out is SO much better for your healthy, as well as being a great way to save some money. As this was something I did pretty frequently a few weeks ago (sometimes food is just too tempting) it was one of the things that made a big difference, not only in terms of healthy eating but also with money. I’ve saved more than I usually would and began eating when I come home from school rather than before getting the bus; by having a green tea or yogurt at home, it reduces the amount of calories, fat, sugar and saturates and mean you don’t pay extra – win-win. I’d say although a combination of all of these will improve both physical and mental health, this one is easiest to start doing frequently, only requires a little bit of willpower and can start saving you dozens if you really cut back on shop bought food.
#8: Read and Research
I think researching healthy food swaps and the best time to snack meant I was more aware of hacks that will improve and speed up your metabolism, increase brain power and just generally make you healthier; many articles included useful information I didn’t know beforehand and that then helped me to form a good diet with healthy foods and the perfect times to drink water, exercise, snack and eat meals. Studies show having more frequent but smaller portioned meals allow you to burn more calories and lose weight, which isn’t a specific target for me but also reduces fatigue and the chance of dehydration (articles consistently recommend having 1-2 glasses of water with each meal).
#9: Food Substitutes
Being vegetarian, having substitutes that replace the meat and extra protein in your diet is important. Iron tablets provide a good amount of iron (especially important in women) and mean you are less likely to develop certain illnesses that are caused by a weak immune system or fatigue, caused by lack of iron. There are a huge number of substitutes that replace many essential foods and nutrients, or simply keep you energised for long days. Protein and energy bars are good for gym bunnies but can also be perfect for anyone feeling a little lethargic or overly tired, so if you can relate, trying some out could be a step in the right direction. However, as I am often tired but not due to diet issues, my own iron supplements and Well Teen tablets keep me going and provide the right amount of iron; again, I’ve been using these for a while but I definitely can see a mood change after using them.