Living a healthy lifestyle is something many of us aspire to. We often plan on making healthier decisions, promising to ourselves that we’ll start the next day, next week, or next month. Even our New Year’s Resolutions revolve around getting healthier, exercising more, cooking more at home, and start meditating.
The thing is, many of us feel like they don’t have the time or willpower to stick to our plans and go about these healthy decisions. While making lifestyle changes isn’t an easy feat, even the smallest steps will eventually help us reach our health goals. With that in mind, here are small health changes you can make today and make a big difference tomorrow.
1. Cut out sugar and rely on natural sweeteners
We all know that sugar isn’t a particularly healthy ingredient in our diet. We also know that a lot of the food we consume on a daily basis is packed with sugar – even the food we don’t expect to find sugar in (e.g. pasta sauces, salad dressings, and canned soups). Still, despite all the bad health effects sugar has on our body, we continue to indulge in sweets and sugary drinks.
To cut out or at least limit the amount of sugar you take in, consider swapping it for fruit. Bananas, dates, grapes, and watermelon, along with honey, agave, and maple syrup are all great natural sweeteners that can help cut excess sugar from your diet without sacrificing flavor.
2. Have a vegetarian meal at least once a week
Speaking of making healthier dietary choices, another small health change you should consider making is trying to reduce your consumption of meat. Going plant-based brings a plethora of health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It’s also better for the environment as it reduces GHG emissions, not to mention how eating plant-based can help cut your grocery bill.
Try implementing a vegetarian meal at least once a week. You can practice Meatless Mondays and start your week meat-free. You can also find meat alternatives such as brown or green lentils that you can include in your meals more often. If you want, you can buddy up with a friend, coworker, or a family member to maintain motivation and swap healthy vegan/vegetarian recipes.
3. Replace your regular cigarette with a tobacco-free vape pen
The harmful effects of smoking are widely known. In addition to being detrimental to our own health, cigarettes are also harmful to other people as well as the environment. Considering how smoking leads to lung cancer, stroke, and heart disease, and reduces longevity and overall quality of life, ditching this bad habit seems like a logical choice.
To combat this habit, many smokers turn to vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking. Nowadays, there are vaping products that contain low doses of nicotine but not tobacco, and they come in many flavors to make the vaping experience more pleasurable. All you need to do is get the best disposable vape pen you can find on the market and start reducing your nicotine intake. After a while, you may discover that your body isn’t craving cigarettes anymore.
4. Limit your screen time and read a book instead
Excessive screen time is a problem many of us face on a daily basis, sometimes without even realizing it. Spending large portions of our days sitting in front of a screen, whether for work, school, or entertainment, is very harmful to our overall health in the long run, but especially our eyes.
Nowadays when most of our time is spent indulging in mindless activities such as scrolling through social media and watching TV, one of the most effective ways to limit screen time and improve mental focus is to simply turn to more productive activities such as reading a book. You can also try meditating, writing, or learning a new language or instrument. As long as it takes your eyes off the screen, anything goes.
5. Stop skimping on sleep and aim for at least seven hours each night
Screen time isn’t only responsible for causing physical strain and eye damage – it is also one of the contributing factors to poor sleep experience. Many of us don’t get nearly as much restful sleep as our bodies require. While the reasons for sleep deprivation are numerous, it’s important not to let it become a habit.
Try to identify what causes you to skimp on sleep. Then, make necessary changes that will allow for restful, restorative sleep each night. This can mean modifying your sleep environment, trying different breathing techniques, and engaging in relaxing activities before bedtime. Aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and you’ll quickly notice improvements in terms of your mood, energy, and mental and physical performance.
Getting ourselves to make a healthy and positive change in our lifestyle can feel daunting and overwhelming at times. However, once you consider the long-term benefits of these small changes, you’ll realize that taking baby steps definitely pays off in the long run.