An article from Health Plus on making New Year resolutions.
It’s thought that over 25% of the population makes New Year’s resolutions each year, with the top three resolutions all focusing on health and diet. Despite such optimism, only a quarter of those who set New Year goals, manage to stick to them. Here, Simon Bandy of nutritional supplement specialists Health Plus, highlights what health resolutions we should be setting and when if we really want to form new habits..
· Eat porridge and risotto – If you want to get more vitamins and fibre into your diet, eating porridge or barley risotto is an easy and delicious way to achieve this. A nourishing bowl of something hot is just what you need on a chilly day. The goodness in these winter grains can help maintain blood glucose levels, keep hunger at bay and slow gastro-intestinal transit—fantastic benefits and all you have to do is eat!
· Get outdoors – The lack of sunlight during winter can disrupt our sleep and waking cycles. No matter the weather, try and get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible. Country walks have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, while other benefits include expending more calories (your body consumes more calories when it’s cold), and boosting the capacity of your heart; when it’s cold, the body seeks to maintain its internal temperature at a constant level of about 37°C, by increasing the flow of blood. The heart will therefore pump more quickly and become stronger. It’s also thought that practising power walking in winter can reduce illness as your body will gradually get used to the cold and strengthen its defences to attack winter germs.
· Visit the farmers’ market – An easy way to kick-start your spring health goals is to increase your servings of non-starchy vegetables and fresh fruits. This is the perfect time of year to check out your local farmers’ markets and experience the health benefits that shopping locally can provide. The food there will have normally been grown locally, be in season, and picked that morning or the day before, so it’s fresher than anything you could get at a supermarket, and therefore higher in nutrients and antioxidants. Furthermore, you’ll be able to experience some amazing spring produce, such as artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, gooseberries, rhubarb and more (all of which have additional health benefits in their own right).
· Clear the mind – Working on your mental health is important no matter the time of year. However, for those who may not have thought about their mind’s activity before, spring can be a great time to start, thanks to the warmer weather, lighter nights and the awakening of new life. The practice of mindfulness can benefit your health in so many ways from relieving stress and lowering blood pressure, to treating chronic pain, alleviating gastrointestinal difficulties, and improving sleep. Anyone can practice mindfulness and the charity Mind offers some great exercises and tips to get you started.
· Quit smoking – A lot of people set New Year’s Day as the date to stop smoking. However, summer can be a much better time to quit; daily routines change with more sunshine, making us feel more relaxed, so smoking triggers are less frequent. Holidays home or away can also help as key components of your day change. That quick morning coffee and a cigarette may become a relaxed breakfast of juices and pastries, for instance, without the association of the cigarette. Activities also differ, distracting you from your usual habits and triggers.
· Reduce screen time – Smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions—too much screen time can really affect our health from reducing brain functionality, causing eye strain, promoting poor posture, and increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and even depression. Summer is an ideal time to give our bodies a break and put some simple changes in place that can hopefully be carried through, or adapted, to suit all year round. Suggestions include: not eating in front of a screen—make the most of the warmer nights and enjoy alfresco dining; putting a ban on your phone and laptop—use the lighter evenings to read a book, go for a stroll, play a game of tennis, or take up a new craft hobby; and meeting face to face rather than texting or using social media to catch up—the days are longer in the summer so there’s more time for morning coffee chats or an evening drink in the local pub.
· Love your liver – With Christmas around the corner your liver may be put to the test. Autumn is a great time of year to start introducing small changes to your diet that will not only benefit your liver over the festive season but will also help detox your body long term. Try cutting down on caffeine and setting yourself goals for drinking more water. Consider taking supplements like Liver Kind which are high in vitamins, minerals, artichoke and key amino acids—great for helping to detoxify the body and eliminate harmful chemicals.
· Go to bed –It’s not just children that should have a regular bedtime; adults can benefit too. A little structure when it comes to bedtime can aid weight loss, lower blood sugar and blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Going to bed and waking up at a regular time every day can also help maintain a well-functioning metabolism. Winter is the perfect time to introduce your body to a new routine; not only do the darker nights naturally make us sleepier, but our bodies also generally sleep better when it’s a little cooler.