Small Changes Matter - Baby Steps to Better Health
Updated: Mar 25
Over the last century there have been drastic changes in nutritional intakes and health. Modern world has unfortunately adapted to consumption of foods that have adverse effects on health. Globalization and change in lifestyle habits have presented many with a plethora of choices in foods. In contrast it has also marginalized a part of society, that still does not get enough food to meet their daily nutrient requirements. Over the years, the processed food industry has introduced products that trigger the release of Dopamine (the feel good hormone) to heavily influence the consumer's food purchasing and consumption pattern.
What we choose to eat on a regular basis has a huge impact on our long term physical and mental health. In order to lead a fit, active and healthy lifestyle it is very important to ensure that we have balanced meals, constituting the right amounts of all nutrients needed by our body. Besides this, drinking enough water through the day and engaging in some form of regular physical activity is also very important.
Many people today are trying to make health and lifestyle changes for various reasons. The most common reasons being: weight loss, a personal health goal, medical issues, for maintenance of good health and so on. The growing rates of obesity and the existence of undernutrition are major causes for concern. However, the number of people suffering from lifestyle disease caused by low levels of physical activity and avoidable nutritional deficiencies are becoming a burden on the healthcare system.
As with any aspect of life, change is difficult, especially in the realm of food choices. Humans are creatures of habit, good or bad, even when it comes to food. Thus making changes in an aspect of life that we all identify with from a very early age can be more difficult. Strictly controlling food intake and making rigid rules for behaviour change can lead to stress in many, overriding their conscious control. It can lead to unhealthy snacking as well as overeating. In order to make sustainable behaviour change around food habits it is better to take small steps towards our goals. Slow, steady and consistent efforts will definitely help in making sustainable positive changes in our behaviour around food. Focusing more on restraint rather than restriction, progress rather than perfection and small wins rather than just the end goal are the crux of attaining a sustainable change in one's health.
Try the following tips and techniques to help build healthy eating habits, eliminate overeating and adopt a healthy lifestyle:
Eat a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables.
Include a variety of whole grains as a part of your nutrition plan.
Sit down and eat mindfully without distractions.
Take small bites and chew well, while focusing on the smell, taste and texture of the food.
Try to get 30 chews out of each bite.
Paying attention to portion size will help us not to consume too many calories. We can enjoy our favourite foods occasionally as long as we are having them in small portions.
Keep yourself well-hydrated throughout the day. Body is majorly composed of water and inadequate water intake will lead to dehydration which manifests itself as hunger and thus the cravings.
Pack a healthy lunch and snacks for work. This lets you have more control over what you eat.
Limit foods that are very salty, sugary and oily.
Put your snacks on a plate instead of eating from the package. This helps you control how much of it you eat.
Don't skip or delay meals. Ignoring your feelings of hunger, may lead to unhealthy snacking or overeating.
Keep tempting foods out of the house and stock the pantry with tasty, healthy alternatives.
Eat a bowl of salad before every meal. This not only keeps your gut healthy and aids digestion, it also prevents overeating.
A regular practice of maintaining a food journal and journaling can increase mindfulness, accountability, and responsibility all at the same time.
Use smaller plates that could help your portion control.
Shop for groceries only after eating your meal. Shopping on a full stomach can drastically cut down on the food impulse buys and we avoid buying junk foods.
Don't beat all your cravings. Once in a while eat a cheat meal with small portions of your favourite foods, but mind your portion size.
Surround yourself with a community of like-minded, healthy way of life individuals who see the value in eating well every day.
Try experimenting with the 21-day rule. It takes a minimum of 21 days to make or break a habit. Take this challenge and eat healthy food for 21 days. You will eventually opt for healthy foods and automatically avoid the 'junk'.
It is important to engage in some form of moderate physical activity everyday. Ensure a minimum of 150 minutes per week.