It can feel challenging to make meaningful changes in your life, especially ones that stick. To help, we’ve compiled a list of five transformative health and nutrition habits that every Nevadan can incorporate into their daily lives, backed by research from the esteemed halls of Harvard. While simple in theory, these habits hold the power to completely revolutionize your life. Whether you’re eating more greens or learning how to quit smoking, let’s dive into some steps you can take toward a healthier, happier you. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Nevada Health Link blog for more helpful posts.
#1. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
It’s probably no surprise that diet is at the top of our list of best health and nutrition habits, but knowing what, where, when, and how often to eat can be a challenge for even the most health-conscious individuals. Diet has the power to affect every other bodily function and sets the stage for various other health changes you may want to implement, including better sleep or more regular exercise. Research shows that incorporating a more plant-based diet is the best way to decrease your risk for future health problems— that means enjoying more fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, etc., and less fast and fried foods, sweets, sugary drinks, and red or processed meats. Plant-based foods are nutrient-rich and packed with all the good stuff your body needs to function, helping to support your immune system, strengthen your body against infection, and reduce inflammation.
Changing your diet can be daunting, but remember it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Take things one day at a time, and make sure you’re listening to your body’s needs. Don’t forget that cooking methods also affect how healthy a meal is— steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying are the most beneficial ways to cook vegetables.
Nevada Health Link Tips – Getting the Nutrients Your Body Needs
- Protein: beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu
- Omega-3: seeds, leafy greens, soy foods, walnuts
- Fiber: vegetables, fruits, avocados, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, whole grains
- Calcium: certain leafy greens (bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, etc.), almonds, sesame seeds
- Iodine: iodized salt, supplements
- Iron: beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, leafy greens, soy foods, potatoes, quinoa, dried fruit, dark chocolate, seeds
- Zinc: beans, lentils, peas, nuts, soy foods, seeds, oats
- Choline: beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, bananas, broccoli, oats, oranges, quinoa, soy foods
- Folate: leaf greens, almonds, asparagus, avocado, beets, breads, pasta, rice, oranges, quinoa
- Vitamin B12: plant milks, nutritional yeast, supplements
- Vitamin C: berries, citrus, cantaloupe, mango, pineapple, leafy greens, potatoes, peas, bell peppers, tomatoes
- Vitamin D: sunlight, fortified milks, supplements-Vitamin K: leafy greens, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lentils, peas
#2. Move Your Body as Much as Possible
Experts advise 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week, or 30 minutes every day— remember you can break it up however you want, whether that’s two 15-minute sessions or six 5-minute ones. Whichever activity you choose, aim to increase your heart rate, body temperature, and breathing rate.
Consistency is the hardest part of regular exercise, like most habits on this list. Remember that even a little bit of exercise is better than nothing— doing just 10 minutes of activity every day has proven health benefits. Find ways to incorporate more movement into your everyday life, and remember that it all helps improve your overall health, especially down the line!
Nevada Health Link Tips – Easy Ways to Move
- Have a dance party
- Play actively with pets
- Pick up an outdoor hobby (hiking, gardening, etc.)
- Follow along with a workout video
- Do squats when you brush your teeth
- Play a game that requires movement
- Walk around during phone calls
- Take a stroll during your lunch hour
- Park further away from the store entrance
- Take the stairs
- Grab a basket instead of a cart at the store
- Stretch when you wake up and go to bed
- Set an hourly reminder to stand up
#3. Do Your Best to Reach a Healthy Weight
Like exercise, a little bit of weight loss goes a long way when it comes to health. Being at a healthy weight allows for better blood circulation, energy levels, fluid level management, and defense against illness, while obesity can lead to greater risks for debilitating chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, and more.
There are many factors that contribute to the epidemic of obesity, and it remains a complex, personal, and disease. Some risk factors— like those that are environmental, socioeconomic, or genetic— are out of our immediate control. Still, we can make many smaller changes to reach a healthier weight. Remember, minor changes add up!
Perhaps most importantly, never beat yourself up if you don’t meet a goal. Maybe you’re having a bad week and order takeout more than you wanted to. Maybe the pint of ice cream in the freezer looked at you first. That’s okay! Be kind to yourself, and allow mistakes–progress is rarely linear. Don’t forget to visit your doctor or nurse to see what a healthy weight plan and goal looks like for you.
Nevada Health Link Tips – Small Lifestyle Changes That Can Help You Lose Weight
- Keep a food journal
- Limit processed foods
- Prep your own lunch
- Don’t deprive yourself of treats (this can lead to overeating)
- Drink more water
- Get more sleep
- Read food package labels
- Have some tasty fruits and veggies as a snack
- Take a walk with a friend at least once a week
#4. Stop Smoking and Vaping
We probably don’t have to tell you that smoking is bad for you in every way imaginable. Cigarettes are packed with more than 5,000 chemical components, hundreds of them harmful or toxic to human health. Vaping, often touted as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, isn’t much better. Though we don’t have much long-term data on the effects of vaping, emerging studies have shown a link between vaping and chronic lung disease, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Of course, quitting is far easier said than done, and most smokers already have a desire to free themselves from the addiction. 7/10 adults who smoke say they want to quit. And it’s no easy task— nicotine withdrawal can lead to symptoms resembling those of narcotic abuse detoxification. If you or someone you care about is trying to quit, be patient and remember that tobacco dependence is a condition that requires long-term support.
And if you don’t currently smoke? Don’t pick up the habit. There are zero benefits to your mind, body, and bank account, and it will inevitably lead to health complications down the line.
Nevada Health Link Tips – Reminders for Quitting Smoking/Vaping
- Remember vaping is not a healthy alternative to smoking
- Resist the cravings— they will generally only last for 15 minutes
- Talk to your doctor about medications you can take to help quit
- Do your best to avoid environments and situations that trigger your smoking/vaping-Explore FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy products
#5. Stick to Recommended Alcohol Limits
Last but not least, research shows that sticking to recommended alcohol limits— one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Like most things in life, determining when to cut back is a balancing act of benefit and risk. A 2017 study showed that even moderate alcohol consumption can adversely affect the human body and brain, including cognitive decline, brain shrinkage, and increased risk of breast cancer for women. At the same time, moderate drinking is also linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular conditions, gallstones, and diabetes. For many, celebrating or winding down with an alcoholic beverage is a great way to bolster social connections and psychological health. Enjoy in moderation, and learn to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
Nevada Health Link Tips – When Does Alcohol Become Harmful?
- If you are unable to stick to consumption limits you’ve set
- If you frequently experience alcohol-induced amnesia or memory loss
- If you feel unsafe when you drink
- If alcohol is worsening any existing physical or mental health conditions
- If you are taking any medication that could interact poorly with alcohol
- If you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding