If you’re like thousands of other people, you probably struggle to eat healthy, exercise, and generally take care of your body. Most of us sit at a desk for eight hours a day and snack on processed foods that are high in sugars and carbs, so it’s no surprise that we struggle to take care of ourselves—and it’s nothing to be ashamed of because you’re not alone.
According to a study by NPR, one-third of US adults are obese and 80% don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. That number is surprisingly similar in the UK and Canada, with 25.9% of English people and 26.8% of Canadians being classified as obese.
Of course, there are a lot of genetic and environmental factors that can contribute to obesity and other health issues, so it’s important to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or exercise plan. The most important thing to remember about improving your health is that it starts with baby steps. Changing your diet gradually and reducing your consumption of processed foods is a good first step, but it might not be as easy as it seems.
You were probably taught about the essential food groups and the food pyramid in high school, but many of us still default to eating processed foods. It’s easy to fall for the marketing schemes of new health bars and processed foods claiming to be healthy instead of opting for fresh produce. Additionally, the cost of fresh produce has been increasing, and it can be difficult to find time to whip up healthy meals.
Even so, investing some time and energy into preparing fresh food can be worthwhile. You may not even know that some of the foods you’re eating contain high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Microwave meals are a given, but foods like cheese, bread, breakfast cereal, milk, and canned fruits and vegetables are also high in fat, sugar, and salt content. While eating canned fruits and vegetables is better than eating no fruits and vegetables, always opt for fresh produce when available.
Make Cooking Fun
Cooking for yourself doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s okay to set aside time to take care of yourself and prepare a meal that suits your tastes and your health. In fact, prioritizing yourself and recognizing a need for change in your eating habits is key to becoming healthier overall.
If you don’t like cooking or aren’t sure where to start, ask your friends and family members for their favorite recipes. You can also purchase a food subscription box. Start out with a few healthy meals that you know you will enjoy. If you get bored of eating the same thing every day, mix it up by trying out new recipes from different cultures and countries. Each country has its own staple foods and healthy foods, and it could be fun to taste them all.
Take a Daily Multivitamin
Even if you try your best to cook and eat healthily, it can be tough to get all of your necessary vitamins and nutrients from food alone. A good vitamin might contain ingredients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, E, and K, vitamins D2 and D3, vitamins B6, B12, and folate. Folate is a type of vitamin B9 that is naturally found in foods like leafy green vegetables. Is folate the same as folic acid? Not exactly. Folate is the naturally occurring type of B9 while folic acid is a synthetic form of the vitamin found in supplements.
Taking vitamins in the form of a supplement is an easy way to boost your mood and energy during the day while still enjoying the foods that you love.
Create an Exercise Plan
Creating an exercise plan can be fun if you like sports or the outdoors and regularly implement such activities into your daily routine. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, though, it can be more challenging. You don’t need a lot of time or a personal trainer to exercise properly, though. You’ll want to start small instead of jumping right into a full exercise plan. Do a few jumping jacks in between work meetings. Go for a brisk, fast-paced walk during your lunch hour. Take a look at what your fitness-loving friends and family members are doing and ask them for advice, then adapt it to fit your routine. You might see a lot of fitness influencers starting out their day with fifteen minutes of exercise or stretches. While exercising in the morning can be a great way to give you an extra boost of energy for the day, you might prefer to exercise in the evening if you’re a night owl. Once you start moving, you might find that you don’t want to stop.
When transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, you don’t have to completely change your diet and start exercising every day. Taking small steps is the best way to create a consistent routine that challenges you just enough. Start out by taking a multivitamin, talking to a trusted doctor about your intention to become healthier, and eliminating a few processed foods from your diet. If you follow these tips and tricks, you will be well on your way to accomplishing your health goals by the end of 2023.