The habits we do every single day can have a drastic impact on our health.
Habits such as exercising daily or eating breakfast each morning can be beneficial, and others like smoking or drinking soda each day can be harmful.
Think of the habits you do each day.
Are they helping you reach your health goals, or bringing you further away?
Below are five common health habits that many people do on a daily basis, along with healthier habits to replace them with.
Five Health Habits to Replace
1. Skipping Meals
Many people skip meals to cut calories, but it does more harm than good.
When we skip meals it causes our blood sugar to drop leading to more sugar cravings, fatigue, and overeating later on.
As a result, this can lead to weight gain vs. weight loss.
What to do instead:Eat every 3-4 hours to keep blood sugars balanced. This includes three meals plus snacks in between as needed.
2. Not Drinking Enough Water
About 60% of our body is made up of water, so drinking enough water each day is essential.
Staying hydrated is important for delivering oxygen to our cells, flushing out toxins, regulating body temperature, and supporting weight loss.
What to do instead: Skip the sugary beverages such as fruit juices, energy drinks or sweetened teas and coffee beverages and aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, an individual weighing 160 lbs should drink at least 80 ounces of water each day.
Here are some simple ways to help you drink more water:
Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
Keep a water bottle with you wherever you go (opt for stainless steel or glass water bottles)
Drink water before each meal
Use a water apps to help you keep track of how much you’re drinking
3. Mindless Eating
Do you find yourself eating your meals in your car, at your desk or on the couch?
This is what I call mindless eating.
When we eat with distractions around us such as the television or computer, it's easy to eat quickly and eat too much.
That’s because it can take twenty minutes for our brains to recognize when we’re full, so when we’re distracted, it’s easy to eat quickly and more than we need to.
What to do instead: Limit distractions at your meals. This could mean eating your lunch away from your desk or turning off the television at dinner. Additionally, focus on slowing down while eating. You can do this by setting a timer for 20 minutes, or putting your utensils down between each bite.
4. Not Taking Time For Self-Care
Life can get hectic, and it’s easy to push self-care to the back burner.
Unfortunately, when we don’t take time to recharge our batteries, we often feel more stressed and tired; leading to an increased risk for chronic diseases and falling off track with our health goals.
What to do instead:Schedule at least ten minutes of self-care every single day. Whatever it may be, find something you enjoy doing and can incorporate on a daily basis.
Some ideas include:
Stretching each morning
Reading a book
Doing a short workout
Going on a walk
Listening to a podcast
Calling a friend
Taking a bath
5. Skipping Out On Sleep
Sleep is a critical part of our health because it’s the time when our bodies are getting recharged.
Not getting enough sleep at night can impact our weight, energy levels, hormones, and moods in a negative way.
What to do instead: Opt for eight hours of solid sleep each night. Ways to help you get more sleep include setting a consistent sleep schedule and sticking to it, limiting light exposure or eating before bed, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, and keeping the bedroom dark and on the cooler side.
Remember that habits aren’t going to change overnight. In fact, one study found that it can take over two months to form a habit (1).
That’s why I encourage you to focus on changing one habit at a time, and remember that the small changes can make a big difference in your health.
What’s one habit you want to replace? Comment below!
Autumn Enloe, MS, RD, LD, CLT
Autumn Enloe is a registered dietitian in Minnesota. She has a private practice where she focuses on helping women take care of themselves through proper nutrition, supplement and lifestyle adjustments. She provides remote nutrition coaching and frequently posts free nutrition content and recipes at her website: www.autumnenloe.com. ________________________________________________