Living A Healthy Lifestyle
Improving our wellbeing doesn’t have to mean giving up our favorite things like good food, great music and legendary festivals. Rather, it means making smart choices so we can enjoy our favorite things even longer. Making small healthy choices every day can improve your energy levels and reduce your chance of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
The foods you eat affect your health, your energy level and the way you feel. Living in a state known for its famous Southern cuisine can make eating healthy a challenge, but following a nutritious diet doesn’t have to be complicated or tasteless.
Tips to Get You Started
Healthy eating habits start at the family table! With a little planning you can make healthy food choices easier for the entire family. Remember, teaching healthy eating habits at an early age can last a lifetime. Small changes towards eating healthy start with balancing your food choices and controlling your portion sizes.
- Drink more water and consume alcohol in moderation if you do so.
- Enjoy the foods you love by monitoring portion sizes to manage your calorie intake.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. They contain essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that will help protect you from chronic diseases.
- Choose 100% whole grains. They have been linked to lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
- Select lean or low-fat protein foods such as chicken, turkey and fish. Limit high fat meats, fried foods, ham, sausage and deli meats.
Good nutrition is also essential in the development and protection of oral health. Maintaining a proper diet from childhood helps sustain healthy teeth and gums. Foods high in carbohydrates and added sugars can contribute greatly to tooth decay and enamel breakdown.
Diets for Managing Chronic Conditions
Making healthy food choices can make a major impact in managing heart disease and diabetes or in protecting your oral health. There are three different types of special diets that could be useful in your journey for managing chronic diseases.
- Diabetic diet: Helps keep residents control their blood sugar levels through smaller and more frequent meals, low in added sugars.
- Hypertension diet: Helps residents manage their blood pressure levels by reducing salt intake and pre-packaged and processed foods.
- Mediterranean diet: Helps residents manage a healthy weight, support a healthy heart and boost mental health through a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish and healthy fats.
Talk with your healthcare provider to see if one of these diets may be a good fit for your lifestyle.
Stay Active, Move More
Research shows that at any age, even a small amount of exercise is beneficial to overall health. An active lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by half, as well as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Consistent exercise regimens can improve cardiovascular health, mental health, respiratory function, immune responses, bone strength and metabolism.
Note: If you have been inactive, always consult your healthcare provider before starting a physical activity program.
We all have different ideas and goals when it comes to our physical activity. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced there is always something new to aim for or try. In combination with healthy eating, physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity improves both your immediate overall health and quality of life now and has lasting effects for the future.
There are four basic categories of physical activity: balance, flexibility (stretching), endurance (aerobic) and strength (resistance training). Implementing physical activity could be as easy as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, moving while watching television, dog walking, biking, swimming, running and more.
Find Balance for Your Overall Wellbeing
To be well is a state of stable physical, emotional and spiritual health. Balancing everyday demands between work and personal life can be challenging and create unwanted stress. Chronic stress can have a serious effect on mental and physical well-being if not managed. For a healthy and balanced life, work to cut down a busy schedule, rethink activities and errands, set priorities and goals, practice relaxation exercises and manage your time.
Practicing emotional wellness and sufficient amount of sleep can impact the overall wellness of an individual. Emotional wellness can be impactful by affecting relationships, the ability to handle conflict and the ability to practice stress management. Sleep plays an important role in both your emotional and physical well-being. If you are not getting adequate sleep on a regular basis you may see decreases in the quality of your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety.
For a good night’s rest, follow these tips:
- Stick to a schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. Spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity, such as reading, to wind down.
- Avoid naps during the day, especially in the afternoon.
- Evaluate your room. An ideal sleep environment is between 60-67 degrees with no light, noise or distractions.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Manage your circadian rhythms. Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning.
View the full list of resources to help you live Well-Ahead.