3 Essential Joyous Health Habits
People often think that getting healthy is an all-or-nothing deal that will require them to radically change everything about their life overnight. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, making all the changes at once, which can be super overwhelming, is more likely to set you up for failure in the long run, since it’s more tempting to slide back into old habits when you’re overwhelmed.
When people ask me my top tips for getting healthier, I like to give smaller, more manageable tips, especially at first, that people can incorporate easily into their daily lives. This way, they’re more likely to stick. And once you start to notice how much better adopting healthy habits can make you feel, it’s easier to feel jazzed about taking on even more healthy changes!
Here are my top three easy-to-implement habits to start you on your journey to joyous health. Try them out today!
Spend time in nature
Like most animals, we humans have evolved with the assumption that we’d be spending a good deal of our lives in the great outdoors. But these days, modern amenities and lifestyle changes have meant that most of us have very much become indoor creatures.
This change has only happened over the past few centuries, much faster than evolution can keep up with. So while modern living definitely has its benefits, we’re also dealing with the burdens of being outdoor creatures living primarily in an indoor environment.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, pollution levels when you’re indoors can be two to five times higher than the air outside. Since most of us spend 90-95% of our time indoors, that’s a lot of extra toxins we’re exposing our bodies to!
Also, when we’re exposed to artificial light, especially after sundown, our body’s internal clock (the circadian rhythm) gets confused and our overall melatonin levels go down. In the short term, having your circadian rhythms disrupted can lead to sleep disorders, gastrointestinal issues, poor concentration and irritability. In the long term, it can put you at higher risk for certain types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, so having your body’s internal clock keeping good time is about more than just beauty sleep!
Spending time in nature, especially during daylight hours, helps your body’s internal clock reset properly, which not only boosts your mood, but can also reduce inflammation, support your immune system and improve mental health. So make time to get outside – even if it’s just for a few minutes – every day and let your body reset!
Lemon and water in the morning
This has been one of my go-to health-improving habits for a very long time, even before I started training as a holistic nutritionist!
This health habit is so easy to do. Just take half a lemon and squeeze its juice into a tall glass of room-temperature water and drink it first thing in the morning, before you eat anything. (If you’re sensitive to citrus, you can pour a capful of apple cider vinegar into the water instead.)
This recipe may seem too simple to be effective, but check out all the benefits lemon and water has!
- It improves digestion by increasing stomach acid levels, which helps to activate digestive enzymes.
- It decreases constipation. The water keeps you hydrated, because too-dry stools are harder to pass, and the lemon activates those digestive enzymes to keep things moving.
- It increases bile, which helps you better eliminate waste products through the digestive system.
- It reduces bloating.
- It helps increase liver’s detoxifying enzymes.
- It increases alkalinity. Even though lemons are naturally acidic, they have an alkaline effect in the body. A nice counterpoint to the acidifying foods that make up most of the standard American diet.
- It helps prevent heartburn by boosting your digestive capacity.
- It makes skin glow. When you’re detoxing properly on the inside, it shows up beautifully on the outside!
Fill half your plate with veggies
I’m not going to ask you to give up meat or grains entirely. When they come from whole, healthy sources, these food groups can be super nutritious and health-boosting, and can be sources of bioavailable (easy for your body to use) forms of certain nutrients that can be difficult to get anywhere else.
But when it comes to overall nutritional bang for your buck, veggies are where it’s at. You can get almost any vitamin or mineral you need from a vegetable source, if you know where to look. Think dairy’s the only way to get calcium? You can just as easily get it from broccoli! Think you need red meat to get iron? Spinach is one of the best sources out there! (No wonder Popeye was so strong!)
Dark, leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. But you should still try and eat a whole rainbow of veggies, since different colours indicate different health-boosting nutrients. Many of these nutrients (like vitamin C), can be heat-sensitive, so eat them raw when you can for maximum nutrient levels.
So fill half your plate with veggies at every meal and you’ll have plenty of space for that nutrition rainbow!
What little changes got you started on a healthier path? Let me know in the comments below!