‘Healthy living is a long-term commitment, but taking small steps at a time can pave a way for a healthier tomorrow’.
Lifestyle means the way of life – the behavior, practices and activities of an individual or a community put to practice in their day to day life. Healthy lifestyle encompasses those practices which have a positive or beneficial effect on our health – physical, mental, or social.
Promoting a healthy style is both helpful in preventing and curing diseases, and achieving maximum health. Malnutrition, unhealthy diet, increased weight, smoking, alcohol consumption, drug abuse, physical inactivity, stress, etc., are some of the characteristics of an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, obesity and other chronic disease like diabetes, cardio-arterial diseases, hypertension, hyperlipidemia are all called lifestyle diseases, and taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle will keep you away from all these diseases. Improving on these means improve the quality of life.
In order to achieve a health promoting lifestyle, certain behavioral modifications may be required, such as incorporating some amount of physical activity in the daily life, inclusion of certain foods and drinks which have proven health benefits, avoid smoking and drug abuse, and so on.
A healthy diet and physical activity are the two most important part of a healthy lifestyle. This would mean eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins and have fewer but healthy calories. By healthy calories it is meant that these should come from complex carbohydrates and not from fatty, fried foods or from foods giving only empty calories like sweetened sodas, fast foods with refined carbohydrates etc. Along with this, it is also important to incorporate some amount of daily physical activity.
Here are some tips that can help you make the changes required for a healthy lifestyle and keep you on track :
- Select foods that are both low in refined sugars and carbohydrates, minimize the consumption of sugary drinks like juices, sweetened sodas, breads or pastas made from refined flour. Instead, include whole wheat or multi grain breads, whole grain breakfast cereals like oats, wheat flakes and whole fruits.
- Choose foods that have a minimum amount of unhealthy fats. Foods that are baked, fried and frozen have trans fats which are not good for health. Also, avoid foods that have too many saturated fats, like red meats, pizzas and other fast foods. It is better to include fish, nuts and low fat dairy products in the daily diet.
- Eat a variety of whole fresh foods instead of packaged or processed foods. Avoid processed cheese, meats and juices, rather include fresh whole fruits, salads, sprouts, etc. include lots of vegetables and beans in your daily diet.
- Eat smaller frequent meals rather than bigger infrequent meals in order to be able to get a benefit of all nutrients. It also helps to maintain a healthy weight. Most Dieticians and Nutritionists would suggest a 6 meal pattern with 3 main meals and 3 high- fiber-nutrient- dense-low- calorie in between snacks. Make healthier snack choices, like eating fruits, nuts or salads instead of a fried in-between snacks. Also, reduce the portion size of each meal.
- Drink a minimum of 10 glasses of water (liquids) daily. This can include lemon water, green tea, fresh coconut water, butter milk, soups, etc. This however, does not include the daily dose of tea and coffee. In fact, Green tea has shown many great benefits when incorporated along with other lifestyle changes, in causing both weight loss and weight management, especially if consumed with lemon early in the morning.
- Along with all this, a regular exercise regime is also very important. The trick to making the lifestyle healthier is by making smaller healthier changes every day, like taking stairs instead of a lift, walking to someone’s desk rather than sending an e-mail, parking furthest from the building and walking to your desk, etc.
- Quit smoking and other substance abuse. Addiction to such things is considered as an unhealthy lifestyle.
- Proper sleep and recreation are also the essential characteristics of a healthy lifestyle.
As per WHO’s definition, health is not mere absence of disease, but a state of total physical, mental and social wellbeing. This encompasses maintaining a healthy weight, avoidance of substance abuse, following an overall healthy regimen, making healthier food choices and including some amount of physical activity in daily life.
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