Small Changes You Can Make to Improve Your Health

Are you thinking about starting a trendy new diet or picking up a grueling fitness regimen? It’s good to make decisions to improve your health. Making radical changes in your life can be intimidating; it can be difficult to maintain a new lifestyle, and it’s discouraging if you can’t stick with it.

If you find it difficult to make lasting lifestyle changes, start by making small adjustments. Even small lifestyle changes can lead to positive health outcomes and an improved quality of life. Establish healthy habits that you can build upon. Click To Tweet

You don’t have to drastically overhaul your life in order to get healthy. Even small lifestyle changes can lead to positive health outcomes and an improved quality of life. For example, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your weight can help prevent disease and chronic health problems if you’re obese.

As you establish healthy habits, it becomes easier to build a healthy lifestyle. Start with some of the small, achievable changes on this list, and build on your victories!

Add vegetables to your plate

Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables — about 30 percent vegetable and 20 percent fruit. However, only 9 percent of American adults eat enough fruits and vegetables. Make a conscious effort to eat at least one fruit or vegetable with each meal.

A diet rich in produce can reduce your risk for many chronic diseases and illnesses. Fresh, frozen, and canned produce all provide important nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.

Try a new fruit or vegetable each week

No single food provides all of the different nutrients you need for good health. Try a different fruit or vegetable each week to get a variety of nutrients, learn about new foods, and find new healthy foods to enjoy. Let your kids help find something new to try in the produce section each week.

Check out our Pinterest boards to find great recipes for lots of fruits and veggies!

Keep healthy snacks in your home and office

Don’t just toss the junk food from your pantry and remove unhealthy snacks from your workplace — you may be tempted to visit drive through or grab something sweet or savory from the convenience store when you get hungry.

Replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones such as plain or lightly salted popcorn, fresh fruits and vegetables, or nuts.

Don’t eat out of packages

What does a serving of chips, pretzels, or almonds look like? Dishing out a snack instead of eating from the box or bag helps your see just how much you’re eating.

You’ll enjoy your snacks more, too, when you pay attention. When you just keep reaching into a bag till it’s empty, you’re probably not getting the maximum pleasure from your snack.

Use a smaller dish

Eat snacks and meals in a smaller bowl or on a smaller plate to manage portion size and help prevent overeating. Again, making a cookie or two into a real treat helps you really enjoy eating instead of getting into a pattern of mindless eating.

Slow down while eating

Eating too quickly is associated with overeating and weight gain. Slow down and enjoy your meal; this can help make sure you eat the correct amount, and help you feel more satisfied and less hungry after eating.

Drink more water

Make a point to replace sodas, caffeinated drinks, and sweetened beverages with water. This eliminates extra calories, sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, and caffeine.

Move more and sit less

Exercise is good for your health, but you shouldn’t reserve physical activity just for exercise

The 2018 update to Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans states that every minute of activity counts towards your daily total for physical activity; the more you move the greater the health benefits.

Find ways to be physically active throughout the day: take walking breaks, use the stairs instead of the elevator, choose the scenic route to get to your destination.

Improve your sleep quality

The CDC reports that more than one-third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Maybe you can’t add to the amount of time that you sleep each night. Improving the quality of sleep that you get is simple, however.

  • Your sleep environment should be quiet and dark — turn off lights, television, etc.
  • Sleep in an agreeable temperature with a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Reserve your bed for sleep so you associate your bed with sleep.
  • Establish a routine sleep schedule.
  • Unwind with relaxing, non-electronic, activities before bed.

Find time for a healthy hobby

We live in a fast-paced world where we’re constantly on the go. It’s easy to start feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, and finding time for relaxation is important. Read, paint, play an instrument, learn a new skill, or practice a sport — do something that brings you joy and that you find relaxing.

Focus on positives rather than negatives

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of negative thought, getting upset about everything that’s going wrong in life. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your life and the things that are going well.

One way to do this is with a gratitude journal, where you can make a point of writing something you’re grateful for each day. Or just get in the habit of counting your blessings when you have to wait in traffic or in a waiting room.

Live purposefully

Be mindful about how you eat, how much you move, how much you sleep, stress levels, coping mechanisms, etc. Simply being aware of your habits and the decisions that you make can help you make positive, healthy decisions.

Visit your primary care physician

Scheduling an annual wellness exam with your primary care doctor is simple and easy way to improve your health. Your primary care physician will guide you in making healthy decisions that will improve your quality of life. Request an appointment with a doctor in Northwest Arkansas.