7 Steps to a Happier, Healthier You!

As I was walking through the food court in my local shopping center today, I was looking for something decent to eat for lunch. I couldn't help but notice the small amount of options for nutritious foods.

Making healthy decisions that will benefit your health can always be a challenge when eating out. I couldn't help but notice the vast majority of people choosing to opt for a cheeseburger or deep fried chicken nuggets along side your soft drink of choice. From what  noticed, these food choices were made because they were fast, accessible, cheap and taste good. However, these food choices have really bad long term affects on our health and lead to a number of illnesses which can be prevented.

Personally, I completely understand how easy it can be to make poor food choices when you're out, in a rush or eating socially. No one is perfect and I certainly dont claim to be, however, I have personally experienced the positive benefits of mindful eating. By listening to my body's needs, I have seen the benefits of my food choices in all aspects of my life.

My journey to better health is ongoing and evolving. I have attempted many different fad diets and ways of eating. It can be so hard to know who or what to believe when walking into books stores and seeing so many different diets telling you to eat this not that, dont eat fat, or why you shouldn't eat sugar! It can be overwhelming and all kinds of confusing!

I believe that listening to our bodies is the key, our bodies know what they need to thrive. Each day is a journey and an opportunity to make positive changes to our health and daily eating habits. There is no point beating yourself up if you slip up and make bad food choices. The most important thing to remember is that consistency is the key, and your already half way there by making the mental decision to be mindful with your eating. Before you put each item of food into your mouth, ask yourself 'Is this food going to nourish me?', or 'Is this food going to have bad effects on my health?'.

Transform your life one meal at a time, each time you eat you get to choose if the food you are eating is going to help your body to thrive. Making small changes each day is essential for long term results, especially if you find it overwhelming to completely change the contents of your pantry overnight!

Here are my suggestions of small changes you can make to a happier, healthier you:

1. Prepare your meals

Prepare your meals the night before, or at the start of the week if you know you'll be too busy. Preparation is the key!

2. If you are a snacker, make sure you opt for healthier snacks.

e.g veggie sticks, fruit (or low GI fruits for weight loss), nuts, seeds, quinoa crisp bread, sushi, ants on a log (peanut butter on celery w/ sugar free sultanas), trail bars (with no added sugar), 85% dark chocolate, rice paper rolls etc.

3. When eating out, avoid fast fried food outlets unless they offer healthy options.

Sitting down at a small cafe being able to order your choice of salad, grilled protein or a freshly made wholemeal sandwich may only cost a dollar or 2 more than a meal at McDonalds or Hungry Jacks. If you have no other option, then substitute water for your soft drink. See if you can get a grilled option, don't add the extra sauce and say no to 'fries with that'. Be mindful of your portion size, as one size doesn't fit all. If fast food is your only option, dont beat yourself up over it but try to avoid making a habit of it.

4. Limit your alcohol intake

Personally I drink it every few months as a once off or on special occasions. Opt for 1-2 glasses of red wine or vodka with mineral water and a fresh lime. Avoid cruisers and mixers as they contain large amounts of sugar.

5. Exercise

Try to get moving each day or do incidental exercise (such as parking further away from the shops, cleaning the house, lifting a toddler/baby (if you have one) or standing instead of sitting).

6. Eat more greens, fresh fruits and vegetables

This should help boost your vitamin and nutrient intake (try freshly squeezed juices for a vitamin hit!).

Drink more water!

Start your day with warm water and freshly squeezed lemon juice to wake up your digestive system. Keep your cells hydrated throughout the day, aim for 2 litres of water per day and more in summer!