After the holidays, many of us start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. If you have not given any thoughts to self-improvement, here are 14 healthy habits for 2014.
1. Wash hands often. Wash your hands not only after using the bathroom and before eating, but also after touching any surface that others have touched (gas pumps, ATMs, handrails). Washing hands is one way to prevent illness this time of year.
2. Stop using tobacco. Tobacco use is responsible for one in five deaths annually (CDC, 2013). Your health will improve soon after quitting tobacco.
3. Get plenty of sleep. Many of us are sleep-deprived, so try going to bed earlier and turn off all distractions to get a restful sleep.
4. Be active every day. Find ways to fit physical activity into your daily routine. Take the stairs, park further away, turn on some music and dance, or do exercises during commercial breaks.
5. Eat more vegetables. Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables and many of us are not getting enough vegetables. Try to revolve your meals and snacks around veggies.
6. Drink plenty of water. Keep a cup of water with you at all times and sip throughout the day.
Replace higher calorie liquids with water. It does take some getting used to, but is much healthier.
7. Help others. Helping others also benefits us. Volunteer, do something nice for a friend or family member, or be kind to a stranger.
8. Practice spirituality. Exercise the spiritual practices that are important to you in order to improve your mind and spiritual wellness.
9. Be positive and grateful. Keep smiling and be grateful. Show gratitude and kindness to others.
10. Learn something new. Pick a topic you are interested in and read a book, participate in a webinar, or take a class. Lifelong learning keeps our minds sharp.
11. Cook at home more and eat together as a family. Portions are bigger and foods are higher in sodium, calories, and fat. You spend more money when you eat out. You can control all of those things by eating at home with your family more often.
12. Cut back on portion sizes. Reduce your normal portions by one-fourth, eat slowly, and see if you are still hungry. Many of us eat larger portions than we need and this is one healthy strategy to try.
13. Read food labels. They are a wealth of information about the ingredients and nutrients in a food. You can find out if the food is a whole grain, if it has trans fat, the amount of sodium, and how much sugar a food contains just from a quick read of the label.
14. Set goals and be patient. Changing habits takes time and persistent. Set long-term goals and break those up into shorter, achievable goals for lasting results.
Page 2 of 2 - If you have questions or ideas for future articles, please contact Melissa Bess, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. Call the Camden County Extension Center at 573-346-2644, stop by our office at 44 Roofener Street, Camdenton, or email Melissa at email@example.com.