The cornerstone to a healthy life is making choices and taking actions each and every day that promote better health and wellness. We’ve reached the middle of January, and many people have already cast their New Year’s Resolutions to the curb. However, making big strides in improving our health doesn’t have to be some grand gesture… It doesn’t have to be some huge mountain to climb. It can be as simple as making healthier choices, one day at a time.
For the rest of the month, I challenge you to explore some healthy daily actions and then choose 2-3 of them that resonate with you personally and work to turn them into new habits. We already know that it is not wise to try to build too many new habits at once, so please keep in mind that this challenge is not about doing all of these actions every single day, rather just trying each one and seeing if you notice that it makes you feel better.
The Healthy Daily Action Challenge starts TODAY!
January 16: Eat the Rainbow – Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners prescribe a colorful diet for their patients, associating certain colors with certain elements. While I know very little about all of that, I do know that eating a colorful plate is one of the very best ways to ensure that you are eating a diet chock full of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrition. The colors to make sure you are eating are black (lentils, black beans, blueberries, blackberries, etc.), yellow (eggs, yellow peppers, mango, yellow tomatoes, etc.), red (red peppers, strawberries, raspberries, red lentils, tomatoes, beets, etc.), white (bananas, cauliflower, egg whites, rice, bread, quinoa, nuts, etc.), and green (avocado, broccoli, green grapes, kiwi, spinach, kale, lettuce, all green vegetables, etc.). Try to eat foods from all five color categories today (ingredients count). Also, the color of the edible part of the food is the color category. For example, a banana is a white food, not yellow. An egg is both white (egg white) and yellow (egg yolk). Make sense?
January 17: Try a New Food – Choose a new healthy food and eat it. For example, maybe you’ve never eaten brussel sprouts. Go buy some at the store and roast them in a hot oven with olive oil and garlic.
January 18: Slow Down – Chew each bite of food at least 20 times before swallowing and put your fork/spoon down between each bite. Savor each bite. Notice if you feel full before you are finished emptying your plate (this is HUGE if you are able to master it… I’m still working on this one).
January 19: Meditate – Download a meditation app or just listen to some instrumental music and sit quietly with your eyes closed for 10-15 minutes and just focus on your breathing.
January 20: Cook Your Meals – Refrain from eating any packaged, processed, or restaurant food today. Cook your meals from scratch. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to prepare a day’s worth of wholesome, nutritious meals.
January 21: Develop a Meal Time Routine – This healthy action is one you will need to do for a few days to get any benefit from it. Pick a time for each your daily meals and stick to that time each day. For instance, Breakfast at 10:00, Lunch at 1:30, and Dinner at 5:00. Your body will get used to eating at those times and can make it less likely for cravings to kick in between meals.
January 22: Clean Out a Cabinet/Drawer/Pantry Shelf – Chaos and clutter are not our friends. Sometimes bringing order into our kitchen starts with the simplest action of just opening a cabinet and cleaning it out. Check expiration dates… when was the last time you used each item… get rid of the unhealthy, processed, sugar-laden crap, etc. You might be surprised at how motivating just one clean cabinet can be to keep going.
January 23: Hungry vs. Starving – We all understand the waves of hunger and riding the wave until the next time you plan to eat is fine but try not to allow yourself to feel like you are “starving” because self-control can go right out the window. If it’s not time for your next meal, have 1 oz of walnuts or macadamia nuts and a cup of tea. It can work miracles!
January 24: Use Smaller Plates – I don’t know about you, but I have trouble with proper portion sizes. One trick I’ve been using that has worked really well for me is to serve my meals on a salad plate rather than a dinner plate. I still get plenty of food, but it’s a reasonable portion instead of a restaurant portion.
January 25: Drink More Water – Ah yes, it always comes back to water, doesn’t it? Today, make sure you are drinking enough water. For most of us that means about a gallon! Try some lemon water – I promise, it’s amazing!
January 26: Eat Your Veggies First – Today, eat the vegetables that are on your plate first at each meal. See if it helps control portion size.
January 27: Planned Leftovers – Prepare enough of one of your meals today to eat as another meal tomorrow. This is a great way to reduce waste, save time and money. And make sure your meals tomorrow are just as nutritious as today’s.
January 28: Meal/Snack Prep – Save time by prepping all your meals in advance so all you have to go is grab, heat, and eat.
January 29: Make Advance Decisions – If you are eating out at a restaurant look up their menu online and decide what you are going to eat before you even sit down at the table. Then you don’t even need a menu when you sit down. You can just order your pre-decided meal. Making advance decisions helps us stay on track when hunger might make us want to choose something unhealthy otherwise.
January 30: Reverse quantities at meals. Traditional thought in the USA has us eat a small breakfast, a moderate lunch, and a larger dinner. Countries that have the lowest incidence of obesity reverse this… Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper. Try this and see what you think.
January 31: Don’t Beat Yourself Up – If you have a bad day, just let it go. None of us are perfect and mis-steps happen. Give yourself some grace and just move on, making proper choices at the next opportunity – not tomorrow, not Monday… Right now.