3 Simple shifts for better health

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If there were three simple things you could do every day to turn your health around, would you do them? What if all three were easy to do, did not take any time and cost you exactly nothing?

Any one of the tips we give you here will improve your health, help you to live for longer and take years off the appearance of aging skin—but together they are a little secret to your inner universe. Are you ready? Of course you are!

1. Make yours NEAT!

We are all strapped for time and getting to the gym isn’t on everyone’s wish list. When you think about it, the official exercise advice tells you to get moving for just one hour per day.

But it’s what you’re doing in the other 15 waking hours that really counts. What you need is more “NEAT”—or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis—which is all the ways you create body heat through movement.

  • Find as many ways as you can to wiggle, tap and move throughout the day. Walk one bus stop, take the stairs for at least one flight or sit on an exercise ball for an hour a day while at work or watching television.
  • Add weight (not your own!) whenever you can to build muscle. Carry a basket around the grocery store instead of using a cart, or strap on a weight belt and stand for your subway ride.
  • Convert your desk to a standing station to reduce your sitting hours in a day.

2. Remove liquid calories

The brain doesn’t process liquid and food calories in the same way. When you chew, your internal food mechanism indicates satiety—but when you sip, nada. And if you add up all the useless calories that come by way of cream and sugar in your coffees, sodas, alcoholic drinks and even juices, you will likely find 300 calories each day that you could do without.(Do that for 11 days and you can lose one pound!) And don’t go switching to aspartame-laden beverages—they’re even worse! Make up a herbal tea and keep it in the fridge to sip all day long.

3. Add half a cup of beans each day

There is now sound evidence that one small serving of beans can make a world of difference to your cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. Beans and pulses (not green beans!) come in lots of forms and are no longer the overnight-soaking pain-in-the-pants they used to be. Here are some ways to work beans in:

  • Serve hummus (made from chickpeas).
    • Hummus is a great dip for afternoon snacks.
    • It comes in a variety of flavours.
    • It’s easy to make at home in a blender.
    • Add a tablespoon to every wrap and sandwich instead of mayo.
  • Add drained, rinsed beans to pasta dishes.
    • White navy beans and lentils work best.
  • Make a large pot of lentil or minestrone soup each week.
    • Store in the freezer in single servings for lunches or appetizers.
  • Top salads with canned kidney beans or chickpeas.
  • Look for bean-based veggie burgers instead of beef burgers.
  • Snack on roasted soybeans instead of nuts or popcorn.

All it takes is a tiny shift in attitude to improve your well-being. Make these healthy-habit decisions once and never look back.

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About Theresa Albert, DHN, RNCP

Theresa Albert is a personal nutritionist, author and food writer based in Toronto.

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