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Little things help achieve healthy lifestyle

by MaryLou Morris

For many of us this time of year is a period of reflection and renewal. We take a closer look at ourselves and review our health-related goals.

For instance, some may want to lose weight, exercise more or reduce stress. And as we decide on our goals, we may look at our past attempts and recognize times that we were unsuccessful.

Instead of criticizing ourselves we could use this opportunity to come up with a few achievable and realistic behaviours that may lead to success. Here are some little tips that can mean a lot when it comes to your health.

Getting more rest:

- set a regular bedtime;

- reduce caffeine and alcohol intake;

- choose quiet activities and reduce screen time an hour before bed;

- try to eat your dinner a few hours before your bedtime;

- avoid having your electronic devices in your bedroom; and

- try to exercise during the day to promote a more restful sleep.

Healthy eating:

- eat more vegetables (cooked or raw) by trying to fill half of your plate with them. According to one of our dietitians, “eating your vegetables first helps”;

- making homemade vegetable soup is a great way of including more vegetables at this time of year;

- use a smaller plate to help control portions;

- plan and prepare a few meals/snacks ahead of time on your days off by cutting up vegetables, boiling some eggs and choosing fruits that are easily portable;

- experiment by trying a plant-based meal, using legumes, once a week;

- eat breakfast by choosing something quick, if necessary, like a boiled egg and two clementines or a piece of toast with peanut butter;

- drink your water, start with a glass of water at each meal and then add a few more glasses during the day;

- choose a fruit for dessert; and

- follow the “80-20” rule: make healthy food choices 80% of the time and allow yourself some treats 20% of the time.

Becoming more active:

- check with your healthcare provider to ensure that there aren’t any medical reasons that would interfere with your goal of increasing your activity level;

- reduce your sitting time by getting up during commercials when watching TV or setting your cell phone timer to remind yourself to put your device down and move; and

- if you like to walk but are reluctant to start in the winter, check to see if your local arena offers indoor walking or invest in a few worthwhile items like boots that have a flexible sole with a good tread (some are designed to prevent slipping on ice), traction cleats for walking, warm clothing that you can layer, a walking stick that folds to help prevent falls and a reflective vest for safety when it’s dark out.

Managing stress:

- make yourself a priority, schedule in some “me time”;

- try breathing exercises;

- learn to meditate;

- try yoga;

- journal;

- practice mindfulness; and

- exercise - besides promoting a more restful sleep, it can help reduce stress.

These are just a few ideas for healthy behaviours. You may find starting with just a few will lead to increased self-confidence, motivation and improved energy. As you succeed, you can add more.

Also, there are some online resources to consider:

- Dietitians of Canada;

- Eatright Ontario,;

- Diabetes Canada,;

- Heart and Stroke Foundation,;

- Center for Mindful Eating,; and

- for plant-based meal ideas,

Check with your local Family Health Team - it may be offering some of these classes: Healthy You, Better Sleep, Boosting Balance, Cooking Classes and Craving Change.  

For more information about the free services offered by your local family health team ask your doctor or nurse practitioner, visit the website or google “family health team locations.”

MaryLou Morris is a diabetes nurse educator with North Wellington Health Care.


January 11, 2019


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