World Wellbeing Week is an opportunity for us to evaluate our physical and mental health and what more we can be doing to support our wellness.
What does wellbeing mean to you? Officially it means ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy’. So how could you improve your wellbeing?
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top tips.
Make some dietary tweaks
Trying to make dietary changes too quickly can often be very stressful. And it may be that your diet is pretty healthy, but it just needs improving in certain areas. So, why not resolve to just change one thing?
Each mealtime is an opportunity to re-fuel the body and take in essential nutrients. The body needs 45 nutrients (including water) in any one day, so each mealtime should count. Maybe swap white refined bread and pasta for brown, which will provide much more fibre and essential nutrients. Or cut down on overall sugar content, remembering that many foods have hidden sugars, such as cereals, sauces, baked beans and other tinned and packaged foods.
Sugar in all its forms (and that includes honey) depletes the body of other nutrients and upsets blood sugar balance, making weight more difficult to manage. If sugar is an issue for you, any reductions you can make are going to be positive.
Figure out an exercise plan
It doesn’t need to be formal or involve a gym, but exercise and keeping active is a very important part of overall wellbeing. The body was not intended to be sedentary so it’s just a question of moving around more.
Whether that means scheduling a daily 30-minute walk, taking up a new sport, dancing around the room every hour if you’re working from home, or starting a more formal routine, exercise needs to be planned daily into your day. It’s essential for good circulation, maintaining muscle mass and also helps support mental wellbeing.
Swap bad fats for good fats
Dietary fat is an essential macronutrient. It is not only used as an energy source but is also needed to absorb our fat-soluble vitamins. However, saturated fats, found in butter, red meat and refined foods should be eaten in moderation as they can raise cholesterol levels and cause heart problems.
The essential omega-3 and 6 fats, however, are, as the name suggests, essential, and need to be eaten in the diet. They are utilised for a healthy heart, brain, eyes, joints, and hormones. Oily fish and nuts and seeds are the best sources, so make sure you’re eating these on a regular basis. If your skin is dry, this may also be a sign that you are lacking in omega-3s.
Prioritise mental wellbeing
Thankfully, mental health is no longer a taboo subject and people are openly discussing issues, and hopefully seeking help if needed. However, it’s important that we all check in with ourselves to make sure we are prioritising our mental wellbeing.
Perhaps it’s time to practise meditation; the benefits are enormous, once you’re able to fully engage with it. You will feel more balanced and hopefully less stressed. Even five minutes of daily deep breathing can help alleviate stress. Sometimes the simplest of things can have the most effective results.
Is sleep an issue?
We know that sleep has become even more problematic for many of us since the pandemic, generally caused by anxiety. We also know just how important sleep is for overall health. At the very least, poor sleep encourages production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which is part of the reason we tend to eat more after a poor night’s sleep, making weight gain more likely.
Such is the importance of sleep that a bedtime routine needs to be established. Watching TV or electronic devices stimulates the brain making it more difficult to switch off. Much better is to read a book or magazine an hour before bed.
Having a warm, milky drink before bedtime is not just an old wives’ tale, it has a scientific basis. Milk (plant and dairy) contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is needed to produce the sleep hormone, melatonin. Therefore, it’s a great to have a milky drink about an hour before turning in. Additionally, certain herbs, especially valerian and passionflower are well researched at helping with sleep issues, so don’t be afraid to seek them out in supplement form.
Small changes can have big results when it comes to our health and wellbeing, so try to include a few of these tips into your daily life.
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