February is national Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Month, with Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Day being celebrated on 22nd February.
The National Department of Health encourages all South Africans to live healthier lifestyles, through promoting healthy eating, regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco products, and drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all. But can improving our lifestyles have much of an impact on our health? According to the World Health Organization, the good news is that leading a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and strokes and 60% of premature deaths due to cancer *.
To transform poor eating habits into healthy ones, Raeesa Seedat, Registered Dietitian and ADSA spokesperson, says:
Start your day well: Eat breakfast!
Breakfast is linked to improved nutrient intakes, as well as improved concentration and alertness. Studies show that skipping breakfast is associated with increased stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and tiredness.
The sight and smell of food is often enough to tempt us. Avoid keeping tempting but unhealthy foods around the house and avoid the treat aisles in the supermarket.
To avoid impulsive buying, plan your shopping with a budget and a list of what you need to buy and stick to it! If you don't buy unhealthy foods, you won’t eat them.
Research shows that habits that don’t serve us can be overcome with good intentions. For example, having a conscious intention to eat healthier snacks helps to override a habit of making poor food choices.
Do not starve yourself
One of the most common triggers for unhealthy snacking is hunger. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Do not get to the point where you are so hungry you could wolf down anything you get your hands on. Carry healthy snacks such as fruit, plain unsalted nuts or a tub of low fat yoghurt to work or school to snack on.