It’s no secret that bad habits are easy to pick up and hard to break away from.
It’s no secret that bad habits are easy to pick up and hard to break away from. Whether you indulge in a little too much fast food (I’m in a hurry), can’t say no to sugary snacks (I’ll only have one cookie) or regularly blow off the gym (I’ll go tomorrow), bad habits start small and, over time, can play a bigger role in behaviors that can affect your health.
Researchers say that replacing bad habits with good ones requires more than good intentions. To succeed in changing your habits, it’s important to pursue doable behaviors that you can maintain. Here are 5 healthy habits worth adopting and how you can start them today.
Focus on your driving when you’re behind the wheel. Every day, nine Americans are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers. “Look away from the road for a few seconds to program your GPS while driving 25 miles per hour,” says Dr. Joseph Ibrahim, trauma medical director at Orlando Health, “and when you look back up, you may have driven the length of four football fields.” A new Florida law that took effect July 1 bans texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving. It also outlaws talking on cell phones in school and construction zones.
Pick and stick to the right diet. It seems like wherever you look today — on television, in social media and even at restaurants — you’ll see a new diet fad. But trendy diets aren’t for everyone and won’t work universally for every ‘body.’ “It’s important to pick a diet that is right for you,” says Dr. Monique Dieuvil, a family medicine physician with Orlando Health Physician Associates. For some, it’s the Mediterranean diet. For others, it’s keto, low carb or low fat.
Variety in your diet is vital to sticking with good habits, adds Lauren Popeck, a registered dietitian with Orlando Health Physician Associates. “A balance of colorful veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, unsaturated fats and low-fat dairy helps to satisfy hunger and reduce cravings.”
Commit to getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. The number of hours you sleep determines how energetic and successful you will be for the rest of the day, says Dr. Mahmoud F. Bakeer, a pulmonary disease specialist with Orlando Health. Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep by creating a relaxing bedtime routine. This includes turning off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before lights out and keeping your bedroom dark, quiet and cool. It’s also important to rise and shine at the same time daily, even on the weekends.
Make friends with fiber. Fiber helps you feel full, promotes improved gut health and aids in glucose and cholesterol regulation, explains Popeck. An easy way to boost fiber is to plan meatless meals at least one day per week. Forgoing meat, even just once a week, can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
And to keep all that fiber moving through your digestive tract, “don’t forget to add water,” says Dr. Dieuvil. “You should drink one half of your body weight in ounces daily.”
Move mindfully through your day. If you feel like you’re always in a hurry, downshift and put time on your side. For example, set a timer for 20 minutes and sit down to eat your meal, says Popeck. “Take time to chew and notice the different tastes and textures of every bite,” she says. “You'll eat less to feel full and enjoy your meal more.”
Be mindful of your movement, says Dr. Dieuvil. “Add yoga or meditation to your day and aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise.”