Diet Nutrition

Nutrition tips to improve your health

A healthy lifestyle isn't always easy to maintain, but small changes can help improve your well-being.

Making changes to better your well-being needn't be a life-altering manifesto you make every New Year's; there are changes you can make each day to create lasting habits that will serve you better.

Organisation is key

Registered Dietitian, Sylvia North, says you may need to adjust your schedule for optimum results.

"The only way any healthy lifestyle change is going to happen in the long-term is by putting the time and energy into working out your systems to make it happen. Be clear about your goals and plan out the steps needed to get there.

"This might involve cooking enough dinner to take leftovers for lunch the next day or doing a proper shop to fill up your fridge with healthy options at your convenience," says North.

"If you want to start exercising or incorporating some mindfulness practices it might mean getting up early enough to get yourself sorted before starting your day."

Reduce alcohol consumption

While some only consume alcohol socially, others may find it tricky to give up their daily vino - but would reap the benefits if they do so.

"Too much alcohol can affect our sleep quality, energy levels, hormones, and it can make weight-loss much more difficult," says North.

"I often recommend, in general, aiming for five alcohol-free nights per week."

Up your intake of vegetables

Despite experts highlighting the importance of a vegetable-heavy diet, many New Zealanders are still not eating enough.

As well as providing the body with vitamins, minerals and fibre, The New Zealand Ministry of Health says a good intake of veggies (at least three servings) can help prevent excess weight gain and provide some protection against non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and some cancers.

"If looking to improve and optimise your health, surpassing the minimum daily requirement is a worthy investment," says North.

"It can be as simple as throwing in a handful of baby spinach leaves into your egg scramble, adding some carrot sticks to your lunch box, or even whipping up a green smoothie for breakfast or as a snack."

Listen to your gut

If you're one to eat cheese despite being lactose-intolerant it may be time to listen to what your body is telling you.

"If you're eating something regularly that makes you feel unwell or gives you digestive troubles, then you probably shouldn't be eating it at all.

We're lucky to now have a good variety of alternatives to foods which many people have trouble digesting.

"If you are removing something from your diet, do your homework and find out what would be a nutritionally suitable alternative," says North.