10-minute health habits that will change your life

10-minute health habits that will change your life

The trick to sustaining healthy lifestyle changes is to make them small and regular.  You can make a huge difference to your health with these five 10-minute habits.

1 Sit down to eat

Whether it’s gulping down breakfast on your morning commute, or squeezing in lunch between meetings, eating on the run is an easy way to save time. But setting aside 10 minutes to sit and eat a meal brings loads of health perks.

By giving your full attention to what’s on your plate, you’re able to focus on the taste, textures and aroma of the food, and are more in tune with your hunger and fullness cues. You’ll feel much more satisfied and be less likely to overeat.

Food is also much more than just body fuel. It brings us together and increases social connectedness, which is good for our mental health. By eating on the run, we miss out on this special opportunity.

Sitting down to eat may also help slow digestion, which will keep you feeling full for longer. So, here’s to penciling in a lunchbreak — if only for 10 minutes!

2 Pack your snacks

When you’re hungry and hurried, it’s easy to turn to quick bites like biscuits, muffins and chips. In fact, 35 per cent of the average adult’s daily kilojoule intake comes from high-fat, high-sugar ‘discretionary’ foods like these.

But if you set aside just 10 minutes a day to pack your bag with snacks that focus on the core food groups like fruit, veg, dairy, nuts and whole grains, your body will love you for it. So, try these ideas:
● Fresh seasonal fruit, such as apples, mandarins, bananas or pears
● Vegetable sticks and a dip like hoummos
● Plain reduced-fat yoghurt with berries
● A glass of reduced-fat milk
● Wholegrain crackers, reduced-fat cheese
● Air-popped popcorn
● Wholegrain toast with peanut butter
● A small can of tuna
● A handful of unsalted nuts
● A low-sugar, high-fibre muesli bar.

3 Fill up your fruit bowl

How often do you open your fridge or pantry in search of a snack, but aren’t quite sure what you’d like?

We have a solution! It’s called ‘food nudging’.

Stock your fruit bowl with fresh produce. Research tells us that when you put food in easy-to-reach locations, you can ‘nudge’ yourself to make healthier choices. A 2016 review found that 16 of 18 studies showed that changing a food’s location positively influenced people’s eating habits.

Supermarkets are wise to this already, of course, but you can do your own food nudging at home. Start by putting healthy food in easy-to-reach spots. A well-stocked fruit bowl makes it easy to grab a snack at home, or while you’re rushing out the door.

Alternatively, chop up fruit (and veges) and store them in transparent containers at eye level in the fridge. Finally, keep treat foods like chocolate towards the back of the cupboard — out of sight, out of mind!

4 Write a grocery list

How often have you ducked into the shops for milk and bread and come out with an armful of groceries?

A grocery list is not just the best way to save time and money at the supermarket — a US study has found people who always use a checklist have a healthier weight, even when shopping in areas with less-healthy options.

It makes sense that a list can counteract some of the clever marketing and other influences shouting at you in-store (yes, we’re looking at you, half-price chocolate blocks and sweet bags at the end of the aisles!)

Start by planning out a typical week of meals: meat-free Monday, spag bol Tuesday, and so on. Next, group foods by category. List all of your fresh fruit and veg together to help you remember food items, and to save you doubling back in-store for missed items. Finally, keep your list in a central place, like on the fridge — so your family can add to it as needed. Happy, healthy shopping!

5 Prep your breakfast

Mornings are a rush, with over half of Aussies skipping breakfast at least once a week. So, why not get a head start and get into a habit of prepping your brekkie the night before?

It might be as simple as portioning breakfast cereal in a bowl, or putting it in a zip-lock bag ready to take to work.

You can cut up fresh fruit, or make a batch of nourishing Bircher muesli overnight oats. You could even whip up some mini frittatas for a savoury start to your day.

Eating breakfast has some big nutritional perks. It helps stabilise blood glucose levels, regulate appetite and prevent overeating for the rest of the day. Research shows people who skip breakfast have less nutritious diets and are more likely to be overweight.

So, take 10 minutes each night to get your breakfast sorted — and you can enjoy a few more winks of sleep the next morning!

First published: May 2020

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