Healthy lifestyle practices: Possible or impossible?
An overwhelming number of individuals are coming down with chronic non-communicable diseases such as strokes and heart attacks and it has all been linked to unhealthy lifestyles patterns of, which a big part is having an unhealthy diet.
While a great deal of work has been done to educate Barbadians to eat better and exercise more and healthier menus have even been introduced into local schools, it would appear that further steps are needed, to make it easier to eat healthy. There must be some national agenda driving this, so that Barbadians can better adopt healthy lifestyle practices, on a whole. The time has also come for government to also mandate that local fast food restaurants allocate a certain percentage of their menus to healthy foods, if we are to really get serious about tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Barbados has a whopping food import bill of about $700 million and Barbadians must be encouraged to help put a dent in this figure, by producing and eating more home grown foods. While some may argue that this is easier said than done, those in the agricultural field pushing this concept of eating local, will agree that small steps can lead to great gains. Truth be told, Barbadians should be opting for local foods such as breadfruit, cassava, sweet potato and green bananas over imported foods. These, they can consume in lesser quantities, to cut down on NCDs.
That said, it is understood that individuals have to be responsible for their own health, since we all well know that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Barbadians must do their part to look after themselves as a preventative measure and cut down on salt and sugar, eat more fruits and vegetables and exercise frequently. Indeed, eating healthy, if we make the effort, is not impossible, though it may be challenging.
Here are a few tips that Barbadians can embrace, as they embark on a journey to get healthy. Remember that all journeys start with a few steps. Therefore, to be successful, think about embarking on a healthy diet and overall, a healthy lifestyle, as a number of small, manageable steps, rather than a big drastic change, all at once.
Healthy lifestyle tips:
Simplify your diet. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious.
Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy, to have a healthy diet. The long-term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you – every healthy food choice you make counts.
Drink more water. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many people go through life dehydrated – causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.
Exercise more often. Find something active that you like to do and add it to your day, even if it is walking or jogging. The benefits of lifelong exercise are abundant and regular exercise may even motivate you to make healthier food choices.
Get Support: Having support from others can be a huge help. The more support you have, the easier it will be to make changes. Ask family and friends to practice healthy eating with you and also engage with them when you can, in exercises or active games that are fun.