5 good habits to maintain rather than January good intentions

Our naturopathic nutritionist Rhi Hepple shares five simple good intentions that ought to be not just to put on your January halo – but to maintain for the rest of your life

January is usually a time to put some good intentions in place and, although you may not be grabbing detox and gym regimes with passion, there is much you can do to slip into some good habits and make taking care of your health a priority. I am not talking about hard-core detox plans, fasting or an epic cleansing ritual. Just some simple practices to put into place, not just for January but for the rest of the year and beyond.

  • CONNECTION

Eating is emotionally laden. From a baby we learn that someone we love is taking care of our needs by feeding us. That connection is embedded in us. We can use food as a substitute for love, a way to win love, share love, connect with loved ones, to fulfil desire and sometimes we can use food as a punishment or reward.

When we connect that actually the food choices we make for ourself reflect how much we care for our own needs then that can help us to make the right choices. I’m talking about bringing a balance to your needs. To see that actually a treat for the body is a plateful of veg rather than an enormous slab of cake. But if we see that eating healthy is a punishment and enjoying indulgent food as a treat then this makes it much harder for us to keep to healthy eating guidelines. I am not saying you have to always do without the foods you love but learn to love some more healthy choices and eat more of those.

  • EAT MORE VEG

Scientific studies have proved that a diet rich in a variety of plant-based foods support a diverse microbiome (the good bacteria in your digestive system) which supports how you digest your food, strengthens your immunity, helps to make hormones, improves the absorption of nutrients and ensures effective elimination of toxins.

Aim for 25-30 different plant-based foods from vegetables, legumes, pulses, beans and whole-grains per week. So try adding an extra portion to every meal to up your intake.

  • HYDRATION

We need 8-10 glasses of water a day and for every cup of caffeinated drink we deplete ourselves of 1 cup. So try to increase the amount of water you are consuming. Swap some caffeinated drinks for herbal teas, squashes for coconut water or keffir or kombucha, or add slices of fruit or cucumber and mint to water to flavour it.

  • SELF-CARE

Life is busy and stressful, and the pressures of every day can take their toll. Being switched ‘ON’ all the time with the accessibility of phones, internet, emails being just a tap away means we don’t relax enough. It’s essential to switch off that parasympathetic nervous system so the body can recharge, reset, re-calibrate and have the energy in the system to rebalance hormones and neurotransmitters.

Take some time out each day to rest, whether it’s a gentle walk, hot bath, mini-nap, reading a book, meditating or listening to music. Make some time to allow your body to just BE. You will be far more focused, efficient and a better decision maker, multi-tasker and organiser if you have some rest time.

Ensure you are getting good amounts of sleep – this is an important time for the body to do most of its repair work, as well as detox and eliminate what it doesn’t need. Without this rest time the body goes on stress alert, increasing inflammation and toxicity within the body.

  • EXERCISE

Move more. Whatever your choice of movement, make it a part of your routine. Walking, yoga, pilates, tai chi, swimming, running team sports etc. Whatever it is you like to do, then make time for it as the body needs to keep fit and stay supple. Having movement in the body helps to stimulate the circulation and the lymphatic system, ensuring a good distribution of nutrients around the body and a good release of toxicity to avoid stagnation.

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