We all know how important it is to be mindful of our health, but does that mean we have to live our lives stressing about every little thing we consume? Consider for a moment the mental drain of agonizing over every morsel of food and every drop of the beverages you like. I don’t know about you, but to me, that feels like an incredibly depressing and mentally exhausting way to live!
For example, I love to indulge in a nice glass of wine at the end of a long day. Should I punish myself for wanting a simple reward? Not at all! At least that’s my opinion. Of course, this is not to say you should over-indulge either.
I know very well that you can consume too much, but as with most things in life, the keys are balance and moderation. As long as you keep that top of mind, without putting undue pressure on yourself, you can definitely have your proverbial cake and eat it too. Or in my case, have wine and still be healthy overall.
2 Simple Steps to Take The Mental Strain Out of Staying Healthy
Step 1 – Balance what you are drinking and eating
In a report on diet and depression, Harvard Health Publishing said, “What it boils down to is that what we eat matters for every aspect of our health, but especially our mental health. Several recent research analyses looking at multiple studies support that there is a link between what one eats and our risk of depression, specifically.”
If you’re going to have a glass of wine, stick to a glass or two and then switch to water. Your mind and body will thank you for the restraint, but you’ll also still get to enjoy something that brings you pleasure. Sip it slowly, and savor it.
If you’re out for the evening, and you want to enjoy more than one type of wine, ask your bartender for a smaller amount. Some bars will also offer a half-pour of just four ounces if you ask them too.
Pro tip: Don’t drink alcohol before you eat.
Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can make it much more likely that you will overindulge both in alcohol and in calories. It’s far too easy to ask for another glass when you’re not thinking – let’s call it objectively. Drinking on an empty stomach can also lead to making unhealthy food choices which can ultimately stress your body and your mind.
Eat a well-balanced meal full of healthy fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. You may also want to have some healthy end of the night snacks in the fridge to indulge any munchie cravings before bed. These might include popcorn, fruit, nuts, cheese, or Greek yogurt.
Again I’ll refer to Harvard’s report on diet and depression. It said, “A dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression.”
NPR echoed the sentiment when they said, “There’s fresh evidence that eating a healthy diet, one that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and limits highly processed foods, can help reduce symptoms of depression.”
Step 2 – Move your body more
Not only will moving your body more make you feel less guilty about what you consume throughout the day, but exercise has also been linked to a reduction in mental health problems as well.
As HelpGuide explains, “People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.”
If that doesn’t encourage you to exercise, I don’t know what will.
To be as healthy as possible you need to be exercising at least three to four days a week. Mind you it doesn’t have to be a full-on trip to the gym each time, a simple walk around the neighborhood is better than no physical activity at all.
Are you looking to get a great workout in, but don’t have time to get to the gym? Read more about getting a great workout at home here.
What to Do If You Overindulge
If you do drink too much one night, or eat a crappy meal, don’t beat yourself up over it. Remember, the keys are balance and moderation. Let yourself have that free pass and then get back to balance. It will feel so much better than stressing over your mistake and slipping into a string of guilt-ridden bad habits, I promise you.