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"I-SO Healthy" Habits

Written by Clara Wangsahardja, Provisional Accredited Practising Dietitian


Although some people find it easy to keep their daily routines, many people struggle to find a healthy lifestyle.


Some of you might be wondering where you should start. Well, the answer is not in a magic pill, but rather in simple adjustments in your current lifestyle – or so I call the 7 S’s.




1. SLEEP: 7-8 hours per day


Your sleeping pattern influences both your eating behaviour and metabolism. The duration and quality of your sleep are extremely important to maintain hormonal balance and enhance sound food choices.


Have you ever found yourself craving high-energy dense foods like potato chips, chocolates and baked goods when you’ve only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before? Yup, me too. Why is that?


In our bodies, there are two key hormones that affect our hunger and satiety called ghrelin and leptin - they’re basically the “yin and yang” of our eating behaviour.


Ghrelin is the “go for it” hormone that stimulates your hunger while leptin is the “lettuce stop eating” hormone that suppresses your appetite. When you’re sleep deprived, there’s an imbalance between these 2 hormones towards ghrelin. As a result, you are prone to eating more than you normally would, hence gaining weight over time.


I know that it might be tempting to stay up late whilst studying or working from home, but aim to get at least 7-8 hours quality sleep every night.


2. SWEAT: 30 minutes per day


Regular exercise is beneficial not just for weight loss! It’s also good for your mental health by lifting your mood and reducing stress, and it’s beneficial for your physical health by protecting you from adverse chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.


Aim to include at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity daily. This includes brisk walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming leisurely.


Additionally, aim to include muscle strengthening exercises on 2 days of the week. You don’t need access to the gym for that! Get creative with what you have at home. For instance, you could use empty milk bottles or laundry liquid bottles filled with water as a replacement of dumbbells to train your muscles (or better yet – use those bottles of bleaches you’ve hoarded).



For more information, please read this article from The Department of Health: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines


3. SIP ~8 cups per day


Staying hydrated is understated yet of highly importance to the human body. Dehydration leads to detrimental health effects while adequate water intake improves physical and mental function.


How much water should I be drinking? There’s not a specific recommended amount, there’s the typical saying about 8 cups per day, but that’s only partially true – you should have around 8 cup of FLUIDS per day (including soups, non-alcoholic drinks, fruits). You can easily tell whether you’re hydrate by looking at your no. 1 – if it’s clear, then you’re clear (from dehydration).


*the numbers are advised by the Nutrient Reference Values - https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/water


4. SLURP – A B C D E!


Food and its nutrients are essential components of your daily life, yet we often take it for granted because it’s so available especially in developed countries like Australia.


So, how do we make sure that we are not eating too much and getting adequate nutrients to stay healthy? The answer is it all depends on your daily requirements and activities, thus there’s no one size fits all.


Here are a few tips to start off:

1. Aim to incorporate 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruits per day.

2. Be mindful of the amount and types of foods you are consuming.

3. Chew your food (eat slowly).

4. Drop the junk in your pantry/fridge.

5. Eat according to the stomach, not to the clock.

5. SET UP


How do you study and/or work from home effectively? Different things work differently for different people, but I found that setting up a clean and bright space helps with being productive during the day without constantly thinking about taking a nap or snacking. Separate your work space with your recreational space.

6. SOCIALISE


A Japanese philosopher named Daisaku Ikeda once said “No one can live entirely on their own and no country or society exists in isolation.”


Social interactions are crucial for every individual, especially for one’s mental health. Technology advances bring more opportunities for you to connect with your families and friends like never before - they’re literally a few clicks away. During this isolation season, why not connect with your loved ones?


7. SCHEDULE: 3 things per day


At the end of the day, it’s all about having a routine in this “new normal” situation. Ask yourself, “What is my goal?” and “What are my roles and responsibilities?” to help you structure your days appropriately.


Then, plan a weekly schedule instead of a daily schedule so that you can accomplish specific things by the end of the week and still have flexibility with your time. Set yourself 3 things to do each day and prioritise them.


Lastly, choose to be grateful and stay joyful. This too shall pass. Enjoy being healthy :)

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