To most people, healthy living refers to being both physically and mentally balanced. These two are closely linked and changes in one can affect the other quite drastically. As we get older, we tend to focus more on our health and think about whether we’re leading an active enough lifestyle. The perception that young people can worry about their health later is a common mindset but it’s important to start taking preventive measures to avoid the onset of diseases later in life.
Personally, as a young woman in her early twenties, I’m not really concerned about my health. I have the “I’m still young” mindset but thinking like that isn’t realistic. Many people don’t bother changing their diets until it’s too late when they get diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetics or coronary heart disease. It’s important to start making changes in our life to avoid these diseases.
Back in 2016, Singapore declared a war on diabetes. According to reports, three in four Singaporeans aged 65 and above are affected by diabetics, high cholesterol or hypertension, or a combination of all three. What’s even more worrying is that 430,000 Singaporeans aged 18-69 are estimated to be pre-diabetic. How can we change our lifestyle? Here are some tips you can follow:
Cut down on sugary drinks
Bubble tea, teh peng or morning kopi are probably a few of Singapore’s guilty pleasures. These drinks are loaded with a ton of sugar and give you a sugar high before you slump back into a state of wariness a few hours later. Sugar derived from liquids are absorbed faster than solid sugary food by your body. To cope with the sudden influx of sugar in your bloody, your body works hard by secreting more insulin. Extra sugar not needed by the body is also converted into fat and stored in the body, causing weight gain. If you find it hard to quit the habit cold turkey, I suggest going for less sweet options first and slowly transition to no sugar in your drinks. Cut down on the amount of sweet drinks and switch it to water.
Change your eating habits
It’s hard to eat healthy when you live in a country with amazing food like nasi lemak or prata. Our environment is so fast-paced that we often forgo homecooked food in favour of takeaway hawker center food after a long day at work. Try to limit your fast food intake to once every fortnight and avoid heavy meals laden with oil and msg. Takeaway food can be healthy if you make some changes to it. Look out for stalls with the healthier choice symbol as they have been educated in healthy eating, so you could get your meal cooked with less fat and oil if you’re ordering something greasy. I love chicken rice and a change that I tried was opting for steamed chicken without the skin, less rice and extra vegetables.
If you don’t have the time to cook a meal at home, try to snack on fruits at home or buy vegetables that you can easily cook to add more fibre in your diet. These are easy to pre-pack and bring along to work or school to tide you through the day.
Try to exercise at least 3 times a week; it doesn’t have to be a high intensity workout but it should be an activity where you sweat and have your heart pumping. Home exercises are great and short tutorials can be found on YouTube. Being active allows your body to burn some fat and releases endorphins in your body; the chemical that makes you happy and triggers a positive reaction.
Avoid smoking and drinking
Smoking and drinking have long been linked to an array of diseases. As these two can be an addiction, it can be hard to quit the habit. You could try quitting with a friend or getting someone to keep track of your recovery journey as a form of support and motivation. Having someone cheer you on can deter you from relapsing. Try to avoid situations where you are exposed to alcohol or cigarettes in the first few weeks after quitting. If you don’t get moral support from people around you, you can seek help from addiction specialists or therapists.
For some, quitting can be a hard and long journey but it’s important to never give up. It didn’t take one day to pick up the habit so don’t expect to quit in one day. Failing should not be embarrassing but serve as a motivation to keep pushing forward.
At the end of the day, it is your body and your health. Don’t neglect your health in the pursuit of wealth or climbing up the corporate ladder. Health is a priceless thing that you should take care of your whole life. Make responsible choices and incorporate these changes in your life. You’ll be surprised by how much these tips may help you!