Nutrition

6 small changes to boost your health right now

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Nutrition

6 small changes to boost your health right now

1. Eat real protein, not powder
Your breakfast protein shakes may have powered you through a rough winter, but consider changing your routine by rethinking breakfast, says Toronto dietitian Christy Brissette, Dietitians of Canada spokesperson. If you're adding protein powder to your morning drink, you could be loading up on artificial sweeteners. Instead, opt for whole foods: Nibble on ricotta cheese with fruit, or a poached egg on whole grain toast with avocado. And if you must have your morning shake, try a smoothie and replace protein powders with other protein sources such as hemp seeds, nut butters or Greek yogurt.

2. Do lunch
Step away from your desk, preferably with colleagues. "The break and the social support are good for your mood," says Dr. Sophie Grigoriadis, head of the Women's Mood and Anxiety Clinic at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. She points to similar advice from the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, which suggests that sharing work problems can be a great strategy for solving issues.

3. Spend time solo
Nurses and nursing professors Jennifer Yost and Patricia Strachan of Hamilton's McMaster University recommend taking time for yourself with yoga or going for a solitary stroll (both can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease). Research shows that a walk in nature can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, in your system, says Toronto psychotherapist Carmen Littlejohn of Helix Healthcare Group.

4. Write down your worries
If you've had a stressful day, jot down your thoughts and concerns a few hours before going to sleep, suggests Dr. Grigoriadis of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Tell yourself you can revisit the list in the morning so there's no need to keep worrying about it tonight.

5. Forget boot camp. Reboot your exercise regimen—slowly
Jumping into a vigorous boot camp after a winter of inactivity can lead to injury, says Mississauga, Ont. physiotherapist Justin Vanderleest, who suggests gradually ramping up an exercise routine. Dr. Nicholas Leyland, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, agrees. "Getting active does not necessarily mean slogging it out at a gym or running a half marathon," says Dr. Leyland. "Even walking the dog or taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a very significant start to a much healthier life."

6. Measure metrics
If you suspect that more accountability would boost your commitment to exercise, treat yourself to a digital tracker or find an app for your smartphone. You can track the number of steps you take daily, as well as other health metrics, such as calories burned and sleep quality, says Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, Toronto family physician. "It's remarkable what these trackers are accomplishing for people with a little bit of dedication," he says. "You can see—and correct—the health patterns of your life."

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This content is vetted by medical experts


This story was originally part of "Summer Tune-up" in the June 2015 issue.
           
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Nutrition

6 small changes to boost your health right now

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