Hacking your way to the healthiest you doesn’t have to be difficult when you’re a parent. Once you’re equipped with the know-how, it’s just a matter of getting organised enough to apply these seven easy health hacks. You’ll be on your way to feeling and looking better in no time. Not to mention, your kids will learn these healthy habits for the future by following your lead.
Create simple Mediterranean-style meals
Taking action for better health doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. Research has proven that eating traditional Mediterranean-style meals can help reduce the risk of serious disease. Your entire family can enjoy this type of food. Take a look at some of the mouth-watering Mediterranean recipes to know that you can eat healthy without missing out on life’s little luxuries; try these chocolate brownies or healthy style fish and chips.
Trial intermittent fasting
Many people think fasting means depriving yourself of food and living on nothing but water, but this is not true. Two popular types of intermittent fasting are:
- Time Restricted Eating (TRE) where you consume calories (ie. eat your meals) within a window of time, and not consuming calories (ie. fasting) outside of that window. This gives your system an extended break to repair and burn fat, it doesn’t necessarily mean reducing the amount of food consumed.
- A 5:2 approach where on two days per week you limit your intake to 800 calories, and the other five days you eat a healthy Mediterranean-style diet.
TRE and 5:2 methods of fasting are encouraged by The Fast 800 programme because of the benefits such as weight loss, improved mental clarity, reduced risk of heart disease and the potential reversal of Type 2 diabetes. Just remember, this one is not suitable for those who are still growing.
Remember to hydrate
As a busy parent, it’s easy to forget to eat, let alone something as simple as drinking water. Humans are approximately 70% water and almost every reaction and process in the body requires H2O to function properly. Water is required for optimal digestive function and detoxification – if there’s not enough water travelling through your body we struggle to excrete waste and metabolites – leading to constipation, urinary tract infections, kidney issues, skin problems and inflammation. Aim for 2 litres a day to help all of your systems operate effectively. You wouldn’t send your child to school without a water bottle, and your health is just as important! Pack a water bottle wherever you go so you’re never caught without.
Increase incidental exercise
The average Australian is sitting for 10 hours a day (lockdowns and longer working hours haven’t helped), but we know that the more moderate physical activity you can do the better. Incidental exercise is movement that is simply just part of your normal routine. If you’re in the office, instead of emailing your work colleague down the hallway, stand up and walk to deliver your message, take the stairs instead of the lift, or get off the train or bus a stop earlier and walk the rest of the distance. At home, walk on a treadmill while binge-watching your favourite Netflix show or instead of meeting up with your friends for a coffee date, go indoor rock climbing or a walk along the beach.
Include resistance training
Resistance training is important because the more muscle tissue you have, the more energy you burn while resting! But you don’t have to become a muscle-rippling bodybuilder. There are many benefits to building more muscle, including being more toned, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis. You don’t need weights for an effective resistance workout, you can start out using your own bodyweight, or if you struggle with aches, joint pain or balance, try working out in a swimming pool. The water provides resistance and you can use your kid’s pool noodles as weights.
Get a good night’s rest
Did you know that late nights in front of the TV mean you’re more prone to snack and less likely to exercise? You’re then too tired to get up early to exercise, and so the cycle repeats. However, when you get more sleep you’re less likely to crave those starchy, high-carb sneaky treats while the rest of the family is resting. University of Chicago researchers conducted studies on sleep-deprived volunteers and the results showed noticeable changes in healthy hormone levels and increased hunger.
Foster a positive mindset
Mental wellbeing is often overlooked when it comes to hacks for feeling healthier. With today’s global pandemic, your mental health is more important than ever before. There are simple ways you can take care of your mind; try getting up half an hour before the kids wake up, so you can enjoy the serenity and calm of the house, sit outside with a morning cup of tea and listen to the sounds of your neighbourhood. Try a guided meditation or writing in a journal before going to bed to help alleviate stress. Find one positive thing that happened in your day, even if it’s just that you saw something that made you smile.
Gabrielle Newman is a Clinical Nutritionist, BHSc (Nutritional Medicine), with a special interest in weight management, hormonal and metabolic health. She has a love of food that stemmed from her previous career as a short order cook, as well as a Permaculture Design Certificate.
Gabrielle is the Nutritionist and Recipe Developer for The Fast 800. She has a passion for making good health attainable and sustainable through educating people to make the right health choices for them.