When it comes to our health, a lot of us aren’t as healthy as we would like to think. We all know how important it is to be healthy, and yet, it’s not something that we make sure to put first. The key to success, when it comes to healthy eating, is being clear on what you should and shouldn’t do. Surprisingly, it’s not just about eating the right foods, being healthier is also about planning and motivation.

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The good news is that despite what you might have heard, giving your lifestyle a health boost doesn’t have to mean overhauling it completely. It’s just a case of making a few small lifestyle changes. From swapping from shop bought sauces to homemade ones, to taking more time out to relax, small changes are all it takes. For all the best tweaks to become that little bit healthier, as well as a list of things not to do, keep reading.

Do drink lots of water
Our bodies are made up of around 60 percent water. Experts recommend that on average, we should be drinking at least four pints of water a day or six at a maximum. Water should be an important part of your daily lifestyle because of the health benefits it comes with. It helps to improve physical performance and boosts energy, making your exercise sessions easier. It can also help with weight loss as studies have found that drinking the right amount of water can speed up the metabolism. Not a fan of plain water? How about infusing it with fresh fruit or carbonating it? Water doesn’t have to be boring; there are plenty of ways you can make it more drinkable.

Don’t have too many fizzy drinks, coffees or alcohol

Fizzy drinks and most alcoholic drinks are packed full of sugar and empty calories. If you want to gain weight, drink lots of fizzy and alcoholic drinks. While most fizzy drinks now have diet or sugar-free versions, they’re just as bad for you. They may be low-calorie, but the sugar alternatives used in them are known to increase cancer risks, for instance. If you’re going to drink alcohol, opt for spirits like vodka and gin that are naturally low in calories. As for caffeine, while coffee is low in calories, it can have a negative impact on your general health. Aim to drink no more than two cups of caffeinated coffee or tea a day. This will give your health an instant boost. And just think, you can kick your caffeine addiction once and for all.

Do eat clean
The key to being healthier isn’t dieting as such; it’s eating clean. Eating clean means eating a diet made up of healthy foods that include plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, and lots of whole grains. Think rice, pasta, couscous, noodles - all whole grain versions, of course. By eating clean and avoiding foods that are high in sugar and fats, especially trans fats, you’ll naturally become healthier. Not only will you be healthier, but you’ll also notice that you’ll feel better too. Our bodies weren’t made to eat lots of fatty and greasy foods, which is why we tend to feel better when we’re eating a wholesome, healthy diet.

Don’t make processed foods part of your diet
Today, over half of the foods in supermarkets are processed. This means that it’s often much easier to eat processed foods than it is to eat healthy foods. This isn’t helped by the fact that often, processed foods are cheaper than healthy ones. It might be easier to eat processed foods, but they’re not good for your body.

Do make food from scratch
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As mentioned above, processed foods tend to be cheaper than healthy ones. However, if you make your food from scratch, instead of buying it pre-made, then that doesn’t have to be the case. The idea of making all your meals from scratch might seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be incredibly quick and easy, as well as healthy and delicious. There are plenty of recipe books that are packed full of quick, easy, healthy meals that are cheap to make and don’t compromise on flavour. There are also plenty of fantastic tutorials online, on sites like YouTube as well as on various cooking blogs.

Don’t just eat meat
Often, the most expensive part of being healthy is the cost of the meat or fish. However, what it’s important to remember is that meat isn’t your only option when it comes to making healthy meals. How about adding two plant-based meals to your diet each week? Going vegetarian for a day or two will make eating healthy cheaper and will boost your weight loss if you’re trying to drop a few pounds. There are plenty of fantastic products to use, such as these plant-based Hampton Creek products. Believe it or not, going veggie for a day or two each week, doesn’t have to be boring. Plant-based foods can be delicious; it’s just a case of knowing how to cook them.

Do be active
Of course, it goes without saying that in order to be healthy, you need to be active. However, a lot of us don’t make enough time for physical activity. It’s not just a case of hitting the gym once a week; it’s about finding small ways to make each part of your life that little bit more active. This is much easier than you would think. Instead of taking the bus to work, walk or cycle. Instead of sitting at your desk at lunchtime, go for a relaxing stroll. Spend your evenings practicing yoga instead of watching Netflix. The more active you are, the healthier your mind and body will be.

Don’t spend too long in front of the TV
On the weekends, instead of sitting in front of the TV, get out and do something. It’s tempting to spend your spare time relaxing on the couch having a binge on your favourite TV program, but that’s not a healthy habit to get into. Aim to spend your free time doing activities; these can be anything that you like. From trying out rock climbing to going dancing, it doesn’t matter what you choose to do. All that matters is that you use your free time to be active.

Do take time out to relax
A lot of us get into the unhealthy habit of not taking time out to relax. This, in turn, can lead to weight gain and other health problems due to stress. That’s why it’s so important to take time out of your hectic life to relax. This can be doing whatever you want; whether that’s going for a long walk or attending a painting class, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you make sure to take time out to relax and unwind. You’ll be happier and healthier for it, both mentally and physically.

Don’t stress about the little things
It’s easy to panic and worry about the little things, but don’t. If you want to lead a life that’s as healthy as possible, it’s crucial that you find ways to prevent yourself from stressing. It’s easy to obsess over things, but this isn’t a healthy habit. When you’re worried about something, find a way to release the stress. Whether it’s by taking ten deep breaths in and out of practicing yoga, it doesn’t matter. In order to be healthier, you need to find a way not to let the little worries bother you.

Do make healthy eating fun
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Remember, healthy eating doesn’t have to be dull or boring. The problem that a lot of us have is the fact that our minds tell us healthy foods are boring compared to their unhealthy counterparts. Okay, so a piece of cake might be more appealing than an apple, but that doesn’t mean apples can’t be delicious. Google ways to make apples tastier and see what comes up. You’ll be surprised by all the healthy recipes you can make using apples, as well as various other healthy foods. Believe it or not, healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring; it’s just a case of getting creative.

Don’t forget to treat yourself now and then
Last but not least, don’t be too strict with yourself. If you don’t allow yourself a few little luxuries, you’ll have more cravings and be more likely to fall off the wagon, so to speak. Set an amount of treats you’re allowed each week, and make sure to stick to it. This could be one treat a week on the weekend, or it could be a couple of smaller treats and then one big treat. You choose how many treats you want, just don’t go overboard.

Are you serious about improving your health? Take the above tips on board and you can become healthier and happier. Remember, there are plenty of ways to boost your health, so if one doesn’t work for you, try another route.