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Woman smiling while looking at her phone as she talks to a virtual doctor so she can stay healthy. A phone screen with the doctor is also shown.

February 13, 2023 • read

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15 things you can do to stay healthy all year

Maybe your New Year’s resolutions are in full swing right now — but it’s not uncommon if they’re on their way out. Don’t despair if your aspirations to be healthier have come and gone. The truth is that remaking your lifestyle once a year isn’t all that realistic.

Instead, try making small changes that are actually sustainable. Here are 15 ways to stay healthy all year round.

The importance of proactive healthcare and maintaining a healthy lifestyle

The best way to avoid a serious health issue is to try to prevent it in the first place. And eating well, exercising regularly, and living a healthy lifestyle are a great start. Beyond that, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to access regular preventative medical care.

Don’t worry if you can’t remember the last time you had a checkup, though — we can help. Maple is a telehealth platform that connects you with Canadian-licensed doctors and specialists from your phone, tablet, or computer.

With a general health assessment, you can get a snapshot of where your health is right now. This can help you understand any unique risk factors you might have and alert you to any changes in your health you should be aware of.

And, since preventative health care is nothing without good lifestyle practices, you’ll want to consider incorporating these helpful tips into your daily routine.

1. Listen to your hunger and fullness cues

If you grew up having to clean your plate, you’re likely accustomed to eating whether you’re hungry or not. Or, you might ignore your body’s hunger signals until you fall into “hangry” territory (feeling hungry when you’re angry).

Habit, thirst, and boredom can often dictate eating behaviour more than physical cues, so check in with your body regularly to counteract these tendencies. Taking eating off autopilot can help you learn to listen to your body. Over time, the process will become more intuitive.

2. Benefits of eating healthy

A healthy eating plan for the new year is high on many resolutions lists, and for a good reason. Your diet has a profound effect on your health, and it’s implicated in everything from heart disease to obesity to cancer.

If you’re looking for ways to start eating healthy this year, consider making small sustainable changes instead of overhauling your diet completely. According to Canada’s Food Guide, a balanced meal means incorporating plenty of fruits and veggies, choosing fibre-rich whole grains, and pairing it all with some protein.

That may sound simple, but putting it into practice daily can be challenging. If creating a repertoire of healthier options seems overwhelming, try seeking out new recipes online or speaking to a dietitian for help.

3. Benefits of meal prepping

Planning healthy meals and cooking every day can seem impossible. But, meal prepping for a week can help you eat healthy, home-cooked meals regularly — and maintain your sanity.

How to build a healthy meal plan will look different for everyone. At the bare minimum, though, start meal prepping by choosing dishes you like, or you’ll kill your chances of success. While it does require an initial time investment, in the end, meal prepping lets you save time and avoid the temptation of shelling out for expensive takeout.

4. Stop multitasking while eating

It’s easy to overeat when you’re not paying attention — it may even be the main cause of binge eating for you. The next time you find yourself multitasking during a meal, take a break and focus on your food instead.

Eating mindfully helps you focus on your food’s taste, texture, and smell, allowing you to lean into your body’s natural cues. And, since slowing down and savouring food can help you control your intake, it’s one of the simplest ways to improve your eating habits.

5. Check those expiration dates

Expiry dates on food are there for a reason. Eating expired food can cause food poisoning after all. But, while sealed products are helpfully straightforward, leftovers can be a bit more mysterious.

To keep yourself safe, avoid letting prepared foods linger at room temperature for more than two hours. Instead, refrigerate them promptly and consume any leftovers within three days. After that, chuck it out.

6. Drink water and stay hydrated

There are many benefits of drinking water — beyond keeping you alive, it helps keep you feeling alert and energetic.

If you’re wondering exactly how many litres of water a day you should drink, know that there’s no magic number. Instead, look to the colour of your urine for guidance. If it’s not clear, you need to drink more.

7. Protect your skin

Protecting your skin from the sun can help you prevent skin cancer and premature aging and stave off wrinkles. So, what does good skin protection mean? It involves limiting your skin’s exposure to UV rays.

And, UV rays don’t go away just because it’s chilly out. In fact, they can bounce off snow, ice, and other reflective surfaces, sometimes making them more powerful. Every dermatologist will tell you this is why using a broad spectrum SPF 30 lip balm and sunscreen’s so important to protect your skin from the sun — all year round.

8. Practice safe sex

Besides helping to prevent pregnancy, using condoms can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and diseases.

But, how to have safe sex doesn’t end with condom use. Condoms only protect certain parts of your anatomy. They can’t prevent STIs like genital warts or herpes that affect areas around the genitals. If you or your partner has a sore, wart, or growth, avoid having sex until it’s been examined by a healthcare provider.

Otherwise, use a condom every time you’re sexually active to keep you safe during sex.

9. Laugh more often

The health benefits of laughter are wide-reaching. Not only does it help to relieve stress and anxiety, but laughter can also improve your quality of life and promote bonding with others.

The next time you feel wound up, try watching or listening to something funny for a little stress relief from laughter. Chances are that you’ll find yourself laughing off those heavy emotions.

10. Quit smoking

Smoking displaces oxygen in your blood, increases your risk of developing at least 16 different kinds of cancer, and impacts every organ in your body, especially your lungs. Moreover, smoking ages your skin, yellows your teeth, and reduces fertility.

If you smoke, quitting is just about the best thing you can do for your health. If you’re considering switching to vaping instead, know that e-cigarettes come with a host of issues too, and what happens in your body when you quit smoking and start vaping isn’t totally clear.

For support with your quitting journey or advice on how to quit smoking gradually, speak to your healthcare provider. You can also visit the Government of Canada’s Quit Smoking website for additional tools and resources.

11. Start working out regularly

The idea of working out can be intimidating. But, while it’s true that regular physical activity is a key part of being healthy, that doesn’t have to mean jogging or joining a gym.

As long as you’re being active for at least 150 minutes a week, you can break that down however you like — whether roller derby or walking. The point is to be active enough to get your heart rate up for 10 minutes or more at a time.

12. Wash your hands and brush your teeth

Questions like how long should I wash my hands for and how often should you brush your teeth may seem silly, but doing them improperly can have consequences.

To stave off gingivitis and cavities, aim to floss once a day and brush twice, for two minutes each time.

Likewise, washing your hands for as long as it takes you to sing happy birthday twice will help stop the spread of germs. These small-time investments in good dental and hand hygiene will pay off in spades.

13. Limit alcohol

Updated low-risk drinking guidelines show that even small amounts of alcohol can cause liver damage and increase your risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

So, what should you drink instead of alcohol on your next night out? Many bars now serve an ever-growing list of mocktails and alcohol-free beer. Not drinking alcohol, or drinking very little, is becoming increasingly popular. So if you’re worried you’re the only one not drinking, you’re definitely not. A number of companies are also selling make-at-home kits.

If two drinks or less a week seems unrealistic, try decreasing how much you drink by any amount. If you’re looking for more support on how to stop drinking, speak to your healthcare provider about your options.

14. Improve your sleep health

Lack of sleep affects your mood, ability to concentrate, and immune system, and you can get sick from not sleeping well.

Luckily, simple changes can help you achieve the seven to nine hours a night you need. For starters, avoid screen time for an hour before you go to bed, and turn your bedroom temperature down a degree or two. And while, yes, technically, napping does count as sleep, it’s not for everyone.

If you feel refreshed after naps, optimize your nightly sleep by keeping them to 20 minutes and before 2pm. Otherwise, avoid them, as they’ll throw off your sleep pattern.

If you still have trouble after making these changes, consider speaking to a sleep therapist for more help.

15. Ask for help when you start feeling overwhelmed

Asking for help can feel like an admission of failure for many. But, sharing your feelings is often the first step towards lightening your load.

Friends and family can be powerful sources of support, but sometimes talking to them isn’t enough. If you need more support, speaking to a therapist can help. Therapists are specially trained to address anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. Talking to one can help you regain a healthy mindset.

How Maple can help you stay healthy

If you find you’re always sick or if you’re just not feeling as healthy as you’d like, it’s time for a change. Making small sustainable shifts in your daily life is a great start. And, if you’re looking for a big-picture view of your health, consider getting a general health assessment. This can help you better understand your baseline and whether you’re at risk of any potential health issues so you can get the treatment you may need.

Achieving perfect health isn’t possible. But making better daily choices can keep you feeling healthy all year round.

This blog was developed by our team and reviewed by a medical professional.

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