By Louisa Zhang, Nutritionist

Nutrition, exercise and sleep – these are the three pillars of a holistic, healthy lifestyle, and taking baby steps in these areas could help you to achieve a big difference in your quality of life.

Nutrition

Incorporate small, significant steps into your current lifestyle to achieve a healthier outcome. Do not opt for drastic changes – they never work. Instead, make a list of easy, achievable goals for your food intake.

You can

  • Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread and sugar. Take whole grains , less fat  and introduce MCT in your diet to meet your energy needs. This keeps calorie intake in check leading to a healthier weight.
  • Make a pledge to have at least one home-cooked meal a day. With home-cooked meals, you can control the ingredients. You can also control the fat and salt content. There is no need at all to add MSG and other high salt flavour enhancers. Herbs and spices can be used instead to flavour foods You can also add more fruit and vegetables.
  • Have one “(m)eatless day” a week. It could turn out to be your “eat less” day. Involve the family in conversations about food, water supply, wastage and the environment. This could make the vegetarian day more acceptable to all.

There is no need to give up your favourite foods. When eating out, share the portions to cut down on excess intake. Avoid walking past a bakery during closing time when cakes and pastries are going at half price.

Exercise

Aim for 150 minutes of exercise a week.

Regular physical activity produces a feel-good factor, resulting in better stress management. Exercise is also good for the heart, helps you to maintain a healthy weight and may help to reduce certain cancers and alleviate aches and pain.

Sleep

Make sure you get enough sleep. During sleep, the nervous system is inactive, the eyes are closed, the muscles are relaxed and consciousness is suspended. This allows the body to recharge and repair itself.

A survey conducted by Singhealth Polyclinics showed that four in 10 people lack sleep on weekdays. The use of modern technology such as the Internet and mobile devices has contributed to sleep deprivation, leading to constant tiredness. Many people also drink highly-caffeinated drinks to stay awake, which is bad for the health. There may also be a link between sleep deprivation and dementia in later life. It is believed that sleep disruption may cause toxic chemicals to accumulate in the brain causing memory loss.

The end game is to be responsible and take control of how healthy you want to be. Remember - success is satisfying only when it is accompanied by good health.