There seems to be a range of messages about the best ways to stay fit, healthy and live longer.
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But do you really know what state your health is in?
Nutritional therapist Elina Dunford says keeping a balance is what’s important.
“We are all different with different requirements and underlying problems,” she says.
“But what should be the same for everyone is a stress-free life, good sleep, a bit of exercise, keeping active and a healthy relationship with food.”
The Sunday Mirror has put together a “How Healthy Are You Really?” quiz to give readers an indication of the aspects of their own lives that they could improve.
“There are many aspects to health and wellness – the general ones we know of are diet, smoking, exercise, but our mental health, problem-solving abilities and sleep patterns can also be a great indicator of what is going on in our bodies,” Elina adds.
Take our quiz to learn where there could be room for improvement...
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1. How much alcohol do you drink?
B: Two or three a week
C: One or two a day
D: More than two a day
2. How often do you eat red meat?
A: Once or twice a week
C: A few times a month
D: Every day
3. How many times do you get 30 minutes of exercise a day (moderate to vigorous level)?
A: Every day
B: One to three times a week
C: Four to five times a week
D: What is exercise?
4. What’s your smoking history?
A: I’ve never smoked
B: I might sneak one on a night out
C: I’ve quit and been cigarette free for more than 6 months
D: I’m a regular smoker
5. How many coffees or teas do you drink?
B: One morning mug gets me going
C: Two or three a day
D: I live on the stuff
6. How well do you sleep?
A: I get six to eight solid hours a night
B: My sleep is broken and I’m lucky to get six hours
C: I get four to five hours maximum and sometimes that’s broken
D: What is sleep? I struggle to get a couple of solid hours
7. How do you respond to stress?
A: I try not to stress over things I can’t control
B: It affects me but I try to distract myself and come back to it
C: I call a friend and vent
D: I obsess and overthink
8. How would you say you approach life?
A: I always see the positive in any situation
B: I consider myself an optimist but sometimes I struggle
C: I naturally worry about worst-case scenarios immediately but I try to get myself out of the fog
D: I am definitely a pessimist and think bad things are going to happen often
How did you fair? Dr Dunford gives her verdict:
Your health is your priority and you are mindful about every decision you make and how it will affect you.
And this is okay if you make a decision because of a preference, for example, people who do not drink because they don’t like the taste.
But while this person may be seen as a pinnacle of health, I would say make sure you are not depriving yourself because in time it could affect your mental health.
All too often I see people in my clinic who live rushed lives, burn out and think they are doing the right thing by exercising vigorously as much as they can and eating ‘clean’ all of the time.
In actual fact, I would encourage my clients to go and have a slice of cake, or a glass of wine. It is about making life enjoyable, while not splurging to excess.
It is important to understand you can enjoy your favourite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars.
The key is moderation. I don’t quite believe people when they say they are perfect in everything, most often slip at some point which is why I am all about a healthy balance.
You are aware of your health but I would say there are opportunities to make some better choices.
Coming back to deal with stressful scenarios later in the day could be seen as using avoidance techniques so make sure these events aren’t sub-consciously growing larger the longer you wait.
I would also urge you to look at getting a healthy sleep routine in place to try and push to make your time relaxing more plentiful.
Try reducing screen time in the two hours before bed, cutting it completely for the hour before lights out.
Maybe consider doing something that relaxes you just before bed, like a bath or a chapter of your favourite book. Keep that routine for a week and see if it makes a difference.
If your answers were mainly in this box, I would suggest seeing a doctor to discuss any health niggles or ways to improve your life would be a good idea.
Maybe start eating by the 80/20 rule. 80% whole unprocessed food and then 20% the sort of food you would eat as a treat.
You may well be suffering from anxiety if your sleep pattern is off, your alcohol consumption is higher than it should be and you are smoking regularly, and often you may find that one of these then triggers the others.
It is easy to get into a routine, but making some simple changes to your life may make all the difference and be the catalyst needed to improve in all aspects. Just don’t get anxious trying to change everything at once.
Your mindful things could be better so take it a day at a time, making small, regular, achievable changes.
Set a bedtime routine, and go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night. Going to bed earlier and improving sleep quality may mean you wake up feeling more rested and then you can get up earlier and get a bit of a walk in, then build that exercise up.
If the D options were your go-to pick I would suggest making an appointment with a doctor to see how they can help.
You may be highly stressed, emotional and anxious and in today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to fall into the trap where everything seems overwhelming.
Admitting there may be a problem isn’t a weakness and is the first step into changing things for the better.
One step at a time is key – otherwise changing your life radically is just another stress to contend with.
A relationship with food, diet, stress and health are the four pillars of health and if one goes, then it is hard to stay healthy with just the other three. Small steps could change your life.
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