Welcome to The Health Philosopher – a blog dedicated to health and well-being on all levels. My name is Nora, a Food Science and Nutrition graduate from the University of Leeds, UK. As a health enthusiast, committed to sourcing information from around the world on topics covering health, nutrition and well-being, I am highly passionate about providing practical solutions and advice that can help and inspire others.
Here I explore the health benefits of different varieties of foods, share delicious, nutritious and fun recipes, write on the importance of mindfulness, meditation and yoga and provide physical exercise routines and ideas in a number of different forms. I also publish emotional advice posts on different topics, along with everyday sayings and inspirations to brighten up your day and help you live a more productive, meaningful and fulfilled life.
My Health Philosophy
Being healthy does not just mean eating ‘healthy’ food, exercising and looking good and slim on the outside. Health and well-being also incorporate feeling good on the inside. To achieve a state of overall well-being we should focus on all aspects of our life. These include our diet, physical activity, mental health and social activities.
I don’t believe in dieting and the imposing of strict and restrictive regimes. Like many of us I’ve tried those too and know that in most cases they only provide a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Life is to be enjoyed so let’s not make it more complicated than it actually is.
So, here are the 15 Golden Rules on which I base my health philosophy and which I believe will contribute towards a healthier and more fulfilled everyday life.
1. Eat Regularly and If Possible at the Same Time Each Day. Do Not Skip Meals.
Allow your digestive system to adapt to a regular routine and you will feel energised throughout the day. Skipping a meal will lead to a drop in blood sugar levels and poor concentration. It can also result in mood swings and an increased risk of overeating. Aim for 3 main meals with 2 small snacks in between.
2. Remember the Great Saying ‘Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince, and Dinner like a Pauper’.
A few points to consider here. Firstly, eat breakfast – yes, it’s obvious, and you have heard it before so here it is again – it’s the most important meal of the day! Secondly, the saying doesn’t mean to imply you should simply indulge on a great amount of food in the morning and eat a tiny little portion at dinner. The principle here is watch out on your meal portions and to be mindful of the amount of food you put on your plate at each meal. Eat your dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed and choose one that is relatively light and easy to digest, served in a small to a medium plate. A heavy meal in the evening can create indigestion problems and affect the quality of your sleep during the night.
3. Do Not Diet or Restrict Yourself from Eating Certain Foods.
Sometimes our organism just needs particular nutrients so don’t hold back all the time, it is not only bad for your physical but also for your mental health. If you begin to see particular foods as bad and you will label them as such. Almost like programming your brain to associate them with negative thoughts and emotions. Eventually when you give in, because of all the pressure you have created on yourself, you feel guilty.
There are no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods , there are just good and bad choices. If you choose to eat in moderation, you will be able to enjoy and experience the taste and full benefits of each food whilst still being in a great shape and state of mind.
4. Eat Slowly and Mindfully.
Chew your food thoroughly, and enjoy every little bite as if it is the first and the last. Try to avoid talking, watching TV, reading or any other such activities while eating. Paying attention to your food is highly beneficial for ensuring better digestion as well as improved absorption of nutrients. Avoid eating at your work desk, or while studying. Take some time off to fully appreciate your meal.
5. Keep Yourself Hydrated.
Over 50% of our body is made up of water. Drink plenty of fluids. Sometimes we tend to confuse thirst with hunger, so always double-check if you really need another snack or just a glass of water. If, like me, you find water a little boring at times, try adding fruit to it for some taste. Drinking herbal tea is another good way to stay hydrated. A glass of 100% fruit juice or simply a fruit such as an apple can also contribute towards your daily water intake. Being hydrated will not only keep your skin radiant and healthy and help you to concentrate better, but it will also keep your entire body system functioning properly. Drink a glass of water or a warm herbal tea first thing in the morning and have a bottle of water by your side throughout the day as a reminder to stay hydrated.
6. Stretch First Thing in the Morning.
Allow some time (10-15 minutes) after waking up to do a few easy stretches and some light exercise to get the blood flowing and to fully awaken your body. It’s a great start to the new day!
7. Practice Yoga.
Yoga incorporates both physical exercise and mindfulness into one. While certain physical activities such as running or playing sports are great for releasing energy and for getting you into a good shape, with yoga you can also achieve a state of full relaxation and peace of mind on a deeper level. If you don’t have time to attend yoga classes, try to do a few simple sequences by yourself in the comfort of your own home. There are many online sources to get inspired by – a simple YouTube video can do the trick. Start by doing 10-15 minutes a day at your own pace. Gradually, you can increase this to up to an hour and make yoga part of your daily routine.
8. Dedicate At least 5 Minutes a Day Just for Yourself.
Choose a quiet place in your home or workplace where you won’t be disturbed (the bathroom could be an option too!). Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Breath deeply and slowly through your stomach (not your chest). Naturally, your mind will start drifting, with thoughts coming in and going. Let them pass and do not dwell on them. Simply bring your attention back to your breath. With time this simple exercise will get easier and you will feel its positive impact on your everyday life.
9. Keep Yourself Physically Active.
Choose something that makes you feel happy and energised, and not what everyone else seems to be doing. If going to the gym is not your thing, don’t be discouraged, there is so much more out there. One of my most favourite physical activities for example is dancing! Anyone can do it, that’s right- anyone. You don’t need to be a professional. All you need to do is to relax and let the rhythm of the music lead you (or create your own style of dancing!) What about giving martial arts a try? Or just a simple 30 minutes walk in the park? Whatever you choose, set yourself the goal to do 3 to 4 hours a week of that activity (or combination of activities). Once you incorporate this into your routine, you won’t be able to go a day or two without doing it as your body will naturally adjust to being active.
10. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!
I can’t emphasise more how important sleep is. As His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama said “Sleep is the best meditation”. It’s the chance for your body and mind to receive the much needed rest after a long day. During sleep you allow yourself to let go of all thoughts, clearing and refreshing your mind, and allowing your system to fully recharge its batteries. It has also been scientifically proven that during sleep the brain is involved in a waste clearance process which is of high significance to the way our body and mind function.
11. Socialise and Meet Friends.
It sounds obvious to most of us, still it’s all too easy to stay at home during the cold winter months or on a rainy day, and not bother leaving our home to meet with others. We would rather watch TV or communicate with them online. But we are social animals and we need the attention of others. Therefore, offline relationships are of significant importance. Meeting face to face with a friend or group of friends will make you happier, more alert and even more productive. There is nothing better than laughing it out in the company of good friends. Even a simple phone call could make a difference to your or someone else’s day. Don’t we all need to be cheered up sometimes when we are down? That’s what friends are also for. So keep in touch with them and whenever possible extent your circle by meeting new people. You never know who you could meet next. Be open-minded and optimistic.
12. Smile and Laugh Often.
Smile at your loved one, family, friends and even at complete strangers. A warm smile can truly brighten up your and their day in a way you could not even imagine. Even during the busiest and most difficult day, try to find something to smile or laugh about. There is no better way of realising tension than a good old laugh. I like making jokes about myself for example. We can all make silly mistakes sometimes, we are just humans after all, so why not simply laugh it out?
13. Learn Something New Everyday.
Whether it’s a new word in a different language, a new skill or just an interesting fact at college or work, just make sure you keep learning and expanding your knowledge. This will keep your brain active and young! As Henry Ford has said:
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young”.
Discover a passion or an interest, and invest some time in that, focusing on the process of learning and not on the outcome. If you persist you will eventually succeed. Learning something new also allows you to grow on a personal level making you an interesting individual in the eyes of others, which could easily lead to making more connections and new friendships.
14. Do Something Good for Others and Be Grateful.
We all know about the importance of taking good care of ourselves, but for the achievement of complete well-being this is not enough. Doing a good deed, expressing love and affection, helping a friend or a complete stranger, and even a simple word of kindness could make someone’s day a little easier and a little better than before. It might not feel like you have contributed much, but it’s the small gestures that count. Doing something good and being grateful for what you have each day will not only have a positive impact on others, but also on you as a person.
15. Make All of the Above Golden Rules a Habit.
None of these will be of much use to you and your well-being if you only apply them once or twice and then give up on them. The secrete to success is persistence, and the secrete to persistence is to create a habit. Beginnings are always a little challenging and can require certain lifestyle adjustments. But be patient and not long after (give it at least 14-28 days) everything will come into place and start to feel completely natural.
Speaking of habits, you already have many of them in your life right now. In fact, a significant part of your daily routine is made up of habits developed over time. Dedicate some time to identify which ones of those are useful to your well-being and which are preventing you from achieving your ultimate goal of being healthy and happy. This could be smoking; spending too much time in-front of a TV or a computer screen, especially before bed time; snacking on processed foods a little too often than you should and many others.
Quitting an old habit can be equally challenging as creating a new one, so take it one step at a time. The secrete is to replace a bad habit with a good one. For example: eating an apple or going for a quick jog whenever you want to smoke; reading a book at bed time as opposed to browsing the internet or watching TV; satisfying your afternoon sweet cravings with a banana instead of biscuits.
~It’s within your power to transform yourself, your overall well-being and your entire life.~