Everyone’s looking for something to improve their life whether it’s to lose weight, have a better relationship, or have a higher sense of meaning. However, what if it’s the smaller things we do in life that actually move the needle? It’s the small healthy habits you do every day that build up over time into great results, rather than long training sessions at the gym or eating a healthy meal once a week or so. In my experience, smaller, repetitive actions are easier to achieve and easier to adopt as habits. In this post, we’ll look at 57 healthy habits to do every day that are easy to inject into your daily routine.
These daily healthy habits are my personal favourites. There are lots more we could all be doing of course but I am trying to be as realistic as possible with these suggestions as of course, there are only so many hours in the day!
Table of Contents
1. Drink more water. Apparently, most of us don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Even though everyone will have different specific needs to stay hydrated, it’s recommended that you aim for 6-8 glasses or 1.5 litres. Whilst this sounds like a lot, drinks like coffee and tea also count towards your daily total.
2. Cook something every day. Another healthy habit to do every day is to cook yourself a meal every day. That way, you’re more likely to eat something healthy because you know what’s in your food. It’s also a great skill to grow that will allow you to throw meals together from scratch faster and faster as you get better at it.
3. Replace soda with tea or water. It’s a good idea to try and cut down on sugary drinks that lack any kind of nutrition from your diet. When you feel like grabbing a soda, either buy a bottle of water or a cup of tea. Whilst regular tea may seem boring, there are lots of fruity teas you can try. My gold standard would be green tea thanks to its antioxidant content and other potential health benefits.
4. Swap cereals for real food. For some reason, we treat breakfast as a meal where we can eat anything and anything crazy, a meal to eat bizarre sugary treats. Instead of eating cereals that lack proper nutrition, cook yourself some eggs, or, make yourself a proper meal as if it were lunchtime or dinner with real foods that include vegetables.
5. Eat highly unprocessed foods. When you look around your local store, you’ll notice that most of the foods have been highly processed. Even ground beef has had a small amount of processing done to it. A good rule of thumb when incorporating healthy food habits into your daily routine is to choose foods that have had minimal processing done to them like meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts. If the ingredients list has a bunch of ingredients you can’t even pronounce, it’s usually a sign that food has had a lot of chemical additives put into it.
6. Stop eating when you’re 80% full. Instead of eating until you’re stuffed, try eating until you’re 80% full like the long-living people of Okinawa. Apparently, it takes 20 minutes for your gut to tell your brain that you’re completely full so it’s also worth eating your food slowly to aid this process. Having eaten less food for a long time time, I can see personally that I don’t need as much food as I once thought I did. This has helped stop the discomfort I used to get when always trying to clear my plate.
7. Add a green vegetable to every one of your meals. This isn’t going to be particularly easy at breakfast time unless you fast in the morning and only eat lunch and dinner. However, it’s a good idea to add a leafy green vegetable to your meals whenever it makes sense. Sure, you may not particularly enjoy it at first but you may notice you have more energy once you’ve done this for several weeks. For example, something like spinach only has its benefits and it’s cheap and easy to add to most meals. There’s absolutely no downside to doing this and it’s such an easy thing to do.
8. Have a glass of water before eating. According to some studies, you may actually find yourself thirsty when thinking you’re hungry. These signals can get mixed up so it’s always worth drinking a glass of water before you eat something to see if you become satiated. It may seem like a simple habit to do every day but it could cut out hundreds of daily unneeded calories if you try it.
9. Add a source of protein to every meal. Protein is a great micro-nutrient with many benefits and it’s probably something we all need to eat more of. It helps you to feel fuller for longer, repairs muscles, boosts metabolism, and lowers blood pressure amongst other things. Overeating it isn’t helpful, especially if you have poor kidney function but overall it should be stocked up on. If you have a plain bowl of pasta, try adding some kind of meat or tofu, for example.
10. Add more fibre to your meals. Apparently, we don’t eat enough of it. On average, American adults eat 10 to 15 grams of total fibre per day, while the USDA’s recommended daily amount for adults up to age 50 is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. An easy way to get more fibre into your diet is to add more beans and vegetables into your meals, broccoli being the easiest in my own personal experience.
11. Swap out ice cream for Greek yoghurt. If you’re an ice cream fan, you’re probably adding high amounts of sugar to your diet on a regular basis. You can try swapping it out for Greek yoghurt for your dessert. It’s still delicious and is great for feeding your gut microbiome with healthy bacteria. Greek yoghurt is also high in protein and will help feed any cravings you still have after dinner. Try adding some fruit to it for a sweet kick!
12. Use extra virgin olive oil. Seed oils have been used for decades and have become the staple when it comes to cooking however there seems to be more and more talk about how they could actually harm your health. Like with anything that has had any processing done to it (including olive oil) there will always be things that have been added or stripped back, however, extra virgin olive oil seems to be the gold standard when it comes to cooking with oils with its health benefits including being a great source of antioxidants, potentially help prevent heart disease, potentially help prevent strokes and more.
13. Eat carbs. Like me, you’ve probably tried a carb-elimination diet in recent years. There’s lots of hype about ridding your diet of carbohydrates including the keto diet or the carnivore diet, for example. I have no personal problem with these diets but they seem to be short-term experiences, like most diets. In fact, the word ‘diet’ is the same as saying ‘short-term’ to me. Carbohydrates are important for many functions in the body, it’s just like anything else, (except perhaps fruit and vegetables) – don’t overdo them or you’ll probably feel uncomfortable and gain weight easily.
14. Eat mindfully. Mindful eating is about taking your time when you eat, and paying close attention to the foods and textures you experience. The benefits are many but it’s also important to be mindful of your body after you eat. How do you feel? Are you uncomfortable? Do you get excessive gas after eating something in particular? Noticing how your body feels after each food you eat can help you make better choices going forward.
15. Read every label. It’s easy to pick something up in the store and not bother to read the label. However, as mentioned, many foods you buy have many additives. Whilst you can’t always escape highly processed foods, understanding how to read food labels and getting into the habit is important. You might just be surprised how much sugar, for example, is in your favourite sauce after you spend time reading its label.
16. Make sure you leave enough time between your last meal and your bedtime. I’ve never been a regular nighttime eater but when I have eaten late before bed, I’ve seen how it affects my sleep. There’s also a whole bunch of research reasons why you shouldn’t eat right before bed. It’s also worth mentioning there are those who think you should eat before bed or that it’s not a big deal. Realistically, it’s up to you to listen to how you personally feel as I have when eating before bed.
17. Cut off coffee by 2 pm. Whilst coffee counts towards your recommended daily water intake, it’s also probably a good idea to stop drinking it by 2 pm latest. Caffeine stays in your system for a long time and has been shown to interfere with sleep, especially if you’re already a poor sleeper. Try and limit yourself to three regular coffees in the morning and then If you like it, drink de-caff coffee after this or better still, de-caff green tea if you still fancy a hot drink later in the day.
18. Limit your daily snacks. You may be adding hundreds of empty calories to your daily calorie amount (if you have one that you track) without realising it. In my own experience, it was only until I started tracking how many calories I was eating each day that I began to lose fat all over my body. I was shocked to see how much I was eating compared to what I actually needed to eat in my own physical circumstances. If you want to track your calories every day, consider MyFitnessPal which is the best one around if you ask me!
19. Eat something good for your gut bacteria. You’ve probably heard recently about the importance of having healthy gut bacteria. It turns out that the living bacteria in your gut need feeding the right kind of stuff to thrive and keep you healthy. It’s also thought that the microbiome in your gut has an important relationship with your brain and actually affect how you feel and think. An easy way to encourage good gut bacteria is by eating something every day like a yoghurt or pickles.
20. Swap out milk chocolate for dark chocolate. Admittedly, dark chocolate isn’t quite as satisfying as milk chocolate but it’s the only chocolate to have great health benefits. Dark chocolate packs iron, magnesium and other trace elements like zinc. It’s also thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, improve brain function, and could even help to regulate that good gut bacteria. However, the benefits are at their maximum when you eat 80% cocoa or higher when it comes to dark chocolate. So, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, why not try and make a habit of eating dark chocolate as your first choice? It’s not my personal favourite but I think it’s definitely something you can get used to quickly. Admittedly, dark chocolate is more expensive than other variations so that is worth keeping in mind.
21. Take a pause before eating. Before each meal, ask yourself, am I really hungry or am I just bored? It took me a long time to realise I used to eat throughout the day because I was bored, especially on the weekends. These days, I don’t eat my first meal until 11 am at the earliest. This won’t work for everyone, but if you can go any longer than you normally do, you may find you end up eating less or binging less every day. This daily habit has helped me eat less and get to grips with how much food I actually need to eat so I don’t always feel bloated and uncomfortable.
22. Keep the wine below 5 ounces. The reality is most of us adults do drink wine at some point in the week. It’s obvious you shouldn’t do it too much but what’s a safe amount? Apparently, 5 ounces per day and below should be the target. The consumption of daily wine has actually been linked to improved heart health when not drank in excess. So, drinking a glass of wine could be a healthy habit to do every day after all.
23. Get more than your 5 a day. Apparently, the old ‘get 5 a day’ campaign was oversimplified when put to the public by the World Health Organisation. It’s actually better (if not obviously) to get 6, 7 or more portions of fruit and vegetables. 5 portions can sometimes seem a lot to get to begin with but it’s actually incredibly easy to get more than that. For example, you probably already use tinned tomatoes in your meals or vegetable-based sauces. You can also add lentils, soups, and nuts, alongside your vegetables and fruits into your diet. Just try and add some kind of vegetable to each meal you have.
24. Do a breathing exercise in the morning. Breathing exercises may seem woo-woo to some but I have seen the benefits myself. After practising the Wim Hof breathing method for several months now, for example, I have seen that I start my day calmer and more relaxed, rather than rushed and stressed by the thought of having to travel early in the morning. There are plenty of other breathing techniques you can try however, have a look around and find one that speaks to you.
25. Practise mindfulness. The easiest way to practise mindfulness is to take a short pause in your day whether it’s before you go to work, on your lunch break or when you get in after work. Use a cue like sitting down once you get home to sit and pause for several minutes. It doesn’t have to be long but if you can, do it in silence and reflect on your thoughts, not judging them or labelling them as good or bad, just be an observer. These little pauses of reflection act to break up the automatic groundhog day we all experience in our busy lives.
Download 40 illustrated mindfulness worksheets and give mindfulness a go today.
26. Write in your journal. Don’t have a journal? No problem, you can jot down a few notes on your phone’s notes app. Have a go at writing down a few sentences about your day to reflect on what happened, what you liked and what you didn’t, etc. This is a great healthy habit to do every day because it helps to make you feel like every day counts when life starts to feel a little bit repetitive. It’s also fun to look back and find notes you forgot you wrote.
27. Practice gratitude. It’s impossible to be upset or angry when you’re practising gratitude. Even when life feels glum, there’s always something to be grateful for. Admittedly, it’s not an easy thing to do, especially when you feel a bit down but it gets easier with repetition like anything else. You can add this to your daily journal entries and you may just find it improves your mood.
28. Practice mindful listening. Set some time aside to immerse yourself in either some music or a podcast. Mindful listening is about paying attention and is a great way to be present from moment to moment. If you can, try and do it when you can be still.
29. Do something for someone else without expectations. In a world of accumulation and instant gratification, doing something kind for someone else can improve your mood. According to research, it can also boost your health. What’s not to love about doing something for someone else without expecting anything back?
30. Get direct sunlight every day. How often do you find yourself sitting under a dim artificial light? Perhaps you’re at work, in the store or even in your own front room. These days, we tend to find ourselves indoors more and more, this was especially the case during covid and even now, after it, with more people working from home. The importance of getting direct sunlight, even sitting next to your window is vital. There are many benefits to getting natural light on your eyeballs and some are essential for your mental health and your body’s stress levels not to mention overall health.
31. Walk outside, away from buildings. Going for a mindful walk in nature and taking in your surroundings is important for your physical and mental health. How many times a week do you go somewhere whether it’s the local forest, lake or park? Most of our time in the cities is spent surrounded by artificial buildings and artificial noises. There are countless benefits of spending a bit of time in nature like boosting your mental energy levels, your sleep and your overall mental health. It may not seem like a realistic healthy habit to do every day but if for example, you walk to and from work, is there a route you could take that leads you through nature? If not, can you at least do something at the weekend to change your surroundings?
32. Do at least 15 minutes of exercise a day. You don’t need to go to the gym to improve your physical and mental health. Even 15 – 30 minutes of exercise three times a week is enough to drastically improve your health. If you can simply walk for 15 minutes a day, that still counts towards your daily exercise routine.
33. Track your daily workouts. If you walk or do rigorous exercise every day, why not track your progress? In my experience, tracking your workouts or even just your steps is a great way to keep yourself motivated. The more you see your progress, the more your motivation builds. Motivation is something that’s often hard to manifest before you start and is instead grown and fostered after you begin something.
34. Go to bed at the same time every day. How many times have you stayed up binging Netflix only to feel awful the next day? It’s true you can get used to differing sleeping times to a certain extent but it seems it’s best to go to bed at the same time every night as well as getting up at the same time every morning. Everyone is different but going to bed at the same time every night is important for your health. Our bodies run on an internal clock called the circadian clock which is how your body understands when to undertake certain processes.
35. Be still. We’re on the always go, go, go. It’s often hard to find a minute to just be still in your day and reflect. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to meditate, even for five minutes a day whether you do it in the morning or the evening. If you find it hard to do on your own, find a good meditation video online to follow along – there’s plenty on YouTube. It may just be a game-changer for you. Meditation can improve your health in many ways including emotional health, anxiety levels and stress levels so it’s worth giving it a go if you ask me!
36. If you breathe through your mouth, switch to your nose! It may surprise you to learn that nasal breathing is far superior to mouth breathing in terms of your overall health. Nose breathing can improve your sleep, mental health, mental clarity, the oxygen levels you absorb, and even the structure of your face. Of course, this is difficult to stick to when it comes to things like intense exercise but if you can try and stick to breathing through your nose, you may find that many aspects of your health improve. Nose breathing is an easy healthy habit to do every day and is well worth looking into further.
37. Ground yourself regularly. I don’t mean ban yourself from going out when I say ground yourself! Grounding yourself is a key mindfulness exercise which is about bringing yourself back to the present moment. An anxious mind makes your thoughts drift to the future or the past and sometimes it’s hard to just be present in your current moment. Grounding yourself is an important thing to do because when you’re not present, you can never be happy and it can affect your relationships. To do this, find five things you can see, five things you can hear and five things you can touch, for example. Better still, write down how you’re currently feeling without judging..