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Exercise regularly, eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol – we all know these contribute to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s important to know the distinction between slipping up and taking some time out. So shake off that guilty niggling feeling, kick back and ditch the guilt trip. Here are 8 ways where indulging in life’s little pleasures can actually be good for you.
1. Take a break from working out.
Taking a break from the gym will give your muscles time to recover and you’ll return to training physically stronger and mentally revitalized, especially if you do a lot of resistance training.
2. Have a beer every now and again.
Drinking beer can aid bone growth and fight the onset of osteoporosis, according to US research. The study showed that beer contains silicon, a key mineral for increasing bone density. Silicon has been proven to slow down bone thinning that leads to osteoporosis. Stick to pale ales as they contain the highest levels of silicon, while low-alcohol beers contain the least.
3. Take a day to unwind.
Mental health days are a great idea if you are feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. If you don’t take days off to unwind, you’ll probably end up being unproductive anyway. ‘Doona days’ might be just the thing you need to feel refreshed and recharged. Likewise, book in for a massage or acupuncture session, or take that yoga class on your day off to really maximise the restorative benefits of some “me time”.
4. Order out.
The right kind of take-away can be fine once a week, and might actually be healthier than a meal you might whip up in a time-poor fashion anyway (think sausages and mash, no other veggies or salad, etc). Healthy take-aways are things like sushi with a seaweed side salad, Asian-inspired soups or stir-fries, or home-made style burgers that include lean grilled meat and salad.
5. Sing out loud.
Besides being a cheap thrill, singing out loud can boost your mood. When we sing, we let go of our inhibitions and it’s so good for us to lose ourselves in a little singalong. We can feel instantly lighter.
6. Log off for an hour.
Disconnect from your phone, internet and email for an hour a day. “Silencing” your life, particularly at the start or end of each day can be very beneficial. Plus, research has found you sleep better if you have at least half an hour without phone, email Facebook or even intense conversations with your partner before going to bed.
7. Choose full fat options.
People assume that foods which say ‘light’, ‘diet’ or ‘fat-free’ are the healthier option, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Often, many chemicals are added to the food to give it this label, or they are just not as healthy as the full-fat variety. For example, using vegetable or olive-oil based dressings rather than diet ones is healthier because the oil has been shown to increase the absorption of antioxidants from the salad vegetables. Choose full-fat cheese, too because the lower the fat content, the higher the salt content tends to be. And remember not all fats are bad fats. Some are very healthy for you.
8. Have a little chocolate.
More good news on chocolate. Results from a Canadian study suggests those who eat 50 grams of good-quality dark chocolate each week are 22% less likely to suffer a stroke and 46% less likely to die after a stroke than those who eat no chocolate at all. Dark chocolate has a range of health benefits for your heart, and is a powerful antioxidant.