It’s a big claim, and of course it’s not literally true, but I’ve been noticing lately how much impact a small action can have on my life. Making healthy choices in what we eat and drink can seem like a daunting task, and sometimes it seems like we need to make a major overhaul to have an impact. In my experience, small changes add up to big changes over time, as each successful change inspires another.
For example, last year I requested a sit/stand station at work, with the secret hope that I’d lose 20 pounds instantly. Of course, that’s not what happened – a new desk is not a miracle! But over the course of a few months I definitely noticed some positive changes in my health and outlook. The first thing I noticed was that the ‘afternoon slump’ wasn’t hitting me as hard, so I didn’t drink as much coffee (with cream and sugar…) or hit the vending machine in the afternoon. Then it occurred to me that I was drinking more water – after all, the water cooler seemed so much closer to my desk when I was already up and moving around! And when I moved around the office more, I noticed that I went to colleagues’ desks to talk instead of calling or emailing. I am not the type to wear a fitness tracker, but I know my daily step-count was increasing without me every thinking about it. Bonus benefit – my relationships with my colleagues were enriched by the time spend face-to-face! One small change had many positive ripples.
Another small change you can make it to put healthier foods ‘at arms length’ at work and at home. There is good scientific evidence that putting healthier food and drink in front of yourself has a strong impact on your daily food choices. As this article from The Health Science Journal* puts it, ‘you are what you eat, and you eat what you see.’
So, I decided to try it! I have been trying to add at least two cups of green tea to my menu every day, so on a Sunday evening, I brewed a batch of iced Afternoon Green Tea, and put it in a lovely carafe right at eye level in my fridge. By morning, I’d forgotten all about it (hey, I’m a busy woman….) and was almost unreasonably excited to find that refreshing, cold and aesthetically-pleasing pitcher greeting me! Every time I went to the fridge to get a drink, or peruse for a snack, or get ideas for dinner, I saw that sparkling pitcher of iced green tea, and treated myself to a cup. My carafe holds six cups of iced tea, and I’ve continued to make a batch every 2-3 nights for about a month now. It’s been super-easy to incorporate this healthy new habit into my life, and while I can’t say it’s changed everything about my life, I do feel more alert, refreshed, and pampered after I have my glass of iced green tea!
I also notice that when I’m feeling positive about my food and drink choices, I tend to keep making good choices. It’s possible green tea is an especially powerful ally in this effort. In 2008, the journal Physiology & Behavior reported on a study that showed that male rats that drank umami-flavored water ate less and gained less weight than those that were fed the same amount of food but without umami flavoring. From the November 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
*The Health Science Journal “10 Small Health Changes That Can Make A Big Difference” by THSJ