10 Healthy Habits for Additive Wellness

When people talk about creating balance in their lives, they often focus on restricting, removing or avoiding “unhealthy” habits. For me, balance means something different. It includes drinking wine, eating cheese, and reading outside. Some may deem these activities unhealthy, but in the bigger picture of life, I believe they are crucial for overall wellness.

Instead of deleting bread, sugar, nightshade vegetables, or whatever else the fad diet community can dream up, I try to add in the wellness component instead. Think about it this way: adding something into your life naturally squeezes out something else. Give it a try—there’s nothing to lose (at first)! By adding any of these 10 things, you just might find you naturally remove something not serving you in life. Without guilt. Without pain. Let’s see.

Add pulses:

Lentils, beans, and peas (a.k.a. pulses) are an amazing food choice that’s an inexpensive, environmentally conscious source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Adding as little as a half cup per day can help improve your heart and gut health while reducing your risk for chronic diseases and helping you maintain a healthy body weight. Add chickpeas to your salad or black beans to your tacos. We’ve got a recipe for a lentil salad that will keep you coming back for more.

Add walking:

Movement matters. We sit too much, but instead of focusing on reducing screen time or whatever it is that makes you feel guilty, figure out how to add more walking. Park far away. Get off a subway stop earlier. To make movement breaks more tempting, call a friend to chat at the same time or download a great podcast (#SSDGM).

Add a salad somewhere:

Please note the absence of the phrase “eat less of your favorite food” anywhere in this article. Have the pizza! I sure will. But add a leafy green salad somewhere in the day too. If you want to go all in, you can do what we do: have “salad pizza.” Make pizza, and either add salad on top or cut up the pizza and use it as a salad topping.

Add water:

Most of us are mere shriveled raisins of humans lurching from coffee to wine with nothing in between. Just drink some water. We all know we’re dehydrated. Buy a water bottle you love. Make this one a double-add if you’re so inclined, and drop in some lemon for extra flavor and vitamin C.

Add veggies in interesting shapes:

Blah, blah. No one actually digs steamed broccoli florets. But you know what I am into? Produce in interesting shapes that makes eating fun (this works for not only small children, but also adults). Use a food processor, mandolin or even a spiralizer tool to take veggies and make them texturally and visually interesting. For us, shredding cabbage finely along with carrots makes it so easy to finish an entire batch. Throw it in with snap peas cut on a bias and diced red peppers. You might just find you love a food that you didn’t find appealing before. We love this easy recipe for pan-roasted cabbage.

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Add flavor:

Since when did wellness become all about suffering? Add flavor to healthy things. Don’t be a martyr and eat dry dull salad. You won’t win any awards! Fresh herbs and citrus can completely change a dish. So do a little bold feta, a pinch of flaky salt, umami seasoning, and even bacon. A few chopped lardons will make a dish of Brussels sprouts disappear. My husband Chris and I call these additions“salad confetti” because they are the fun in the salad. My brother, who used to adhere to a strict nacho-only diet, can vouch for this. We tried these recipes on him.

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Add fruit on the counter:

We eat what we see. That’s why a candy dish in the office needs to be constantly refilled. Add a fruit—or three—of your choice to a pretty bowl on the counter and make snacking easy.

Add nature indoors:

Adding some nature indoors has a lot of health benefits. Studies abound on why forest bathing works and why a nice house plant can help with air quality. For big visual impact with low maintenance, get large branches in a large vessel for the floor. Get a low-maintenance cactus if you’re chronically traveling. My personal plant drug of choice is orchids. When you add in the nature, remove something in your home that stresses you out. Hate that weird picture frame your aunt gave you? Get rid of it and put your new plant-lady swag there instead.

Add a self-care habit:

Be it acupuncture, massage, a warm bubble bath, or even a magazine subscription, add something special into your life that is just for you and that brings you joy. Wellness has many forms, but happiness is a big part of it, however you look at it. Schedule a self-care habit into your day and treat it like an important appointment.

Add people you care about to your life:

There are some sorry excuses for people out there, but once you find YOUR people, never let them go. Call them. Visit them. Connect over more than a text. Make time for them and boost your mood at the same time.

Photography by Constance Mariena

This story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of The Inspired Home Journal, titled “dditive Wellness.”