Top 3 Healthy Lifestyle Habits of A Non-Diet Nutritionist 

 February 11, 2020

By  jennifer@thinkingnutrition.co.nz

“It’s after 10pm,” says Mr Cricket, or should I call him The Talking Clock?

Because there he is, sitting beside me on the couch, tippity-tapping on his laptop, reminding me (annoyingly – ha ha!) that it’s past my bedtime.

He knows, and I know, that I’ll be grumpy tomorrow if I don’t get enough sleep.

And he knows, and I know, that given the chance I’ll stay up to grasp just a few more minutes of “child-free time,” (let’s finish this episode on Netflix?).

Plus, we both know that in the morning, one or both of our young sons will bound into our bedroom and wake us up (why so much energy?!). End of sleep.

And thus begins another day of mayhem in our household – breakfasts, school lunches, book bags, swim bags, sunblock, shoes (where are they?), and out the door to walk to school and work.

My Top 3 Healthy Lifestyle Habits

By the time I say goodbye to the kids at school bell time, 9am, I’m already well on the way to completing TWO of my most important healthy lifestyle habits. And no, they’ve got nothing to do with my breakfast, which might sound surprising for someone who makes her living as a registered nutritionist.

Something OTHER than food takes the top 2 slots on my to-do list each day.

So here we go…

1. Sleep – The Final Frontier

I gotta be honest, sleep is the bane of my life.

I need it, I love, and I want it. But I also want to read, watch Netflix, scroll through Houzz online, relax and hang-out in the evenings.

And as my kids get older, their evening time has begun to slowly lengthen and shift into what used to officially be “adult time” (you know, the time when you pop open the crackly-packaged chocs hidden from the kids in the pantry? Yes that time).

But I also know, that sleep is the foundation on which healthy living exists.

Without sleep we are grumpy, irritated, our eating habits change, our personality changes, our entire life is altered.

In fact, we’re literally dead after 11 days without sleep.

So sleep is important. Very important.

Probably more important than food in the scheme of things, because we can survive without food for almost double that time (and we can probably survive forever without a kale smoothie, just sayin’).

So why do so few of us take sleep seriously compared to what we eat? Why are we staying up late?

Why do we think we’ll “eat better” tomorrow, overeat less, listen to our fullness, choose more nutritious foods rather than snacking on doritos, while taking no notice of our sad-as sleep habits?

Probably because you have NO IDEA how important sleep is to your eating habits (hello, it directly impacts them).

If you’re not getting a good quality and quantity of sleep it WILL impact your eating habits, for the WORSE.

Plus it’ll balls-up most other things in your life too. And you don’t want anything balls-ing you up, do you?

So that’s why plenty of sleep is at the top of my list. And it’ll always be a battle, but it’s worth fighting my Netflix-urges to get those hours and start the day on the right foot.

2. Regular Enjoyable Movement

Every school morning we walk our boys to school… if you’re imagining a leisurely stroll with bush and bird sounds, please don’t let my reality disappoint you (Mum! Can you carry my bag? Mummy, I don’t want to walk I’m too tired! Mum! I forgot my swimming gear!).

Anyway, after a sometimes-enjoyable walk to school, we drop the kids off and I walk further around our village, saying “morning” to all the people walking their dogs (and picking up dog poop), before making my way back to my home office to work. A good 40-45 minute walk.

But here’s the thing, I enjoy walking. Some mornings it’s a leisurely stroll, some mornings I push myself to walk hard and fast up the hills. It just depends on how I feel.

Walking is a great way to unwind and relax for me.

Physical activity is also a fantastic way to reduce the stress hormones (cortisol and so on) that are circulating around your body.

I’m annoyingly in a lifelong battle with anxiety (and my 3rd bout of depression), so I need movement to stay sane (that and the meds, obviously).

Without school this plan usually falls to pieces, like in the school holidays. Nobody wants to move, except me. So sometimes I walk alone on the school holidays, but if Mr Cricket is away for work then I have to convince my little troopers to come marching with me, or just give up on the idea.

So what’s an enjoyable way to move for you? Zumba class? Pilates? Yoga? Gardening? Picking up lego off the floor?

Do what you love, because you love it, not because it burns calories, and it’ll become both an enjoyable and hugely beneficial part of your life.

 3. Including Nutritious Foods In My Day

I hear and read a lot of comments from clients and peeps in my FREE Intuitive Eating Facebook Group worrying about the foods they’re eating. They feel like they’re eating too much of this or too much of that, and wonder why they’re still craving sweets and chips and the like.

And I get it – even when we commit to intuitive eating and fully believe that foods like sugar are not “good or bad”, it can take some time to work through our lingering feelings of doubt and worry.

Worry that while we’re eating sugar-laden cake with reckless abandon, we’re somehow harming our health (for the average healthy adult, this is more than likely not true).

Worry about WHY we’re still eating all the play foods after months on the intuitive eating journey…

Worry about WHY we aren’t craving more nutritious foods….

Well, here’s the thing for me in a nutshell.

I don’t focus on trying to eat LESS of certain things.

I focus instead on including MORE of the foods I want in my life.

I see and feel how different foods change how my body feels, what impacts my sleep, what makes me feel sluggish and like I’ve got a hangover.

And I naturally WANT to include the foods that make me feel physically good. I’m always going on about nuts, and yes I put them at the top of my 5 favourite superfoods list, but they are truly awesome!

I love the taste of nuts. And nuts fill me up in a way that feels good (I should admit I eat a BIG pile of nuts each day). On days that I don’t eat nuts I never feel satisfied with my food.

So every day I try to include the foods I love and enjoy, that help my body physically feel good.

I don’t count, or tally, or measure the play foods in my day. I just eat them and move on.

I’m pretty sure that in different stages in our lives the lifestyle habits that we prioritise will change. There is no right or wrong. I just wanted to share with you mine, so you can see that food isn’t a HUGE thing in my life. It’s just one piece of a bigger puzzle.

So how about you now –  what top 3 lifestyle habits would have you feeling your best physically?

Comment below and let me know 🙂

Jennifer xo.


Hey, I’m Jennifer. I help women transform their relationship with food, their body and weight, so they can ditch the guilt and shame, and focus on more important stuff - like living a happy and healthy life!

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