You’ve heard of the Paleo Diet—the theory that we are genetically programmed to thrive on the food that sustained our hunter-gatherer ancestors, before the farming revolution changed things for the worse. There may or may not be truth in it, but there is certainly truth in the idea that we can live a healthy lifestyle while cutting down the aspects of modern life that stress our minds and our pockets.
You don’t need to follow the Paleo Diet completely to find simpler, and less expensive, ways to eat. Start by junking the junk food. Sugar is addictive, and most of us eat far more than is good for us, so try weaning yourself off the stuff. Why not try to cut the amount of salt you eat? Unlike sugar it has some nutritional importance, but we get much more than we need, especially in processed foods. Cutting back on these two has the advantage of giving our taste organs a break to appreciate the natural tastes of simple foods.
Takeaways and snack treats are major sources of salt, sugar and less healthy fats. Try managing without them. Especially if you are providing for a family, a meal cooked with natural ingredients will not only save money while giving you control over what you eat, but will introduce your kids to a lifetime of healthy eating.
You don’t need to fork out on a gym membership to get a healthy level of exercise—you can get all you need for free. The secret is to find ways to exercise that reward you with more than a sense of exhausted achievement. If you look forward to the exercise beginning, rather than longing for it to be over, you are more likely to start.
Walking or cycling are great low-cost activities that get your heart rate up, and you can fit them into your normal routine—just walk a little further rather than catching the bus, and take the stairs rather than the elevator. Use the time to notice more of what is around you—playing memory games to recall who and what you have seen is good for your brain as well.
Don’t get into a rut with your exercise, unless you find it truly fascinating. Look for different things to do, alone or with family or friends, to make your exercise fun, especially at weekends or on holiday.
Beat the Stress
A huge scourge of the modern lifestyle is stress. Good diet and healthy exercise play an important part in beating stress, by promoting the endorphins in our brains, and by helping us to get a good night’s sleep (most people should aim for 7-8 hours).
Whenever possible, get close to nature and try to find time to stop and stare. Observing nature has a noted calming effect on our brains and physiology.
Cultivate a spirit of generosity. It may seem strange to suggest it as a way to save money, but giving it away (in a managed style, of course) can give us a great sense of control over our lives—we decide what to do with our money, rather than letting it dictate to us. Thinking about those who have far less also helps us to get our own situation into focus.
Above all, find time to relax with other people. We are by nature social creatures, and time alone with our problems can allow them to grow. Sharing our problems with others, and hearing about their problems, gets things in perspective. The simple act of being with others affirms our own place on the planet, and giving our time to others is another way of asserting control over our own lives.
Make It Fun
We are blessed with a gift of imagination. If we use it to find varied and innovative ways to simplify our lifestyle we shall probably discover that there is more to life than we thought and that, as people always say, the best things in life are still free.
Matthew Thompson is a life coach who works with people from all walks of life to get them on the path in life that makes them truly happy. He writes motivational articles which appear online at various blogs and social media pages.