Eating more fruits and veggies, and exercising, all matter when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. But did you know that more greens, exercise and a fruit or two can make you feel happier too?
According to a new international study, led by researchers from the United Kingdom, increased movement and consuming vegetables and fruits increase levels of happiness.
The study was conducted by Dr Adelina Gschwandtner from the University of Kent’s School of Economics, Dr Sarah Jewell and Professor Uma Kambhampati, who are both from the University of Reading’s School of Economics.
The link between lifestyle and wellbeing has been previously documented and is often used in public health campaigns that promote healthier diets and exercise. But the new study published by the Journal of Happiness Studies shows that there is also a positive connection from lifestyle to life satisfaction.
“There has been an increasing push towards veganism and vegetarianism and there has been a shift towards the use of cycles and walking, largely because of environmental concerns.”
“Little attention has been paid to the impact of these changes on individual wellbeing,” said the report.
This research is the first of its kind to unravel the causation of how happiness, the consumption of fruit and vegetables and exercising are related, rather than generalising a correlation.
‘You are in control’
The findings showed that it is rather the consumption of fruit and vegetables and exercising that makes people happy, and not the other way around.
Researchers also demonstrate that the ability of individuals to delay gratification and apply self-control plays a major role in influencing lifestyle decisions, which in turn has a positive impact on wellbeing.
The research also shows that men appear to exercise more, and women eat more fruit and vegetables.
With it being well known that lifestyle diseases are a leading cause of ill health and mortality worldwide, these findings could have significant implications for global public health policy.
Dr Gschwandtner noted, “Behavioural nudges that help the planning self to reinforce long-term objectives are likely to be especially helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
“If a better lifestyle not only makes us healthier but also happier, then it is a clear win-win situation.”
Professor Kambhampati said, “There has been a bigger shift in recent years for healthier lifestyle choices. To establish that eating more fruit and vegetables and exercising can increase happiness, as well as offer health benefits, is a major development. This may also prove useful for policy campaigns around environment and sustainability.”
Here’s how you can increase your fruit and veg intake
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, an estimated 70% to 80% of heart disease and stroke can be prevented by your life choices and habits, such as eating a healthy diet.
Eating well and making good nutritional choices is one of the best weapons you have in the fight against heart disease, as well as many other chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
We have seven tips for putting fruit and veggies on your everyday menu while saving you time and money:
- Chop veggies ahead of time and store them in the freezer.
- Buying seasonal fruit and vegetables are cheaper and tastier.
- Look for produce that is cheaper per kilogram.
- Frozen produce counts. They are nutritional and a trusted time saver. Also try these tips for cooking veggies.
- Don’t neglect canned fruit. Look out for fruits preserved in natural juices or water with no added salt.
- How you cook produce is important. Steamed, grilled, baked or stir-fried with a small amount of oil is lekker.
- Make fruits and veggies more exciting for kids. Peel and slice and they are more likely to eat it. If you do have a little time, a fruity kebab and interesting shapes go a long way.