The most valuable investment of all?
We tend to focus on money. Work harder, work more, earn more, save more, invest more.
All well and good, but if you're not careful you could end up financially independent in the hospital or the ground (and no longer financially independent if you're in the hospital for too long).
The best insurance policy may well be a healthy lifestyle, but it's easier said than done. Unfortunately while I find saving and investing fairly easy, I struggle to exercise and eat well.
I have to say I hesitated to write this post. Not only am I not an expert, I have pretty much failed to follow the advice I set out here. I guess there is a chance going over it will help me do better in the future. Hopefully we'll also get some good advice in the comments.
Eating is the foundation. `You can't outrun a bad diet', they say. And when you realize that you would have to run ten miles just to burn off a tasty Sasebo Burger with fries and a soda, you can see how true that is.
Fortunately for most of us, we live in Japan, where relatively healthy food is easy and cheap to find, where portion sizes are reasonable, and where most people around you are relatively slim and healthy.
Very different to the UK and the US.
The other good thing is that a healthy diet can be cheaper than an unhealthy one, helping us get ever closer to our financial goals.
In no particular order, here are some things you can do to make your diet healthier:
- Don't eat until you are full. The 'hara hachi bu' (80% full) rule will result in better health by reducing overeating.
- Chew more. This makes it easier to digest and makes you take longer to finish your food, giving your brain a chance to realise you are full.
- Eat less meat. Meat is great, but for health, cost, and environmental reasons we might be better off eating it a few times a week rather than with every meal.
- Eat fermented things. Natto, kimchee, yoghurt are good for your gut bacteria.
- Drink a lot of water. No calories, keeps you hydrated, reduces hunger, free. What's not to like? If like me you don't like tap water, get one of these. I actually like the water it makes better than bottled water.
- Eat more protein and fat (focus on healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, etc.). They make you feel more full (satiated) which helps you eat fewer calories overall.
- Reduce the amount of sugar and simple carbohydrates (like white bread) you eat. Simple carbs basically get turned into sugar in your stomach.
- Try intermittent fasting: the basic idea is that you skip one meal (normally either breakfast or dinner) in order to 'fast' a bit every day. You try to do all your eating in a single eight-hour (or six-hour) period each day.
- Cook more at home. Food in restaurants contains more salt, fat, and sugar in order to make it more tasty. Food from convenience stores contains all sorts of stuff to keep it looking fresh. You can avoid both of these and save money by making food from fresh ingredients at home.
- Use smaller plates. You can trick yourself into eating smaller portions.
How about you? Anything to add to this list of food/eating tips? I'll be doing exercise in a future post, so please keep your exercise tips until then :)