How to design a healthy home.
We spend most of our time at work or asleep (and the small amount of time in between either watching Netflix or at the pub, #Australia). Considering this, there isn’t a great deal of time left to dedicate to leading a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise, diet and managing stress. Sometimes it feels like we could spend an endless amount of time and money trying to perfect these forever-inadequate aspects of our lives.
It’s no surprise that there has been a shift toward designing our lifestyles and spaces so that we can unconsciously make the healthy choice.
We’ve seen examples of design influencing our health on a large scale. The number of green spaces and bike lanes will influence how much we exercise. Safe, well-designed and attractive streets encourage us to get out and about. The number of fast food restaurants in our area, versus the number of markets offering fresh fruit and vegetables, will impact our diet.
While we may not be able to control these facets of the cities we live in, we can certainly bring this same philosophy of healthy design into our homes.
Visual cues in the kitchen will remind us to eat healthy. Start your kitchen reorganisation with a clean-up day. Marie Kondo the sh*t out of your fridge and pantry. Does that 4 year old laksa paste spark joy?
Organise your pantry so that you can easily see the variety healthy foods you have. I don’t know how many times I’ve bought chia seeds and they’ve ended in the back of a drawer, collecting dust. You’re much more likely to use these items if you can see them.
I like to put all of my seeds, nuts, oats, rice, legumes and other healthy tidbits in cheap glass jars. Feel free to label your jars if it satisfies your OCD.
Keep your fridge full of fresh produce. The more vibrant colours in your fridge, the more attractive cooking will be. Group items together in a way that makes sense to you. I like to group proteins, vegetables, fruit, cheeses, condiments and drinks in separate sections. When you know where things are, life becomes easier.
If you have an old refrigerator, buy a new one. New refrigerators will keep your produce fresh for a full 1-2 weeks, rather than 1-2 days. You will consume more fruit and vegetables, spend less money and reduce your long-term contribution to landfill. It’s worth the investment.
Make healthy snacks visible and at eye level in your kitchen. Less-healthy snacks should be put away in a drawer so they aren’t the first thing you see when you’re hangry.
Keep a full fruit bowl out on your table. Research shows that if you do this, you’ll eat more fruit. Fruit is full of health-giving phytochemicals and fibre, the sugar content is no concern.
Your spices should be plentiful and easily accessible. Dried oregano, basil, paprika, turmeric, garlic powder, and cinnamon are some of my most used. Spices make your cooking smell and taste infinitely better.
The bedroom is for sleeping. We’re more likely to eat well if we get enough sleep. Read my article on sleep to find out some good sleep hygiene tips.
Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
Only essential electronics should be in the bedroom. Televisions, iPads and laptops emit blue light and will reduce your sleep quality. Make sure you’re using the blue light filter function on your phone if you need to use it before bed.
If you have trouble sleeping, try using an essential oil diffuser. Yep, there is actual science to show that lavender oil inhalation can lead to decreases in blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, indicating a decrease of autonomic arousal (increased relaxation).
The hype is real; indoor plants remove carbon dioxide and pollutants from the air. Many plants can do this effectively at night, and may be beneficial in the bedroom.
Keep your workout clothes and runners separate from your other clothes. Put them somewhere visible - preferably at eye line. Conveniently placed clothes will act as a nudge to go for that walk.
Get rid of those scales, your weight is not important. While we’re here, you should probably floss more.
Stop buying herbs. No matter how small your garden is, it’s big enough to grow some potted herbs. Live in an apartment? Use your window sill. No excuses. Basil, rosemary and parsley will get you started nicely. You think you kill all the plants? Parsley never dies.
If you liked growing herbs, why not establish a small veggie patch? Growing your own food is not only extremely rewarding, but means you have a constant supply of fresh food. Greens like spinach, chard or silverbeet are super easy to grow and don’t take up much space. And when you’ve got nothing in the fridge except an old block of parmesan, you can grab some spinach and parsley from your garden and whip up the most gourmet pasta of all time. So handy.
The important thing to remember is that you want to make healthy behaviours easy and desirable. Moving, eating, and sleeping well can be made so much more doable when our environment is designed well.