New Year, New You
New Year is often a time when you reflect on the year being left behind and you make commitments, promises and resolutions to yourself about how to possibly live better for the next twelve months.
If, when the New Year rolled in last night, you made some resolutions that involved living a healthier life, I want to make sure that you start with the right foundation and avoid feeling overwhelmed, with your good intentions discarded by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around.
When you resolve to live healthier here are many small incremental shifts and changes you can implement that will add up to greater health for you by this time next year.
This is where I want to start today.
1. Vegetables are your best friend
If you think that peas and carrots are enough, you are sadly mistaken. The do count as vegetables, but you need to eat a wide variety of plants and vegetables in order to get all the necessary nutrition. Even if you are not a fan of dark leafy greens, I recommend you ‘bite the bullet’ and eat them anyway. Vegetables are key in health promotion and weight management. You need them to make yourself healthy and to get all those vitamins, nutrients and minerals that are essential for your body to function optimally. The next time you go to the grocery store, do the cliché, and shop the rainbow. Buy purple cabbage, dark green spinach or kale instead of regular green cabbage and iceberg lettuce. Add sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes to your cart or basket. Try a new vegetable every time you go to the grocery store and try out some new recipes with your new food. Get creative. Vegetables are not only full of nutrients that fight disease, they fill you up, aid in the digestion process and all that nutrition density makes you feel good! It may be a challenge but you can begin to enjoy vegetables. Train yourself, and your family to eat them at every meal. It is the number 1 thing you can do for your family’s long term wellness.
2. Drink water, and lots of it
Next to eating more vegetables, drinking more water is the nest best thing you can do for your long term health goals. I firmly believe that consuming multiple servings of vegetables a day and drinking your recommended daily amount of good, clean water will improve health, manage weight and give you the tools to deal with many of the toxins, bacteria and stressors you encounter on a daily basis. If you are not a fan of drinking water, too bad. You have to drink it anyway. I am often asked what is the ideal amount of water to drink for optimal health. There are many online calculators that can help you ascertain your personal needs. You may need to experiment a little to find your perfect ‘dose’. One important piece of advice is to pace yourself. Drink your water throughout the day as opposed to all at once. Water is the ideal beverage and should be your drink of choice. Swap out the juices and sodas for this simple thirst quencher.
3. Remove processed and packaged foods
Stop buying processed foods. Resolve to cook more meals for you and your family starting with whole, real, intact ingredients. You do not need to do this is one giant step. Start slowly. One extra meal a week will make a huge difference. This will likely be the one suggestion that will meet with the most resistance, but it is an important one. You will experience the joy that comes with putting a nutritious, homemade meal on the dinner table. Start by not buying anymore of those “helper” meal kits from the dry food aisle as well as the frozen meals from the freezer sections of the grocery store. These are highly processed foods, full of GMOS, chemicals, sodium and other ingredients that cannot be pronounced and are not identifiable as food. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and make meals from the vegetables and meats that you buy.
4. Add a new healthy food every month
Whether you are wondering about the health benefits of coconut oil or wanting to try some wild-caught salmon, adding in some turmeric or even a little organ meat, resolve to incorporate at least 1 new healthy food into your diet each month. Give it a try, you may be surprised. This could also include swapping out raw honey for your sugar, or coconut milk in your coffee or smoothie. By slowly starting to incorporate a few super foods into your diet, by this time next year, you will have, made 12 solid shifts! Committing to adding one new food per month is less overwhelming than trying to do it all at once. Small step create big results over time.
5. Stop making treats
If you are aware you have a weakness for cookies or sweet treats, stop making and baking them. If you have a tendency to sit down to a couple of muffins or cupcakes each time you bake a batch, try not baking them anymore, even if you tell yourself they are not for you. I often see, and create, recipes for healthier versions of my favourite treats, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free desserts, and whole foods based baked goods and festive indulgences. These are all fantastic, but need to be treated as what they are, occasional, mindful indulgences. Your diet should be based on high quality vegetables, lean meats, poultry and fish. Do you really need another muffin? There are so many way more nutritious options for a snack if you needed one. Try some vegetables, nuts, eggs or even a piece of fruit.
There you have it. Follow these gentle suggestions and by the time December is upon you again, you will be feeling amazingly healthy and committing to sticking with these changes, choosing not to go back to your ‘old’ ways again!
Have a wonderful 2016. Your health is your wealth. Create it!