Over the years I've become more committed to my health and more mindful about what I put into my body. That commitment has developed because of a few health issues I've had and wanted to remedy. Below are 20 tips I've learned and incorporated into my life. I hope you find them helpful. :) Also, these steps don't need to happen all at once. I've slowly incorporated these tips as I've learned them, mostly over the last 6 years. Taking it a step at a time until it becomes habit works well.
1. Adhere to the 80/20 rule so you stay motivated and don't feel deprived or rigid. 80% healthy choices, 20% indulgences. I eat really healthy but I also dine out now and again and eat whatever I want. It's all about balance in my book.
2. Celebrate and keep track of what you're doing right, rather than focusing on what you're doing wrong. The more you track and appreciate the good habits in your life the more likely you are to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Read this blog for inspiration if you're interested.
3. Incorporate a daily or weekly shot of Apple Cider Vinegar into your routine. You can read about a few of the benefits here. I add my shot to my daily protein shake, it helps to mask the taste. The more you drink it, the less strong the taste is. Another great way to add it to your diet is as a salad dressing. If you’re ready to give it a try, I would suggest Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.
4. Consider your body's PH Balance, and eat to keep your body on the more alkaline side. Here is a great article on PH Balance and a wonderful graphic that lists foods to choose and foods to limit.
5. If at all possible choose organic and Non-GMO products.
6. Limit your meat intake to once a day or less, and choose chicken, turkey, and fish over beef and pork when possible. If possible, purchase free-range and organic products.
7. Increase vegetable intake. A great way to do this is to make baked/roasted vegetables daily. Roasted vegetables are so good and easy. I roast zucchini, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, beets... you name it! Baking pan, cover with parchment paper, add sliced veggies, top with some yummy vinegar and spices (I love Pinot Grigio White Wine Vinegar and chili flakes) and bake at around 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending. You can add baked veggies to rice and bean bowl, use as a side dish, or just have alone. If you love dipping veggies like I do, do it. Just make good choices on what you dip them in. Even ranch dressing can be okay (80/20 remember?) if you be sure to buy all natural ranch -- look for No Trans Fat, NO Preservatives, and No MSG. So important, and most dressings are loaded with those 3 offenders. Or try making your own creamy dips like hummus or greek yogurt and spices.
8. Get processed sugar, and products with it, out of your house and just stop eating them. Here is a great article with tips on quitting processed sugar. Most people are addicted to sugar because mainstream products, fast foods, and commercials are purposely geared towards getting people addicted to sugar. Once you get it out of your system you will realize how addicted you had been, and find that a regular piece of quality fruit like an apple or orange is all the sweet you need and it tastes amazing.
9. Stop drinking soda/pop. Just don't. It has no nutritional value what-so-ever and is horrible for your body, teeth, and system. Diet Soda is loaded with aspartame and fake sweeteners that are even worse than regular sodas.
10. Ultimately, just stop eating any foods that you see advertisements for. Soda, candy, pop tarts, mainstream dressings, cookies, chips (stick to all natural blue tortilla chips that are baked, the ones made with chia seeds are great), mainstream peanut butter, mainstream ketchup...all that junk is loaded with sugar and preservatives. Purchase healthy alternatives that don't have added sugars and use natural products. There are some awesome ketchup, dressings, and nut butter (almond and peanut) products that you can now even find at big box grocery stores. Companies that you see advertising on TV have a ton of money to do so because they make inferior, unhealthy products and have grown their empires on encouraging and brainwashing people to make bad choices.
11. Speaking of advertising (number 10) start to be aware of how you're being advertised to and gently coerced into your purchasing decisions. Watch commercials with a keen eye -- are they playing on your emotions (Jiff: "choosy moms choose Jiff!", L'Oréal: "Because You're Worth It", BMW: "The Ultimate Driving Machine", "De Beers: "A Diamond is Forever", "Dunkin' Donuts: "America Runs on Dunkin") are they softly manipulating you into feeling connected to their brand by the emotion they are provoking, the music they are playing (you can bet your ass that if the music they are using is from your childhood, you are exactly the target market they are advertising to). If you want a good way to tell if the advertising team that was paid thousands to figure out how to "connect" with you is doing their job, try watching tv when you're having a bad day. Did you and your kid have a difficult morning? You might just find yourself looking for Jiff peanut butter to create the tender moment you saw on the commercial. Or maybe your job isn't feeling very fulfilling, maybe if you just bought a fancy new car you would feel better about going to work?! Haha, that's what they are counting on you feeling like. Once you become aware of how they are manipulating you into purchasing their products you will be more likely to be immune to it. After all, a new expensive car payment or sugary treat is not going to be a long-term fix, I promise. And ultimately purchasing products that you don't need creates a cycle of debt, that creates the feeling of being stuck in a job you hate to pay the bills, and all those feelings can leave you unhappy and ready for another sweet or salty treat to make you feel better about your life. Yuck.
12. Stay hydrated and consider taking a daily probiotic.
13. If you're having issues with specific health issues (acne, bloat, gut problems, etc.) keep a food diary so you can figure out what's causing it. I finally realized the connection in my body between dairy and acne, it was a game changer. I still break out now and again, but that's because I still choose to eat cheese now and again and have other contributing factors. But overall, that discovery has helped my skin feel so much better.
14. Consider moving away from cows milk and trying almond or coconut milk. Cows milk can be full of hormones.
15. Cut down on your caffeine intake and see how you feel after a week and what benefits you might enjoy. It's fine to have caffeine now and again but if you can't function without it, you might need to cut down.
16. Get products out of your house that are full of chemicals, this article has a great list.
17. Purchase natural products for your body (shampoos, lotions, make-up etc.) that don't have chemicals like Parabens and Fragrance. This article has some good info. And WOMEN, please don't use products like bleached tampons (all the mainstream companies you find in big box stores that you see commercials for). Find an all-natural alternative, there are lots of good ones on the market! Please tell your daughters too.
18. Give Oil Pulling a try. You can read about it here. I oil pull a few times a week and have had less plaque and excellent dental checkups. Both my husband and I love the way it's improved our overall oral health. I like to add a little all natural lemon essential oil to my oil now and again. Another great routine to consider is dry brushing. It's better than caffeine to get your body stimulated and awake. Here's a great article on dry brushing.
19. If you want a sweet treat, try a small piece of quality dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa). Here are a few benefits. If you are accustomed to fake and milk chocolate, dark chocolate will taste bitter at first, but when you cut down on your sugar intake you will discover how delicious real dark chocolate is. Another great dessert is a bowl of sliced berries and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
20. I love trying new recipes but a great way to stay consistent with good healthy meal choices is to add a few mainstays to your weekly routine. That way you will learn them well enough that purchasing the items at the grocery store and preparing the meal, will be easy and fast.
Here is a list of meals I make regularly:
(all products used are organic -- yes, it's often more expensive to purchase organic products but what's your health worth to you? Consider it an investment in feeling better and quality of life. If you cook at home more and try these ideas, I promise you can make them almost as affordable as non organic meals)
Homemade Chicken soup -- chicken breasts or thighs, bone broth, chicken broth, celery, mushrooms, onions. carrots, spices. This is such and easy recipe, so good for you and tastes amazing. I make it weekly -- it's great to have on hand for lunches or dinner all week.
Zucchini pasta or Spaghetti Squash with Marinara or Homemade red sauce -- If you don't have a veggie pasta maker, called spiralizers, get one ASAP. You can get a great one for under $10. :) Here is a good list.
Brown Rice (or Farrow) and Bean and Veggie bowl -- so easy and so good. You could add chicken or turkey sausage now and again if you like. I love to use brown rice, black beans, grilled squash, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes (I often used canned tomatoes so it's easy), slice pineapple, cilantro, and sunflower seeds.
Toast with Avocado and fried or hard boiled egg -- pretty straight forward.
Baked chicken with chopped celery and mandarin oranges -- I love this dish and it's so easy. In baking dish place chicken breasts, chopped celery, a pour in a can of mandarin oranges and the juice in the can. Add salt and pepper and a lid full of balsamic vinegar. That's it, it's so good and great with a side of couscous or salad.
Baked Salmon Salad -- pretty straight forward and you can add seasonal chopped veggies and fresh blueberries.
Cauliflower rice, pizza crust, and bread -- here are a few recipes.
Turkey Burger Stuffed Peppers with green beans and mushrooms
Shake: kale, blueberries, flax seed, almond milk, cinnamon, turmeric, apple cider vinegar shot, and Sara Gottfried’s reset 360 All-In-One shake powder
Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, and Sunflower Seeds make a great snack.
Energizing Juice: celery, cilantro, jalapeños, pineapple, spirulina powder, and water
21. Finally, and maybe most importantly, find peace in joy in the present moment (I'm a fan of Eckhart Tolle's teaching and enjoy his guided meditations) Get outside and get your body moving if possible. I also love yoga and one of my favorites is Yoga with Adriene.