8 Changes to a Healthier You
Ever wonder if you could make some simple changes in your lifestyle that would have big, lasting effects in your overall health and wellness? Change is not alwasy easy, we all know that, but sometimes if a pathway is laid out for us to follow then it can become easier.
Here are a few changes you can implement into your lifestyle. You'll learn how to eliminate eight unhealthy foods from your diet, while adding eight healthy items in their place. If you choose to follow this, you don’t have to be wasteful and throw everything out, but do make a deal with yourself that you are just not going to buy the “unhealthy” stuff again.
Only you can decide to make the changes...you can do this over an eight week period if you choose, or you can eliminate quicker if you are up for the challenge. I say to take a week with each elimination, as most of us are set in our ways. Making small changes over a longer time makes it easier to stick with those changes and make it part of your everyday lifestyle to becoming healthy.
Change One: Eliminating non-hydrating and nourishing drinks and adding hydrating and nourishing drinks
-Avoid: juice, sodas, milk, kids drinks and sports drinks
-Add/Keep: WATER, herbal tea, black tea, coffee (limited), coconut water, fresh squeezed juices
This will not only be beneficial to your health and hydration, but it will be beneficial to your budget as well! Sugary drinks offer nothing to the body, lead to a 25% increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart attacks, can lead to childhood obesity, developmental problems and tooth decay, to name a few.
Even the consumption of only one of these sugary drinks a day greatly increases the risk of these conditions. Type 2 diabetes has become an epidemic in the U.S. and one of the biggest contributing factors is our want for “sugary” drinks.
Staying hydrated is extremely important, as hydration affects the body overall from your mood, to your energy levels, digestion, and much more. Drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day is the ideal scale. So for example, if you weigh 100lbs, you should be drinking 50 ounces of water each day.
Change Two: Eliminating refined sugars, adding natural sugars
-Avoid: white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, all artificial sweeteners, brown sugar, powdered sugar
-Add/Keep: maple syrup, coconut sugar, honey and Sucanat, agave, Stevia
Did you know we consume about 150lbs of sugar each year? That’s a crazy statistic! No wonder diabetes and cancer are on the rise. Did you know that sugar is also the number one “feeder” of cancer? If there are cancerous cells in your body, they’ll thrive on sugar and acidic environments, which are created and worsened by sugar. It’s best to try to avoid processed sugars, but it will take some paying attention to what you are eating to change this.
Sugar overload results in nutrient deficiencies in our bodies, due to the need to use valuable nutrients to metabolize the intake. Sugar also displaces protein consumption and dilutes iron, zinc and thiamine intake. Ever notice sugar being the first thing you crave when hungry? That’s just your body crying out for some protein!
You don’t need the sugar but do you need the protein. Our body’s first craving is for something sweet-it’s a confusing signal to say in the least. Next time you get that sweet tooth, have a protein shake, a handful or almonds, an apple with peanut or almond butter or a slice of hormone-free deli meat instead.
Read labels and think before you eat your foods...you will slowly learn how to substitute and make small changes in your diet. Ybest place to start is by really beginning to focus on your homemade foods. It’s tough to eliminate everything at once, especially in store-bought products; but if you start at home when you are restocking your kitchen, it becomes easier. Pay attention to labels and look for natural sugars or no added sugars.
You can master learning how to naturally substitute sugar in all your favorite recipes; it will just take time and patience.
Change Three: Eliminating unhealthy fats, adding healthy fats
-Avoid: Anything with the word “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”
-Add/Keep: Olive Oil, organic butter, coconut oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, omega 3’s and 6s, flaxseeds, nuts and avocados
Healthy fats are extremely important for the body. They are imperative for cognitive function, and are required to perform many vital functions of the body including nervous system function, healthy weight maintenance, hormonal balance and production. Fats also are required for healthy brain development and help balance blood sugar spikes. It is important to remember, everything we consume must be in moderation of course.
Omegas 3s help feed the brain and reduce inflammation within the body. Eliminating hydrogenated oils can free up valuable receptor sites in the brain that should be holding omega 3s, allowing the body to start riding itself of them. Natural fats such as coconut oil and walnuts can actually help the body loose weight.
Hydrogenated oils can be simple to eliminate from the diet, but pay special attention to prepackaged foods that contain flour, as most also contain hydrogenated oils.
Margarine is extremely unhealthy, so much so that flies won’t even land on it! Nature knows when something is not worthy of consumption.
Again, replace foods as you run out of them, read labels and remember, fats are necessary for your body-healthy fats, that is; so use them in moderation and stay healthy.
Change Four: Reducing excessive intake of meats, adding vegetable and protein-based foods
Avoid: Excessive intake of meats
Add/Keep: Beans/legumes, nuts, grains, vegetables and fruits
What we want to do is balance our family’s intake of proteins and vegetables/grains. If you are over-consuming meats, you need to balance it out with vegetables, etc. Most Americans consume meat three times a day which results in an unhealthy balance and
nutrient deficiency. This also creates an acidic environment within the body. If you are a vegan/vegetarian, you need to make sure you are consuming enough proteins.
Replacing meat with vegetables and a plant-based protein will increase your daily fiber intake, as well as nutrient intake, which will greatly improve your overall health and well-being.
You can begin by establishing one night a week that you will not consume meat. Make a vegetable topped pizza, quinoa with grilled vegetables and pine nuts, bean and cheese burritos or something without meat but that has some protein. These are all good examples of meals without meat. Gradually work your way to eating only 2-5 meals per week that include meat. This will be much easier on your body’s digestive system and give the body a break; taking less energy to break down and process the foods.
Change Five: Eliminating unhealthy restaurant and drive through trips, adding easy, short cut foods in
-Avoid: Leaving your house without a snack(s), not having late night meals pre-planned (start your week out with at least 2-3 back up meals in mind for last minute schedule changes)
-Add/Keep: Make large meals so you can freeze extras, make weeknight meals easy-to -prep choices, set aside time on the weekend to prep meals for the week ahead, join a CSA or local co-op for large amounts of food at low cost.
Remember, it’s only the lack of preparation that gets us off track of “real foods”. Late night trips, family obligations in the evenings and working late can result in taking the easy way out and hitting the drive through.
It’s much cheaper and healthier to eat at home. Try not to leave home without some snacks, especially if you have kids. We all get desperate time-to-time when we are hungry and make bad choices about what we eat.
You can help your family best if you have busy weekdays by prepping meals and putting them in the freezer so all you have to do when you get home is throw it in the oven to heat it or cook it. You can also use a crock-pot, which is one of my favorite ways to prep a meal when I know we are going to have a busy evening. You’ll definitely get more nutrients and health benefits by eating home-cooked meals, rather than drive through food!
Change Six: Eliminating diet plans, meal replacement bars, etc making a lifestyle change
-Avoid: Trendy, fad diets and supplements, food trends that are extreme, short cut meals like bars.
-Add/keep: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy meats and new ideas of preparing them
Many habits that are promoted as healthy habits are quite the opposite. Trendy diets often eliminate a food group, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Sticking to whole foods will increase micronutrient consumption and add fiber and antioxidants to the diet.
Most “Meal replacement” bars and shakes are generally full of chemicals and ingredients that are more a mystery than beneficial. Very few of these meal replacement bars and shakes are actually good for you and once people start eating normally again, they usually gain all that weight back that was lost, plus some!
Instead of reaching for an easy fix, how about grabbing something healthy that you’ve already prepared-leftovers from your crock-pot meal or those carrot sticks you cut up the other day.
Another great choice is juicing your fruits and vegetables. If you prefer to grab a meal replacer shake, you can actually make a healthier version by juicing your favorite fruits and veggies, then adding that juice to a blender with a healthy, protein shake powder and blend it up-add in a banana and half and avocado now THAT is a healthy meal replacement shake! It’s full of nutrients, protein and good fats-everything that will provide you with good, clean energy. A Vitamix blender is also an awesome tool for blending up fruits and vegetables and making shakes, soups and more. Or try making your own energy bars-there are literally hundreds of recipes on the Internet of ways to create your own healthy and nutritious granola or energy bars.
Change Seven: Eliminating junk food snacks, adding healthy produce based snacks
Avoid: Junk food and processed snacks including crackers, chips, pretzels, protein bars
Add/Keep: healthy, produce based snacks-apples, bananas, nuts, veggies like carrots, celery, trail mix
As most of us already know, processed “snacks” are pretty much a staple in our pantries. This includes chips, crackers, pretzels, cookies, etc. Eliminating these foods will not only save money, it will also benefit your health.
Protein bars are also full of ingredients that aren’t really healthy and in my experience-often lead to tummy aches anyway! Real food snack options actually boost your energy better, help increase your nutrient consumption and eliminate potential allergens like gluten.
You can help yourself by making your time consuming snacks ahead of time. Prep carrot sticks, celery, etc., once a week and keep them handy on the front of the shelf in the fridge so you are reminded when you open the door that they are there. Keep granola and trail mix, nuts, etc., handy too. Try to never leave home without something
in your purse or in your car. You never know when you are going to feel hungry!
Change Eight: Making the lifestyle change to a while foods diet: getting there
Avoid: Feeling burnt out and feeling guilty if you break your “healthy” rules.
Add/Keep: Work to keep adding real foods to your diet. Focus on “what to eat”, not “what not to eat”. You can crowd out the “bad” by introducing “good” more and more.
Just remember to focus on a healthy lifestyle. Remember, you don’t need to be obsessed with the change. Do it gradually, stick to it as best as you can and just try to be your best 80% of the time, which is a realistic number. We still have to live and enjoy life! I call it the e 80-20 rule: 80% of the times eat well, but the other 20% you have to live! The longer you stick to a healthful eating plan, the easier it becomes to stick to it.
Real foods are going to help you feel better, with more energy and your overall health will benefit greatly. If you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up.
If you feel the need to buckle down with the changes, again, do it slowly but perhaps keep a food journal for jotting down what you are eating. This will help you keep track of your diet and your progression.
This is a lifestyle change, so it is going to work best to implement these changes slowly so you carry it through the rest of your life. It takes 21 days to create a habit, so stick with each change at least 21 days to get it down!
Good luck and here’s wishing you the best to your health!