Hey everyone! There was a time when I sent out free emails every week to an emailing list where I broke down nutrition myths, offered advice, and tackled everyday misconceptions around what we should be eating. I'll be getting back to doing that soon, but for now I'm digging out a post I did in the spring: 5 Easy Ways to Be Healthier Right Away. Enjoy!
Five easy ways to be healthier right away
Hey hey, everybody! If you didn’t know, the start of spring was this past Sunday so I hope you were able to get out this week and enjoy the weather. The spring equinox is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal of the spirit, making it a great time take on new challenges and start creating healthier habits.
Let’s chat about a few super simple changes you can implement right now that will have a big impact on your health when done consistently.
1. Eat in a relaxed and mindful state.
You’ve heard of your “fight or flight” response, but what about “rest and digest”? Your body requires you to be in a chilled out, relaxed state when eating in order to properly function.
The sight and smell of food before eating triggers the salivary glands to begin producing saliva. Saliva contains the enzyme salivary amylase, which is necessary to begin the breakdown of carbs. If you’re not breaking down your carbs first in your mouth it puts a heavy burden on the stomach to the get the job done, often falling short. Undigested food in the stomach rots and can create a whole host of digestive issues like candida and dysbiosis down the digestive tract.
Practice carving out time to sit down and eat your meals without the distraction of the TV, work emails, or heated dinner conversations. I know this is way easier said than done with a busy life so at least try to calm your mind and take a few deep breaths before you eat, feeling gratitude for your meal.
2. Chew your food.
In tandem with the first tip, be sure to completely chew your food before swallowing. If you don’t take the time to do so, a few things can go wrong: the brain won’t be signaled to start the necessary functions of the digestive system,
the production of saliva won’t be triggered, and food that hasn’t been broken down properly will continue on to the stomach.
Chew your liquids and drink your solids. You should chew your solid food enough for it to become liquid and when drinking things like smoothies and juices, chew little gulps at a time before swallowing. As mentioned, this will trigger the release of saliva and will let salivary amylase start breaking down all those carbs.
3. Upgrade your cooking fat.
Margarine and canola is out, butter and coconut are in.
You probably won’t see that phrase on the cover of Shape magazine, but that would be sweet because it’s accurate.
I’ve talked about this before but the whole “saturated fats=bad” thing just really gets me goin’. If you weren’t yet signed up to receive these newsletters when I sent out my “Fat Fear” email a while ago, let me know and I’ll send it to you! I went pretty in depth into explaining which fats are optimal for health and which to avoid altogether.
If you’re cooking with fat at higher temperatures, it NEEDS to be saturated fat. Saturated fat is the most stable fat, meaning it won’t go rancid easily if subjected to heat or light like mono or polyunsaturated fats will (i.e. canola, sunflower, corn, other vegetables oils).
Cooking with monounsaturated fats can be safe if kept at lower temperatures, like a quick sautée in olive oil but polyunsaturates should NEVER be heated. Foods that are deep-fried in unstable vegetable oil are bad for you whether it’s a kale chip or a Twinkie (it’s still bad for you at any heat, really).
Coconut and palm oil, butter, and meat fats like beef tallow and pork lard are all great saturated fats to use for cooking, just make sure they are high quality and unrefined. Coconut oil easily subs for any other oil in a baking recipe, too.
Check out the end of this post for a cooking oil cheat sheet by Diane Sanfilippo. It’s a great resource to print out and keep in your kitchen.
4. Switch one diuretic for water per day.
Show me someone who doesn’t drink diuretics at least some of the time and I will show you a very sad person. Diuretics are any beverages that decrease your hydration status: coffee, some teas, soda, and alcohol.
It’s not much of an issue when it’s an occasional thing, but daily consumption begins to be a problem, especially when it’s soda or alcohol.
Water has many important roles like removing wastes and toxins from our body, improving oxygen delivery to cells, and transporting nutrients, to name a few. Negating these roles really disrupts our body’s normal functions.
If you drink a few cups of coffee in the morning or a couple cans of diet coke throughout the day, start cutting back by replacing one serving of the diuretic with water everyday. You’ll be able to cut back more and more over time and really reap the benefits of a life without soda (hint: the are a LOT of benefits).
5. Snack smarter.
Snacking has its place in a healthy lifestyle. If you have low blood sugar or adrenal insufficiencies it might be completely necessary for you to have a snack or smaller meal every few hours. If not, it’s still a good idea to have healthy snack options on hand if hunger strikes because you get stuck in traffic after work or if your last meal wasn’t big enough.
Failing to plan is planning to fail, and no good snacks on hand might mean you’re pulling into McDonald’s for a quick fix.
Try to structure your snacks like you would a meal: a mix of protein, fats, and carbs.
A banana is easy to take along but eating fruit alone, especially a high glycemic one like a banana will spike blood sugar and not be very satiating. When you eat fruit also have a handful or nuts or seeds to balance blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer.
My favorite snacks are EPIC bars, which are basically a bar+beef jerky hybrid. A meat bar. They use all high quality meats like grassfed beef, pastured chicken, and other game like buffalo and venison so you know you’ll be getting a good dose of protein and fat. Most other bars you find will be based on nuts, oats, and fruits, which don’t have much protein in comparison to carb and fat. You can find them in HEB, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods, etc.
Some other great options are:
- Plantain chips and avocado
- A serving of fruit and a serving of nuts
- Hardboiled eggs
- Packets of Justin’s almond or peanut butter
- Vegetable stick and guacamole
- Krave Jerky (check ingredients and sugar content on some flavors)
That’s it for this week! Take time for yourself in this period of renewal and treat your body with kindness, it’s the only one you have.