By Lori Budish
With the new year comes the opportunity for a fresh start. A time when we make resolutions to begin the year on a positive note. For many this includes going on a diet, beginning an exercise program, or giving up behaviors and thoughts that no longer serve us. Choose to start off your year right, with some healthy habits for your body and mind. These are just a few habits that I find important in my own life to keep me feeling energized, vibrant, and healthy all year.
#1 Water The Best Thirst Quencher
Staying hydrated is an important part to being healthy. Water is used by every tissue and fluid in the body, so make drinking water a vital part of your everyday routine. I like to start my day off with a warm cup of water with fresh squeezed lemon. This habit is a great way to boost your digestion, and energy first thing in the morning. A healthy trick for making water more tasty is to add fresh fruits, herbs or vegetables such as raspberries and mint, or cucumber and lime. As a general goal aim for 48-68 ounces of pure water daily.
#2 Fill Up On Vegetables
The word “vegetable” comes from the Latin word vegetare, meaning “to enliven or animate.” Vegetables give us life and should be the foundation of any healthy diet. With so much to choose from, think variety, think color. Versatile and delicious, vegetables are filled with water, fiber, and phytonutrients. I recommend filling half your plate with vegetables; you’ll cut down on calories without feeling deprived. Add vegetables into smoothies, fresh juices, omelettes, soups, or stir fries, or jazz them up with a healthy dressing, or spread.
#3 Eat Breakfast Every Day
Surely you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It is! Breakfast provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast. A healthy breakfast will give you more energy and lead you to make healthier choices during the day. A balanced breakfast should include a source of protein, good quality fat, and complex carbohydrates to maintain balanced blood sugar levels. A few healthy breakfast options I enjoy include: eggs with sauteed greens, avocado & roasted root vegetables, or cooked quinoa porridge with coconut butter, nuts/seeds fresh/dried fruit, and warming spices like cinnamon & nutmeg.
#4 Fermented Friends
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha, have been consumed by many different cultures over time, and for good reason. Fermented foods are full of probe otics, or good bacteria that can provide a number of benefits to your health. The mighty microbes in these foods have been shown to improve digestion and boost immunity. Here is a fun fact that you may not know; an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut! So bring on the bacteria!
#5 Meal Planning
When it comes to eating well, meal planning is one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success. Our eating situations can vary greatly from week to week, so having a plan is helpful for making healthy food choices. Each week I like to set aside a day or two to plan, shop and prep for the week ahead. I am a big fan of the cook once, eat twice or more approach. This means cooking up a large portion of staples that can easily be used to put together a quick meal like beans, grains, roasted vegetables, chopped and washed fruits and vegetables, soups, or slow cooker meals. Having healthy foods prepped makes it easy to put together a quick meal when time is limited.
#6 S.O.U.L Foods
Think soul foods: Seasonal, Organic, Unrefined, and Local. It’s important to know where your food comes from, if you want the freshest, most nutrient dense foods available. Get out of the supermarket, and support your local farmers market, where you will find fresh, local, whole foods, picked at the peak of nutritional quality. By choosing organic foods, your diet becomes more nutrient dense, and contains less pesticides. Buying produce that is local and in season is better on your pocketbook, and cuts down on green house gas emissions. If you are busy, and on the go, with no time for harvesting fresh foods right out of your back yard, or don’t have a garden space, there are many local farmers markets and CSA programs right here in Sonoma county.
#7 Limit Processed Foods
The solution to improving your health and losing weight, can often be as simple as swapping processed foods for real foods. The term “processed food” refers to those that are chemically processed and made from heavily refined ingredients and artificial additives. Foods like breakfast cereals, chips, crackers, cookies, soda, and microwavable meals. Our bodies need many nutrients to function well, and processed foods only supply empty calories; in fact, they lack fiber, vitamins, minerals, or enzymes to support health. The general rule with most foods is, the closer to nature the better. Ditching processed foods requires that you plan your meals in advance, and stock your kitchen with healthy snacks. When I get cravings for a sweet or salty treat I choose a healthier option, such as homemade trail mix, a green smoothie, an apple with almond butter, veggies and hummus, or kale chips.
#8 Take It Slow
If you are a fast and furious eater, the new year is the time to change gears. Did you know that the slower you eat, the better you metabolize? Eating in a state of anxiety or stress causes the body to automatically shift into fight or flight response. During anxious or stressful times, energy is directed to other areas of the body, and away from the digestive system. Have you ever eaten in a stressed state and had the feeling afterward that the food is just sitting in you stomach? That’s exactly what it’s doing, so take some time to slow down with food, and with life. Breathe deeply and chew your food well. Other strategies might include putting down your fork between bites and taking a break away from your phone, computer, or television during mealtime.
Keep in mind that creating new habits takes time to develop, and doesn’t happen overnight. A major mistake many people make when tackling new health resolutions, is trying to do everything at once, and this is a recipe for disaster. Be realistic, pick 1-2 goals to focus on at a time, and when you have established new good habits, then put a couple more on you plate. Remember, you want to make permanent changes, and these will take time to implement. Be kind to yourself during this transition, as you may make mistakes, it’s a normal part of the process. Every day is a new chance to start fresh!
About the author
Most of you know Lori as one of the smiling faces at the front desk welcoming you to Elements on the Plaza. What you might not know, is that she’s a certified Holistic Nutrition Educator and Consultant. She received her training at Bauman College.
“I believe real food and balanced living can be potent medicine and preventative healthcare,” Lori says. As a holistic nutrition consultant, she feels her mission is to educate and inspire others to become the absolute best and healthiest expression of themselves.