NUTRITION: FEBRUARY BLUES AND HOW TO BOUNCE BACK
We are quickly approaching the month of February, which is hard to believe in and of itself. This first month of the year has literally flown by! It's been full of amazing experiences (ebook shoot!), opportunities and growth (podcast addiction), but the days passed like weeks. Did anyone else feel this way?
When I think of February I think of the coldest and darkest month of the year, which it technically is. When you arise it's dark, when you proceed to leave from work it's already dark, and when you go to bed you feel some sort of darkness set in. This is the time of year where a lot of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and numerous other mood, anxiety and health disorders. Without ample amount of sunlight, which gives us our Vitamin D, aka 'Happy Hormone Producing Vitamin', many of us fall into the February Funk.
All of our glowing January goals fall to the wayside, and we are not only reaching for the snooze, but are reaching for breads, casseroles, pizzas and anything else warm and gooey to bring us warm, comfort and happiness. Although this isn't the case for everyone, and this might be the extreme for most. Most people do tend to lose steam in February, and wonder why they are getting so hormonal, fatigued and anxious. I believe this is a collection of many things, weather being one of them. But we can't blame the weather for our woes as this happens everything single year. We have to come up with other coping mechanisms that don't involve indulging, binges and sitting in front of the TV every single evening.
Luckily it's ok to reset and set new goals any day or time of the year, not just January. That being said I want to share some fresh pointers, and tips on how to ride ourselves of toxins and get us back into the healthy swing of things and for those summer months that are creeping up on us....March will be here before we know it, and then April, May....it's actually crazy to think about how fast time moves. All the more reason to make the most of each moment and day. This year is going to be a whirlwind.
MY TOP TIPS FOR FIGHTING THE FEBRUARY FUNK //
1. Eating simple whole foods in their whole form is best. Processed foods are depleted of valuable nutrients and packed full of chemicals and sugars. Retrain your taste buds to enjoy a fresh carrot or simple slices of cucumber with lemon juice and sea salt. Have these veggies cut up in the fridge with a big batch of hummus or guacamole.
2. Staying hydrated stops you from overeating. Very often when we feel hungry, it is often a sign of dehydration. It is best to drink lots of water before and after meals but not during. Water helps the body detoxify which keeps the digestive system healthy. Sip on teas and water throughout the day; try to consume 1 cup of water, tea, or other liquid every 30 minutes, except 30 minutes before or after meals. A small glass of warm water with lemon, or a tea, is acceptable during meals if you need something.
3. Eating high fiber foods helps the body stay full. Fiber increases the calories spent breaking down the actual food and helps create a sense of satiety. Fiber helps the body eliminate toxins and keeps the digestive system healthy so that the nutrients can be properly absorbed into the body. Good examples are lentils, beans, collard greens, grapefruit, asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower. When we are eliminating properly and regularly when we do have treats, our body is better able to handle the food.
4. Exercising, sleeping, and not stressing are all unbelievably and equally important and can all help lower levels of cortisol, a hormone responsible for fat formation in the body. Cortisol levels increase when we are stressed or tired. Exercise reduces cortisol levels and is necessary for detoxification and overall health of the cardiovascular system. It also helps facilitate the movement of toxins out of the body. Every day, complete 30-45 minutes of exercise, followed by deep breathing and stretching. OF course 'not stressing' is sometimes not possible! But instead of eating away the stress try to get your sweat on or take a nap, or just go to bed!
5. Detoxification can be aided by dry brushing, saunas and steams, detox baths, and cold showers. They are an excellent way to help release toxins. They are also all great for increasing the health and appearance of the skin before summer and for encouraging stress reduction. It’s important to dry brush your skin and end with 1 minute of cold water when you shower. This helps to move toxins in the skin.
6. Eating healthy proteins has been shown to increase levels of satiation. When cleansing and trying to lose weight a diet high in protein and vegetables has shown to be ideal. Vegetarian options include lentils, sprouted legumes, quinoa, chickpeas, nuts, hemp hearts, spirulina, raw sunflower seeds, chia, almonds, kale, eggs, sprouts, broccoli, and organic edamame. Animal-based options include sardines, mackerel, herring, canned wild salmon or wild salmon, and trout. I tend to choose protein sources high in Omega-3’s. If you choose to eat poultry, make sure it is hormone-free!
7. Breakfast and lunch should be focused on protein. When we start off with a blood sugar blast (from refined carbohydrates and sugar), we crash and get hungry again. Eating protein, high-fiber vegetables, and healthy fats will help us feel satiated for longer.
8. Dinners should focus on vegetables with lots of leafy greens. Get in your greens! They control blood sugar, have a lower glycemic index foods. Limit LOTS of protein, as this is harder on the system at night and should be consumed during the day, for the most part. The goal is to avoid raising blood sugar levels before bed, and by not eating too much, also allowing the body to focus on rest and recovery while giving the digestive system a break. Try to finish eating at least 2-3 hours before you plan on going to sleep. If you are hungry before bed, drink warm tea. (3 is ideal, 2 is a must!).
9. When snacking sip on bone broth, have a green juice, a handful of celery and carrots with guacamole, or some nuts/seeds. Have a small vegetable dense snack if you are hungry later in the afternoon.
10.Variety should factor into our meals. It is definitely harder in the winter due to lack of produce, but it's totally doable. In order to receive proper nutrients, it is ideal to eat a variety of foods. Doing this helps us access an array of nutrients (Try rotating greens and choosing new fruits). How we prepare them can also affect this; ideally eat a mixture of raw and cooked! You can go a little more cooked in the winter as our body naturally craves warming soups. I make more soups and roasted veggies in the winter that truly nourish my soul.
11. Overconsumption of food puts stress on the body and can affect the health of our digestive system, not to mention that it may cause us to gain weight. Try not to eat until you are stuffed. Use smaller plates and bowls and give yourself time once you have finished 80% of your food to sit and notice how you feel. This will leave more energy for digestion and you will end up eating less.
12. Every morning drink 1½ cups of warm water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and take a probiotic.
13. If you have a bathtub add 1 cup of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes at the end of the day. Add lavender oil, or 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar if you have it - it makes skin ridiculously soft, and I promise you won't smell like a salad!
14. If you don't have one already, start a gratitude journal. We can't be fearful, anxious or sad when we are grateful. Let's all try to remember the things in our lives that we have, and are grateful for. It can be as simple as your morning coffee or tea by yourself, reading a book, taking a walk, having a bath, and spending time with loved ones! When we come back to these, and express gratitude, it can really turn around our mood, energy and day.
Have a beautiful weekend guys! Sending all my love.