NUTRITION: UNDER THE RADAR HEALTHY HABITS
I know a lot of health + wellness websites say the same thing! So today I wanted to come up with a few under the radar healthy habits. Some are uber simple, others might take some practice. The most important thing to remember is to not get stressed out about implementing ALL of this. Meet yourself wherever you are at, at the moment and go from there. Maybe start with one or two, and work your way up. Be gentle with yourself, and realize that any step in a new direction is a giant leap in the long run. You might not see all the benefits now, but I promise they will pay off. Good things take time....
Start fresh every single day. It might sound a little corny, but every day could—and should—be considered a fresh start. Had a fight with your mom/boyfriend/landlord yesterday and didn’t resolve it? Had an awful day at work that you went to bed thinking about? Not thrilled with the way your friends treated you while you were out last night? Today’s a new day, and you should use it to approach the problem with fresh eyes and commit to either resolving the issue if it’s important, or move on completely if it’s something small or petty. You’d be surprised how insignificant problems might look once you put a few hours of distance between you.
Understand that exercise doesn’t have to be a big time commitment. I (we) have to tell you that one of the biggest healthy habit every girl should have is exercising regularly, although so many of us claim we simply don’t have time. We hate to break it you, but that’s not really an excuse, as there’s mounting evidence that short but frequent bouts of exercise can yield some major health benefits. For example, a study published by the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2006 showed that short walks after dinner were more effective than long exercise sessions in reducing the amount of fat and triglyceride levels in the bloodstream after a hearty meal, according to WebMD.
Check your credit card statements, bank statements, and pay stubs regularly. This one’s definitely a mental health habit that we all should be extremely diligent about. Knowledge is power.
Adopt a “meatless Monday” mentality. Did you know that cutting out meat—even if it’s merely once a week—can drastically decrease your risk of heart disease by up to 19%? Eating a diet heavy on red and other processed meats have been shown to increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. Cutting back on meat can also impact the environment by reducing the amount of fossil fuel and water that’s used to raise livestock. Simply dedicate one day to fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, and nuts.
Drink a glass of lukewarm water with lemon (and cayenne pepper, if you dare) first thing every morning. This morning drink gets your organs going, and fresh lemon juice and cayenne pepper both have major anti-fungal, immune boosting, and detoxification properties. Plus, Lemon juice is nature’s best tool for aiding in digestion and regularity, destroying bacteria and cleansing the system.
Cut back on sugar. If you cut anything from your diet today, make it sugar. In and of itself, sugar has no nutrients, no protein, no healthy fats, and no enzymes, making it empty calories that have disastrous effects on our health.
Use a retinol if you’re starting to get wrinkles. (shocked to hear this from me? :) ) Do no waste money on the latest anti-aging creams, ask your dermatologist to prescribe you a good retinol product—it’s the only thing that really works, anyway. I'm not one to shy away from retinol.It is not all-natural, but it is truly the only proven ingredient that fights anti-aging. I use food as medicine, and this helps my skin tremendously, but am not against using a heavy hitter.
Count to 10 and breathe when you get anxious. This healthy habit is one we all should adopt: Before reacting, take a beat. You’d be surprised at how much perspective you can gain in 10 seconds, as opposed to irrationally firing off an email, or confronting someone out of sheer anger before collecting your thoughts.
Start biking and walking to work or to meet friends. Even if it’s just to do a few errands on the weekends instead of driving, cabbing, or taking the subway. Most cities have bicycle sharing programs for people who aren’t owners, and we all have our beautiful bodies to get us from a - z.
Put. Down. The. Cell. Phone. Especially before bed, and at night. Obsessively stalking your cell before bed can have serious health effects. Staring at your mobile’s screen at bedtime causes people to take longer to reach the deeper stages of sleep and to spend less time in them. Bad news, as deep sleep is essential for your body to rejuvenate cells and repair damage suffered during the day. Seriously, Instagram can wait until morning.
Stop beating yourself up. About every little thing that happens at home, at work, or socially. If you’re really regretful or unhappy about something specific (snapping at a friend or your children, not calling your family enough, drinking too much at a friend’s party and doing something silly) address it head-on, otherwise move on. Harping on things can only add extra anxiety to your life.
Consolidate and pay off debt as soon as possible. If you have debt, make it a point to consolidate it to a lower interest and paying it off ASAP. Money paid in interest is money thrown away.
Don’t drink too much alcohol. Theres’s nothing wrong with a few cocktails now and again, but overdoing it on the regular can lead to a host of health problems, including (but not limited to) sleeplessness, weight gain, acne, messed up hormones, anxiety, mood disorders, addiction and—according to some reports—a heightened risk of breast cancer.
Don’t snack if you’re not hungry. Mindless eating can lead to weight gain and general unfulfillment, so be sure to eat—and enjoy—when your body tells you it’s physically craving food, not when you’re bored, stressed, or upset.
Wear SPF everyday. You don’t need me to tell you about the importance of wearing sunscreen, but it’s key to remember that—apart from SPF—it’s key to wear sunglasses that block 90% of both UVA and UVB rays, and to avoid exposure to the midday sun.
Consider taking liquid chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the dark green pigment found in plants, but it also has amazing benefits for humans. It has a similar molecular structure to hemoglobin (the substance that’s responsible for transporting oxygen around the body), and just one tablespoon a day can boost red blood cells, improve oxygen, increase energy, help body odor, protect from cancer, help regulate bowel movements, and increase magnesium, vitamins, folic acid, iron, calcium and protein.
Don’t skip your yearly gynecological appointments. We’re all busy, and it’s easy to push them aside, but it’s key for women to get yearly pap smears and talk to her doctor about what’s going on with her body
Eat whole foods as much as you can. Again, something we all know! Processed foods and sugar have been proven to cause inflammation and drops in mood and energy. Instead, it’s key to eat plenty of leafy greens, lean protein, good fats, and complex carbs, as these nutrients help keep our blood sugar levels in check. Plus, Good fats like olive oil, avocado, even a little dark chocolate, as well as complex carbs like quinoa, millet, sweet potatoes and brown rice also help to create feel-good serotonin.
Drink water. It’s not rocket science: If plants—which are living things—wilt without water, we will too. Try keeping a large water bottle at your desk throughout the day and refilling it each time you’re done. Water hydrates our organs and our brain, so we’ll not only feel more awake, but look it, too. Dehydration has been shown to cause agitation, fatigue, and general unpleasantness. If you’re freezing and craving something hot, drink green tea, which is packed with antioxidants due to its high content of flavonoids.
Smell an orange. Several studies have found that the scent of oranges can reduce stress and improve mood. Try eating a fresh orange for breakfast every morning (and inhaling its scent), or dab some orange oil on your wrists a few times a week.
Make your home a place you want to be. Spending a little time and money tweaking your home to make it feel more comfortable is key to your well-being, and small things can can make a huge difference. Like what? For starters, try swapping out the lighting—replace all gloomy yellow-casting bulbs with those that emit white light (they’re the same price) or try “full spectrum” bulbs, which mimic natural light. Paint is also the cheapest way to completely change your space, so why not find a shade you love and spend the weekend redoing your walls? From there, add a couple of new rugs, hang things on the wall, and decorate your desk, coffee table, or bedside table with fresh flowers and a stack of cool books.
Never use your gym membership? USE IT or Cancel it and get into the healthy habit of working out at home using the many free fitness (and highly effective) tutorials available on YouTube and Ballet Beautiful, if I were to suggest a at home workout. I can't sing its praises enough.
Clean smarter. Google “how to make your own cleaning supplies.” Seriously, do it now. It’ll not only save you money, but it’ll cut your exposure to chemicals.
Cook (a little) more. It’s unrealistic to expect busy women to cook every meal, but it really does make a difference in your overall health. A realistic way to go about it: replace one weekend dinner out with a nice meal made at home, and one takeout meal during the week with a healthy, easy dinner recipe. I cook almost every meal, unless I'm out during the day! I love it though. When you use whole foods, and love the food you use, it will be a complete experience. Added bonus - share the cooking with your partner.
Stand up for yourself. One of the most unhealthy habits a woman can have? Not speaking up for fear it’s too aggressive. Not happy with the way a meeting went at work? Schedule some time with your boss immediately and be clear about why you’re feeling the way you do. Don’t complain, but be concise and firm. Same goes for personal matters—friends, family, and men aren’t mind-readers. Tell them what you need, want, and love.
Read labels. On everything, from food to cosmetics to shampoo. It’s important to take ownership of what you put in and on your body.
Don’t skimp on sleep. Sleep is absolutely essential to our health—both physical and mental—and not getting enough can have some pretty major effects. Irritability and moodiness are some of the first signs a person experiences from lack of sleep. If a sleep-deprived person doesn’t sleep after the initial signs, they may start to experience apathy, slowed speech and flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to multitask. You will also without a doubt overeat. Your hunger signals will be thrown out of whack. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours a night.
Listen to your body You know what they say: Pain is your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong. That doesn’t mean every little ache is serious—most aren’t—but be attuned to your own body. On the same note, if you really feel that something isn’t right, don’t be scared to talk to someone —isn’t it better to have piece of mind right away, than constantly worry?
Always, always, always wear a seatbelt—even in a taxi. Simple, but a non-negotiable.
Wash your hands often. It sounds obvious, but washing your hands really is the best way to avoid getting sick. We all carry millions of microbes on our hands, while most are harmless, we can pick up some that cause illnesses, such as colds, flu, and diarrhea. When we forget to wash our hands, or don’t wash them properly, we can spread these germs to others, or give them to ourselves by touching our eyes, mouths, noses or cuts on our bodies.
Go on a social media diet. This is a big one, ladies. I just read this: According to science, our dependence on social media means we’re more lonely, narcissistic, and depressed than ever before. Which is why but limiting your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest intake could lessen anxiety, boost your self-esteem, and eradicate pesky fear of missing out. Plus, it’s key to remember that all this stuff is ultimately making us less connected. Texting and tweeting are two of the most impersonal ways of communicating—it’s low intensity, and it requires low commitment on the part of both parties—while Facebook just makes us voyeuristic, not social.
Optimize your fertility if you plan on having kids.
Unless you’re actively trying to get pregnant, there’s no need to go overboard, but as women, it pays to pay attention to research ways in which we can optimize fertility, or at least ways to not harm it. A few of the simplest things to do: eat healthy, sweat once a day, walk more, take folate, magnesium, eat a diet rich in omega 3 and smile, laugh and LOVE. Relax. Children are a true, true gift, and will happen when they are meant to. DO NOT STRESS.
Floss! Annoying but true: Flossing really matters! It isn’t so much about removing food debris as it is about removing dental plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleanings. Plaque is what causes tooth decay, inflamed gums (gingivitis), periodontal disease, and eventually tooth loss. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth.
Stash snacks. Keep healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, veggies and hummus on hand. So you do not have to run to your nearest coffee shop for a coffee and pastry!
Shop on a full stomach. Never go grocery shopping when you’re super-hungry. Why? Because everything looks good, so you’ll undoubtedly start throwing in items you normally would never buy.
Learn to take constructive criticism. Obviously, petty criticism shouldn’t be tolerated, but if someone’s taking the time to try to tell you that what you’re doing could be more effective, let them. Lessening your defenses is a healthy habit that’ll pay off in the long run at work, at home, and in relationships.
Never let Google diagnose you. Guess what? Google may be a genius, but it’s not a doctor, and therefore has no power to accurately diagnose you. Do yourself a favor and see a Naturopath, Functional Medicine Practitioner, A MD with a Holistic background....before you convince yourself you have an autoimmune disease, or a tumor when you really have a tiny cold or infection.
Do you have any to share with me? I would love to hear!