Our lives can be busy, chaotic and stressful. We have our children to worry about, our jobs, our parents, our friends, paying our bills on time, paying our bills!
We are so busy worrying about other people’s happiness that sometimes our health takes a back seat.
In an ideal world, we would sleep in past 10 every day, have a fridge full of organic juices, have a raw vegan chef, a personal trainer and maybe most importantly, a cleaner!
But most of us don’t. So I’m here to offer 10 super simple shifts that are small, cost efficient and won’t steal much of your time.
I recommend even incorporating one or two of these ideas into your regular routine. Just observe what happens—see if you notice any difference in your happiness and health!
Enzymes are excellent. They are little proteins that control the speed of chemical reactions in your beautiful body. They help digest food, provide energy, stimulate the brain and help repair organs, cells and tissues. A great way of getting more enzymes into your body is by adding alfalfa sprouts to your meals. They do wonders for your digestion by helping you breakdown food and decrease the chance of bloating. They are pretty gentle on the purse strings especially if you buy a sprouter. My favourite snack is alfalfa sprouts on rice cakes with avocado, sea salt and poached eggs. Yum!
Water is wonderful, yes, but not whilst you’re eating! Drink a big glass of water thirty minutes before your meal to aid digestion, but don’t drink it during your meal. Drinking water with your meal washes away the enzymes in your mouth which help break down the food.
When the food reaches the stomach, the acid won’t fully digest the protein. The protein will then move slowly through the small intestines which are full of yeast, bacteria and parasites. They can convert the protein into toxins which will travel into the fatty acid tissue, the brain and the organs. Another great reason to drink water before your meals is to control your hunger.
Hunger is a good thing, it is our body’s way of telling us it can’t function properly and needs more energy, however hunger can also stem from dehydration. Drinking a couple of glasses of water thirty minutes before you eat can help you eat the proportion that your body actually needs.
3. Eat the good salt.
When it comes to salt we are constantly being told that it is dangerous. While this is true of table salt, himalayan salt (pink salt or white gold as some people call) is jam-packed with over 80 minerals. The difference between table salt and pink salt is that table salt has been stripped of all its nutrients, bleached and chemically cleaned. Pink salt is made up of calcium, magnesium and iodine just to name a few! Adding a pinch of pink salt to your water between meals can add electrolytes, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones, improve circulation, prevent muscle tension, balance ph level, help intestines absorb nutrients and can also burn calories. Very important if you practise hot yoga! So throw away that table salt and go pink and remember the darker the colour the denser the nutrients.
Counting calories is crazy. My own personal experience with calorie counting resulted in me weighing my food, adding the exact amounts to a journal, adding them up every night, feeling extremely guilty about eating and not enjoying food anymore. I was obsessed. I don’t recommend calorie counting to anyone because there are good calories and empty calories.
Good calories are in foods like avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. These foods contain a lot of calories but are filling and packed with nutrients. Then there are empty calories such as diet sodas, fat free and sugar free products. These foods will strip calcium from your bones, can cause osteoporosis and bring on blood sugar crashes, resulting in a risk of diabetes. They will fill you up but only temporarily, so you’re likely to eat more soon after.
Avoid products labeled “zero sugar” or “no fat” and check the amount of ingredients. I try and avoid any products with over six listed ingredients. If I don’t know what an ingredient is or I don’t even know how to pronounce it, then I won’t buy the product.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in the adrenal gland. It is released to protect us against threats from predators when we experience stress or fear.
When the cortisol is released our blood sugar level goes up, we store excess water, we gain weight, our blood flows away from our organs, our cells struggle to detox, we get inflammation around our joints, and our blood pressure skyrockets.
So stop being stressed—easier said than done!
Think about the ways you deal with stress right now. Is it drinking alcohol? Smoking? Drugs? Binging on junk foods? These are quick fixes that will cause more harm than good in the long term. Instead I suggest fighting stress with endorphins or serotonins, the happy hormones. Exercise is the best way to release endorphins.
Whether it’s a quick run or a yoga class, when the hormone is released, our appetite becomes regulated, our immune system is strengthened and we can experience a state of euphoria. To help release the serotonin hormone, try vitamin D supplements and spending some time in the sunshine. Studies have shown that even music and lavender oil help release serotonin.
I like to keep lavender essential oil in my bag so that whenever I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I drop a splash or two on my wrists and take a long inhale.
6. Find your magic moment.
Every one of our thoughts release a cascade of hormones into our body that our cells react to. The average person has over 60,000 thoughts per day. If they are full of negativity, you are releasing cortisol hormones and letting them swim around your body into your organs, bloodstream and cells.
So, we can create a magic moment—a moment that brings you joy, whether it’s your partner, your children, a quote that resonates with you, your wedding day, a favourite pet. Whatever it is, have a clear vision of it. Whenever you feel yourself being judgemental, angry or stressed, close your eyes and come back to that magic moment—What does it smell like? Your husband’s scent or your baby’s hair? What’s the texture? The lace on your wedding dress or your feet in the sand? What colours can you see? The blue in the sky or the colour of your mother’s eyes?
When you feel negativity creeping into your mind, find your magic moment, take a long, deep breath and be with it.
According to recent research, an estimated 90 percent of our serotonin is located in the gut.
Our bodies communicate through the guts—think about how it feels when you get those “gut” feelings!
A great way of keeping your gut clean and running smoothly is to drink lots of water, avoiding processed foods, eating a lots of plants and whole foods and introducing fermented food into your diet. Fermented foods are key to a glorious gut. They are full of probiotics and friendly bacteria. They have been around since the beginning of mankind and promote a healthy gut like nothing else!
They will improve your bowel health, strengthen your digestion, help absorb nutrients from your food and build a better immune system. Fermented foods come in a variety of forms, my favourite being a fermented probiotic yoghurt called kefir—great to add to smoothies or alone after meals. Other great foods are kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi. And they are all pretty easy to make at home. Eat one to two servings of fermented food a day and you will notice a difference in your digestion and bowel movements within days!
8. Simplify your snacking.
Snacks are imperative to our health. They help keep our blood sugar steady and stop us from bingeing. Try and keep your snacks simple. A piece of fruit is perfect. It’s full of natural sugars and fibre, so our mind will be sharp and our digestion will be moving.
Try and avoid snacks with more than five ingredients. I love apples, almonds, nuts and bananas with peanut butter. If I have more time, I’ll make chia pudding! Here’s how:
Take a tablespoon of chia seeds, mix with 5 tablespoons of organic almond milk or kefir, sprinkle on some cinnamon or a splash of maple syrup. Leave in the fridge for ten minutes.
This delightful snack will fill you up until your next meal and its delicious! Try and eat two snacks a day, one between breakfast and lunch and the other between lunch and dinner.
I remember when I was a child I hated going to bed and hated getting up in the morning. Now I can’t get enough! I try and work my schedule around sunlight by getting up with the sun and then sleeping seven or eight hours every night. When we sleep we restore the chemicals in our brain and rest our body. If you struggle with sleep some great tips are to rub lavender oil or lavender water on your skin before you get into bed, listen to calming music such as Tibetan singing bowls and most importantly turn off all electronics and all lights.
The light from the electronic devices stop the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Our skin has light receptors that also reduce the production of melatonin. If your devices are off you are less likely to check them in the middle of the night and you’re more likely to get a longer and deeper sleep.
10. Take control of your environment.
Advertising is a $100 billion dollar industry. Jay Walker Smith, president of the marketing firm Yankelovich believes that the average person is exposed to around 5,000 advertisements a day, advertisements hoping to make money from us. From junk food to exercise machines, from liposuction clinics to diet pills, companies make money off our feelings of inadequacy and goals of obtaining perfection.
Don’t be a victim. Take control over what you see, what you read and what you hear. Instead of checking your social media as soon as you wake up in the morning, take ten minutes to meditate or create an intention for the day. When commercials come on the television, press mute, go to your yoga mat and do two yoga poses. Instead of scrolling through the internet whilst you wait for the bus, read a book. These small shifts will help fill your day with more positivity and help keep you connected to the present moment.
So let’s be honest, you’re not going to do all 10 of these every single day and that is fine! I don’t, and I’m not asking you to. It’s all about balance. Don’t feel guilty about eating a piece of chocolate cake that your friend made or drinking a couple of glasses of wine to celebrate a special occasion.
Enjoy those moments. As long as you try to commit to the simple shifts and you’re treating your body kindly most of the time, that’s great.
Food is here to be enjoyed but it’s also here to make us feel happier and stronger and help us to live our life to it’s highest potential. I want you to use your amazing body, it is your greatest gift, a vessel full of magic and spirit.
Treat it kindly, experiment with it—notice all of the incredible things it’s capable of doing.
Go trail running, swimming, try a yoga class, go cycling with your friends! I encourage you to go and discover all the amazing things your body can do and let food give you the fuel and support to do so!
Author: Melanie Jayne Beech
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Freeimages.com (via the author)