The New Year is upon us! If getting fit and healthy is one of your New Year’s resolutions, then let me share 5 tips to help you achieve a super healthy start to the New Year!
One: How many veggies do you eat in a day? Veggies are a great source of fibre, phytonutrients (natural plant chemicals that have numerous health benefits such as anti-cancer properties), and vitamins and minerals. Veggies also have an alkalinizing effect on our bodies. Most of the foods we consume (for example, proteins, sugars, and refined foods) tend to make our bodies more acidic, which puts us at risk for illness and disease. By incorporating veggies into our diets, our body’s pH level will become more neutral, which will make us feel balanced, happy and energized. Aim to get veggies in at every meal, whether you eat them raw, ground up in a protein shake, or lightly steamed. And if you pair your veggies with something fatty like humus or olive oil, you’ll absorb more of the fat soluble vitamins in them such as vitamins A, E and K.
Two: To improve your metabolism, weight loss and/or your energy level, try eating 5-6 small meals per day rather than the standard 2-3 large meals. How does this help? Well, by eating small meals often you are providing a consistent stream of fuel for your body. Plus, eating smaller meals will help you digest your food faster, making you less likely to overeat, making you feel more energized. You know that sleepy, sluggish feeling you get after lunch? That’s a sign that you’ve eaten more food than your body requires. This means that the body now needs to focus all of its energy on digesting the food, leaving you feeling tired, sluggish and bloated. When you have a smaller meal, you will digest it quicker which frees up more energy for you to power through your daily activities. And another great benefit to eating smaller meals is that you’ll lose weight, or have an easier time maintaining a desired body weight. When we have 2-3 large meals, the gap between meals can lead to a drop in blood sugar which can make us ravenous the next time we eat, meaning we’re more likely to overeat.
Three: How many hours of sleep do you get each night? Did you know that poor or inadequate sleep can put us at risk for diabetes, as well as other types of diseases? Studies are starting to show that lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance, which is a precursor to type II diabetes. This year, make a New Year promise to yourself to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. How can you achieve this? An hour before you go to bed, lower the lights, play soft music, try some meditation or some gentle yoga exercises. Get yourself into relaxation mode and let go of the stress from the day. You can also try some sleep inducing teas like hops, camomile, passionflower and lavender. Once you get into bed, throw back some of your covers to keep your body cooler. A cooler body is more likely to help you have a restful sleep. Sleeping in cooler temperatures can help to reduce inflammation in your body as well as promote much needed rest and repair. Think this sounds strange? Then think about animals that hibernate in colder weather – they have quite a long and restful sleep.
Four: Spend some time out in nature. Not only is getting outside a great way to get some exercise (whether it’s a jog around the neighbourhood, or a walk through a park), it is also a great way to de-stress! With all the various technologies around us (smart phones, laptops, tvs….just to name a few), our bodies are constantly subjected to numerous types of stimulation which can put us in fight or flight mode (aka stress mode). So, get outside to de-stress, de-clutter, and unplug yourself, and reconnect with nature to help feel more refreshed and renewed. Also, in the colder weather we tend to spend a lot of time indoors which means we are continually breathing in recycled and dusty air. One of the best ways to reduce symptoms from Sick Building Syndrome (allergy-like symptoms – sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, headaches, etc. – that occupants of a building experience that are from no known cause) is to get outside for some fresh, clean air. Relief of these symptoms is generally experienced upon leaving the building and getting outside.
Five: Mix up your diet and try something new. If you eat meat daily, try going vegan or vegetarian for a week. Or try removing gluten or dairy for a few days and see if you notice a difference in your digestion. You may be surprised how you feel after a few modifications. It’s not hard to get stuck into a meal routine (pizza on Monday, chicken on Tuesday, etc.) and we may experience food allergy or sensitivity symptoms that we take to be normal. By mixing up your diet and temporarily removing foods that you often eat, you may notice you a decrease in digestive symptoms. For example, feeling bloated after a meal does not have to be a normal feeling, and many people who have difficulty digesting dairy and wheat find symptoms of bloating will disappear once these foods are removed. And besides, mixing up your diet is another way to spice up your life (literally). Seek out different meal ideas and experience the difference a meal modification can make.