Recently, I’ve had quite a few people ask me for some simple changes to make for better health that don’t require them going on a diet, cleanse, or adopting a foreign lifestyle to them. I’m always an advocate of taking personal, small steps towards better health, whenever you can and however you can. That being said, I realize that for some people baby steps are easier than one giant leap into the world of health and wellness, which can be intimidating at first, I’ll admit. So, I thought I would share with you all some small changes to make for better health that you can start doing right now. By tomorrow, you can consider yourself just a wee bit healthier, and after a few weeks of doing these things, you’ll likely feel like a whole new person.
1. Choose Whole Foods
The first thing I always tell people when advising certain changes to make for better health is to choose whole foods over processed foods, especially for breakfast. Breakfast is the first meal of the day, and it should be an ultimate priority to set yourself up for success the rest of the day. Don’t pick up a bar, bagel, or pour cereal into a bowl. Choose a piece of fruit and unsweetened yogurt, and add some almonds or walnuts on top for a nice crunch. Or, if you’re more into savory, prepare some sprouted grain toast like Ezekiel bread and spread a little avocado, tomato, and add some black pepper on top. Choosing whole foods to start your day is always the best choice to keep you fuller longer and give your body the nutrients it needs. I personally love oatmeal with flax, chia, almond milk, and vanilla stevia, and it holds me over for at least 4 hours on busy mornings.
2. Add a Smoothie
I’m a smoothie lover, and since I introduced them to my diet, I’ve seen so many healthy changes in my skin, hair, nails, and my sense of satiety. It’s best to keep your smoothies low glycemic by using low sugar fruits like berries and kiwis, with some clean protein powder or Greek yogurt, and then add a few spinach leaves or some chopped cucumber. I promise, you’ll never believe how good it tastes and you’ll learn to love this healthy drink each and every day. They can serve as the perfect snack, breakfast, or even a light lunch! Add in some chia seeds or almonds for longer lasting power.
We all know we need to exercise, and while that is incredibly important to be healthier, overall it’s important just to add movement to your day above all else. Get out and walk wherever you can, whenever you can. Do odds and ends around your house that require movement. Don’t sit still for longer than an hour unless you’re getting ready for bed, and try to do more activities than watching television. This is one of the most beneficial changes you could ever make towards your health and it’s just as important as a healthy diet.
Along with movement, the body also needs to sweat on a regular basis. This is our body’s natural method of detoxification, and it requires us to get our heart rate up to actually sweat. The body lets go of viruses and other types of toxins when we sweat, so go for a jog, take a hot yoga class, or just hit the treadmill hard. Any of these will work, and your body will feel completely rejuvenated afterwards. This is also a great way to enhance your immunity.
5. Get Your Green on
It’s so important to eat your greens, you all! Greens are the body’s best friend. They neutralize acids, help wastes exit the body, which cleanses the blood and digestive tract, and they make us beautiful! They contain chlorophyll, which keeps your skin healthy, reduces breakouts, reduces stress in the body, cleans the blood, and fights off disease. Greens are also remarkable for boosting your mood due to their high levels of magnesium and B vitamins. Most all greens also contain protein, iron, and Vitamins A and K as well. Add them wherever you can, whenever you can. They don’t cancel out fast food, but they are important to add in anyway!
6. Stop Eating Sugar
Hands down, one of the most important things you can ever do for your health is to stop eating sugar. All refined sugars and added sugars should be removed from your diet. They don’t give you any health benefits, and even natural sweeteners that have benefits aren’t worth it. You can obtain those same nutrients elsewhere, from much better sources that won’t mess with your glycemic index or cause acidity in the body. Sugar in all forms is acidic, can lead to acne, weight gain, mood disorders, and even aging. Remove it, and use the all natural herb stevia instead, or just opt for fruit as your source of sweetness.
7. Get Rid of Refined Grains
Just like sugar, refined grains need to go! Add in more beautiful, colorful produce to your diet instead. These foods are just bursting with color, which should signify how beautifying and healthy they are for you and your body. Refined grains lack much color or excitement, and it’s with good reason- they’re low in nutritional content, if they have any at all. If you want to eat grains, choose whole grains, which contain all the healthy nutrients the grains naturally contain. Stop buying breads, crackers, and all processed sources of refined grains. I know that sounds daunting, but once you taste how delicious a hot bowl of seasoned quinoa or oatmeal can be, or how sweet and tasty a sweet potato with some cinnamon on top really is, you’ll wonder why you ever opted for the bread aisle choices anyway!
8. Add in More
The best tip I can give anyone who’s having a hard time eating fruits and veggies at first is just to keep adding in more. After you cut out processed foods, refined grains, and all added sugars, try to concentrate on things you can add more of, like fruits and veggies. Don’t focus so much on what you’re missing, and just enjoy trying new things. Sure, you might not know how to cook some of it a first, so Google a recipe that looks good, and try it! You might just end up finding a new favorite.
9. Add Omega 3s
Omega 3 fatty acids are incredibly important for our health. They are anti-inflammatory, can help us lose weight and keep it off, they prevent depression, and reduce acidity in the body. They have been linked to preventing and treating Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes as well. Add in omega 3s to your diet through fish, fortified organic eggs, fish oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts. These are all fantastic sources of this healthy fat and they’re all tasty too!
10. Drink up
Add more water rich beverages to your day, however you can. We all know this is important, but it’s easy to forget just how vital it is to our health. Staying hydrated keeps us energized, balances our body fluids, aids in cellular functions in the body, prevents unnecessary hunger, and helps flush toxins through the body. Try to eliminate all your energy drinks and soda right away. Then cut back on caffeinated drinks, until you’re down to one or two cups of coffee a day. Add in more water rich drinks like herbal tea sweetened with stevia and lemon, plain water, or water with some refreshing lemon or lime slices. Try to drink at least 6-8 glasses a day, and more if you’re active.
Last but not least, all of these health tips are important, but if you live a life full of stress, you can’t become healthy, no matter how much you try. Learn to relax more and make it a priority however you need to. Do yoga, take walks, assign yourself daily silence time, or just do one activity a day alone that you enjoy to relax. Included in this, you should also get plenty of sleep so you can be at your best energy levels, and naturally fight off disease, depression, and weight gain. Aim for 7-8 hours every single night.
I hope these tips for changes you can make to become healthier might help some of you who just don’t know where to start. Some of them sound repetitive to what we often hear about health, but they’re also very true. Take my advice and add in one or two this week. Then add in a few more next week. Keep doing that until you’ve achieved them all, and if you’re really brave, do them all today and be healthier tomorrow! You’ll feel so empowered and like a new person. How have you made a change to get healthier this year?