6 First steps to living a healthier life.

I get asked these questions a lot:
"Can I eat this?", "Is this bad for me?", "But I love bread", "I can't live without my coffee", "How do I get healthy?", "My problem is that I'm too lazy", "I just don't have time to eat healthy".... The list goes on and on!!

If you want to get healthier, and live a higher quality of life, but don't know how to do it or how to make the initial first step, then keep reading! Many people want to be healthier, but don't know how to do it. There's so much propaganda out there, and it's very SO misleading! We need to be conscious consumers when we shop for our food, and that takes practice. It's so important to know exactly what we are nourishing our bodies with, and what we are getting in our food. 

Here are some steps that will help you in the process of achieving optimal health. These tips are very general, and are not suited for each individual person. They are small steps to take, that will help you get on the band-wagon, and help you find out what foods and what lifestyles are perfect for you.

**If you are looking for a customized plan that is suited for you, and only you, an RHN-Holistic Nutritionist (a.k.a yours truly) can help you with that.  I will guide you, and teach you how to live your life for the best life there is. Feel free to contact me at anytime, I'd love to hear from you!

1. Eat real food!

Food [fu:d] noun: any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth.

Notice how I underlined nutritious, and in order to maintain life and growth?

The reason why we eat food, is to nourish our bodies, and to sustain life.

Something that has been processed in a factory, packaged in a plastic wrap, put in a box with pretty colours, shipped to us on many different freight trucks, and then put on a shelf where it has an expiry date of 5 years from now, is not food people. It's a product. If our lives literally depend on eating, then why should we eat something that is merely a product, that is portrayed as food? We shouldn't! We should treat our bodies like the gods and goddesses that we are, and only give it food that will nourish us! Believe that you are the best of the best, and you should only eat the best of the best. 

How to do it: Step away from the middle isles, folks. Notice how the grocery store is set up? The fresh food that can go bad, is always on the outer layers of the store. The packaged foods are  always in the middle. Stay out of the isles! The isles have the processed, refined, and packaged "foods" in them, so just stay outta there completely. Try to stick mostly to the produce section, and fill your cart up with some live, raw, and fresh goodness.

2. Drink water.

Our bodies are about 70% water and our energy level is greatly affected by the amount of water we drink. Even as little as a 5% drop in body fluids will cause about 25-30% energy loss in the average person, and a 15% drop in body fluids will cause death! 

Many of us are dehydrated, and we might not even know it. 

Do you drink coffee? Coffee has caffeine (everyone knows that) which actually dehydrates you. Many people think that because coffee is made with water, that drinking coffee counts as one cup of water towards their daily goal of the typical 8 glasses of water per day... WRONG. Think about this a rule of thumb: For every cup of coffee (or caffeinated beverage you drink) that you drink, you need to drink 2 cups of water to replace it. If you drink one cup of coffee, or caffeinated beverage, you dehydrate yourself for however much you just drank. So if you love your coffee, thats okay. I'm not going to take that away from you. Just remember the rule of thumb!

How to do it: Just drink more water! Simple as that. Try to aim for 1 litre of water per 50lbs of body weight. I know that water can be boring, but you can spice it up. Add fresh mint or basil leaves, some chopped up cucumber, fresh lemon, raspberries, etc. It's much more appealing when you have something yummy in it to look forward to. 

3. Speaking of water..... Lemon water!

Okay, this is one of the best and easiest recommendations out there. 

Start drinking fresh lemon water, daily. If you want to go a step further, drink it in the morning, before breakfast! Lemon water helps to detoxify the body, aids the liver in secreting bile, helps to alkalize the body (reducing acidity and inflammation), and gives you energy!! Try it out. It tastes really yummy, and every organ in your body will love you a little bit more.

How to do it: I have a manual lemon juicer that I use, and it works great because you even get some of the pulp (which adds fiber). If you don't have one, it's all good; Just use your hands! Cut a lemon in half, and squeeeeeeeeze it until you can't squeeze it anymore. You can put the lemon in to cold or warm water. Warm water is nicer on your digestive system, especially in the morning, but which ever temperature of water you prefer will work just fine. 

4. Don't eat in a hurry! Chew!

Don't hork down a meal. It's really bad for your digestive system! When you eat a meal like an animal, you really slow down the digestive process. When your digestive system is playing it cool and all "hey I'm hungry, can you throw a homie an apple or something?" and then you decide to eat something like it's going out of style, it's not very nice.. and your tummy doesn't appreciate it. It's very hard for the digestive juices to secrete when you're hardly chewing your food, and it's very difficult for the body to break it down into the vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids that it needs to keep you functioning!

How to do it: I understand that not every one lives in la la land, and can't always sit down at a dinner table to eat their meal. I get it. But, what you can do, is chew thoroughly! Chewing begins the digestive process by secreting enzymes (amylase) that start to break down carbohydrates. This enzyme is in your saliva, and can't be secreted unless you chew! Mechanical digestion is the first way to increase your digestion, and to help your tummy out. Chew until it's liquid!

5. No drinking at meal times

When you drink while you're eating (water, coffee, beer, wine, etc.) you are diluting the bodies natural enzymes that help to digest food. When your body doesn't have all of the enzymes it needs to digest, thats when bloating, gas, and indigestion occur. 

How to do it: Try to not drink at all when you are eating. Aim for only drinking 15 minutes before, and after eating. If you need to take a drink while eating, only take sips. 

6. Plan ahead

Life gets tiring, and very busy. It's so easy just to pull up to a drive through window and grab something to go. But not only are you grabbing food that is not actually a food (as explained in the first point), and eating in a hurry (in my fourth point), you're also putting toxins in your body such as free radicals, refined sugars/carbohydrates, and trans-fatty acids. That's a big no-no! Try to have food with you so that when you are busy and hungry, you don't go to one of those drive through windows. You simply reach into your bag, and grab the snack that you planned ahead for!

How to do it: Having snacks ready-to-eat such as healthy (preferably homemade) cookies, bars, raw trail mix, or something like granola is a good way to stay away from fast food. But what if you don't have time to make healthy cookies or granola? That's okay. If you're hungry, and you have nothing to snack on, try going to a grocery store instead of a fast food restuarant! Grocery stores always have a produce section, and you can easily grab some veggies and some hummus there. Try to look for some raw nuts and seeds that you can snack on, a low sugar granola bar, or even the deli with some fresh made sandwiches. 

I hope these tips weren't too overwhelming for you! Like I said, these are first steps into eating healthier. They are small but mighty steps, and if you keep up with these, or even work on one at a time, you will no doubt feel a difference within as little as week.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am an RHN-Holistic Nutritionist. The health information contained herein is to share my knowledge and recipes. Any information provided is not intended to treat or cure any disease, or to replace any discussions with a health care provider. You, the reader, are personally responsible for ensuring the safe application of anything described herein. Read the Scope of Practice, as well as the Code of Ethics of an RHN-Holistic Nutritionist.


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