Karen Rigney and Sheila Emery Murphy are certified health coaches who have led workshops on healthy cooking, nutrition and wellness for Support Connection. They offer the following simple tips for gradually integrating whole person health practices into your day*:
1. Your First Choice Counts
Small, simple changes add up to a bright-eyed start to the morning. Take a drink. You are the most dehydrated after a night’s sleep. So, replenish yourself with a glass of water first thing in the morning. For an extra detox boost, add a wedge of lemon. Staying hydrated is a simple way to stay healthy and feel great all day long. Break the fast. Eating a nutritious breakfast daily is proven to help people have more energy, improve focus, and maintain a healthy weight. Some easy breakfast options to get you nourished and out the door include oatmeal topped with berries and walnuts or hardboiled egg and a piece of fresh fruit. Shift perspective. Starting the day with healthful choices shifts perspective making it more likely for better choices all day long.
2. Be Food Smart
Know what is in your food! Read ingredient labels. If the ingredients read more like a science project rather than a recipe, make a different choice. Best to avoid products containing high fructose corn syrup, trans fat (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils) as well as artificial colors and flavors – all these additives improve the product’s shelf life, but don’t benefit your life.
3. Eat Real Food
Yes, it is that simple. Seasonal, whole foods – made by nature – nourish our bodies. Enjoy a variety of colorful foods. Wild Alaskan salmon, salads, smoothies, soups and spices pack a powerful punch of goodness. Opt for organic produce when possible to avoid exposure to pesticides and chemicals.
4. Power-Up with Plants
Besides providing micronutrient strength and protection, plant protein from grains, legumes, nuts and seeds give us all the necessary amino acids (building blocks of protein). Try to limit your animal protein to more of a “flavoring” status in your meals and be wowed by the results. Research has shown that good genes are awakened and disease genes are suppressed with much less meat and dairy than the standard American diet. In addition, greens and colorful vegetables and fruits contain the key to radiant health. Try to have servings of cooked and raw vegetables in as many meals as possible.
5. Kitchen Confidence – Simplify Whole Food Cooking
Prepare grains and legumes to be mixed in with different vegetables though out the week. Try easy porridge bowls for breakfast with leftover cooked grains. Warm with boiling water and add nuts, fruit and honey. For lunch and dinner, try a savory grain bowl with beans, veggies and spices. With a little practice, you can cook one day and eat for three.
6. Add More “Good” Bacteria
Replenishing our gut flora or healthy bacteria insures that food nutrients reach us on a cellular level where they are needed. There are many delicious sour or cultured foods out there that enhance every meal. Not just yogurt…try sauerkraut, pickles, pickled carrots and kimchi in the refrigerator section of the health food store, or find easy make-at-home recipes online.
7. Think Outside The Box
Eating with the season and what you have planned for the day can impact your energy. Root vegetables can be grounding and give focus. Greens can provide light energy and serve as wonderful detoxifiers. Add spices to all dishes to create powerful synergies of micronutrients. For example, cacao with berries can triple the berry antioxidant power. Pepper unleashes the magic of turmeric. Embrace the immune boosting power of onions and garlic. We recommend letting cut onions sit a few minutes at room temperature before cooking. This allows the health promoting properties to survive the high heat of cooking.
8. Move More
Make a commitment to move more every day. Be creative – exercise doesn’t have to mean getting a gym membership. Taking the stairs, parking a little further away or making plans with a friend to walk briskly regularly all add more movement to your day. Staying active helps your body release chemical messengers that tell arteries and organs to behave in healthful ways. So what is the best exercise? The one you will do!
9. Listen to Your Body
Practicing mindful eating by chewing slowly and savoring every bite can give you clues as to how a food works in your unique system. Taking time out of your day to meditatively prepare and enjoy meals makes a difference in the energy they provide. An hour or so after eating, try to discern how this food makes you feel and what energy it brings. After a while, you will notice certain physical and emotional states connected with a food or meal. When you incorporate a variety of tastes and textures into your meal, you will feel in balance and soon you will discover how to quickly restore that balance.
10. Be Grateful
Say thanks. Think of one thing you are grateful for before you get out of bed every day. Starting your day with gratitude can recalibrate your mind to focus on the good things that happen during your day and lighten your mood. Chronic stress can impact the immune system, not to mention ruin your day. More gratitude means more happiness, less stress and better health.
*Always consult with your own health care team about the practices that are best for your individual situation.