Getting healthy is very doable
When I chat to people about healthy eating it always surprises me how stubbornly they hold onto outdated dietary myths, such as choosing to eat margarine over butter because butter is going to clog their arteries. I can understand how this happens though. The internet and print media is full of contradictory advice. When I read that eggs should be avoided due to their high cholesterol content, or that whole grains are essential for fibre, I just want to explode with frustration. This post is for people who want to start improving their health by making more informed choices. I will outline some easy steps to take that can have dramatic benefits for your health, and will bust some myths at the same time.
(1) Get rid of sugar
This is listed first as I believe it is one of the most important steps to take. Sugar is bad for so many different reasons. It rots teeth, causes obesity, leads to type 2 diabetes, causes inflammation in your body, depresses your immune system, feeds cancer, promotes ageing and wrinkles, robs your body of minerals, weakens eye sight and the list goes on and on. Sugar is an addictive and toxic substance to our bodies. Eliminate it completely and once you are over the withdrawal symptoms (headache, fatigue, nausea), you will see for yourself how much better you feel. Stop consuming fizzy drinks, fruit juice, sweets , ice cream and chocolate. Also be careful how much fruit you eat. Yes, fruit is natural but it is also packed with sugar. Low sugar fruit like berries are the best choice. You can get all the vitamins, minerals and fibre you need from veggies, you really don’t need fruit.
(2) Eat only healthy fats
Healthy fats are those found naturally in foods. This means plant fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil. Definitely also consume animal fats such as duck fat, lard, tallow, butter and ghee. Consume fatty foods such as avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, full fat dairy (if tolerated), as well as fatty meats and sea food. Eat the skin on your chicken and strip of fat on your lamb chop. These healthy fats are delicious, satiating and good for your body and brain. Avoid all fake, man-made fats such as canola oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, margarine and shortening. These types of fats have gone through a rigorous industrial process using chemicals and solvents and artificial flavourings to make it remotely edible. These fats are not fit for human consumption and cause massive inflammation in the human body and damage to our cells. Remember, inflammation is the root cause of disease, so think about that the next time you want to spread yellow “butter-flavoured” plastic on your toast.
(3) Replace starches with veggies
No-one can dispute that veggies are good for us. They are packed full of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre. Unfortunately many people don’ t eat nearly the quantity that is needed for optimal health. Think variety and colour and fill at least 2/3 of your plate with them. Oven chips and tomato sauce don’t cut it! I am talking about cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, green beans, gem squash, peppers, baby marrow and salad greens. Get rid of the beige stuff like rice, pasta, polenta, maize meal, potatoes, couscous and bread. These foods are high in carbs and convert to sugar in your body causing massive glucose spikes. Like their colour they are bland in flavour and practically devoid of nutrients. By simply swapping out starches in favour of more veggies, you will be avoiding foods that promote fat storage and eating foods that will truly nourish your body.
(4) Eat real food
This means that if it comes in a box, tin or packet, has a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce or dubious looking numbers that have an “e” in front of it, then it is not real food. Walk away and head towards the fresh produce aisles. The downside of eating real food is that it quite possibly will involve more time in the kitchen and less time watching Netflix, but the sacrifice is well worth it. Humans have become lazy and too convenience orientated and our health has suffered as a result. It is time to re-prioritise cooking fresh produce from scratch and foregoing the easy ‘poke meals’ (packaged meals where you poke the plastic film with a knife and chuck in the microwave for two minutes). Convenience foods, besides being more expensive, are packed full of hidden sugars, toxic vegetable oils and preservatives.
(5) Sleep more
We are a species obsessed with technology. Who can relate to staying up later than you know is good for you because you are wasting time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest? Why do we spend so much time interested in other people’s lives? If we rather spent that time focused on our families I am sure the world would be a better place. Screen time before bed is disastrous for your sleep. The blue light our tech devices emit messes with our melatonin, a key hormone required to induce and promote good quality sleep. If you aren’t getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, you are doing your health a huge disservice. So rather go to bed by 9:00 and read a book before falling asleep (Kindles are also fine). A nice hot bath with some Epsom salts and essential oils like Lavendar and Ylang Ylang can also do wonders for quality sleep and reducing stress levels.
These are my top 5 tips for improving your health. Obviously if you smoke – quit, and if you consume alcohol on a regular basis know that you are straining your liver, raising your oestrogen levels and increasing your risk for breast cancer. Alcohol also does you no favours if you are trying to lose excess weight. Be active on a daily basis, even if it is just gentle walking. If you are prepared to up your game then include strength training into your routine. This will build muscle and burn fat and keep you looking and feeling young and strong. I never said that getting healthy would be easy. You will have to think long and hard about giving up the things that you love, and quite possibly are addicted to. I just know that health is a very precious commodity that you cannot take for granted. One day you think you have it and the next it gets taken away from you in a blink of an eye.