Read any blog, article, magazine out there and they are all pushing ways to make yourself thinner, prettier, shinier, whatever. Some tips are decent and some involve putting some smelly gunk on your face in order to have perfect skin. Well, I have my own tips that I used, but not to be prettier or thinner, but to be truly healthy.
I am all about doing whatever I can to optimize my health. I start with diet, but truly there are so many things that you can do to make yourself just feel all around better. These are the 6 things that I do on a regular basis in order to help me optimize my health.
1. Cut out the grains
There are so many diet out there today. I mean, way too many diets! Low fat, low carb, AdvoCare, ideal protein, weight watchers, Jenny Craig, and those are just to name a few.
Paleo has been gaining extraordinary traction for eating “primal” like the cavemen did. I like to think of it as eating food that the Earth has provided us. God put these foods on the planet for a reason, and that reason does not include ripping them to pieces, chemically processing and taking away all of their nutritional value.
I eat “Primal” to avoid food sensitivities, but cutting out the grain alone made a huge difference in making me feel “lighter”. Bonus, it actually can make you lighter since grains are primarily carbohydrates. Check out my infographic below on how carbohydrates and calories work within in our bodies.
As you can see from the image below, the calories are utilized differently within our bodies. All of the carbohydrates we eat are converted to sugar. Our bodies then burn off what it needs, stores some in the liver as glycogen and then stores any excess as fat. Protein is typically used to fuel and build the muscles (and so much more); however, excess protein can be stored as fat. Fat in our diet is super important for FULLNESS! Which leads me to my next point.
2. Eat some fat!
Let’s face it. Fat gets a bad rep. This completely breaks my heart because so many people who are calorie counting avoid eating fat due to its high calorie content. The good thing about fat, though, is that the calories from fat are UTILIZED! Your body has to work its tail off to break down fat and use it as energy that you don’t easily store it as fat.
I tell every single one of my patients to eat fat, and don’t just eat fat sometimes, but eat fat at EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL! Overtime you will notice that you will not need as much food to fill you up. You will also notice that the smaller portion is actually keeping you fuller for a very long time. For me it also stopped that nagging feeling of always being slightly hungry, even after I ate. It helped tremendously with my fear of not having enough food.
The best part about fat is it makes your food taste really good! Bonus, your body requires fat to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K. Vitamin D is one of the most supplemented vitamins today and having adequate fat in your diet can make sure that those vitamins are being absorbed. So eat your fat and enjoy it, too!
There are definitely good fats that you want to eat and fats that you want to avoid. The best fats to eat are avocados, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee (if dairy tolerant), & nuts.
3. Eat more vegetables than you could ever imagine!
In the nutrition world we refer to this as eating a rainbow of foods, meaning eat every type of color you can find! Your body gets different nutrients & antioxidants from different vegetables, so it is important to broaden our horizons and try different vegetables.
The problem with this is that not a lot of people like vegetables or know how to cook them properly. Maybe you absolutely hate Brussels Sprouts, but the only way you’ve ever had them is boiled. Guess what? I hate boiled Brussels Sprouts, too! However, roasted Brussels Sprouts are by far one of my favorite vegetables out there. It is all about how you cook them!
4. Don’t be bogged down by so many chemicals
Our world is now just a cesspool of varying chemicals that our bodies may or may not be able to tolerate.
What makes our bodies unable to tolerate these chemicals? That typically boils down to genetics. Some people have a thriving liver, GI, & kidney system that allows them to process these chemicals and kick them out of the body. Others are not so lucky.
Some folks can be so sensitive that even the smell of perfumes or chemical cleaning agents send their bodies into a flurry such as headaches, fatigue, sneezing, wheezing, or even random symptoms (like my sister whose right eye twitches every time she cleans the house).
One step to improving these symptoms is to decrease the number of toxins you come in contact with throughout the day. And no, this does not require wearing a gas mask at all times. I started slowly by changing out my bleach for some natural cleaning supplies (distilled vinegar and water can pretty much clean anything and everything), and changed out my conventional soap with castile soap. I’ve also toyed with making my own laundry detergent, which is a huge money saver.
The nice thing is you can get as hardcore with this as you’d like. I have found that these simple changes made a huge difference for me. I also make it a point to open the windows in my house every few weeks to let the old, stagnant air flow out and to bring new, fresh air back in.
5. Belly Breathing
Taking 4 seconds, slowly take a deep breath in.
Hold for 4 seconds.
Taking another 4 seconds, slowly release your breath.
It is that simple.
This simple technique made a world of difference for me. When I am sitting at my desk, stressed to the max, I remind myself to take some deep belly breaths and suddenly the stress of the day, week, month, year doesn’t seem so bad.
The problem is that I always forget to do this. I have had sticky notes all on my computer, mirror, & even in my car (queue road rage) telling me to calm down and take deep belly breaths.
Trust me on this one. It’s really good as long as you remember to do it daily!
6. Go outside
“Grounding” yourself doesn’t have to be punishment like when we were kids. To ground yourself (aka get back in touch with yourself, nature, and your roots) all you have to do is step outside onto some grass with your bare feet.
Being outside on the grass without shoes on is so nostalgic for me. Excuse me while my country girl side comes out for a second, but while I was a kid I absolutely detested wearing shoes. Somewhere along the line I have forgotten to hate shoes and now I am always scouring the house for a pair of shoes just to go outside and water the grass.
Now, if you have snakes and tarantulas and what-not to worry about, be super careful about where you are walking without any shoes on… but even if you stand in place for 10-15 minutes and just breath in the fresh air, your body will thank you. The sun give you some much needed, non-synthetic vitamin D, which is great for bone health, immune support, and improved oxygenation.
I challenge you to implement 3 out of 6 of these in the next two weeks.
Need help implementing these? No worries, I can help! Click the link below.
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Questions? Email me!
The Functional RD