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If You Want to Eat Healthier, You Should Follow This 7-Step Plan

If You Want to Eat Healthier, You Should Follow This 7-Step Plan

Mention healthy eating and there are images of green concoctions and complex recipes swirling in your head. It doesn’t have to be so hard and dull. Let’s break down the simplicity of achieving the balanced diet you want and need.

1. Clean out your kitchen cupboards

That stash of candy and bag of chips have to go. Anything with more than three artificial ingredients, heavily processed foods, anything that contains high amounts of sugar or sodium should be thrown out. Say goodbye to microwavable and packaged meals. Once you’re done cleaning your fridge and emptying your cupboard, check your pockets and bags. Perhaps there are snacks and candy, hidden or forgotten, that need be to chucked as well. Out of sight, out of mouth.

Choosing stems from having options so put yourself in the clear to ensure you’re making smarter choices.

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2. Buy a water filter or a portable container

You’re probably sick of hearing this but it’s worth repeating. Your body needs water, your organs, your brain, your mouth, your stomach. Consider it electricity for the body. Every healthy, balanced diet starts with a proper amount of hydration. Aim for at least one liter of water a day, not including water from the foods you eat.

Having a water mug or container keeps you remain mindful of your required daily intake while a water filter saves you money as it limits the usage of plastic water bottles.

3. Learn the basics on Nutrition Facts

Those nutritional tables you see on the sides and back of nearly everything possess a lot of crucial information. It’s important to know the nutritional value of food. This will help you choose foods that effectively nourish your body with crucial, core nutrients. The Nutrition Facts table should inform you of calories, core nutrients (fat, sodium, protein, fibre..) and the daily value (%DV) of nutrients based on the amount of food. Knowing this will enable you to compare products in order to make better choices and will allow you to choose better products more easily, over time.

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Not all foods have nutrition tables (fruits, meats, alcohol, bread); however discerning which items are healthy for you should be fairly easy.

4. Set a food budget

So the kitchen’s de-cluttered from unhealthy options, you’re drinking like a newborn fish to stay hydrated and avoid overeating, and you actually understand what those digits mean on the nutrition label. You’re on a roll and ready to buy super foods, anti-oxidant fruits and enough lemons to start your own grove.

But before you set out to the grocery store, excited to implement all these changes, do your wallet a favor and set a number for food purchases on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. This will prevent you from overspending, which we sometimes do to compensate for other cravings, and avoid you from being overwhelmed with too many options.

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5. Make a grocery list

This is the fun part. Budgets and lists are conjoined at the sexy hip of financial management and awareness. Try to diversify your shopping lists to include at least one item from the food pyramid. Stock up on fruits, vegetables and filling items like sweet potatoes, beans and nuts. If you have a sweet tooth, load up on sweet seasonal fruits like apples, mangos, kiwis and grapes. If chips are your weakness, try pistachios instead.

I asked a few friends for reasons why they resort to fast food and the most prevalent response was convenience. Jot down a few easy-to-make meals or go-to recipes to avoid that pitfall. My lazy dinners often involve a baked sweet potato (loaded with vitamin A), a fried egg (protein) and homemade tomato sauce I make in abundance prior to the week.

6. Get creative

Healthy eating boasts many benefits from noticeable energy increase to better moods and easier weight management. However as the day wears on or as you begin to settle into this new change, you might feel tempted to resort back to comfort foods.

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It’s crucial to find a healthy medium between the foods you love and the foods your body needs. Find healthier substitutes for foods you cannot live without. If you despise drinking water all day, buy de-caffeinated green tea or hoard sliced watermelons, cucumbers and carrots. If ice cream is your guilty treat, reduce the amount of times you indulge and consider replacing your daily scoop with a bowl of unsweetened yogurt with sweet and crunchy granola bits. Next time you need something quick between meals, reach for natural oatmeal and slices of actual fruit (bananas, peaches and berries).

I cannot function without my daily dose of dark chocolate and on days where my sugar cravings are out of control, I reach for mango and peach smoothie popsicles.

7. Be patient

Don’t beat yourself up for the occasional slip. It’s okay to make mistakes as they help you adjust to what fits your lifestyle and discover what doesn’t work for you. Incremental changes in the betterment of your diet can be enjoyable, if you stay patient and curious. Sometimes persistent cravings despite all your efforts are signs of a nutrient deficiency. Do a little research.

Healthy eating is not about depriving yourself of the things you enjoy, it’s about finding the balance between the things you love to eat and the food your body needs to function at its best. Continue on that journey to find that balance for yourself.

Featured photo credit: Bruce Tuten via flickr.com

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Jolie Adam

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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