Lifestyle diseases such as Type II diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some cancers are on the rise at staggering rates.
At the same time a growing number of people are without family doctors and our health care system is seriously overburdened. What does this mean to you? It means you have to look after your own health. This is not meant to scare you, it is meant to empower you.
These diseases are called lifestyle diseases because our lifestyle is mostly to blame. That is very empowering! We change our lifestyle choices and we can significantly reduce our chances of getting lifestyle diseases. When we make healthy changes in our habits we get additional perks like feeling great, increased energy, restful sleep, looking better and reducing our dependence on the health care system. There is more good news: these changes don’t have to be daunting. Small, consistent, positive changes that focus on healthy choices can have an enormous impact on your health and your weight. Yes, your weight.
Diets don’t work. If diets worked there wouldn’t be a $6 billon diet industry, we’d all lose weight and keep it off and obesity-related chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and Type II diabetes would be on the decline.
Our recommendation? Stop focusing on diets and deprivation and focus on getting healthy and feeling great. Start to connect what you eat with how you feel. Eating processed food is starving your body of nutrients and your nutrient starved body will send signals to “feed me”. Instead, fuel your body with nutrient rich foods and your body will pay you back by reducing cravings, stabilizing blood sugar, letting go of excess weight and reducing your chances of developing a lifestyle disease. You will be eating a diet of prevention.
Here are a few strategies to get you started:
#1 Be aware of what is in your food.
Packaged, processed food is loaded with hidden sugar, sodium, additives, preservatives and chemicals. By avoiding packaged food you are significantly reducing these mostly unhealthy ingredients. Common ingredients/additives can cause adverse health effects, such as: BHT (cancer causing), aspartame (toxic to your brain), MSG (causes weight gain), E133 ((linked to behavioral problems in children) and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) (headaches and weight gain). Here is an excellent reference list from Food Matters of the Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid
Look at the food in your home such as, salad dressings, packaged meals, crackers, bread, children’s snacks, etc. and see if your food has these ingredients. If yes, try to stop buying them. Use your purchasing power to send a message that you want food with fewer chemicals. Your health depends on it.
Limit coffee, pop and fruit drinks and start drinking water. Most of these drinks actually dehydrate you and are high in sugar. Your body is 70% water and every cell and system in your body needs water. Adding cucumber or lemon slices and drinking herbal teas ensures variety and flavour or try a holihealth favourite by adding some liquid chlorophyll and you will benefit from additional antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds as well. Everyone’s needs are different depending on such things as: the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits you eat and how much you exercise, but a good rule of thumb is to hydrate enough so your urine is pale yellow.
#3 Add vegetables, add vegetables, add vegetables, add vegetables
Vegetables are nature’s powerhouses when it comes to high nutrient, low calorie foods. Add them everywhere you can. For the picky ‘vegetable eater’ find creative ways to add vegetables: blend them into sauces and smoothies, cut them up small and add them to eggs, soup or pasta salad or shred them into salads. Aim for 3 cups of leafy greens a day and at least 4 ½ cup servings of other colourful vegetables. Include one salad per day and make one snack a veggie snack.
#4 Connect what you eat to how you feel
Track what eat and drink, how you feel, as well as, your exercise and movement for at least 7 days. Using a food journal you will have many ‘ah ha’ moments as you discover how your food choices are affecting you personally.
Good food is nourishment for your body, but disease prevention also includes exercise and movement as nourishment for your mind and soul. Movement is a personal choice so find what works best for you. It may be walking alone or with a friend, a workout at the gym, yoga, Pilates or working outside. Whatever it is – make time for it, enjoy it (moving your body shouldn’t be a chore) and have fun.
Visit holihealth regularly to learn more strategies for a holistic and preventative approach to wellbeing.