Let’s face it… old habits can be hard to break. It takes work and commitment. On top of that, we live in a society that pushes and markets “magic bullet” fixes. So, it’s quite easy to find excuses for why you are stuck in the same routines.
However, you have the power to change this! Starting now. An easy place to begin is with daily rituals, the behaviors that make up our day-to-day lives and support our health, goals and happiness. When it comes to health, start with small, effective routines, and watch them snowball into a lifelong wellness.
Last month’s The Paper Trail article outlined the first half of my top healthy lifestyle habits, including…
#1 Create a morning routine
#2 Stay hydrated
#3 Practice intermittent fasting
#4 Get outside in the sunshine
Let’s complete the list!
#5 Focus on Gut Health
We learn more everyday about the importance of a healthy gut in preventing disease and supporting overall health and wellness. Did you know that 80% of your immune system lies in the gut?
It’s not just what you eat that matters, but we must also pay attention to how our bodies digest and absorb the goodness in our food. Adopting habits that support gut health can lead to optimal wellness.
A simple way to do so is by eating fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kimchee, organic yogurt with no added sugars, kefir, and Kombucha tea). You can also add a high quality probiotic to your daily supplement routine to replenish and support good gut bacteria. And don’t forget to chew your food; your stomach doesn’t have teeth after all.
#6 Simplify Your Diet With Colorful, Whole Foods
One of the easiest dietary habits you can implement is to focus on whole foods. What is a whole food? Think, one ingredient. Broccoli, quinoa, almonds, salmon, kale, eggs, apples, walnuts, brown rice, black beans, etc.
We all know vegetables are good for us, and plant-based foods are thriving with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and healing compounds that balance the body, decrease inflammation, and prevent cancer. Take charge of your health and start feeling better now by eating more plant-strong foods (i.e., fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, unrefined whole grains, herbs, etc.).
Fill your plate with mostly veggies (and colorful ones). Avoid processed foods when possible. Try drinking your vegetables in smoothies or juices. Incorporate more raw, living foods into your diet, if digestion permits.
#7 Move Your Body
“Typically, people who exercise start eating better and become more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”
~Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Our bodies were designed to move and sweat. It’s that simple.
The body heals faster when you exercise regularly, and sweating is an important outlet for detoxification. Movement stimulates the lymphatic system, which governs the main channels of elimination while moving oxygen throughout the body.
We have a tendency to over-complicate things, exercise being one of the many. Just focus on adding more movement to your life. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator. If you have a desk, get up a move every hour. Take an easy walk after meals to improve digestion. Do some evening stretches before bed. Jump more… jumping jacks, jump rope, and trampoline. Chase your kids or pets. Dance. Garden. Enjoy life in the process.
#8 Practice Mindful Dining
The psychology of eating is quite fascinating. What you choose to consume is incredibly important, but did you know that the emotion with which you eat affects how your body digests food?
Part of your central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, controls your digestion. What does this mean? When you eat under stress, for example, the nervous system actually suppresses digestive activity. The opposite is also true: when you’re relaxed during mealtime, digestion is activated.
Start paying attention to your state when eating. Slow down, and notice the beautiful colors, textures, and tastes of your food. Chew completely. Eat when calm and relaxed. Try to minimize multi-tasking during meals. Breathe and express gratitude before eating. Whenever you eat, regardless of what it is, enjoy, savor, and be mindful of the experience.
Leslie is the creator of Mindful Dine, a community dedicated to inspiring nutritious eating and healthy living. She is a self-taught cook, writer, marine scientist, ocean lover and wellness advocate. Leslie is passionate about wholesome, healing food and enjoys inspiring others to be active participants in their health. A native Texan, she now lives in Puerto Rico with her husband.