Last month we introduced you to Michelle (click here if you missed it!) who works as a Nutritional Therapist. This month Michelle shares with us her 6 tips for living a healthier February. Our hope is that even if you weren’t able to stick to your New Years Resolutions, these are some simple tips that will help you to slow down and think about what you’re eating, when you’re eating it, and why you’re eating it. When mind and gut work together, you will feel the difference in your health and well-being.
1. Start the day with a glass of water with apple cider vinegar
We often wake up dehydrated due to the lack of fluids overnight. However, the morning is a time when people stereotypically drink diuretics such as tea and coffee (diuretic beverages cause your kidneys to flush extra water through urination). Hypothetically, if we drink 1 cup of coffee, we would need to drink 1.5 cups of water to counter the diuretic affects of that.
It is estimated that up to 90% of people have low stomach acid due to factors like stress, excess carbohydrate consumption, nutrient deficiencies, allergies and excess alcohol. Since the stomach is a naturally acidic environment, (pH 1.5 – 3), a lack of acid can compromise our digestive function greatly, leading to all sorts of digestive issues. Apple cider vinegar does wonders to help our stomach reach the environment pH it needs to properly digest.
Starting the day with a large glass of water and two teaspoons of ACV will set you off well in regards to both hydration and getting the stomach ready to digest food.
2. When eating out, focus on quality of food > macros
For example, if you’re following the paleo or keto diet, you might always be drawn to meat options on the menu when you’re eating out. However, bear in mind that unless advertised, restaurants will not be purchasing organic, grass-fed or pasture raised animal products. You might be cutting down on carbs by choosing a steak over a vegetable curry, but don’t forget to factor in the hormones, antibiotics and altered nutritional composition of a battery farm or feed lot animal. Grass fed beef, for example, contains up to fives times more omega 3 fatty acids than grain fed beef.
Also consider the overall impact on the environment in choosing non sustainable animal products. Both your health goals and the environment can be jeopardised by a choice to dogmatically stick to what’s ‘paleo’ or ‘keto’ (as an example), rather than considering the complexity of these choices.
3. Be connected to your food’s origins.
Have you ever seen a cashew apple?
Each apple gives rise to one cashew. Imagine a whole bag of cashews and what that would look like on a tree. Perhaps it would be a whole branch, or even an entire tree!? Would one ever eat the fruits of an entire tree? Unlikely. However, when it’s packaged in the grocery store in a bag, we are so disconnected from the reality of how things grow that we can easily over consume. Trying to reconnect to that can really give us great insight into how to live a healthier life.
4. Eat in a parasympathetic/relaxed state.
Did you know that we can only properly digest food in a parasympathetic/relaxed state versus a sympathetic/non relaxed state? Our enteric nervous system runs the entire length of our digestive system governing all manner of processes such as the production of digestive enzymes, to the movement of of food through our intestines. When we are in a sympathetic/non relaxed state our body will slow down digestion to favour the fight or flight stress response which takes priority in tense states. Eating in a sympathetic/non relaxed state, for example; driving, rushing before a school run or even at a ‘stressed out’ family dinner table can compromise your entire digestive cascade from the beginning leading to many issues relating to mal digestion.
5. Ask yourself ‘am I making this choice out of fear or joy’?
When I first had the realisation that many of my decisions were being made out of fear it was quite a shock! Choices out of fear come in many forms. For me it usually involves making a choice in the present to avoid something that might happen in the future. By doing so you’re totally living in your own internal narrative – one that actually has little to do with the real world. By being present in every moment and responding to actual stimuli, you’ll not only feel less stressed, but also more successful because you’re responding directly to the people and situations around you.
6. Create a morning routine.
It’s very tempting to look at emails, what’s app and Instagram immediately upon waking up. When I do this, I find that the first few hours of my day become disjointed and inefficient. I also start the day seeing people on Instagram doing/eating/wearing ‘better’ things than me. This can lead to misguided thought patterns assuming other people’s lives are ‘more fun/inspiring’ than your own.
Creating a morning routine that involves really simple things such as making tea or coffee, stretching for five minutes, watering your plants or doing five minutes of journaling can really make a difference in terms of clarity and assuredness.