Here are five things that I have learned are truly important habits to cultivate on my path to supreme health and wellness:
1. Hydrate Properly
According to WaterInfo.org, "The human body is more than 60 percent water. Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, and bones are about 22 percent water."If we don't do our part to keep up these water levels, our body simply will not operate correctly. The best way to do this? Consume WATER.
You can consume water by drinking it or eating it. Fruits, vegetables and even meats (just like us!) contain water. Keep in mind the more you cook something, the greater the chance you are cooking the water out, but for the most part, if what you are eating was actually alive at some point in its existence, you will be getting some water out of it.
There is plenty advice all over the Internet concerning how much water one should drink in a day, but I learned of one approach that made sense to me because it was not a one-size-fits-all approach. It was based on weight - you should consume half of your body weight in ounces. In other words, I weigh about 150lbs right now, so, dividing that by 2 gives me 75. Therefore, I should consume about 75 ounces of water per day (that's drinking + eating!!).
Here is the bad news: caffeine is a diuretic. According to the WellnessBreakRadio.com podcast for every cup of a caffeinated beverage you drink, you must drink TWO cups of water, just to make up for the lost water. I thought this was a very good rule of thumb as I am always left thirsty after drinking caffeinated beverages.
(Beginning to see how vital water is? You don't even know the half of it! Here's another post about how precious water really is.)
2. Eat Your Veggies
Forget Skittles - this is where you can really "taste the rainbow"! As soon as I stopped thinking of vegetables as an afterthought, and, instead, started thinking about vegetables first I felt a complete shift in the types of meals I was preparing and eating. I wanted to try different things, different colors, different textures in my meals.
Of course, having a weekly Farmer's Market helps with creativity - you cook what is available, even if you never tried it before - but even if that is not a possibility, try experimenting on your own. If you don't know where to start, maybe just go for colors - pick a color palate for your dinner plate. Once you've selected your color and then your vegetable, there are a number of resources on the Internet to help you with finding recipes
- Food.com is one of my favorites, with recipes being shared from people just like you and me from all over the Internet
- Foodista is also quite expansive, aiming to be the largest food encyclopedia on the Internet, or
- if you want a virtual recipe search engine, try SuperCook where you type in the ingredients you have and it will spit back recipes from all over the Internet that can be made with them.
3. Watch Out for Bad Oil!
This is another tip I picked up from WellnessBreakRadio.com from one of their guests: buy oil in dark glass bottles or containers that do not allow the light to permeate them. Essentially, Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oils are touted as having multiple health benefits because they are live oils. They are not supposed to be exposed to light. While you may know this, and you may keep your oil stored in a cupboard like I do, what about all those hours, days, weeks on the grocery store shelves under the fluorescent lighting? It is a simple enough fix, the next time you need oil, just look for a different package - they are there (oil in a tin, for example).
4. Think Raw
Hopefully, since my first tip, this idea has already started to creep into your mind. The Raw Diet movement is gaining momentum all of the time and while I think it is unlikely that I will convert to a completely raw diet, the benefits of eating raw can not be denied. The fruits and vegetables of this earth are packed with the vitamins and minerals our bodies crave. Left alone and eaten raw we can consume these benefits in their purest and most potent state.
One of the reasons we cook things is so that we can ensure that all bacteria is killed. We know that works, however, the cooking also kills off some of the benefits as well. I am no fan of bacteria, and I do like the richness of flavor that cooking often brings, but one habit I have begun to cultivate is thinking more about where I can fit raw into my daily eating schedule - more fruits, salads, snacks, et. cetera. Once you make something a focus of thought, action isn't too far behind. So start thinking about it -
- How can you eat raw? Full time, one meal, snacks and sides only?
- What are you willing to eat raw? Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- Where will you fit it into your eating? I try to get three fruits a day (I keep forgetting this one, so I am lucky if I get two). I make my own trail mix as a snack. Also, I am trying to make salads with every dinner.
Food shopping is filled with reading. You are reading your circular, you are reading the price tags, you are reading your coupons... well, I am here to add to your reading list, if you haven't started doing this already: start reading your labels. If you are a beginner, I recommend you just start taking a mental inventory of certain ingredients and nutritional facts:
- high fructose corn syrup (Princeton University study on HFCS)
- soy (article on GM soy plus an article from VeganHealth.org "Is it safe to eat soy?")
- sugar or ingredients that end with "-ose" (article "Is Eating Sugar Really That Bad For Us?")
- aspartame (Wikipedia article on the Aspartame Controversy, so you can make your own call)
- sodium content (Mayo Clinic on sodium)
- monosodium glutamate or MSG (article from Natural News)
If you have passed this beginning level of label reading, then perhaps it is time you start looking for organic and certified humane products. I recently wrote a post about my own experience with these labels and how even they, too, need to be read carefully in Searching for Sustenance: Greenwashing - Am I a Victim?.
Pick one of these five habits to start to cultivate today. Some are easier than others, but over the next couple of weeks you should at least have tried out all five. Good luck, welcome to the journey, I hope your search for sustenance brings you to a healthier tomorrow!