Welcome to the New Year and an extensive list of resolutions and commitments to improve your life, boost your health, and thrive in your work. Resolutions are easy enough if you just write them all down and swear that, finally, this year will be the one that changes everything and set yourself up for success.
There's a keen sense of accomplishment inside lists and intentions. They make us buy things like new training shoes, gym equipment, or the latest cold-press juice extractor. The only problem is we have to actually use them. Ever notice people wearing those Nike FitBits? Just the mere tracking of movement and calories is enough feedback to make most people feel they've already done the work.
If only our behaviors were as strong as our intentions! We know making changes isn't easy, but success lies in first believing that change is possible, then taking the necessary actions to support ourselves through the challenging parts.
What Is Integrative Nutrition?
Integrative nutrition recognizes that food is medicine. Food can heal infections, prevent disease, and influence overall wellness. It also recognizes that while food has a therapeutic benefit, it's not the only thing that impacts our health. Optimal health involves a holistic approach to healing and prevention that integrates all aspects of lifestyle, including sleep, exercise, downtime, and minimizing stress.
We must acknowledge how much food influences these aspects! Too much caffeine stresses the nervous system, affects sleep, and robs our bodies of key minerals. Too much alcohol sends the liver into full-on combat that takes time and extra energy to recover from. Pseudo foods like cheese curls and mystery meat snacks plug up the digestive tract with potential carcinogens. The list goes on.
Good nutrition is part of a bigger plan for optimal wellness. It includes ensuring you're getting adequate vitamins and minerals, taking dietary and herbal supplements as necessary, being cognizant of your macronutrient intake (fats, carbs, and proteins), and limiting the stuff you know isn't serving your body. But it also means looking critically at what good nutrition is and how that has changed throughout your lifetime. Singles cheese slices and bologna on white bread was once thought to be a nutritious packed lunch for a school child. Now, we know better. Not only are we more aware of what's in our food, there's far more sketchy stuff in it than ever before.
While human nutrition has general guidelines, our bodies are unique, and any approach to wellness and healing must take our individual needs into account. The best path toward better nutrition is knowing your own body. What it likes and doesn't like. How you feel after you eat particular foods. Noting any changes in your sleep, skin, or bowel movements in response to that pint of draft beer you drank before bed instead of an herbal tea. Oh––and what your body likes or doesn't like? That's not up to your mind or weak will. That's about honestly recognizing the signs your body is giving you.
There are a few ways in which to kick off your New Year healthy eating initiative. But you want lasting success, not just a quick fix. That's why we recommend the following tips for improving your overall eating habits, little by little. Go into it gently, with awareness of and respect for your body. It is, after all, the only one you've got––until we start mass-producing 3D-printed organs for sale on Shopify that is!
Create A Suggestive Environment
Every night before I go to sleep I resolve to quit my coffee habit the next day. There's nothing inherently wrong with coffee. Indeed, it has several health benefits (but see the last section to find out why you may consider reducing your consumption). But for me, more than one cup of coffee is a bit too intense for my nervous system. So, rather than cutting it out altogether or making a weaker brew, I decided to limit my consumption to one small cup each morning. Problem is, I happen to have giant mugs that equate to 3 regular sized cups of coffee! The solution? I bought a cute cup and saucer at a second hand store specifically for that precious morning jolt (that's right––nothing but coffee is allowed in there!), and its size is compatible with my maximum daily coffee allowance.
This story exemplifies the primary principle behind a suggestive environment: Place objects in your environment that positively influence your behavior. A cute cup and saucer. A well-stocked fruit basket on your kitchen island. A mortar and pestle for creating your own dips and sauces (so you know what's in them). A couple of books on wholefood nutrition and healthy recipes, stacked on your countertop. A few fresh herb plants. Pre-washing and chopping all your vegetables so when the time comes to make a salad, it's quick and easy. Move the junk food to the back of the cupboard, out of sight, and stock the front and lower shelves with more nutritious food choices.
Creating a suggestive environment is about helping yourself achieve your desired outcome. It requires a little preparation and regular maintenance, but it's all fun when you enter it with the mindset that you're doing your future self a favor.
Subtraction By Addition
Subtraction by addition is one of the easiest and most effective ways to overhaul your diet. Indeed, it is a good approach for tackling many lifestyle changes. Kicking out all the bad stuff all in one shot requires pocketfuls of discipline and willpower and may result in intense cravings, withdrawal, and mood swings. The subtraction by addition approach recognizes that gradual change helps modify our behaviors to result in sustainable outcomes.
This approach is a bit like learning a musical instrument or cramming for an exam. Your brain simply can't store vast amounts of information in a short time that will stay with you long term. Practice and regular study over a period of time help integrate learning for sustainable benefits, namely, you learn rather than memorize.
When it comes to eating better, the key is to start adding the more nutritious stuff, like a green juice or a smoothie, to your daily diet. Gradually, they'll begin to replace the less effective choices, like that second cup of coffee or a diet Coke.
Reward is essential too. So, if there's something in your diet that you know isn't optimizing your health but is hard to do without, such as that bowl of ice cream, reward yourself with it. Or ideally, scout out healthier versions of it, like coconut ice cream or a frozen fruit sherbet. Arguably, this may serve to increase the value of said vice, but over time, your body will express its appreciation for more nutritious foods
Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
Nutrient dense foods are rich in nutrients relative to calories. Whole foods are the best examples and include fresh, natural, unprocessed foods, such as salmon, kale, seaweed, organ meats, and blueberries. Superfoods too, like chia seeds, goji berries, moringa, and cacao give you bite sized portions of giant nutrition. They're packed with micronutrients that are essential for hormone production, cellular renewal, and brain function. What may appear to be a light lunch, such as grilled salmon on a bed of herbs and salad are so nutrient-packed that our bodies simply don't need that side of garlic bread for energy. Too much of those extra foods (like the bread basket) actually reduces our energy in the long term because the body has to work harder to extract nutrition and process the junk. Think about it like this––if you put the best petrol in your vehicle, why wouldn't you put the best food in your body?
Boost Your Probiotic Intake
Bifidobacterium is a probiotic that lives in the stomach and intestines. It's one of the most important probiotics for overall health because it combats the harmful bacteria that also naturally live in your gut. It fights inflammation, helps prevent infection, and manufactures important B vitamins like B12 and folate, among other functions.
You don't have to take probiotic supplements to grow those colonies of gut-friendly bacteria. A reputable brand is not only difficult to find, probiotics also require delicate storage. Instead, choose foods that are dense in probiotics.
One of the best ways to boost your probiotic levels is to diversify your salad. Include a variety of plant fibers into your daily diet. Experts suggest that eating at least 25 different plant species every week can maximize the number of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract. What does that look like? A mixed salad with different types of lettuce, herbs, and all your favourite veggies. A vegetable soup. A fruit salad or superfood smoothie bowl. Zoodle pasta instead of wheat noodles. Mixed nuts and dried berries. A vegetarian pizza! Extra tomato, lettuce, avocado, and onion on your hamburger.
Getting creative here is the key to unlocking all the possibilities––and it's fun! A great way to start is to try one new vegetable or fruit each week. Hit up the international foods section in your supermarket and go for something unfamiliar.
Minimize Coffee Or Ditch It Altogether
Sorry folks, but coffee is the enemy when it comes to your body's ability to absorb certain minerals. For women, it's also associated with more and worse PMS symptoms. Although it's high in antioxidants, coffee depletes your body of essential nutrients like vitamin B6 and interferes with the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, and the spectrum of B vitamins. If you simply can't give it up (you're not alone!) then keep it to one cup, or drink it only on weekends. If you take a mineral supplement, ensure you take it several hours after you consume coffee.
Your Most Effective New Year's Resolution Starts In Your Kitchen
Wherever you're at is the best place to start. You don't have to perfect your eating habits overnight. You don't have to ditch the vices and swear off ice cream forever. Recognize where you need to improve and set yourself up for success. We'e with you all the way! From our family to yours, have a happy and healthy start to this brave new year!
For a quick peek at our products, check out our full range of products. Shiny new, state-of-the-art kitchenware is a great way to motivate better nutrition!