4 Things That Will Transform Your Health
Embarking on a healthier lifestyle may feel overwhelming at times, and in a culture of shifting trends and constant information telling us what to do and what not to do, it can be confusing to know what to prioritise.
To simplify, I want to share with you a short list of what I consider the top four priorities, which I believe will help transform your body from the inside out, no matter where you are currently at on your health journey. And while it may take time to adapt and adopt to new normals, the main focus should be progress not perfection. And once you feel the positive differences, it will be easier to stick to and take the next step.
If there is one thing that will change your health for the better it is eating real foods. Foods that are grown in nature and don’t come in a box, wrapper or can. Have the vast majority of what you eat be fruits, vegetables and unprocessed (or minimally processed) whole grains, legumes and fresh fish and grass fed meats. Given the fact that these are foods that are not processed or created in a factory, they’re full of beneficial nutrients, fibre and therefore have minimal impact on our blood sugar levels. This means they not only provide a steady release of energy, but also help promote hormonal balance and overall wellbeing and a healthy weight.
Quit sugar. Or at least reduce your sugar intake as much as possible. Sugars mess with our body on so many levels – and especially because they raise our blood sugar levels, which in turn negatively impacts our hormones, metabolism, skin and many other areas of our health. This means our ultimate goal is to focus on maintaining stable blood sugar levels, which will help the body bring into balance. And this doesn’t just include the sugar you add to your foods, but also foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, such as pastries, white breads, cakes, biscuits and even all natural forms of sugars, like coconut sugar, maple syrup and so on. All these have a high glycaemic index and raise your blood sugar levels quickly and dramatically (even the natural and unrefined sweeteners). I also recommend staying away from all artificial sweeteners as these can actually intensify sugar cravings and damage the bacterial ecosystem in your gut. So the less sugar you have the faster you will adapt to not needing it as much. Because sugar is so addictive (much more than we think!), ditching it can be tough at first, but usually within the first week your body and taste buds will adapt and your sweet cravings will diminish and you will feel much better all round!
Switch out cow’s milk for an unsweetened plant based milk. Cow’s milk is one of the most allergenic foods and is best avoided, even if you are not allergic, as it is difficult to digest and therefore often the root cause of digestive problems, acne, eczema/psoriasis, asthma, increased mucus, allergies and low moods. While searching for a plant based milk alternative, make sure to check the sugar content on the nutrition label as some of them have quite a lot of sugar added to enhance the flavour. However, there are some great unsweetened varieties around that taste great and also have added calcium and vitamin D, which is especially handy for children. Plant milks are also very simple to make yourself if you prefer and a simple search online will give you lots of options.
Reduce your alcohol intake and make it a weekend pleasure if you can’t go without. When you do drink, go for a dry wine or pure spirits with sparkling water and lime or lemon juice, rather than cocktails made with sugar-laden syrups and soft drinks. Alcohol is void of nutrients, high in empty calories and taxing on our liver, which is our main detox organ. When consumed too often or in excess, alcohol can worsen sugar cravings and aggravate digestive and skin problems, and does absolutely nothing good for your health or wellbeing. If you’re used to a glass of wine every night and can’t go cold turkey, take it a step at a time step and start by reducing to a glass every second night, and then twice a week until you can keep it to a glass or two a week. Or mix a little wine with sparkling water to slowly wean yourself.
As with anything, I believe progress should be the focus – not perfection. Start by introducing new foods you like and start to outcrowd less healthy habits with new, healthier ones that will benefit you and your health longterm. When you do it in ways you actually enjoy, it becomes something you can sustain! And finally, don’t compare your health journey to anyone else, but listen to your body and focus on your own journey – and make it fun.