What you eat has a lot to do with how healthy you will be. Just as what kind of gas you put in your car affects how it will run, what we put into our bodies and minds affect how our bodies and minds work. Exercise alone will not make you healthy. Training without proper nutrition is really not optimum health at all. A proper diet is not just about what you eat, but how and when you eat. The types of food you put in your body can make the difference between a long life or a short life.
If you are far from the ideal, why not incorporate a few life changes at a time. If you make systematic changes during the year, you can transform your whole diet a little at a time. Maybe you are at a loss of where to start. Here are some suggestions:
1. Start drinking more water. Try adding just one more cup per day than you currently drink and increase your amount in increments. You decide if it will be weekly, bi-weekly, etc.
2. Add fruit to your diet. Increase your fruit intake one serving at a time until you are eating 3-4 servings per day. Try Dr. Smoothie crushed fruit. It comes in many flavors.
3. Eat one raw salad per day. I knew a family that served a salad every day with dinner. This is a good way to increase raw vegetables in your diet. Incorporate more raw veggies daily.
4. Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast is your most important meal of the day, don’t skip it. When I skip a meal, I am attracted to junk foods and will most likely eat them because they are quick and easy. When I leave home in the morning satisfied, I can wait until lunch to eat again.
5. Plan your meals for the week. Cut up some raw vegetables and put them in an airtight container so they will be ready for a quick salad. Buy frozen vegetables that you can put in a quick vegetable soup or stew. Roast some potatoes and put them in the refrigerator to warm later that week. Use your crock pot and prepare a healthy meal. However, if you know you are not going to get the recommended amounts of vegetables per day, why not consider Amazing Grass, Green Superfood? This should not replace your fruits and vegetables but can be added to your diet. One suggestion would be adding it to your smoothies.
6. Include orange, yellow, red, green, purple vegetables daily. Make your meals colorful.
7. Decrease your consumption of meat. (especially red meat) Increase your servings of beans.
8. Choose whole grain bread rather than white bread.
9. Instead of white pasta or rice, choose a vegetable or whole grain products.
10. Eliminate sodas
11. Choose 100% fruit juice instead of soda, coffee or caffeinated beverages.
16. Buy a good blender. If you want to have healthy smoothies, soups, spreads, meals or any other healthy dishes in your diet, I would recommend the Vitamix Blender. It’s great for making healthy smoothies, soups, sauces, spreads, bread and much more. It’s durable and will last for many years. I still own one that I’ve had for over 25 years. The Vitamix comes with a valuable recipe book. You can find new or used blenders on Amazon.
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It was spring 2016, when I woke up at four in the morning, with incredible pain in my abdomen. I tossed and turned a little bit, thinking it was just another crazy dream. About an hour later, as it was progressively getting worse, I slid out of my bunk bed and tried to stand up. Once my feet hit the ground, I doubled over: my upper right quadrant throbbing, as though it was being stabbed.
Hobbling over to my bathroom, I studied myself in the mirror for a moment and was horrified to see a pale complexion decorated with beads of sweat. Closing, then sitting on the toilet seat, I mentally reviewed all the possibilities that could have contributed to this searing pain.
What’s wrong with me?
Food poisoning? I didn’t have any dinner. PMS? I just had my cycle. Gas? From what? Pulled muscle? Maybe. I grabbed a foam roller and applied the area of pain to it, and nearly screamed at the contact. Nope, it definitely was not that.
Getting back in bed, I reasoned time would pass, and I would get up for class. Shortly after, I came to the conclusion that I would not make it in this condition. Doubled over, I once more got out of bed and crawled to my parents’ room. Panicking, my mother prescribed some ibuprofen and the pain soon subsided.
What I soon found out was that what I’d experienced was the first of many gallbladder attacks. So, in an attempt to ensure it would never happen again, I began to monitor my diet carefully. Fat? No, it makes me sick. Dairy? No, it makes me sick. Soy? Nope, it makes me sick. Wheat/Gluten? Nope, it makes me sick. Rice? Same as others. Corn? Not.
For a while, it worked. I dropped weight at a rapid pace, and I stopped feeling pain, both of which I didn’t mind. But I couldn’t live like that forever. So, a week after my birthday, my gallbladder was removed.
The doctor told my mother he’d never seen a gallbladder that inflamed. I felt better, but I was still afraid of food. I was terrified, actually. What scared me, even more, was that I was putting weight back on. So as soon as I got the okay from the doctor, I immediately resumed working out to try and combat it
I was eating properly by the end of the year, and incorporated many things back into my diet, except for dairy and gluten/wheat. I had more energy, my drive was coming back, but nobody in my family had severe food allergies like me.
Family Reunions were full of foods packed with gluten, dairy, an abundance of fat: everything I couldn’t have. Potlucks I began to realize, were chock full of the favorites I couldn’t consume, so I just avoided them. I would find an empty room and sit there and fast while my family would get food and socialize.
Traveling became a nightmare. Restaurants hardly have accommodations for vegans, let alone people with a gluten/wheat allergy. Professional dinners and banquets seldom have options for people with dietary restrictions; on top of that, I was rarely happy. Food is culture, in itself a love language. Food is friends, and it is socialization; activities are centered around food.
To reject the gesture is to deny the person. Individuals have picked on and mocked my lifestyle as though I choose this out of fun, or to lose weight when that could not be further from the truth.Every summer, life gets one thousand times more frustrating, and although it has only been twenty-two months since I have adopted this lifestyle, here are five tips/ways to survive this summer, not only gluten-free but also being vegan.
Meal prepping has been such a lifesaver. So what? Options may be low, but because it is mostly from scratch, taking twenty minutes to an hour to plan and prepare meals for the week saves so much extra time during the week. For example, Bob’s Red Mill has gluten-free instant oats that can be prepared in literally three minutes. Buying about five of them for the work week eliminates the worry of what to eat when rushing out the door.
Not interesting enough? Add dates, nuts, berries, and/or cinnamon to spice to up. Find Out What You Can Eat At an event? Don’t completely abandon the refreshments table, or dodge the dinner. Walk down the line, do they have any options for people with food allergies?
If not, is the salad, okay? What can be added to the salad that will be satiating? Ask the caterers or waiters questions about the food if need be. Never be embarrassed to inquire about the preparation of food, you might find out there is something that’s okay.
Don’t Be Afraid of Trying Alternatives
Love cake but haven’t had it in ages? Go to the store and find a box cake mix, or a prepared one. It just might suit your fancy (or it could be grotesque). Either way, you are one step closer to being reunited with a childhood favorite. These days, there are gluten-free versions of practically everything. Cookies, crackers, bread, cheesecake, French toast, waffles, pancakes, muffins, burritos, etc. Everything.
Discover and Enjoy Activities that aren’t centered around food
Everything does not have to be about food. My sister and I used to love cooking together, but after I stopped eating gluten, that quickly flew out the window. Instead, we started working out together. It is possible to spend quality time with family and friends without fast food being the center.
Shopping for clothes/shoes, or going to a concert, for example, are great ways of hanging out without awkward moments, or not being able to find “safe” foods. Educate Your Family and Friends Have an honest conversation with your loved ones.
Let them know about your allergies and the reactions you could get. Once they understand that you are not blatantly rejecting them, they will more than likely be supportive of you and the lifestyle. Give them recipes, or offer to bring side dishes to events. Just because you may be the only person with those problems, does not mean you will automatically be the outcast.
So I got my life back. I am now the healthiest I have ever been, the strongest, and have gained a new level of maturity. In no way have I learned everything there is to know and learn, but I have come a long way. I eat only when I am hungry and have prepared dishes for my family that was vegan and gluten-free.
Traveling has gotten better. I found a pizza place that has gluten-free options. My family knows what to look for when shopping and the dos and don’ts of food preparation. Yes, food is still a love language, culture, and how we socialize, but it is not emotional for me anymore. I eat to live, not live to eat.
j. grey is a Tumblr Influencer based out of Atlanta, GA. She enjoys learning American Sign Language, reading, traveling, and discovering new foods and recipes that are gluten-free. As a teenager, she aspires to become a bestselling author. You can find her on Tumblr @jgreyblog.
Are women who prepare meals in advance healthier than those who don’t? I can speak from experience and say yes. When I don’t cook at the beginning of the week, I come home, tired, exhausted and tend to eat whatever I can grab from the refrigerator which is usually a sandwich and maybe a snack.
If there something salty nearby lie chips, I may grab that too along with some water. Next, I may drink a fruit smoothie that has previously purchased from the store, but that has a considerable amount of sugar to drink before bedtime. Fresh fruit would be better because there is not as much concentrated sugar in it.
However, I find that when I do basic food preparation at the beginning of the week, I tend to eat healthier throughout the week. So, to have a healthy lifestyle, I must plan. This way, I can portion out my meals for the rest of the week, pick it up and go.
You know the old saying, “Fail to plan, then plan to fail?” I think that applies in this situation. If this is an area that you are struggling with, I have some tips that may be helpful to you.
A Few Ideas
First of all, plan what you are going to eat for the week in advance. I have started doing meal prep on Sunday. Sometimes I cook a few meals and portion it out in containers to take to work for the week, or I prepare veggies for soups and stews by cutting them and then bagging and storing them until needed.
If I am going to steam them later in the week, I chop and put in bags in the refrigerator. Then, when I am ready, I add sauce, seasonings or whatever I need to dress it up and prepare the meal.
You can easily roast potatoes and veggies and save them until needed. Later, add them to stews or soups, wraps or veggie bowls.
The Versatility of Beans
A large pot of beans can be used one day for chili, another day for burritos, added to rice or Quinoa, added to soups and salads. If you are creative, you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen trying to figure out what to make. The beans become the base for the week of other meals. I could go on and on with additional suggestions for this protein. Did I mention that you can make bean dip, bean spread, beans in sweets?
The quickest and easiest bean to make if you have time constraints is Lentils. They are full of protein and fiber and can be used as they are or with rice. I like them in Mexican soup, lentil and spinach soup, lentil tomato and spinach soup, or whatever combination you wish to use. Canned beans with low sodium are another option for quick meals. Curried Lentils are also quite tasty!
Breakfast,the Most Important Meal of the Day
For breakfast, I prepare 3 or 4 days worth of smoothies, pour it in cups, and freeze. In the morning, I take it out, let it start thawing, and it is ready to eat before I leave or when I get to work. My other option for smoothies is to freeze the fruit for individual smoothies in baggies and, in the morning, blend the fruit and go. This way I have a variety for the week.
Another breakfast or dinner favorite is scrambled tofu with onion, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms if I have them and spinach or kale. It’s an excellent way to get extra veggies in my diet. I sometimes also add spinach or kale to my smoothies.
Invest in a rice cooker for use instant brown rice. I only use brown rice because it has more nutrients than white rice. I do believe it is a healthier option. I prefer Basmati or Jasmine rice because it is flavorful and a pleasant aroma. It may be harder to find in some stores, depending on where you shop. Rice cookers allow you to put the ingredients in the device and come back when it’s ready.
A Few Secrets
One nutritious grain that I discovered a few years ago is Quinoa. This grain is not hard to cook and loaded with protein. I will write a full blog post about it in the future. It is so versatile, and you can cook it in a variety of ways. It is an excellent grain for meal prep.
I keep a bag each of Spinach and Kale at almost all times. I use spinach in salads, spinach, or kale on my sandwiches instead of lettuce, I put them in smoothies and scrambled tofu. I don’t eat eggs, but if you do, try adding them to your scrambled eggs.
Keep it simple. I like the convenience, but I also want my food to be tasty and healthy. Many think that to eat healthily, one has to sacrifice taste, but that is not true.
I don’t like long hours in the kitchen. On meal prep day, I do what is easy. You don’t have to make your entire meals for the week upfront, but there needs to be enough preparation, so you don’t feel like you are working a second job when you get off of work.
If you take a little time each week for meal prep, you will find that some of your bad eating habits will change. You will be more conscious of what you are putting into your body, and you will feel better about yourself for taking better care of your body. Try it out next week and leave a comment below letting me know how things worked out.
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Does this sound familiar? I like how I feel after I exercise, but it’s the starting part that I have a problem with most days. It’s the story of my life. I start to work out and may even do it for some weeks and months, but I struggle with consistency. What is it that makes others love working out? How do I make time for it? The answer is simple. We make time for what we consider to be a priority in our lives.
So, why should you exercise? Here are a few facts from womenshealth.gov:
Well, in a few words, to improve your health. Exercise to manage weight and to take advantage of doing something for yourself. Consider it a way of pampering yourself. But, there is also health many health reasons to consider.
There is strong evidence that regular exercise can lower your chances of • Heart disease • Stroke • High blood pressure • Unhealthy cholesterol levels • Type 2 diabetes • Metabolic Syndrome – WebMD defines Metabolic Syndrome, not as a disease but a group of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol, and abdominal fat. • Colon cancer • Breast cancer • Falls • Depression
Hearing this should motivate us to exercise. But wait, there’s more.
What can happen if you don’t exercise are out of shape and overweight?
High Blood Pressure
Type 2 diabetes
Sleep Apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), and some cancers.
How much exercise should you get?
There are many theories and views on how much is needed but the recommendation from the public health guidelines recommends a minimum of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking, or gardening) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise (jogging, aerobic and jump rope) weekly.
That isn’t a lot of time out of a week. It boils down to priority and time management. If you are looking to lose weight, you may have to increase your aerobic activity.
Type of Exercise
At one time, I thought the only important thing with exercise was cardio. I later found out from a trainer that I needed to also include strength training and flexibility through stretching in my fitness regimen. Weights are one way to increase strength but using your body weight is quite affordable and cost-free. I have frequent low back pain from scoliosis, but when I do stretching and strength training at home, I notice a big difference in the level of my discomfort.
By far, the most comfortable and cheapest form of exercise is walking. It’s free, takes little effort, preparation, but if done correctly will reap good results. It is also an excellent place to start for beginners.
The biggest issue to face is why aren’t you doing it if you know you should and there are various reasons why we don’t, including lack of time, little or no motivation, no energy, and the demands of life.
Here are a few suggestions to remove those barriers to exercise:
Try daily exercises at home, such as walking, gardening, or videos.
Wear a device that counts how many steps you are taking per day.
Have an accountability partner or an exercise buddy.
Hire a personal trainer.
Participate in group fitness activities.
Everyone needs exercise. It is one of the best ways to prevent illness, improve health, and slow the aging process.
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