In my family’s quest to get healthier, we have faced many challenges and discovered lots of easy (and some not-so easy) ways to improve our health. I thought I would share the things that we have done. If you missed the previous post – Part I, click here.
Any change that you can make right away is a change for the better. Remember to not beat yourself up about what you are doing “wrong” and focus on what you can improve on today. You must be your own health advocate.
Ideas to improve your health: Move
Sitting is the new smoking! Sit less; walk or at least stand more. Our bodies were designed to move. Before the Industrial Revolution, humans had to work hard and exercise was not even necessary. Technology has given us many benefits, however, it has come with a price. It has taken away our need to move. We have portable devices and remote controls.
Start by moving while you are doing something that doesn’t necessarily involve a lot of movement. For example, while brushing your teeth, you can do stretches or squat up against the wall. You have to brush your teeth, so instead of just standing by the sink, M-O-V-E!
This Book is a Great Resource
Health Choices: Food Labels
-Cut out High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) from all foods. The book I am reading, The Daniel Plan recommends that if you can only do one thing to change your eating habits, that you cut out HFCS from everything that you consume. Companies acquire HFCS by taking the fructose out of fruits. When you eat fruit with natural sugar in it, the sugar is accompanied by other mineral and vitamins.
-Cut out MSG from all foods. Research these terms because the food industry is tricky and there are so many different names! Here’s another The Daniel Plan plug: look at the picture below (taken from page 115 in the book) to see just how sneaky the food industry has become. There are SO many names for MSG. The consumer really needs to be educated.
MSG makes you hungry and makes you eat more. Great for the food industry’s profit/sales; terrible for the consumer’s health.
Grocery shopping? Shop the perimeter.
This is where all the produce is located. A good rule of thumb is: Live foods bring life to the body and dead foods bring death to the body -Terri Seacrest. Another rule: If it comes from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, run! – modified from The Daniel Plan. Natural foods include plants, grains, beans, and some dairy and meat.
Did you ever stop to wonder why or how the boxed foods have such a long shelf life? How does the food keep so well and not spoil? It’s loaded with junk and chemicals, that’s how! Some natural products have a longer shelf life, but it all depends on the ingredients. Not much (if anything) can survive in vinegar, so items with vinegar as the ingredient have a longer shelf life.
One trick that my family uses to wash all of our produce is: Soak in vinegar and water. Put the produce in the sink, fill it with water and add one cup of vinegar. Soak for 10 minutes. Rinse produce off and let air dry. Many fruits are better left out instead of putting them in the refrigerator, so do your research on that too.
Find easy and healthy meals for weeknights.
I look on Big Oven, but who am I kidding, mostly Pinterest for recipes. Sometimes weeknights are pretty crazy with a little one and a house to maintain, but I try to prepare all of our meals with real ingredients. You know, like words that you can say out loud without thinking you’re in a chemistry class mixing chemicals. Chicken, veggies, salad, etc. The more that you can make for your family, the better.
A good rule of thumb is if you buy anything in the store already made (think pie crusts, dough, meal bags that you just throw on the stove to heat up) it’s probably not good for you. Just be careful when you are reading the labels. My family has found a few products in the aisles that are quite good. The original flavor of Triscuit crackers has simple, real ingredients.
Another great idea for weeknight meals is to double up. Some meals are easier to do this than others obviously. For this, you just double (or triple) what you are making; you bake one for dinner and put the other(s) in the freezer for another night. My favorite for this is Baked Ziti and Chicken Tetrazzini. If you can’t double up, at least meal plan to save yourself some cooking time. I will cook more meat one night and then do something different with it the next night. Last night I made chicken and rice in the Instant Pot (see below) and veggies on the stove in a skillet. Tomorrow I am going to take the extra cooked chicken to make quesadillas.
Invest in an Instant Pot pressure cooker.
I love this appliance! It cooks foods quickly without heating up your home (like the stove) and each food maintains its flavor (unlike the crockpot). I can throw – and yes sometimes I literally throw – the food into the Instant Pot when I get home from work, push a few buttons and leave it. By the time I have unloaded the car, changed, packed lunches for the next day and set the table, dinner is ready, waiting and being kept warm for me. It’s a rather large investment, but WELL worth every penny. Some weeknights, I don’t know what I did before I had this great little thing. I can’t even remember the last time I used the crockpot. If you’d like to check out the exact one that my family purchased, click here.
Health Advocate: Oil pulling
Your body has many toxins that it needs to rid itself of and there are many natural processes that do this. Oil pulling is a way to detox right in your mouth. You put coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for 15-20 minutes and then spit it out. Yes, you read that correctly 20 minutes. I usually do this in the morning while I am packing lunches and fixing breakfast. Make sure you drink a glass of water before so you can sustain the length of time. I like to add essential oils to the coconut oil for additional benefits. See the recipe that I use here. I only recommend using Young Living essential oils because they guarantee that their oils are 100% pure. I have another post on essential oils here. See more information below.
You still brush your teeth, oil pulling is done in addition to this routine. I try to pull the water through my molars really well, as it is hard to brush there. Flossing is painful and my teeth are so close together I haven’t been able to find a floss that works. I just went to the dentist and they said my teeth look great and told me to continue what I was doing. It’s the first time in years that they haven’t lectured me about flossing. I don’t know if everyone will have the same results, but oil pulling works for me! I try to do it 4 times a week.
Health Advocate: Dry Brushing
Okay, if you thought that oil pulling was weird, this one may really make your scratch your head. To purchase the exact same one that my family ordered, click here. Basically, you rub the brush across your skin in stroke-like motions toward your heart. It stimulates the lymphatic system, detoxes the body, increases circulation and exfoliates the body. Read more information here. It was really weird at first and probably wasn’t pleasant for about a week. Once you get used to it, I think you will enjoy it.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for the last part of this series. Remember to make small changes that your family is capable of and comfortable with so you can experience the health benefits. It takes 21 days to form a new habit. Give yourself grace and mercy when (not if) you mess up. Try not to harp on your failures, instead celebrate your successes!
Click here to read Part III.