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Taking Charge of Your Health – Part I of III

Great health tips - know that you are eating pure, real stuff

Okay, so my family started changing our health for the better about 2 1/2 years ago when we were expecting our first child.  We decided it was time to stop talking about getting healthy and just do it!  Little did I know that our decision would change our lives forever!  Now, please don’t think that I believe I have it all figured out.  I am still learning new health tips and tricks every week.  Just wanted to share with my readers some things that we have learned along the way.

To make it easier, ideas will be presented going from simple changes to more drastic lifestyle changes.  You don’t necessarily have to go in order; this order just made sense to me.

Step 1: Drink Water for Your Health

Drink half your weight in ounces of water and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

I know, I know.  Drinking that much water is difficult.  It is much easier to do when water is the only thing that you drink.

I have a glass of water before I eat every meal.  The best thing for your digestive system is to drink water at least 15 minutes before and after the meal, not while you are eating.  Drinking while eating disrupts the normal enzymes that are breaking down the food you are eating by watering them down.  It’s also better to drink water that is room temperature – unless it is during the summer and your body needs to be cooled down.

I know there are some devoted soda drinkers reading this……. It’s always a good idea to research what you are consuming.  I read somewhere that a bottle of Coke has like 37 teaspoons of sugar in it!  Sodas are empty calories.  Let.Them.Go.  I had a family member give up sodas cold turkey and she lost like 10 pounds!

You are going to have to use the restroom more often, which although might be inconvenient, is actually better for your body.  Flushing your system out is a great way to rid your body of toxins.

Sleep should be a no-brainer, but we always seem to cut into sleep time.  Sleeping gives your body time to relax and reset for the next day.  Not getting enough sleep affects your mood, metabolism and energy level.

Great health tips - know what you are eating

Step 2: Be Educated about Your Health

Educate yourself about the food industry and tricks. Check out Food Inc. on Netflix.  The food industry has basically hi-jacked the food that we consume.  Between genetically modifying the cellular structure of produce to pumping animal meat with all kinds of hormones, they are really causing havoc in our bodies.  The consumer prefers breast meat, so the food industry has modified chickens to have larger breasts than normal.  There are NO studies available to show the long term effects this has on the humans who consume the food!  And we wonder why children in 3rd grade are going through puberty…….The bottom line is that the food industry is out to make money.  They modify ingredients because it’s cheaper to use fake sugar than the real stuff.  Also, sugar makes food more addictive, so that’s why it’s in almost everything.  EDUCATE yourself people because the food industry is not your friend.

Great health tips - know what you are eating
Corn – it’s in more foods than you think!

Read the ingredients of the food you buy. Don’t just look at the Nutrition label!  A good rule is if you don’t know how to say the ingredient out loud, you shouldn’t be eating it.  Also, the fewer ingredients, the better.  So many boxed foods contain ingredients that are 18 letters long and look like they belong in a chemistry lab.  You need to know what you are eating!

Step 3: Don’t Eat Out

Eat out sparingly. When eating out, it is really hard to know exactly what you are eating and to eat healthy. So, eating out should be a treat.  We reserve eating out for special occasions.  It’s okay to give in to cravings and eating the not-so-healthy foods every once in a while.  This prevents binging on foods when you deprive yourself of them.

It has also been great that I wash and cut our vegetables to have on hand. When you are hungry, you want something to eat right then; not something that has to be washed and cut. When you are hungry, laziness WILL win.  If you have the choice between fresh cut veggies and greasy potato chips, your body really wants the veggies.  Healthy foods that are all ready to eat increase the chances of you actually eating them.

Step 4: Clean Out Bad Foods

This is a big one.  Clean out your pantry.  If you currently have foods in your house that are awful for you and your family to consume, the best thing to do is get rid of them.  Now, I am not one to toss perfectly good food – meaning it hasn’t expired yet.  But, if you really want to take control of your health, this is a vital step.  You don’t necessarily have to throw the food away.  Find a local food pantry or homeless shelter in your area and donate the food.  It’s a win-win.  Your family instantly has the bad food temptation removed and some people who have nothing to eat can at least feel full.

Great recipe for healthy waffles!

This one was really hard for me.  I do NOT like throwing food away and felt like we were being wasteful when we boxed up all the food we didn’t think we should eat any more.  After a few weeks, I began to understand just how powerful food can become.  DO NOT let your food cravings control you.

Mind over matter really works.  When your body is used to eating whole, healthy ingredients, it will not want the other junk.  Sometimes I will see how long I can go without [insert your favorite indulgence] just to test myself.  Remember, it’s all a balance.  Try to eat mostly healthy and allow yourself to “cheat” every once in a while, but not so often that it becomes a habit.  We try to live by the 90/10 rule.  That’s 90% of the time we eat healthy and 10% of the time we give in to cravings of not-so-healthy foods.

The most important thing that I have learned through this process is to give yourself grace.  You will make mistakes.  You will mess up.  That’s what learning is all about, though!  Don’t get discouraged!

Click here to read Part II.

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