3 Areas of Your Health to Nourish this Month
Happy January, friends. It’s the time of the year where a lot of people are considering ways that they can feel better, be healthier, and live their best lives.
One thing that I have learned in my schooling to become a Health Coach is the importance of remembering that everyone is living life from a completely bio-individual place. This means that what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. A certain food that makes you feel wonderful may make another person feel sluggish. While one person may thrive on high-intensity exercise, another may need lower impact workouts in order to see results.
Bio-individuality is a beautiful but also often frustrating concept. It presents a unique and personal puzzle that you will need to investigate for yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some tried and true practices that I believe every person can incorporate into their lives to give them a head start on their health and wellness transformation. I consider these the golden threads that tie your health together.
It’s rarely just one area that needs your attention. Yes, you may be able to identify certain symptoms. But let’s get to the root cause of why you are feeling out of balance, whether that be your gut health, hormones, etc., by nourishing the following three areas of your health.
This month I challenge you to really try to cut out processed foods and seed oils from your diet and see how this affects your gut health. Be ruthless with checking your ingredient labels, and make sure you are eating whole, first-generation foods.
Let’s talk about seed oils for a minute, and how they are hidden in almost every food that you will find in the grocery store in the United States. Seed oils are a type of vegetable oil, which is a general term that refers to edible oils from plants.
Did you know that seed oils were traditionally used as engine oil lubricant? They are highly inflammatory and will wreak havoc on your gut health because of the undesirable components formed in them during the refining process. These highly processed oils are stored in your body fat for up to 4 years!
Oils to look out for in your ingredient labels:
(you will be blown away at how many foods these are snuck into once you start paying attention!)
- Canola (rapeseed)
- Rice bran
Safe and healthy oils to consider cooking with instead:
Quick Tips to optimize digestion:
- Start every meal with a cup of hot lemon water before eating. Lemon is a natural digestive enzyme and has been shown to boost gastric acid secretion, a digestive fluid produced in the stomach that enables your body to break down and digest food.
- SLOW DOWN! Chew your food more than you normally would before swallowing, sit down, pause and take deep intentional breaths before diving into your meal. Try not to eat standing up or on the go.
Blood Sugar Balance
Eating 3 balanced meals each day will catapult you into a healthier version of you quickly. By eating balanced meals, we ensure that our blood sugar stays stable and balanced. Before you resortto getting lab tests done to figure out why you are not feeling good, I challenge you to first turn to your nutrition.
Are you skipping breakfast and drinking coffee on an empty stomach? Instant cortisol spike! Are you skipping other meals or eating meals that don’t each contain a healthy protein, fat and fiber source?
Our health house is BUILT on balanced blood sugar, which also then in turn supports digestion. Did you know that when blood sugar goes low, cortisol (stress hormone) goes high? Low blood sugar stresses your entire body out!
If you are dealing with blood sugar dysregulation, you’re constantly calling upon cortisol to regular blood sugar. This is not good. Therefore, we must stabilize our blood sugar if we want to balance our hormones.
Signs of Low Blood Sugar:
- “Hanger” and cravings
- Brain fog
- Chronic headaches
- Irritability, agitation, nervousness
- Lightheadedness or spaciness
- Needing caffeine or sugar for energy
Examples of blood sugar-balanced meals
2 eggs cooked any style, with half an avocado, side of fruit, and sugar free bacon
Lunch: Shredded chicken with full-fat cottage cheese on a bed of quinoa with your choice of cooked veggies.
Dinner: Wild-caught salmon filet on a bed of brown rice with cooked green veggie of your choice
Snack: Full-fat plain Greek yogurt topped with chia seeds, blueberries, raw honey and a nut of your choice
Stress Management + Nervous System Care
The impact that stress has on your health is large and something to be very aware of in your everyday life. Deep breathing and other mindfulness practices can help keep cortisol levels in check.
When you are in fight-or-flight with huge bursts of adrenalin and cortisol, and your body thinks you are in constant danger, and it cannot distinguish the difference from you being chased by a tiger, or just very upset or stressed because of an interaction at work.
When this happens, your blood supply is diverted from the less essential things to survival such as hair, skin and nails, and so as a result of this, those things will suffer and become brittle if you are constantly in a state of stress. Blood supply also diverted from digestion to arms and legs when adrenalin is high, which correlates with gut issues related to stress.
I want to challenge you to focus getting back into what I call the “Green Zone”, which is when you exit flight-or-flight and enter the rest and digest state.
How to get back to Green Zone more often
- Schedule time to move your body in a low-impact way each day. That could be a 30min walk, or a slow yoga flow with stretching.
- Prioritize disconnecting from your screens and spending time in nature
- Get honest with how much caffeine is in your world and reduce it
- Step back and look at things without so much panic and stress, and explore your perception of pressure
- Use diaphragmatic breathing exercises such as Box Breathing, Cyclic Physiological Sighing, or Cyclic Hyperventilation
- (you can do an internet search for instructions on how to perform these)
- Eat nutrient dense foods that contain high levels of magnesium, B vitamins, calcium and Vitamin C to regulate stress hormones and neurotransmitters
- Incorporate herbs to support adrenal glands such as ashwagandha, licorice root, maca root, rhodiola and holy basil.
I know this was a lot of information, but I am confident if you take a few things from each of these areas and add in practices of your own that support your health and wellbeing, you will be able to create the perfect personal roadmap for 2023.
Instead of focusing on what we are doing wrong, or "should" be doing, how about shifting our mindset and vowing to focus on replenishing with the foods, activities, and positive thoughts that truly energize us?
Congrats on your commitment to your wellness, and to living your life as your highest and best self.