Monday, 16 September 2013

12 steps to better health... part one

Hello friends! How are you? We often answer this question with a very polite "good thanks" when in reality there can be a more complex answer bubbling beneath the surface. That's where knowing how to foster health in our lives can help us to work through whatever obstacles we may face in the day-to-day ebb-and-flow of life. I know for myself I am a busy bee this week as the teaching term winds down and I get ready for an amazing holiday in WA with my cousin next week. Life is good! But, there is a structure and stability to my life that allows me to stretch my resources so that I can truly enjoy and embrace the amazing adventure that is life! And that, my friends, is a self-care practice for better health.

I'll be writing more in the weeks to come about self-care, but for now I want to put to you a plan that will help you move towards better health. This 12 step plan is from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, the world's largest nutrition school, through which I am studying to become a certified Health Coach. You do not need to follow the steps in any specific order. Just pick one. And go onto another step when you are ready. Move at your own pace. And be patient with yourself. Better health is a long-term lifestyle and the way you move towards it is with one step at a time. 

12 steps to better health

1. Drink more water

Our bodies are made up of 60-75% water. We can only survive a few days without water. And most of us are not drinking enough. Just by increasing the amount of water you are drinking every day, you can significantly improve your health. And the best news is, water is free! Read my post here about water, but don't stress too much about where your water is coming from in the beginning, just start to drink more!

2. Practice cooking

Recipes are tools to help you learn how to cook. Follow them as you learn how to prepare nourishing food for your body. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, that's how we learn! I love to be creative in the kitchen and only use recipes as a guide when trying something new, but if you need to work on this step, see this blog post for websites with healthy, delicious recipes. 

3. Increase whole grains

Whole grains are the real deal. Try to replace the refined grain products in your diet with either the whole grain version, or the actual whole grain. Whole grains are a nutrient-rich food full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein, and include amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, kamut, millet, oats, quinoa, spelt and teff. If you have a sensitivity to gluten try the gluten-free grains, which are amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oat groats or quinoa. Read these posts here and here to learn more about whole grains.

4. Increase sweet vegetables

Do you have a sweet tooth?! Combat those sugar cravings with increasing the amount of sweet vegetables in your diet. Sweet vegetables include many root vegetables as well as corn, onions and pumpkin. Here are some recipes for sweet vegetable dishes.

5. Increase leafy green vegetables

By now, I think you all know how much I adore my greens. But, just in case you don't, read up on my obsession with leafy green vegetables, the most nutrient-dense food on the face of the earth, here, here and here

6. Experiment with protein

For most people, eating less meat will improve overall health. And experimenting with protein can be an effective way to move towards better health. If you eat meat, try to eat better quality meat, such as organic or biodynamic meat, less often. There are many plant-based sources of protein, many of which provide you with all nine essential amino acids. You may want to try being meat-free one day a week and eating more vegetarian meals. For more information on plant-based proteins read this blog post

How's the serenity? My favourite place, Bonnie Doon (yes, it's real)!

I'll write more about the remaining 6 steps next week (I just want to keep you in suspense!), but to give you a head start and to help you on your way to better health, I'll tell what they are:

7. Eat fewer processed foods

8. Make a habit of nurturing your body

9. Have healthy relationships

10. Enjoy regular physical activity

11. Find work you love

12. Develop a spiritual practice

May your journey towards better health be one that revives your body, soul and spirit. All my love! xx

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