Living your best life happens one step at a time. In a sea of too much, and often conflicting health information, Healthy Bites provides the simple, specific information and guidance you need to make a small step – or, a “healthy bite” – toward a healthier and happier life. Local wellness expert, board-certified health coach and lifestyle counselor Mikaela D. Martin, of Guidance for Growing in Souderton, writes the monthly Healthy Bites. For more healthy living news and tips, see her website at www.guidanceforgrowing.com.
Spring has officially sprung! Many of us use the new spring equinox as an opportunity to clear out, scrub clean, and freshen up our homes. This month’s “healthy bite” encourages us to use the new season to spring clean our diets, too. Just like our houses become too filled with stuff, get to be dusty and dirty, and be a little worse for wear, so too do our bodies.
Over time, the things that we put in our bodies really start to add up: Processed foods contain chemicals that disrupt our bodies’ metabolism, interfere with our ability to manage weight, and contribute to chronic diseases. Animal proteins in our diets often lead to mineral imbalance, come with high levels of saturated fats, and cause pH imbalance. Alcohol and other drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medication, deplete our bodies of many essential nutrients.
Of course, the truth is, even if we have an exceptionally healthy diet, our bodies still carry a “toxic load.” Just like pollution in the air we breathe and in the water we drink and bathe in pollutes the environment, it pollutes us, too. So does stress and anxiety, which causes adrenal fatigue, hurts our heart health, makes it easier for cancer to spread, and results in weight gain. It’s easy to see how our bodies benefit from a little spring cleaning! Here are some easy ways to clean up your diet this month:
Increase plant foods, decrease animal foods.
- Ideally, our diets should be 75% plant-based with an emphasis on whole vegetables and fruits, and including beans, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Eating a plant-based diet has been shown to ward off, slow down, and even reverse a slew of chronic issues including heart disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, lupus, osteoporosis, and many cancers. Plant-based diets also keep our bodies pH-balanced in a healthy alkaline state, which reduces inflammation and the conditions associated with it. A diet filled with plant foods is even good for our mental health, having been shown to help with anxiety, depression, and energy. Try increasing the plant-based foods in your diet by 10 or 20% this month.
Take a break from an unhealthy habit
- Whether you’re a junk food junkie, a fast food fanatic, or a sucker for soda, your body will benefit from a little break. When we take time off from a harmful habit, our bodies can devote its resources to cleaning up its toxic load, rather than processing through even more unhealthy food preservatives and colorings, excess sugars and fats, and nutrition-depleting additives. Try taking a 5- or 10-day break from your unhealthy habit this month.
Do a cleanse.
- Cleanses, also known as detoxes, don’t have to be anything drastic or dramatic, include magic pills or expensive potions, be super-restrictive. Some common cleanses include: A vegan diet that includes only plant foods. A raw food diet that includes only uncooked, unprocessed foods. A liquid fast that includes only high quality water, fresh juices, vegetable broth, and herbal teas. Choose a cleanse that feels right for you and do it only as long as you feel comfortable doing. (As always, check with your doctor before starting a new diet). Try a 1- or 3-day detox this month.
April’s “healthy bite” to spring clean our bodies is the perfect chance to improve nutrition and increase energy. Cheers to a new season!
Do you have ideas on how we can clean up our bodies? Please share it with us in the comments below!