Many of us have learned to put up with a certain amount of stress and discomfort. What if I was to tell you that this is not necessary?
These days asking someone “How are you?” basically means hello. As a clinician, the questions I ask are more than “how are you”, but I consistently find the same thing. Someone will say that they basically feel OK. Nothing serious is holding them back and that they are doing fine. After some further interrogation it becomes clear that feeling OK includes fatigue, poor sleep, bad skin and bloating. That doesn’t sound “fine” to me, but many of us have learned to put up with a certain amount of stress and discomfort. What if I was to tell you that this is not necessary? That you no longer need to sweep things under the rug and you can remove 80% of your symptoms if you were supported to complete five things. Sounds too good to be true? I have seen it work time and time again and I encourage you to make a commitment to incorporating these five things into your life and see the results.
- 30 Day Elimination Diet.
When we give our bodies a break from hard to digest foods and common food allergens, we are often surprised at how good we can feel. Although lab tests may provide some guidance towards what foods are best avoided, there are some common culprits that consistently create inflammation in the body, which leads to chronic pain and fatigue. Some elimination diets will include many other types of foods depending on the protocol that is being utilized.
The most common foods to avoid while doing an elimination diet are:
- Gluten containing grains
- Feel Good Foods.
Learning to cook healthy food is no small feat, so it is important to start small. Determine one breakfast that gives you the energy you need to make it till lunch and makes you feel light and vibrant. This will be different for everyone. Some need high protein, others are fine with oatmeal. Learn how to cook that breakfast and simplify the recipe so that you can eat it most days of the week. Do the same process with lunch and dinner. At the end of this step you will have three meals that you love to eat because they make you feel your best. Finding feel good foods that support your health is the quickest strategy towards reducing chronic and long term illness.
- Breathe and Meditate.
Many of us are aware of the destructive effects of stress. Stress is inevitable and some people thrive on it, but we are all exposed to much higher amounts of stress than our bodies can cope with. Using breath and meditation we can reduce the negative impact of modern life. The breath is the gateway to our mind and emotions, so using Headspace app or setting an alarm that goes off every hour and closing your eyes as you breathe for 3 breaths can help you lower your blood pressure and re-calibrate your mood.
- Belly and Bowels.
We have been focusing on what goes in, but it is equally as important to be self aware and notice how what goes in to our body affects us. As digestion is the cornerstone of health, using a journal to track your food and mood will give you insight into the foods that are helping or harming. Everything we put in our mouth is either harmful or beneficial. Writing out gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and others will help us see the pattern and how it is linked to food. You can also keep a poo journal or use poolog.app to stay abreast of changes in your belly and bowels. By monitoring digestion you can make beneficial changes that will keep you feeling your best.
- Recreational Movement.
Remember when you were a kid and your days were filled with running, jumping, biking, etc. It made you feel joyful and alive. For many exercising is something they must do, but not something they love. That is why it is important to find a type of movement that you love. Is it running, or cycling, or weights, or walking? If you already know what it is then commit to doing it daily. If you are still looking, then get out there and try lots of different types of movement until you find the one that makes your heart sing.
These are the five keys to health. When we are able to do each of these things and be consistent with them then we start to feel our best. If you struggle with one of these steps then enlist the support of a health care provider, friend or family member so that you can build a strong foundation for health in your life. Chances are you will be an inspiration to all those around you. Once you are able to do each one of these five steps for 30 days then you will feel better, and you will have changed the trajectory of your health in some way.
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