This is going to be a guide to us in our quest to stay healthy. Let me call it ‘our commandments.’ The cornerstone of a healthy diet should be to replace processed food with real food. Eating foods that are as close as possible to the way nature made them can make a huge difference on our health.
A better approach is to make a few small changes at a time. Keeping your goals modest can help you achieve more in the long term without feeling deprived or overwhelmed by a major diet overhaul. Think of planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps—like adding salad to your diet once a day. As your small changes become a habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices.
Margaret Mead had rightly said that, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.” For most of us, changing unhealthy eating habits is a Herculean task. In fact, according to a 2012 study, more than 50 per cent Americans (that were polled) felt that doing their taxes is easier than figuring out how to eat healthy.
The foregoing is a fact! It is not easy obeying diet rules; who does not prefer a bowl of ice cream to a bowl of bitter leaf soup? Who will not choose a good breath over a garlic flavoured-breath? As difficult as it is to eat healthily, we have to constantly remind ourselves that eating right has a profound effect on our health; we also have to bear it in mind that we are what we eat.
However, if a particular natural food gives you allergies, avoid them. I have seen people who have reactions to nuts and sea foods!
I have probably experienced all of the side effects I have itemised in my efforts to eat right; I do not like drinking water after food! I am just trying to change this habit and I am persuaded that it is a rewarding effort. There is value in preaching principles that have stood one in a good stead. Let us look at some tips:
- Start your day with warm water and lime or lemon instead of coffee. It helps flush out toxins from the body. Take this with straw to protect your teeth.
- Water is life. Do not get thirsty; this is the best way to beat dehydration. Always drink water that is at room temperature.
- Your skin is a billboard for what goes on in your body; some diseases first appear as skin problems. Always listen to your skin.
- The colours of fruits and vegetables are an indicator of the nutrients they provide; your plate should always be a rainbow!
- There are many effective pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory natural remedies in your kitchen. Eat spices. Some of the spices are ginger, garlic, black pepper and cloves.
- You will not lose anything if you avoid sugar. Cut out sugary drinks.
- Bitter leaf tastes bitter, Shea butter smells awfully, garlic gives one a bad breath! Ignore all these and focus on their benefits; their power of healing lies in that flaw you are focusing on!
- Become more active. Good nutrition and exercise often go hand-in- hand. We live our lives sitting – at our desks, in front of the television, in a meeting or while on the phone. Walking to someone else’s desk rather than sending an e-mail, parking far from a building and walking in, taking the stairs more often, doing house cleaning or gardening can help us to be more active.
- The importance of good sleep cannot be overstated. Sleep deprivation disrupts appetite regulation, often leading to increased appetite which results in increased calorie intake and weight gain. In fact, people who sleep little tend to weigh significantly more than those who get enough sleep.
- Eat whole foods—that is, plant foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. Examples of whole foods include whole grains, tubers, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
- Too much salt can raise blood pressure which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Remember, moderate alcohol consumption is always better for health.
- Eat more fish. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish like salmon and mackerel) at least twice a week. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. This superfood improves brain and heart health and may reduce the risk of a disease like Alzheimers.
- Get vegetable seeds and plant. You can raise your desired vegetables species or varieties in plastic wares around your home if you do not have a piece of land to plant them.
- Add more probiotic foods to your diet. A good balance of intestinal flora is important for overall health. If we eat nothing but overly processed and hard-to-digest foods, then fermentation occurs within the gastrointestinal track resulting into gas, bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation. However, providing the body with predigested foods such as fermented foods will help the existing microbes within to do the job they need to do.
- Probiotic foods like yoghurt, apple cider vinegar and soft cheeses are also gut-friendly. Dawadawa (African locust bean) is part of them.
- When was the last time you had a medical checkup? A lot of people are guilty of this. Do not wait till you fall sick before you visit your doctor. This helps in nipping health problems in the bud.
- If you are on medications already, use your drugs. As you use them, change your diet to a healthy one.
- Eating a balanced diet helps people maintain good health and reduces the risk of having diseases. I know people who do not eat beans. This is where the woman plays a major role in the home. Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Beans can be made into akara, moimoi, gbegiri and some other things.
- Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. True emotional and mental health requires one to accept, process and respond to things that are not always pleasant or positive. What many refer to as ‘negative’ emotions are part of the human experience; running away from these simply because they do not feel good does not actually support true well-being.
Having a solid mental health does not mean that you never go through bad times or experience emotional problems. We all go through disappointments, loss and change. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. But just as physically healthy people are better able to bounce back from illness or injury, people with strong mental health are better able to bounce back from adversity, trauma and stress. This ability is called resilience. Whatever life throws at you, you must have a high self-esteem, self-confidence and a zest for living.
Always remember that life is not a bed of roses. They say, when life gives you lemons make lemonade!
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