Five ways to improve health without dieting January 29 2020
This time of year is like the Super Bowl for health professionals. It’s a new year, a clean start and a time where most people feel motivated to put their resolutions into action - goals that often include our relationship to nutrition and our bodies. Pressure to go on diets or lose weight is all around us and it can at times feel all-encompassing. Scrolling through social media you can be bombarded with clever ways to reduce your calories or carbohydrates. While quick solutions might seem tempting, this one-size-fits-all approach to body health and wellness unfortunately doesn’t account for our individual needs or personal histories with food. As a body-positive holistic health practitioner, it can be frustrating to watch weight stigma be perpetuated under the guise of health without any data, blood work or personal care.
Though extreme diets are a cultural norm, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the yo-yo effect of these diets are harmful to peoples’ health and wellbeing. New Year’s Resolutions are normally centred around a belief that there is something wrong, lacking or inadequate about ourselves that we need to fix. The truth is, we don’t need to ‘fix’ any part of ourselves to be acceptable or worthy of love. We are whole and worthy just as we are.
People often confuse being healthy with dieting or losing weight but there is plenty we can do to improve our quality of life and our health without making the focus of these actions weight-loss. When we equate health to body size, we fail to take our individuality into account. And for many people, dieting can contribute to disordered eating, binge eating, anxiety around food and orthorexia.
There are many things we can do to improve our health, mental clarity, energy and attitude that may not affect our weight. Letting go of the idea of an ideal weight can allow us to be guided by our internal cues and start advocating for our needs.
Water is essential for health and hydration is crucial for so many of our bodily reactions. Making a point to drink more water is an easy and effective way to improve your health. I love to start my day with a large glass of warm water with a pinch of sea salt and drink hydrating teas like ginger and nettle instead of coffee throughout the day.
Prioritizing sleep is a great and very healthful intention to set. Sleep is so important for our digestion, stress management, energy and immunity. The average person should optimally get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, though this timeframe may vary from person to person. Try to optimize quality sleep by going to bed before 12am each night and either avoiding or minimizing screen-use s before bed. This helps to balance our natural circadian rhythm. Deep sleep looks like: sleeping through the night, waking up feeling rested and refreshed, and having vivid dreams. Taking epsom salt baths and drinking teas like Lemon balm or Passion Flower before bed can help get you there. If you like aromatherapy, our Sleep Well Wellness Roll-On is blended with Lavender, Melissa and Ylang Ylang oils to help you slow down and relax after a long day.
Moving your body is so important! Getting in more movement is a great way to build immunity, sustain energy and support a healthy sleep cycle. It is important to focus on movement you like to do.Moving your body shouldn’t feel like a task or a form of punishment. Try to incorporate a variety of movements like walking in nature, rock climbing, swimming or yoga into your weekly routine. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find an activity that feels good for you and your body!
Eat more colour! It’s a fun non-diet specific way to add extra vegetables and nutrients into your diet. Coloured fruits and vegetables have compounds called Phytonutrients. These vary from plant to plant and tell us a lot about what nutrients we can find in certain foods. For example, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (citrus fruits, carrots or squash) are abundant in vitamins C and A. Green fruits and veggies (kale, spinach, asparagus, avocado) are high in vitamins K, B, and E. Purple veggies on the other hand (eggplant, red cabbage, grapes) are high in vitamins C and K.
Eating a variety of foods helps us to expand our taste buds and get variety in our diet. Try adding some exciting coloured vegetables like beets, oranges or cabbage to your grocery list and experiment with new recipes. A quick google search should inspire lots of culinary adventures.
Talk it out
Therapy is such an important and undervalued part of healthcare that can help improve so many aspects of life, energy, mental clarity and focus. Taking the time to address and acknowledge our mental health can help us improve our stress, anxiety and immunity. Having a trustworthy support system of care in place is a great way to examine self-sabotaging behaviours, trauma and limiting beliefs that lead us to feel unwell and unworthy. There are several different types of therapy out there, investigate and see what may work best for you.