I will say that a certain amount of independent thinking is required to separate truth from fiction in most modern health advice currently being delivered.
The importance of living a healthy lifestyle for maintaining general good health and preventing chronic diseases has been well established. A healthy lifestyle is quite simple to achieve - one does not need to do anything "crazy" to adopt a healthy lifestyle. I will say that a certain amount of independent thinking is required to separate truth from fiction in most modern health advice currently being delivered.
The most important thing you can do is eat well. Avoid toxins in your food as much as possible and consume plenty of fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains; exercise moderately a few times per week; avoid smoking, including secondhand smoke; and avoid gaining too much weight (which should come naturally if you eat right and exercise). While it is not always possible to eat all Organic food - the EWG recommends 12 fruits and vegetables that should be organic because of their higher levels of pesticide residue. Avoiding environmental toxins as much as you can is an important part of achieving a healthy lifestyle.
Our modern lifestyle is very convenient - but it can also be extremely unhealthy. Most of us eat too many processed foods and too few fruit and veggies; we rarely exercise; and when we develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, we rely on conventional medications to make us feel better - but these medications often have devastating side effects. Instead of accepting the importance of living a healthy lifestyle for us and for future generations, we continue with our bad habits - then take potent, toxic medication to treat our inevitable symptoms.
Of course, not all aspects of living a healthy lifestyle are in our control. We are going to be exposed to certain environmental toxins whether we like it or not. But many of these factors are absolutely in our control. Whenever we can, we should be responsible and make the right choices.
This is why it is so important to be sure you eat well as the key factor in achieving a healthy LIFESTYLE.
I say "lifestyle" because what I know is that "eating well" can sometimes be something a person does with resentment because they feel "sacrifice" is required to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
I remember when people who ate poor foods used to joke with me and say I was not really living because I chose not to eat pizza and drink beer - and I always replied "how much LIVING can you do when your body is recovering from what you put in it?".
Shifting from an Unhealthy to a Healthy Lifestyle
The reason I discuss the healthy lifestyle tip of simply EATING WELL on my blog is because it has been so effective for my health.
It was not always like this though. I remember when I was addicted to a chocolate bar each day and I always had headaches or an infection or illness of some kind.
In addition to excessive sugar cravings (eating a chocolate bar each day) I also suffered from many unhealthy symptoms that were challenging to resolve through traditional medicine: Frequent headaches, Skin problems (ie. eczema, acne, hives, Bloating, Gas, Bad Breath, Weak or brittle hair and nails, Fatigue and lethargy, Excessive stress, Candida overgrowth, Yeast infections, Food or Environmental Allergies, Anxiety or depression, Diarrhea, Constipation, Memory loss, Mood swings, Frequent colds or infections, PMS or bad menstrual cramps, Bladder infection, Loss of sex drive...etc
Ughhh! No fun at all!
Years later, I LOVE good food and I am rarely sick. Eating well is the perfect way to get in tune with your body and really get back to basics of what your body needs. It challenges you to give up the vices that you take for granted, break your addictive eating habits and start again from the beginning. Eating well is a healthy lifestyle choice that gives you clarity on what your body really needs, not craves and becomes the foundation for all other healthy lifestyle choices.
An important thing to remember with eating well is to really examine your root philosophy for adapting more healthy foods into your lifestyle.
This is SO IMPORTANT!
If it's simply to lose a few pounds - I personally feel that this is not enough of a motivator and you will set yourself up for "failure" however, if you choose to eat well to enjoy a better quality of life, to do things you have not done in years and to not get sick anymore, then this is a wonderful motivator that will likely last!
So, getting really practical, eating well obviously involves making a few changes to the foods you prepare and enjoy.
I always listen to my body when I eat. I do not calorie count, measure my fist, use ratio's or anything that causes me to separate myself form the food I eat.
The main reason I enjoy excellent health is because I am critical of what I eat - I choose to eat REAL food.
Because of this, I do not need expensive supplements or challenging programs to maintain my weight.
Delicious menus of real, whole foods allow me to enjoy the things so many diet plans warn against.
This sounds simple enough, but what I have learned is that many people simply do not know what a healthy lifestyle consists of, especially when it comes to food!
I try to keep things as simple as possible. I shop from the perimeter of the grocery store, eat mostly wild and free range chicken, very little meat and mostly raw organic fruits and vegetables, with beans and rice.
The Future Depends on our Health Living a healthy lifestyle, free as much as possible of toxins (in our environment and in our food) and of stress, is important to us - but it's also important for future generations. Scientists are also now discovering the impact nutrition has on our DNA! Healthy trees bear healthy fruit. A continued lifestyle of sickness will have a lasting effect on future generations and on our planet.
The results of years of living an unhealthy lifestyle are obvious. We are currently faced with a sharp increase in chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, with an obesity rate so high it's considered an epidemic, and with growing rates of infertility. The number of children diagnosed with autism, Asperger's syndrome or ADHD is alarmingly high.
We should also remember that our children carefully watch us and emulate us. If they see us act responsibly now, they will likely adopt a similar approach of taking care of themselves and of the planet when they become adults.
We must each ask ourselves if we are modeling the importance of a healthy lifestyle to our children. If we do not show them how to care for themselves, they will likely turn to the food corporations instead. How will they know the difference between real food, "food like" substances?
I keep about 6 - 8 fantastic cookbooks on hand. From these books, I create simple meal plans that I rotate each month based on about 15 simple meal ideas.
In addition to eating Delicious Food (that is real and healthy!) I suggest the following ways to help model a positive approach to food in our children:
Young children especially learn about the world through imitation. How do you feel each day as you prepare your family's meals? Are you hurried, frustrated, and disconnected? We can show our children that eating healthy is important by the way we approach our meal times. If we are happy and engaged in making a meal, and then take pleasure in eating together we affirm that food is more than something to fill the hole but is a necessary part of a happy and healthy family life. In short, your children will imitate what they see so make sure you are placing a positive value around the activities involving healthy living.
Involve your children in meal preparation, even once or twice a week. By discussing how good certain foods taste and by letting them help you cook you will show that it's important to take the time to prepare a healthy meal instead of throwing something in the microwave. You never know, you may inspire a future chef!
Make a plan to eat together as a family as often as possible. By each decision you make to eat together, you are casting a value judgment on the importance of healthy living and that it involves more than just eating a few more vegetables.
We can and should make an effort to change our habits and accept the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. If society won't make changes, then we as individuals need to make them. After all, if we leave our health to someone else guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
I have absolute confidence that you can make the switch to living a healthy lifestyle and eliminating the nuisance symptoms that result from a body that is overloaded with toxins from our North American lifestyle. I was able to do this by following simple strategies, cooking from informative books that helped me switch my lifestyle over and enjoying life!
In all this talk about living a healthy lifestyle - we cannot overlook simply choosing to ENJOY LIFE!