This week's guest blog is brought to you by nutritionist Amy Longard. Amy is a registered Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Food Chef in Ottawa and she's got some great tips for those looking to improve their diet this year.
The new year is a great time to start anew. It’s an opportunity to drop habits that don’t promote good health and happiness, and replace them with better, healthier habits. As a nutritionist, I don’t usually encourage my clients to make drastic changes. Instead, I support the notion of adopting small dietary and lifestyle changes over time. I’ve found that this method tends to be the most successful and increases the likelihood that these changes will be long-lasting, and will ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Even tiny adjustments can have huge impacts on our health. Big change doesn’t happen over night. It’s the result of many small changes practiced daily, again and again, until they become habits. Below, I’ll share a few surprisingly simple things that will have profound impact on your health and wellbeing.
Stay Hydrated. Water is vital to our health. We literally cannot live without it. It supports good digestion, absorption, and elimination. However, despite being a necessity, the simple act of drinking water throughout the day is often overlooked. It is recommends that men consume roughly 13 cups (3 litres) of water per day, and that women consume approximately 9 cups (2.2 litres) per day. A good way to reach this goal is to start your day with a big glass of water. Have the water ready and waiting on your bedside table so that it’s the first thing you see when you wake up. I suggest you also take a water bottle with you everywhere you go and if you have trouble remembering to drink water you may also want to set a timer on your phone to remind you.
Eat More Vegetables. Vegetables provide dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They also add colour, variety, texture, and taste to meals. Like drinking water, eating vegetables should be a priority, but without proper planning it can be easily overlooked. Allotting a few hours, one or two days per week, to meal prep can play a big role in upping your vegetable intake. An easy first step would be to clean, chop and store vegetables in your fridge for easy access. Get in the habit of cutting up carrots, celery, cucumber, radishes, and broccoli to have with hummus. You should also have ready-to-eat leafy greens, like spinach, kale, or arugula, in your fridge to add into smoothies, salads, stews, soups or stir fry. If you aren’t already in the habit of making vegetable rich meals, challenge yourself to try one new vegetarian dish each week with the goal of expanding your culinary skills as well as your palate.
Chew Your Food. Chewing is a fundamental part of eating, and it is also crucially important in terms of nutrition. Our saliva contains digestive enzymes that help breakdown and absorb the foods we eat. Thoroughly chewing your food will allow these enzymes to do their job and will also lessen the burden on your stomach and small intestine, leading to greater nutrient absorption. As an added bonus, research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less and, ultimately, prevents weight gain and may even contribute to weight loss. When you sit down for your next meal, start by taking small bites, chew slowly, be patient, and enjoy what you are eating. Keep chewing until your food has lost its texture and is mostly liquefied. Make sure to completely finish chewing and swallowing before taking another bite of food. This may sound tedious or trivial, but give it a try! Your digestive tract will thank you.
Amy Longard is a registered Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Food Chef. For recipes, nutrition tips, and general health information, visit her blog at: www.AmyLongard.com
Dr. Amanda is a non-traditional chiropractor who focuses on Neuro-Optimization in Ottawa, Canada.