When it comes to health and nutrition I try to approach it with balance.
I try not to be difficult or inflexible —the person with a long list of demands and things they won’t eat. (I realize this is very personal and what works for me may not work for another. Especially someone with life-threatening allergies!)
Also, I don’t want staying healthy to take over my life. I don’t have the time to devote hours a day to health and nutrition and research. I am lucky to have a couple of minutes here and there.
BUT, there are some small changes I have made that have paid off big when it comes to my health and wellbeing. They have made a huge difference in how I feel both physically and emotionally (two things I am finding more and more are closely related).
Here are eight “little” things I have done to help bring better health to my life. I’ll call them my “balanced” health tips :).
Cut back on sugar
About 4 years ago Brance and I temporarily fasted from all sugar. We loved how much better we felt. We have since drastically cut back on our sugar consumption. There are weeks we eat zero sugar. Which is saying something for two previous sugar addicts who always ended dinner with some kind of dessert.
We still do consume a little honey and the occasional sugary treat (mostly out with friends). Although, we try not to buy or make anything with sugar at home–that way we aren’t tempted to eat it.
And now that we are “detoxed” off of sugar, we hardly miss it. In fact, it is like our taste buds have changed. Fruit and naturally sweetened treats and even nuts (!) taste plenty sweet to us.
We so rarely use sugar now, I went to bake a cake for friends at Thanksgiving and was surprised to discover we didn’t have any in our house. I am not even sure when we ran out.
Supplement with vitamin d3
I know you guys are probably a little tired of hearing about vitamin d3 here on this blog. But, it really has transformed my health and life, so I feel like it’s worth repeating. It has helped cure depression, anxiety, sleep issues, low energy levels and so much more.
I won’t go into it all here, but if you’re curious about what vitamin d3 has done for my health (and can do for yours) you can read more about it in my free ebook.
Take probiotics and eat fermented vegetables
This one I began a couple of years ago when I came down with Ulcerative Colitis. It has, hands down, made the biggest difference in regards to my autoimmune disease and has helped with my overall health.
And there are weird little benefits as well. It’s kind of embarrassing to write, but it’s SO great I just have to tell you. One of those things is you rarely pass gas, if ever. (IF I do, it’s always a clue that I haven’t been sticking to my regimen). Plus it keeps you regular ;).
Not surprisingly, it has also cured stomach aches that I have struggled with for years–since I was a small child. My parents even took me to the ER once for one of them! Turned out it was nothing more than a gassy stomach. But, boy, gas sure can hurt!
I have a fermented vegetable recipe post in the works and hope to publish it soon!
Aim to sleep 8 hours a night
My bad sleep habits started in my teenage years when I became responsible for my own sleep. I would stay up far too late and then groggily roll out of bed a couple of hours later for school or work–always trying to catch up on the weekend. Not surprisingly, I was an exhausted, hormonal mess.
Making sleep a priority has made a big difference in how I feel and has contributed positively to my health. Our bodies repair and heal themselves as we sleep. I can tell a big difference, especially in regards to my autoimmune disease, when I am not getting enough sleep. My colitis is worse, my ankles will swell, and other unpleasant autoimmune symptoms begin to show up.
SO, sleep is a big deal here. I try and go to bed so that I can sleep until I wake up in the morning–usually around 8 hours. I don’t like being woken up by an alarm or kids :).
Go mostly dairy-free
I first experimented with going dairy-free over 7 years ago. Haddie was colicky and I was desperately trying to figure out what was making her so fussy. I was breastfeeding and had read that cutting dairy helped some babies. So, I cut all dairy. Amazingly, from that point on Haddie hardly cried at all.
Fast forward 3 more years and I was dairy-free again while nursing Abigail. It was this time that I noticed, a couple weeks in, that my skin looked so much better. The blotchy redness I had used makeup to cover up for years was almost entirely gone. My pores even seemed smaller.
Come to find out, dairy is an inflammatory food and it is extra inflammatory for certain people (myself included–hence the inflamed, reddish, oily skin that I had thought was just my natural skin type). It’s amazing how many of my skin issues have disappeared by simply cutting back on most dairy.
Since Abigail’s birth, I have continued to be mostly dairy-free. I say mostly because I will have dairy on the rare occasion. Like maybe one serving every 2 or so weeks. Going completely dairy-free could result in becoming intolerant, even to small amounts. And there are times, also, we are with other people where eating dairy seems like the considerate thing to do.
Cut out caffeine
A little bit of caffeine is fine for a lot of people. I happen to NOT be one of those people. It screws with my hormones and my blood sugar and I end up on a horrible emotional rollercoaster, when I consume it on a daily basis. It flat out makes me grumpy. And that is not what my sweet husband and girls need.
When I began drinking caffeinated coffee, for the first time, after Abigail’s birth it also caused me to begin exhibiting symptoms of endometriosis that were confirmed by my doctor. Those symptoms went away when I mostly stopped the caffeine.
I have toyed with it in small amounts on an off again, but I always end up feeling bad and I have decided once and for all to come off of caffeine. It’s one of my resolutions for this year.
Here is how I plan to stay off of caffeine.
Walk, walk, walk
One of the benefits to living in a city like Boston is that we walk everywhere. The grocery store, the doctor, the park, school, the drugstore, the library–most everywhere I go I walk. Even in the dead of winter! We just bundle up in our down coats and scarves and gloves and hats.
This is great news when it comes to health, because walking is amazing for your health and it is one of the best exercises out there. And not only is it good for your physical health. Walking is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. I read recently that walking daily outside can reverse brain atrophy, even in the elderly, and can actually cause your brain to grow. Which leads me to my last balanced health tip…
Spend time outside every day
With fair skin, my mother understandably has encouraged me to stay out of the sun or slather in sunscreen since my youth. From a wrinkle perspective, this has been a blessing. But researchers are now finding that our bodies were made to need a healthy amount of sunlight and that when we don’t get it we are more prone to things like depression and anxiety and a whole host of other mood disorders. They found that seeing sunlight every day actually helps us sleep better at night, because it regulates melatonin.
It has only been in the last 3 or so years that I have known this and have made an effort to get outdoors for 20 or so minutes a day, year around. And I have noticed a big difference in how I feel. My husband does too and is sweet to volunteer to watch the girls to help me to get out, if I have missed a couple of days.