Unfortunately for us, most food companies are not in business to make us happy and healthy. They do not use the cleanest or freshest ingredients. Instead, more often than not, you'll find refined flours and sugars, preservatives to make the products last while being shipped and/or stored in warehouses for any given amount of time, maybe even years. There may be additives such as colourings like red 40 and yellow 5 that are actually made from petroleum (yes, the same petroleum that is used to make oil and gas).
As troubling as this may sound, the good thing is that we are the ones holding the power. Not only do our dollars inform industries where we are willing to spend our money, but we have the power and the choice to buy ready made products out of convenience or fresh produce for our health.
The great thing is that by implementing a few simple habits, our bodies will begin to heal themselves, making us more healthy and happy. It may even save us money on medical bills in the future.
It's really simple. We can change our health. We can stop being a sick society that is nutritionally starved and diseased. We just need change and commitment and we can start that right now.
1. Cook at home.
"I don't have time" I head people cry. This is quite simple too: Make the time now or you'll pay for it later with you health or the health of your family. There are so many resources out there. These are a few of my favourites: Bryant Terry, Afro-Vegan: Farm fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed; Chef Ahki has some great recipies too; I've included some of my own favourite recipes that I use at home from my veggie gumbo, to fuel food to my amazingly heaven like triple chocolate cupcakes and more; Angela Liddon, The Oh-She-Glows Cookbook is also a great resource.
2. Less sugar.
Cut it out. Throw out the refined sugar, the sugar free sugar, the soda, the fruit drinks, the gummy bears, the fruit juice drinks and the energy drinks and foods. If you'd like to know why, read this. Yes you may be a little grumpy and irritable for the first week. You may even have a headache or two but your body will thank you for it in the long run.
Instead of sugar and sugary foods, switch to fruit, maybe adding a little honey or maple syrup and drinking water flavoured with fruit or herbs.
3. Drink water.
Drink filtered or spring water, preferably stored in glass over plastic if you can (I'll save the plastic conversation for another time). Water flushes out the body's waste and allows your organs to function properly. It also helps you to digest food more efficiently. Not to mention, drinking water also improves elimination. Try it, if you've got a slow digestive system and you don't drink very much water, drink more water and put your feet on a foot stool and see how much easier it is to go to the loo!
Instead of reaching for the caffeine or sugar when we crash or have a craving, drink water. Since our bodies are made up of so much water, we're often dehydrated which leads to dysfunction within our bodies.
4. Sleep more.
Don't get me wrong, we're all busy. Some of us have little ones, some of us work way into the wee hours and many of us can't seem to get away from the screens before bedtime (myself included). Here's the thing though; when we sleep, we allow our bodies to heal and recharge. Sleep affects many areas in our lives from stress, weight and quality of life to inflammation and lifespan. In order to be healthy and feel energized, we need to sleep. It also helps to put the laptops, phones and iPads away and switch off the TVs well before we go to bed as the light that the screen emits actually stimulates our brains and keeps us awake.
5. Buy fresh, local produce.
It may very well mean having to shop at more local stores and visit farmer's markets rather than shop at the supermarket out of convenience. It's summer and there are plenty of farmer's markets about. Especially in Toronto. Speaking of Toronto, if you're in the city, check out Life In Homemade. They're a favourite of mine and their food is well worth trying. Gluten-free, local goodness.
6. Try giving up the caffeine.
Don't panic! You don't have to do this in one day. Do it gradually. Instead of 5 coffees, have 3, then 2, and then 1. On the days I do feel like I need a boost (we all have them), I love using matcha. Matcha is a essentially a green tea concentrate. It comes in powder form. I love using matcha because the boost is gentle and gradual, there is no surge or crash and it's also incredibly high in antioxidants.
Incorporate these habits into your life and you'll find yourself feeling better and having more energy.
We really can heal the world. I truly believe that. First we have to heal ourselves and the power to do that lies in our hands.
Here's to your health,
Sending so much love.