5 healthy habits you can practice to improve your health in a holistic way

It seems as though our lives are getting busier and many of us are dealing with chronic stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions that can wreak havoc on our internal body systems, so it is crucial that we begin to take care of our mental and physical health.

Being healthy should be part of your overall lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent chronic diseases and long-term illnesses. Feeling good about yourself and taking care of your health are important for your self-esteem and self-image.

Many folks are confused by the aspect of holistic nutrition and combined mental and physical wellness. Well, holism means ‘a whole that is greater than its parts’. When we talk about holistic health, we’re talking about several smaller actions that contribute to something bigger when they are practiced together. Holistic health has been described as an aligning of the mind, body, and spirit in harmony, creating a richer state of health than would be achieved if the attention was solely focused on one part. In conclusion, holistic health creates a healthy balance within us.

Here are 5 easy, everyday lifestyle habits you can include into your daily routine to live a happier, healthier, and more holistic life:

1.     Manage Stress & Listen to Your Body

We all deal with stress daily, no matter what type of job or responsibilities we have. We all experience it and unfortunately it can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health, reducing the body’s resiliency and slowing the healing process. Stress is increasingly becoming one of the root problems in most health conditions and is an especially significant element in pain and fatigue conditions such as fibromyalgia. Stressors are commonly encountered throughout our lives and may be due to a busy schedule, a demanding job, family life, financial burdens, relationship difficulties, or large life events such as a new job or a big move.

How we deal with our daily stressors is what separates the relaxed and comfortable people from those who are anxious and on edge. If you can effectively learn how to reduce stress, you can take the steps to regain control of your life and be a much happier person overall.

Here are some stress management techniques to help you feel happier and more productive throughout the day:

·        Practice deep breathing

·        Maintain physical exercise and good nutrition

·        Use guided meditation (try using apps like Calm or Headspace)

·        Connect with others but find time for yourself as well

·        Listen to your body – accepting you need rest when you are tired 

2.     Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is crucial for our wellbeing. Those who don’t sleep well have a higher risk of being sick, often struggle more with their mental health, are more likely to be overweight, and even have a higher rate of cardiovascular problems. When you sleep, your body repairs itself, and your mind is given a break, this is vitally important to your overall health.

You need around 7-9 hours of sleep a night to function at your full capacity. If you struggle to sleep, try incorporating a bedtime routine into your life, so that your brain begins to recognize this as your routine, and prepares itself for sleep.

To begin practicing good sleep hygiene you can do things like, turning off technology an hour or two before you want to go to bed, adjusting the lighting in your home to remove blue lights, and making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature (sleeping in a cooler bedroom, 15-20 degrees Celsius, makes it easier to get a good night sleep since our body’s core temperature drops in the night).

3.     Remove Toxins

Toxins are defined as any substance or element that is toxic to the body. The environment today and normal cellular metabolism exposes the body to toxins. Detoxification is one of our body’s most important processes when it comes to maintaining optimal health. Removing toxicity from our lives and bodies can help balance hormones, curb cravings, and help us feel better overall by promoting energy, reducing aches and pains, and improving our moods. To maintain health, it is imperative that the body can handle the toxins and is able to adequately eliminate them.

Here are some ways to protect our body from toxins:

·        Focus on a whole food diet. Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and dietary fiber promotes decreased transit time in the colon which is essential to assist in the elimination of toxins through the bowels. Whole foods have a low toxin concentration and are better for all systems in the body. Processed, packaged foods contain more chemical compounds and substances that are difficult for the body to eliminate.

·        Increase your intake of good quality water. Water is a necessary component of every bodily function: digestion, absorption, circulation, lubrication, regulation, elimination, and detoxification. Adequate water intake allows toxins to be taken away from the cells and transported to the kidneys to be excreted.

·        Living a healthy lifestyle can help decrease exposure to toxins and help the body with elimination. Removing or limiting things like cigarettes, drugs and alcohol from your diet will reduce oxidative stress and free radicals in the body, further reducing the toxic load on the liver (our main detoxification organ).

·        Choose good quality personal care products. Conventional products like cosmetics, perfumes, soaps etc. all contain a great deal of synthetic chemicals which can be toxic to the system. These toxins accumulate overtime in the body and put stress on the body. This added stress and amount of toxins can hinder the body’s ability to eliminate and detoxify. Using natural, chemical free personal care products can greatly decrease exposure and not overburden the routes of elimination.

4.     Be Mindful of What You Eat

A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. It protects us against many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Eating a variety of foods and consuming less refined sugar and saturated or trans-fats, are essential for a healthy diet. Diets that are higher in processed foods have a negative impact on not only our physical health but also our mental health, affecting our mood and even contributing to anxiety and depression.

Focus on eating clean protein from plants and animals, healthy complex carbohydrates, and remember to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential micronutrients and minerals plus they are low in calories, which makes maintaining a healthy weight easy!

Preparing and packing your own lunch and snacks for the day is a good way to eat on the go. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also avoid excess sodium, sugar, fat, and chemical preservatives in meals at fast food restaurants.

5.     Move Your Body

Whether working out is something you look forward to or something you dread, you probably can’t deny that exercising just makes you feel better. Not only does exercise give you an energy boost and help you manage your weight, but it also reduces your risk of several health conditions and improves your mental wellbeing. According to the National Cancer Institute, regular exercise helps control weight, maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, and reduces our risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

30 minutes of exercise, 5-6 days a week, giving your body one day to rest and recuperate is recommended. The exercise doesn’t have to be excruciating and something you dread, something as simple as a brisk 30-minute walk can work wonders for your health and it can be supplemented by taking the stairs at work, a 10–15-minute walk during lunch, or even using a standing desk and shuffling from side to side while you work. The main thing is to find exercise that you enjoy, not something that’s an ordeal.

How to stay on track during the holidays

The holidays are for enjoying time with loved ones – not for feeling crappy! But with all the indulgences and changes in people’s routines, it often ends up being a time when people find themselves feeling not so great!

But we’re not going to let that happen this year! There is enough stress surrounding the holidays already, so I want you to feel your absolute best when it comes to your health. I’ve put together a list of my favourite recommendations to help you feel prepared and able to stay on top of your goals this holiday season:


Get in touch with your creative side and try making some healthy holiday treats to bring to your next holiday gathering!

Healthy Dark Chocolate Turtles

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 oz 70% dark chocolate
  • 1 heaping cup pitted dates
  • 2 oz pecan halves (about 40-45 small halves)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Blend dates in a food processor until they become a sticky and very thick jam-like consistency.
  2. Roll the processed dates into 15 marble-sized balls using the palms of your hands. Place the balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  3. Press 2-3 pecan halves into the date balls and then place in the freezer for 10 minutes to set.
  4. Heat a small saucepan over very low heat and add in the dark chocolate, stir continuously until melted into a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat.
  5. Using a spoon, pour a small amount of chocolate sauce over each date/pecan mound. Repeat until each one is covered with the chocolate. The chocolate sauce will harden quickly becoming a shell over the date/pecan mounds.
  6. Place in turtles in the freezer to set for at least 10 more minutes.
  7. Keep turtles cold (in the fridge is fine) until ready to serve.

No-Bake Chocolate Peppermint Protein Balls

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond butter, use sun butter for nut free
  • 1/4 cup unflavored pea protein powder
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons crushed candy canes, or cacao nibs for a healthy crunchy option (plus more to top for presentation if wanted)
  • 2-4 tablespoons 50% dark chocolate chips
  • 2-4 tablespoons water optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put everything except the candy cane or cacao nibs, chocolate chips and water into a bowl and mix well.
  2. Slowly add water if needed. You may not need any water if your almond butter is runny. Start with a teaspoon and slowly add until you get a well-mixed batter. If you add too much, then the batter will be too soft to roll.
  3. Add the candy canes/cacao nibs and chocolate chips and mix again.
  4. Allow to chill in the fridge while you clean up, then roll into 10-12 balls.
  5. You can then top with more crushed candy canes for presentation if you want.
  6. Enjoy!

Eating for Anxiety!

How do I start using nutrition to ease my anxiety?

  1. Focus on blood sugar balancing – keeping blood sugars balanced is a great way to begin feeling calmer and more grounded.
  2. Swap to whole foods vs conventional processed food – whole foods are packed full of essential nutrients compared to inflammatory processed ones. Refined sugar, food additives, and highly processed foods can aggravate the nervous system.
  3. Assess your relationship with caffeine- caffeine is a trigger for anxiety. Gradually reducing caffeine levels is so helpful in regulating cortisol levels and reducing stress and anxiety. (A cacao or adaptogen elixir is a great substitute for coffee!)
  4. Eating to support your gut health- without proper nutrients to keep your microbiome healthy, the body will not have the bacteria needed to produce mood boosting neurotransmitters like Serotonin, Dopamine, and GABA.

Daily habits to help take care of your mental health:

  1. Move your body! Daily exercise helps to reduce stress levels, can stimulate rest and relaxation, plus give you a sense of control over your own wellbeing.
  2. Nature walks – spending time in nature can reduce cortisol levels and increase endorphin levels & dopamine production!
  3. Mindfulness and meditation practice can help you slow down and improve your focus and concentration. It can reduce stress and even lead to self-acceptance and increased compassion for others. Try some daily affirmations: ‘I love myself and I am going to get through this.’
  4. Schedule self-care. Set aside time each day to do something that brings you joy. Self-care should not be something you feel forced to do, but something you look forward to each day [take a bubble bath, practice yoga, read a good book, call a friend, do a skin care routine…].
  5. Remember it is okay to not get everything done!

The Importance of Self-Care and How to Practice it

What is self-care?

Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy.

Self-care is necessary, but like most other parts of health, is not one size fits all. For some people, it can be as simple as taking a night off to put on a facemask and sit in a warm bubble bath. But the reality is that self-care can be a little more complicated than that. We all have different parts of ourselves that need to be nurtured and cared for, and therefore we all need different methods of carrying out this care.

How does self-care relate to Holistic Nutrition?

You’re probably wondering how self- care relates to nutrition. When most people think of nutrition they think ‘diet’ and ‘clean eating’, but there are many other important aspects to consider when practicing Holistic Nutrition. The whole philosophy behind Holistic Nutrition is that one’s health is an expression of the complex interplay between the chemical and physical, mental and emotional, as well as spiritual and environmental aspects of one’s life in order to create overall wellness.

Why is it important?

Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to assist in reducing or eliminating anxiety and depression, reducing stress, improving concentration, minimizing frustration and anger, increasing happiness, improving energy, and so much more. From a physical health standpoint, self-care has also been proven to assist in reducing risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer (Canadian Mental Health Association).

Things you can do to practice self-care

I want to offer you a few of my favorite ideas that can help you get started on your relationship with yourself:

  • spend time in nature- find a new park in your neighborhood to explore
  • keep a gratitude journal (I love The Five Minute Journal)
  • listen to a podcast and educate yourself on a new topic
  • make a new recipe
  • set a weekly coffee date with a friend
  • take a class— art, language, dance, pottery, etc.

Other important aspects of self-care

Rest

One of the most productive things you can do for yourself is rest. We live in a world full of stressors that seem to be never ending, which can make it challenging to feel calm and easy to feel overwhelmed. By taking some time out to relax, it allows your body to be physically restored and your mind mentally alert. Rest is an essential component of working well and smart, so recuperate and return to your tasks when you feel ready.

Learn to say no

This can be especially challenging for some people, and something I have struggled with as well. Learning to say no, especially to things that are causing you unnecessary stress, is crucial for your mental health and well-being. Just because something is on your to-do list, or you made a prior commitment to do something doesn’t mean it necessarily needs to get done right this second or you can’t change your mind. Prioritizing your mental health is all about focusing on YOU and YOUR needs so that you can show up and be the best version of yourself.

Find a good routine

As humans, we thrive on routine. Our bodies crave repetition and regulation. A good routine can help improve stress levels, improve mental health, and make it easier to find time to relax. One way to practice self-care is to add journaling and meditation to your morning routine. This helps create balance and reduce stress around the day ahead. If journaling and meditation aren’t for you, consider other options for your morning routine like exercise, making your bed, a skincare routine – anything that makes you feel your best before beginning your day!

SAVE this weekly self-care checklist below for some self care inspo and accountability!

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

These black bean and sweet potato burgers are one of my favourite veggie burger recipes! They are super easy to make and are freezer friendly. Prepare in advance and keep frozen for a day you don’t have time to cook [much healthier than store bought, frozen veggie burger patties].

Ingredients

  • 1 can Black beans, rained and rinsed
  • 1 small, Sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup Corn
  • 1/2 of a diced Red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup Finely diced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Oats
  • 1/4 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh garlic
  • 1/3 Sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Chili powder
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 3/4 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 2 tbsp Flaxseed, ground
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 drops of Liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

How to make

  1. Cut your sweet potato into cubes and boil in a pot until tender.
  2. Add olive oil to a pan and sauté your onion and garlic until translucent.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend oats to make flour. Add in breadcrumbs, ground flax, nutritional yeast, cumin, sea salt, chili powder, paprika and black pepper. Blend until well combined then transfer dry mixture to a large bowl.
  4. Add boiled sweet potato, bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic + onion mixture, beans, worcestershire, and liquid smoke to blender/food processor. Blend well (it’s okay if some of the beans are still whole and the veg is not completely blended- this will add a nice texture!). Stir in your corn and transfer to the bowl with the dry mixture
  5. Mix everything together, then form into 6-8 patties [depending on preferred size]. Lay them flat on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set. [Additionally, you can place on a parchment lined plate and put them straight into the freezer for 24 hours. Once frozen, transfer them into a freezer safe bag/container for storage and have later!]
  7. Remove from refrigerator and heat up a pan on medium heat. Add a tsp of olive oil and cook each patty until golden/browned, about 4 minutes on each side.
  8. Serve on a bun or in a lettuce wrap or enjoy it alone!

I hope you enjoy cooking this recipe! if you have any questions or feedback please comment down below.

Love, Bailey.

xx

3 Tips to Healthier Eating!

Want to eat healthier? Here are 3 tips, without compromising your relationship with food!

ADD

Instead of trying to restrict and cut out foods, think about what you can add to your meals instead to make them more nutritious and balanced!

  • add yogurt plus fresh fruit to cereal
  • add piece of fruit to a snack

REPLACE

Try choosing a more nutritious alternative to something you currently eat!

make sure it’s a realistic alternative (ie. one that’s still tasty and satisfying!) or it’s not going to be a suitable swap.

  • swap to whole grain bread
  • swap to grainy or seed crackers

TRY SOMETHING NEW

Set yourself the challenge of trying a new healthy recipe each week!

or buy a fruit, vegetable, or grain you haven’t tried before or don’t usually eat to include that week!


REMEMBER

Part of a healthy diet is having a healthy relationship with food. That means actually enjoying the food you eat, feeling satisfied with your meals and balance to still include some less nutritious foods.

**Think balance and consistency over perfection and deprivation! **

How to Practice Mindful Eating

You’ve probably heard the term of the term ‘mindful eating’, but what does it actually mean?

The word ‘mindful’ itself means “to be conscious or aware of something.” Of course, we’re aware that we’re eating when we’re eating, but what really differentiates mindful eating is when we are truly conscious and present for the experience.

Mindful eating is maintaining an in-the-moment awareness of the food and drink you put into your body. It involves observing how the food makes you feel and the signals your body sends about taste, satisfaction, and fullness. Mindful eating requires you to simply acknowledge and accept rather than judge the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations you observe. It can extend to the process of buying, preparing, and serving your food as well as consuming it.

It’s the opposite of scarfing down a to-go breakfast on your drive to work, or accidentally inhaling a bowl of popcorn before the movie even starts. Bringing consciousness awareness to your eating can help you get the most out of your meals AND properly nourish and support your body systems.


Here’s how to start eating mindfully:

1. Relax when you are eating

A few deep breaths before a meal may seem pointless, but it can help with the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients. Deep breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s rest and digest functions. Being in a relaxed state while eating allows the production of adequate digestive enzymes needed to properly break down our food.

If we experience prolonged exposure to stress, our body enters a state of ‘fight or flight’ which results in the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes to be put on hold to deal with the perceived threat. This is useful if you’re actually in danger, but if you’re just operating with high stress levels, you’ll want to shift into ‘rest and digest’ mode to achieve optimal digestion.

Try eating away from distractions like your phone or tv!

2. Chew your food thoroughly

Chewing quickly and not thoroughly enough results in swallowing larger than ideal pieces of food, which not only gives the digestive enzymes in your saliva less of a chance to start breaking down the food, but it can make the whole digestive process from there difficult and uncomfortable. Chewing longer allows your food to get more exposure to your saliva, making the digestive process a lot smoother.

A good rule of thumb is to chew 10-20 times before swallowing. This may feel quite uncomfortable the first few times you try it, but your gut will thank you for it!

3. Appreciate your food

Try pausing for a minute or two before you begin eating to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the people you’re enjoying it with.

When we stop to appreciate everything that goes into our meal and consider where our food comes from, it becomes easy to experience gratitude for everything involved in the process of creating our food [from the soil it is grown in and the farmers who harvest to the grocery store clerks and whoever prepared the meal that sits in front of us].

With just a little more mindfulness like this, we may begin to make wiser choices about sustainability and health in our food.

4. Don’t eat too quickly

Having to rush through a meal is never fun but also, it’s not good for your digestion. Eating too fast can result in swallowing a lot of air which can lead to uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.

Eating too fast dulls your body’s natural satiety signals and you risk falling out of touch with your natural hunger and fullness signals, which can lead to overeating.

Slowing down and taking your time while eating will help your body absorb the nutrients from the food!

Tip: Try putting down your utensil between bites.

5. Listen to your body’s hunger cues

We often listen first to our minds, but like many mindfulness practices, we might have better outcomes when we listen to our bodies first. Rather than just eating when we receive emotional signals from the brain [stress, sadness, frustration, loneliness or even just boredom], we can listen to our bodies.

Is your stomach growling, energy low, or feeling a little lightheaded? Too often, we eat when our mind tells us to, rather than our bodies. True mindful eating is listening deeply to our body’s signals for hunger.

Benefits of Mindful Eating:

By paying closer attention to how you feel as you eat [the texture & tastes of each bite, your body’s hunger and fullness signals, how different foods affect your energy and mood] you can learn to enjoy both your food and the experience of eating. Being mindful of the food you eat can promote better digestion, keep you feeling full by eating less, help you appreciate the food you’re eating & where it comes from, and encourage healthier choices regarding what you eat. Additionally, and most importantly, it can help you free yourself from unhealthy habits/relationships around food and eating!