The Biggest Changes I Made to My Diet & Lifestyle
Last week I shared my journey to a healthier & happier me and I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. I received so many emails, comments and messages and was honestly shocked to realize that so many of you have, or are currently experiencing similar frustrations with your health. I was already so excited to share this part of my life with you, albeit a little nervous, but all your kind words made me realize that it’s tough to find that right information and sometimes the answers we get from doctors aren’t the ones we want to hear (ie: surgery, medication, etc.). No, I’m most definitely not a professional, and anything I share here is not medical advice, but simply the things that worked for me! Hopefully this post can guide you in the right direction so you can start feeling better too.
When I first started on this mega-wellness change up this year, the first thing I wanted to tackle, and at that time, the only thing that really mattered to me, was fixing my diet so that I didn’t feel horrible all the time. What I didn’t expect was how much it would change my life. I also didn’t expect to become so passionate about it in such a short time. Honestly, I’m addicted. I guess if I have an addiction, one to wellness isn’t too bad!
After doing lots of reading and researching I realized that I was most likely suffering from a number of different problems. The most noticeable symptom was the shooting stomach pains, but it was clear that there was a lot more going on. Words and phrases I’d never heard before like adrenal fatigue, mismanaged blood sugar and hormonal imbalances came up time and time again in my reading, and I started wondering if these things were the root causes of my problems. Since I’d already been tested for allergies and everything else came back “normal” from my doctor visit, I figured I’d really dedicate the next few months to changing my diet and lifestyle to see if I could heal myself with good, whole foods as well as a lot of self-love and self-care.
So, what exactly did I change? This was the most requested piece of information after last week’s post, so let’s dive in!
Veggies & Fruits
We were already eating a good amount of veggies, but now I’m eating even more of them and making sure I have vegetables in every single meal. As for fruit, I used to eat an apple almost every day, but now I eat a bowl of chopped fruit every morning. I sprinkle it with ground flaxseeds, chia seeds and a squeeze of lemon. Flaxseeds and chia seeds are both packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that are super good for you! Chia seeds are also known for giving you a boost of energy!
Cut Back on Refined Sugars
Guys, I love candy. I thought this one was going to be hard, but surprisingly it’s been easy! And, I have a theory as to why, though I’m not 100% certain. I’m now getting more natural sugar from all the fruit I’ve been eating and I think because of that, my body isn’t craving sugar as often as it once did. I also switched out sugar for raw honey in my coffee. Yes, honey is technically still sugar, but it’s not processed and has added benefits like nutrients, vitamins and minerals that you won’t get from regular white sugar.
Pay Attention to When I Eat
I use to only eat when I got really hungry. I’d have breakfast around 9 and then not eat lunch until 2-3pm. By that time I was starving, sometimes I’d be a little shaky because I’d let my blood sugar plummet. Now I try to eat each meal 3-3.5 hours after the previous meal (except for dinner!) in my attempt to keep my blood sugar more level. I had no idea how much this would help. In the past I was sluggish, drowsy and foggy all day, but since practicing my 3-hour trick, I haven’t noticed any of that fogginess or the old afternoon slump. When I’m really hungry, I tend to make less healthy choices, so eating before I hit the point of starving helps me make better choices at every single meal.
This goes with the above, but having that afternoon snack helps keep me full until dinnertime and keeps me from over-indulging or making poor choices simply because I’m super hungry.
Very Little Dairy
I’d already cut out most dairy, but still ate cheese. Ugh, it was my weakness! But, for the most part I’ve totally cut it out and I haven’t missed it too much. Feeling amazing both physically and mentally is far better than enjoying cheese for one meal then immediately feeling the effects. I’m not saying I’ll never eat it, and admittedly ate a piece of late night pizza two weekends back when we were in Austin and I felt fine afterward. I think all my other efforts and finding balance has made it easier for my body to handle unexpected things like that. I do really love non-fat Greek yogurt and think that there are a lot of health benefits, like natural probiotics in yogurt, so I might consider adding that back to my diet in the future—we’ll see!
Who else is terrible about drinking water? I used to be the worst, but on our Christmas trip to Denver I started drinking so much more because the altitude makes you so thirsty and I just never stopped. I’ve been drinking about 80-96 oz. of water a day—maybe more if I do BBG or go to hot yoga. My body has adjusted to my uptick in water drinking, and I think it’s been a huge help in clearing my skin too! I recently read that a good rule of the thumb is to divide your body weight in half and drink that many ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150lbs you should be drinking 75oz. of water per day.
Only Whole Grains
One thing I haven’t cut out that a lot of people have asked about is gluten. It doesn’t bother my stomach and guess what, I like it! Also, did you know our bodies rely on carbs to give us energy?! So many diets are low-carb or no-carb and really, that’s not necessarily a good idea. Instead of cooking white pasta, white rice or any processed products, we stick to whole grains. I’ve been enjoying trying new ones that I’d never cooked with before. Here are a few of our favorites: bulgar wheat, buckwheat, wild rice, quinoa (also love the Super Grains mix from Whole Foods) and farro. I still want to try amaranth and millet—do you have any other ones I should try? Many of those are actually gluten-free grains too, so if that is a concern for you, there’s still lots of good options!
Ahhh, stress. Something we’ve all experienced in varying levels in our lives. Let’s be real, it’s pretty much impossible to live completely stress-free in this day and age. Last year, I removed some things from my life that were major stressors—including the closing of my design business. Since then, my life has been far more enjoyable and peaceful, but I still get stressed with my current job, household responsibilities and social obligations. Heck, even my own mind can stress me out by worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet! But, I’m slowly getting better and better about realizing when things or situations cause me stress or anxiety. I’m also getting better about simply saying no to things I don’t want to do and no longer feel guilty. I’ve never been a people-pleaser, so maybe that one came a little easier for me, but just remember, that you are the only one who can take control over your health, so do what’s best for you! A few things that help me feel less stressed are this oil diffuser (first item & on sale!) that fills the room with the most amazing energetic or peaceful scents and picking up my meditation practice. Oh, taking Oliver for lakeside walks always does the trick too!
Buy Organic When Possible
Honestly, I don’t buy organic everything, but I’m slowly moving that direction. Any vegetables or fruits with thin skins or skins you eat, I buy the organic version—things like berries, apples, zucchini, any lettuces or greens! When it comes to meat, poultry, seafood and eggs I look for hormone-free and wild-caught. Sadly, so much of our food these days is full of chemicals, pesticides and other unwanted toxins, so make sure to always read the labels!
There you have it! Those have been the biggest changes I’ve made in my diet and lifestyle since January. The list might seem a little overwhelming, but if you’re just starting, it might be easiest to pick just a couple of those things to start with. Once you’ve got them down, start adding more as you feel necessary. If you’re unsure where to start, my recommendation would be paying attention to what you eat and implementing that 3-hour trick! Once you start feeling better, it’ll be easier to add more of them!
What diet and lifestyle changes have you made that helped you feel better? I want to hear!
If you have any questions on the above, feel free to ask below and I’ll get back to you asap!