10 Tips for a Healthier 2017

31st December 2016

There’s nothing like a fresh new year to inspire healthier habits, amiright? If you’re hoping to achieve better physical, mental, and spiritual health in 2017, I’ve rounded up some great tips for you. None of these are difficult and are entirely achievable for even a brand-new health lover. Happy new year and good luck!

1. Cut back on grains (that includes corn and corn products, my friends). Health experts provide varying opinions on the role of grains in our diet, but the bottom line is that grains do not provide as many nutrients as fresh veggies, fruit, or quality protein sources. With the growing number of people who, often unknowingly, possess intolerances to gluten, wheat, or grains in general, ditching the (even 100% whole) grains for more nutrient-dense options is always a good idea. Grains contain many “anti-nutrients” including phytic acid, lectins, and gluten, that can actually prevent your body from absorbing the minerals and vitamins it needs, and all of which can cause digestive issues. While a healthy person with no chronic issues (which is sadly becoming rare these days) can probably tolerate occasional grain consumption, there is always a better option to ensure you’re meeting your daily requirement of micronutrients. For cooking inspiration, check out Pinterest, a cookbook like Against All Grain, or any Paleo cookbook or website.

2. Nix the sugar – both processed and artificial. Which is the lesser evil? (this question seems familiar for some reason…) Do you choose white sugar, which we know contributes to weight gain and a myriad of other health issues, or do we go with artificial sweeteners like Splenda that are touted by some health “experts” as a good weight-loss option, even though research is beginning to show it can cause the exact opposite, as well as many other scary symptoms. So which do you choose? Neither! Non-nutritive sweeteners are just that, and you can use equally delicious flavoring like pure maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar that not only pose zero health risks (unless you go hog-wild), but also nourish your body. As someone who is a MAJOR sweets-lover and has also given up all refined, processed, and artificial sweetener, I can confidently say I don’t miss them.

3. Monitor your dairy and soy intake. Dairy is another controversial food staple, but especially if you have chronic issues, it needs to go asap. While grass-fed dairy can be beneficial to a person without a dairy intolerance, upwards of 65% of the world possesses one, and if you have symptoms like bloating, gas, autoimmune disease, migraines, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, acne, eczema, brain fog, attention difficulties, etc, that percentage probably includes you. Conventional dairy, on the other hand, has virtually no redeeming qualities and includes digestive enzyme inhibitors that can produce anything from gastrointestinal issues to mental health issues. Soy (and peanuts) sit in a similar place and include both digestive enzyme inhibitors and that pesky phytic acid referenced above. The bottom line? There are better and more nutritive options. Even if you decide not to go cold turkey and drop all of these from your diet, be aware of how much you are consuming (primarily by reading labels and keeping a food diary); you will probably be surprised! Click here for my own personal guide to going dairy-free and here for a list of soy-containing foods. 

4. Check your Vitamin D intake. The majority of the western world is deficient in a handful of vitamins, with Vitamin D3 being one of the most common. I’m not saying you should run and buy a multivitamin, but you might consider having your doctor run a panel to check things like your Vitamin D, Iron, or Zinc levels. If you do opt to take a supplement, it’s very important to take D3 and make sure it is gluten, dairy, and soy free. If you want to get really serious about your nutrient intake, snag a copy of The Healing Kitchen it provides an amazing guide to getting in your micronutrients!

5. Start a probiotic. Everyone can benefit from a probiotic, especially if you’re on that chronic disease spectrum I’ve so lovingly referenced a million times. My favorite brand is LactoPrime Plus. Now, why take a probiotic? It helps balance the “good” bacteria in your gut, helps heal “leaky gut” (or intestinal permeability – the root cause of most to all chronic and autoimmune diseases), strengthens your immune system, and can help reverse the negative effects of environmental toxins and antibiotics, both of which contribute to chronic conditions.

6. Find exercise you enjoy. As someone who used to run, zumba, kickbox, and weight train religiously, I hardly ever do an “organized” workout anymore and still feel amazing. Do I enjoy these things? Yes! But as a mother of two young kids, it stresses me out to fit them in my schedule. Instead, I try to incorporate several weekly walks, dance parties, outside time, etc with my kids so that I’m moving. If you have time for things like running, CrossFit, etc and enjoy those things, DO them! Just be mindful of over-exercise or any unnecessary stress caused by a strict workout regime – if those aren’t factors for you, great, but if they are, try something new! I think we try to force ourselves into ridiculous activities for the sake of “health”, but I believe it’s much more important and substantial to enjoy what you’re doing. It’ll give you more motivation to persevere!

7. Ease up on the chicken. I know, Chick-fil-a is your favorite and all you’ve ever heard from the health world is that boneless, skinless chicken breast is the best meat to consume for optimal health. Sorry friends, think again! Conventional chicken has an insanely high ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. While Omegas are good for you, there has to be the right balance, and most Americans eat way too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3, which can cause a vast array of health problems. Here’s a great article on this issue. Surprisingly enough, red meat is the best option if you’re not able to buy anything organic. Check out this article for a ranking of meat quality – I was highly shocked when I first read it!

8. Increase (and possibly change) your veggie intake. You guys had to see this one coming, right? It’s nothing new, but I do want to draw attention to the “vegetables” most people are consuming. The most common in the SAD (Standard American Diet) would include corn, green beans, and white potatoes. Here are the issues: first off, corn is again, NOT a veggie, neither are green beans (legumes! – not some that are outlawed on a Paleo diet, however), and white potatoes offer little nutritive value. Instead, opt for copious amounts of green leafy veggies and a variety of color. Consider investing in some fun cookbooks to inspire new recipes!

9. Implement de-stressing activities into your routine. Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to autoimmune disease, and it’s no secret that Americans are plagued with it. Try to incorporate something small into every day; I like to have a set bedtime routine – I read, put my phone away, and maybe journal or color. Midday yoga, walking, a quiet time or Bible study, or an activity or hobby you enjoy are all great options – find what works for you! For me, de-stressing often looks like decluttering. One of my personal goals for 2017 is to continue shifting toward a more minimal lifestyle. It’s SO freeing! Capsule style wardrobes, less clutter in the home, fewer but more meaningful purchases – these are all wonderful choices to minimize stress (and possessions)!

10. Find a good community. I truly believe I saved the best for last. My family has been through a lot this past year, but I would not have had the same attitude, endurance, hope, or joy if it weren’t for the Godly community I’m surrounded by. I’m so thankful that most churches have moved toward a small group model – it makes it easier to participate in one! It takes diligence, time, and patience to form friendships and accountability-based relationships, but they are like glue for our tired, broken souls. I encourage you to work toward finding people you can relate to spiritually, people who push, challenge, and convict you to live like Jesus.

I hope you all have a happy new year and a wonderful 2017. Thanks for reading!

 


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4 thoughts on “10 Tips for a Healthier 2017

  1. Erica Nicole

    I was a vegetarian for 10 years. When I decided to eat meat again, I only went for chicken and fish as I thought they were the best options. I’m blown away by the fact about chicken!!

    Reply
  2. Meghan Krueger

    I randomly found & followed you on instagram awhile ago and I relate with so much of what you talk about health-wise! I’m looking forward to eating right for my body in 2017 and am going to be looking into the resources you’ve suggested in your blog. 💗 Thankful I ran across your insta!

    Reply

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