Smoothies-blog

Keep it Colorful - 10 Tips for Your Best Health

By Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN
Lead Dietitian

It’s easy to set New Year’s Resolutions, but the challenge lies in maintaining those changes for the long term. Rather than setting lofty goals that are difficult to stick to, let this be the year to focus on small, attainable changes you can incorporate into your lifestyle. As you read through these tips to transform your health, perhaps one or two will stand out as habits that you feel drawn to establish on a consistent basis. Throughout the year, come back to this list, adopting a new habit slowly in order to make it a consistent pillar of your healthy habits.

  1. Keep it Colorful- with Antioxidants. Antioxidants are a critical component of a healthy diet. They help fight against disease and prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. Fruits and veggies are antioxidant powerhouses, which is one of the reasons they are so important to get on the plate at every meal. Another simple way to boost your antioxidant status is by drinking matcha green tea. Matcha is a green tea made from finely ground tea leaves. Since you are consuming the whole tea leaf when you drink matcha, it is 3 to 30 times richer in antioxidants than a traditional cup of green tea. Try our favorite organic matcha, Taste of Kyoto, as part of your daily routine.

  2. Go with your gut. Gut health is all the rage these days, and for good reason. A happy, healthy gut microbiome impacts immune health, digestion, mood, and more. Boost gut health by consuming fermented/cultured foods daily. Some fermented/cultured foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, miso, and yogurt. It can also be beneficial to support microbiome diversity by taking a high-quality probiotic, like Orthobiotic

  3. Focus on fiber. Fiber is essential for digestion, and it also plays a major role in balancing blood sugar, keeping us full between meals, and feeding our beneficial gut bacteria. Opt for high fiber plant food throughout the day; think veggies like dark leafy greens, fruit like apples and berries, whole grains like barley, as well as nuts and seeds.

  4. Balance blood sugar. Having balanced blood sugar throughout the day translates to improved energy levels, feeling satisfied between meals, reduced brain fog, and better mood. One of the best ways to keep blood sugar balanced is to ensure you are having protein with your meals, especially if those meals contain carbohydrates; think the morning toast or bowl of oatmeal. Pairing carbs with a protein anchors blood sugar to prevent excessive blood sugar spikes or crashes that can happen if we have a high carb food on its own. A quick, convenient way to get protein in is by using a protein powder. Stir it into oatmeal, add it to a fruit smoothie, or make a shake. For a chocolatey treat, try Keto-Green protein powder. 

  5. Watch for Sneaky Sugar. Added sugar sneaks its way into many processed foods on the market. For overall health and longevity, consuming less sugar is key. Start playing detective and read the nutrition levels on the foods you buy and consume on a frequent basis- look for the section called “added sugars”, which will tell you how much sugar is added to that food. For reference, 4 grams of sugar is one teaspoon. Common sneaky sugar offenders include condiments, sauces, dressings, bread, low fat yogurts, granola, protein bars, and instant oatmeal packets.

  6. Mindful Monday. In a world where we are busy and rushing around, it is easy to get caught in the cycle of mindlessly eating (eating a snack while commuting in the car, having lunch at the computer, or munching on the couch while watching TV). Eating mindfully is a tool we can practice to prevent overeating, improve digestion, and help us enjoy our meals more. Try Mindful Mondays, where for one day a week, you take the time to pause for your meals and be fully present, eliminating any distractions. Slow down your pace of eating, notice the smells, tastes, and textures of the food. As you get more comfortable eating mindfully, you will start to notice and you will appreciate it far more.

  7. Cut Crash Diets. Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of drastically restricting your calorie intake in an effort to lose weight or drop body fat. Over-restricting can backfire because it keeps the body in fight or flight mode, which can make it hold onto fat rather than shedding it. Drastic calorie cutting can also make you more likely to gain weight back after returning to a “maintenance” caloric intake. A better approach for sustainable, healthy weight loss is to cut calories moderately by watching portion sizes and making healthy swaps. Work with a Registered Dietitian who can support you and ensure that your calorie intake is appropriate for your goals and lifestyle. Did you know our Cal-a-Vie dietitians provide virtual nutrition consults? Email nutritionist@cal-a-vie.com for more information or to set up an appointment.

  8. Establish a Sleep-Supporting Routine. Quality sleep is an essential pillar to well-being. Having great sleep hygiene and a wind-down routine can make a world of difference if you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or don’t wake up feeling rested. From a nutrition standpoint, there are some nutrients that can help with sleep quality. One is magnesium, which helps with relaxing muscle tension and supports rest and relaxation of the body and mind. Taking magnesium 30 minutes to one hour before bed can help you drift off to sleep. We have an option that works like a charm! Another is reishi mushrooms, a functional (non-psychedelic) mushroom that has been used for centuries and has calming benefits to the body. We love having reishi in chocolate form as a treat before bed. Shop our Defend Reishi Mushroom Chocolate.

  9. Keep it Colorful. At Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, we are all about getting more color on the plate. Colorful plant foods are super sources of antioxidants, which fight inflammation, prevent disease states, and minimize oxidative stress that can accelerate aging from a cellular standpoint. Aim to get a rainbow of colors throughout each day. Think berries at breakfast, a dark leafy green salad with bell peppers and avocado at lunch, and purple sweet potato and carrot curry for dinner.

  10. Eliminate “Always” and “Never”. In a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, all foods fit. Do not strive for the impossibility of perfection. Instead, have a mindset of flexibility. As soon as we put our dietary habits in the context of “I can never eat cookies” or “I always have to eat 3 servings of vegetables daily”, we can stress ourselves out or feel guilty when we don’t meet the mark. What is important is consistency over time; everything in balance and moderation. There is more freedom and enjoyment around food and sticking to our goals if we can approach them with flexibility.



Remember, start off with one or two attainable goals that you can stick to over time, then build up from there as you build confidence in your new habits. The little steps add up to transforming your life and well-being over time. You will look back and see how far you have come. Here’s to your health in 2022!  

 

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