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Andrea Donsky & Randy Boyer
While motivation is high, this is the perfect time to establish a few new healthy habits. Begin with your current lifestyle and either change a negative pattern, add a positive one, or both. For example, replace one or two of the unhealthier ingredients with more nutrient-dense ingredients in your favorite recipe, or even just add something more wholesome, like pureed fruit, ground flax seed or chia, or gogi berries.
Drastic changes in lifestyle or diet don't usually stick, but these new practices are worth a try:
Healthy Habit 1: Go gluten-free
The preponderance of gluten-free items in the supermarket is on the rise, as are the number of diagnosed cases of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Gluten is part of the tough, elastic protein found in many grains. The most problematic form, gliadin, naturally occurs in wheat, rye, and barley -- the grains most prevalent in our diet. Consequently, breads, cakes, cereals, pastries, cookies, crackers, snack foods, pastas, pizza and many, many more foods are dangerous for someone with gluten sensitivity.
Although symptoms range from chronic diarrhea to chronic constipation and may include depression, unexplained fatigue, and even osteoporosis, many people are asymptomatic or don't associate their symptoms with gluten. Reduce gluten intake or, better yet, follow a strict gluten-free diet, either short- or long-term. Gluten-free ingredients include amaranth, arrowroot flour, bean flours, buckwheat, kasha, corn (non GMO), millet, potato, quinoa, rice, soya flour, tapioca flour, and teff.
[ Check out: What You Should Know About Gluten-Free ]
Healthy Habit 2: Eat More Raw Foods
Enzymes in food begin to be degrade at 102 degrees F and are completely destroyed by 126 degrees F. Raw foods have higher nutrient levels than cooked foods and are rich in enzymes. Enzymes assist with the digestion of food and are considered the "spark plugs of our cells" or the "life-force" of food. Those who follow a raw-foods diet immediately recognize the improvement in their energy, digestion, and even their attitude.
Begin by replacing cooked vegetables with raw and fermented vegetables, and by eating more fruit and raw nuts.
Healthy Habit 3: Take Fish Oil (Omega-3)
The health-promoting effects of EPA and DHA include reducing inflammation, optimizing brain function (better concentration and memory, and reduced depression), improved vision, and overall disease protection. For a developing fetus, fish oil is critical to healthy development of the brain, eyes, and nervous system, among others.
Most health experts agree that aiming for a minimum of 1,000 mg daily of a blend of EPA and DHA omega-3s (from fish oil capsules) is safe and effective dose. Fish oil, in capsule or liquid form, is purified to be free of mercury and organic toxins and is safer than eating the fish it was derived from.
Healthy Habit 4: Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency affects more than half of the population. The nutrient is almost completely absent from our food supply and most of us don't spend enough time in the sun to make the needed amount. Low Vitamin D has recently been linked to various cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic muscle pain, bone loss, and autoimmune diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis.
Aim for a minimum of 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Aging and darker skin require even more vitamin D.
Healthy Habit 4: Choose to be Happy
Perhaps the most difficult new habit to develop; this one may take a great deal of practice. Though it may not always seem true, particularly when circumstances feel unbearable, happiness is a choice. Being happy is not something that happens to us (consider your friends who have every reason to be joyful and yet continually find cause to complain).
Our thoughts produce a 'snowball' effect, attracting to us more of what we're thinking about. Putting our attention on what brings us joy and love helps to bring more of the same into our existence. Focusing on the negative, on the other hand, generates more negativity. To vanquish negative thoughts, first become aware of them. Try going for an hour without complaining and work up to an entire day.
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