Healthy Choices Made Easy
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. “How can I start to make healthy choices and how can I stop sabotaging myself?” is a question I hear every day.
I will leave the question of why we undermine ourselves to the therapists to answer. Each of us has experienced some trauma, heartbreak, loss and betrayal. Many of us are survivors of less-than-perfect childhoods. Good friends, loving partners, and the satisfaction of parenting and finding purpose can gradually mend our hearts and minds. Every day in my practice, I strive to offer practical tools to focus my clients gently on their path to wellness. You may have already discovered that white-knuckling it rarely works. When we succumb once again to our cravings our self-respect and nerves are decimated. Instead of beating yourself up for not doing things perfectly, practice these four tips to make healthy choices and to nurture the most important person in your life–you!
Tools For Making Healthy Choices and Taking Care of Number One
1) SNACKING: Reach for a hard-boiled egg or handful of nuts, not a piece of toast! Protein protects us from carbohydrate cravings, sugar cravings and reaching for junk food at 11 pm. Three to four ounces of lean, organic chicken, turkey, beef or fish has a whopping 20-30 grams of protein. And, this isn’t a huge portion – it fits into the palm of your hand. One of my favorite snacks is a rice protein shake that instantly re-charges my body and sharpens my brain. I never leave home without a few scoops tossed into a shaker bottle, so all I have to do is add water. Tubs of protein powder even made it into my kids’ backpacks on their summer vacations … their choice, not mine!
2) SLEEP. It takes at least 7 hours a night to renew and replenish. Four to five hours of sleep a night, unless bolstered by afternoon naps, will spike cortisol levels. High coritsol can lead to anxiety, depression and the desire for a quick-fix like a candy bar, instead of a salad. If you have trouble sleeping, ask the vitamin and supplement expert at your local natural foods store for suggestions. Naturopaths and homeopaths also prescribe effective safe, herbal sleep remedies. And, remember, meditation is an excellent way to replenish your mind and body, especially for the sleep-deprived.
3) HYDRATION. Make it a habit to hydrate and alkalize with lemon water. Fresh lemons squeezed into tall glasses of water, upon rising and during the day, balances pH. This energizing cocktail makes caffeinated drinks less appealing. Green tea is a wonderful substitute for coffee, and is delicious iced and sweetened with stevia. Drinking alkalized water daily is an easy healthy choice!
4) LIFELINE LIST: In the 21 Days of Happy-Gut Tips (free on my website!), I teach how to create a lifeline list. This is where we write down specific, sanity-saving things to do, such as jumping into a yoga class, fasting on veggie juice, or dancing to music in the living room. Do you forget the things that nourish your soul when you’re depressed, scared, angry or confused? We all do! That is why we make a Lifeline List.
Dancing With Health-Destroying Demons
As human beings, we tango with demons of destruction from time to time. In order to practice making healthy choices, we need to be well-armed to win the war — or at least sign a truce. Strange as it seems, the longer we tolerate discomfort, the more the body accepts it. Over time, we find ourselves blindly living with pain, as the old saying describes, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”
Instead of being stuck in the discomfort of illness or disease, make a decision to embrace the belief that symptoms can be eliminated or diminished, no matter what you have been told. As Dr. David Cumes says in his interview in my book, It Takes Guts To Be Happy!, “Not everyone can be cured, but everyone can heal.” First, we change the mind-set. Each of us responds to different cues that shift our attention away from pain and towards pleasure. What shifts yours? For one person, positive distraction can come from the comfort of friends; and another, the best way to shift from pain to pleasure is a good book and the quiet time to read it.
Next week I will share four more tips to support healthy choices. As you integrate these into your life, be kind. Treat yourself as you would treat a beloved friend whom you trusted to do their best. The critical voices of our past that growl we can never do it “good enough” need to stop! A new dawn and a new day have arrived. Breathe it in.