cooking, family, habits, healthy eating, healthy living, lifestyle, Vegetables

Survive & Thrive ~ A Healthier, Happier, YOU!

There are many things that impact your health, some positive and some negative. It’s up to you to do all that you can to avoid the unhealthy ones. Of course, it won’t always easy. Obstacles sometimes get in the way. But, by learning more about the following five factors, which positively impact your health, you’ll be well on your way to better health. The factors covered in this report are quality nutrition, hydration, detoxification, oxygenation and alkalization. Hopefully, you’re already familiar with a few.

Quality Nutrition

Everyone needs to be concerned about quality nutrition, regardless of where they feel they stand health-wise. There are so many benefits to proper nutrition that it’s somewhat difficult to know where to begin. Here are some of them for your consideration.

Increased Productivity

Recent data indicates that eating foods that are unhealthy for you actually puts you at a higher risk of productivity loss. Some studies put that number as high as 66 percent. All the more reason to think of healthy food as fuel for your brain, don’t you think?

Fewer Wrinkles

Foods that contain a high water content help to moisturize your skin. They also contain antioxidants, which help to reduce the likelihood of cell damage and keeps your skin younger looking for a longer period of time. Go one step further and include foods like salmon, on the menu. Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids that are also beneficial to your skin.

Saves Money

By sticking to a healthy diet, you generally have fewer medical bills. In addition, you’ll probably eat less, which means you’ll save money on groceries. This is especially true if you’re one to eat a lot of sugary treats and/or fast food meals.

Less Cravings

It probably won’t happen immediately, but eating healthier is a great way to reduce cravings. Lean proteins and complex carbohydrates do an excellent job of stabilizing your blood sugar. This helps to alleviate a rapid drop in blood sugar, which causes a craving.

Healthier Smile

The calcium in milk and other dairy products helps to strengthen your teeth. Yogurt is known to contain microorganisms that are helpful in fighting the bacteria that causes bad breath. Research indicates that Omega-3, found in fish, may even reduce the chances of gum disease.
Longer Life

Although nothing is guaranteed 100 percent, quality nutrition goes a long way in helping you to live longer. Several studies indicate the possibility of low-meat, vegetarian or diets high in nut consumption very well adding years to your life.

Happier Disposition

The next time you feel a bit gloomy, why not take a minute out of your day to eat a banana or a couple of pieces of dark chocolate? The average-sized banana contains 10 mg of dopamine. Dark chocolate is packed to the brim with polyphenol. Both of these substances are known to give your mood a boost when you need it the most.

An added benefit to all of these things is the fact that learning to eat healthier automatically makes you more knowledgeable about nutrition. So, not only are you helping yourself, you’re helping your family as well. What could be better than that?

Hydration

Staying hydrated is extremely important for overall health. What many people don’t realize is that drinking plenty of fluids is also necessary for optimal heart health. This is especially true in warm weather.

Every single cell in your body needs water. So do your tissues and organs. The body requires water to lubricate joints, maintain proper temperature and remove waste products.

Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart pump blood through your blood vessels. It also helps muscles work more efficiently. In other words, when you drink the proper amount of water or other fluids your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.

Water Is Best

Water is the best thing to drink, when it comes to staying hydrated… especially when you’re exercising. If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy the taste of water alone, try eating fruits and vegetables that have a high water content. These include, but are not limited to:

  • cucumbers
  • iceberg lettuce
  • celery
  • radishes
  • tomatoes
  • green peppers
  • watermelon
  • citrus fruits
  • strawberries
  • cantaloupe

As you can see, you have plenty of healthy choices. For additional options, doing a quick search engine search will bring up many other suggestions.

Sports drinks are recommended in very hot weather. However, if you’re trying to steer clear of added sugar and extra calories, you might want to think twice. Any sugary drink, such as soda or fruit juice, tends to be harder on your stomach. And, anything with caffeine in it actually causes you to lose fluid, which obviously defeats the purpose.

How Much is Too Much?

You’ve probably heard or read somewhere that you need to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. While many people still believe this to be true, some physicians will tell you that it depends on things like climate, the type of clothes you wear and whether or not you’re exercising.

Never let the fact that you feel thirsty be an indication that you’re getting dehydrated. If you’re thirsty, you’ve ALREADY reached that point. If you perspire more than average, you need to drink more fluids. If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, you need to drink more fluids. If you’re elderly or pregnant, you need to drink more fluids.

Believe it or not sometimes when you feel hungry, you actually might be thirsty instead. If you’ve eaten within the last two hours, try this trick. Drink a glass of water and wait approximately 10 minutes. If after that time, you no longer feel hungry, you’ll know you were dealing with dehydration.

One of the best ways to monitor your hydration level is to keep track of the color of your urine. If it’s pale or clear it means you’re properly hydrated. If it’s dark, you need to drink more liquids.

Don’t ever take dehydration lightly. Not only can it lead to painful issues such as headaches and swollen feet, it can also lead to life-threatening conditions like heat stroke.

Detoxification

If you’re feeling sluggish and lacking energy, it may be time to consider body detoxification. Detoxification, or detox, is the process of cleansing the blood by removing impurities in the liver, where toxins are naturally processed. This allows the body to process and removes toxins more efficiently, which leads to improved health and a better quality of life.

Should You Detox?

 It is recommended that everyone detox at least once every year. A detox program can help alleviate symptoms that are otherwise unexplainable, such as fatigue, skin irritation, allergic reactions or even bags under the eye. Even if you don’t feel like anything is amiss, detoxing helps to cleanse the whole body and leaves you feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

Cleansing Your Diet

 There are many different detox recipes and programs to choose from, all focused on cleansing the body and eliminating toxins. One very popular and tasty way to include cleansing foods into your diet is detoxifying juices and smoothies.

Replacing one meal a day with a detox smoothie goes a long way toward getting rid of toxins and maintaining your metabolism. Stay away from pre-packaged shakes or other chemically enhanced products – the best ingredients to use are all-natural fruits and vegetables. Popular options include:

  • raspberries
  • blueberries
  • oranges
  • apples
  • spinach
  • kale
  • bananas
  • tomatoes
  • carrots

Any natural fruits or vegetables will do, especially those rich in fiber or vitamin C. With so many healthy foods and flavors to choose from, you can concoct a smoothie that suits your taste and is an excellent addition to your diet at the same time.

Fasting

 Taking a break from eating gives our digestive system a chance to rest and rejuvenate. This means it will be more efficient when it’s time for it to work again. In order to give your digestive system a break, replace your meals with juices or smoothies for a day or two of fasting. This will be easiest if you do it on a day off, so that you can rest and avoid situations that might otherwise tempt you to eat. This detoxifying method may not be much fun during the actual fast, but it will be worth it afterwards when you feel energetic and refreshed.

Stay Away from Toxins

 Toxins that we take in either through food or our environment get in the way of our body’s healing processes. Stay away from refined sugars, saturated fats, coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol. Also, try to use natural alternatives to both cleaning and personal care products, to avoid exposure to minor levels of toxins.

Oxygenation

Oxygenation is the process of oxygen molecules making their way into all tissues of the body. Oxygen is not only necessary for breathing, it also plays an important role in every metabolic process, which occurs in the body. Another term for oxidization is “medical oxygen saturation.”

How Oxygen is Used

Our bodies use oxygen for a number of different processes. When we breathe, the oxygen in the air that we inhale is diffused into our bloodstream. This oxygen-rich blood makes its way through our bodies and find places where oxygen is needed. Oxygen molecules in our body combine with certain enzymes to help out with many of our body’s processes. A waste product of these processes is carbon dioxide, which is transported back to the lungs.

Restoring Oxygen Balance

There are several easy things you can do to help restore your oxygen balance. This includes:

  • drinking an adequate amount of water
  • adhering to an alkaline diet
  • exercising daily
  • breathing properly

Without the proper amount of water, all body functions are diminished. Filtered water is the best choice, because of its smaller groups of water molecules, which provide better overall hydration on a cellular level.

Adhering to an alkaline diet is explained in more detail below. In a nutshell, it refers to eating more plant-based foods such as kale and spinach and eating less processed and animal-based foods. Along with the diet, it’s helpful to take an iron supplement. Women need at least 18 mg, daily. Men require no less than 8 mg per day.

The type of exercise you choose is completely up to you. Walking, biking and hiking are particularly good choices to help oxygenate your body. In fact, in this case, it’s actually more beneficial to walk for 15 minutes a day, as opposed to working out at the gym for two full hours.

Yes, there is a proper way to breathe. Whenever possible, avoid breathing from the chest. It’s much better to breathe slowly from your diaphragm and through your nose. Twelve breaths per minute are usually adequate.

Oxygen and Detoxification

A major factor in our health is how efficiently our bodies make use of nutrients on the cellular level. Another factor is how effectively waste and toxins are removed. Our body has several ways of getting rid of cellular waste. Much of it is dissolved into water and leaves the body through urine and sweat. But, some of this waste can only be neutralized by oxygen molecules, in a process called oxidation. Because our bodies need oxygen to process waste, avoiding environmental toxins and maintaining proper oxygen balance leaves us feeling great and could even help prevent disease.

Alkalization

Alkalizing your body is another wonderful way to stay healthy. Simply put, alkalization is shifting your body’s pH to the proper level. In the event the thought of this makes you nervous, there’s no need to worry. It’s actually much easier than it sounds. The end goal is to have a body which is more alkaline than acidic.

Optimal pH Level

When your body is highly acidic, it tries to balance itself out by getting nutrients from your cells and bones. That’s bad. The optimal pH level, to strive for, is just a little over 7. Once this number is reached, it greatly reduces the possibility of disease and cellular damage.

When your body reaches this level, it’s generally easy to maintain, as long as you know how to do so. The process involves replacing the acid you eat and drink with foods that alkalize.

Increased Health Benefits

There are many benefits to an alkaline diet. Statistics indicate that if your diet consists of at least 70 percent of alkaline foods, you’ll improve your quality of life substantially. Health benefits include an increase in energy, a more restful sleep, a slower aging process, a clearer mind and increase protection against certain kinds of cancer. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Foods to Avoid

There are several foods and beverages to avoid on an alkaline diet. The top five categories include:

  • processed sugar
  • meat
  • dairy products
  • coffee
  • soda

Cutting down or eliminating these foods not only helps to balance your pH level, it makes you healthier overall.

Foods to Enjoy

There are many types of foods that are great for increasing your alkaline level. You don’t have to partake in a boring diet in order to get healthier. Think about incorporating some of the following items into your meal plan. It’s probably simpler than you think!

  • leafy greens
  • Chia seeds
  • almonds
  • beets
  • bananas
  • garlic
  • figs
  • lemons
  • melon
  • tomatoes
  • and broccoli

Consequences of an Unbalanced pH Level

When your pH level is out of whack, it has the potential of affecting your health in many ways. Excess acid is stored in fat cells. The reason for this is that the fat neutralizes the acid. There is good news, however. Once you reach a pH level of 7, it’s entirely possible to lose as much as a pound of fat per day.

Your arteries are affected by pH levels, as well. Why? When your body is highly acidic, it automatically produces cholesterol to protect the arteries. High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks. The upside to this is, just like the excess fat cells, the extra cholesterol will disappear once your body is properly alkalized.

Believe it or not, there’s also a possibility that you’ll shrink, if your pH level remains off balance for long periods of time. This occurs when calcium begins to dissipate from your bones due to the acid.

Once your body begins to balance out and become more alkaline, you may experience something that is often referred to as “alkalize and energize.” This simply means that you’ll start to automatically feel more energized and ready to take on the world. Congratulations!

Taking Things Slow

When it comes to information about these five factors, which positively impact your health, this is just the tip of the iceberg. However, it gives you a great starting point. What you do with the information is, of course, up to you.

If you feel overwhelmed, as many individuals do, tackle one area at a time. You’re not going to feel transformed overnight. Obviously, it’s going to take some time. But, with patience and due diligence, you’ll start feeling much healthier before you know it.

 

At that point, all of your hard work will be more than worth it!

Hugs, Elle

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habits, healthy living, lifestyle

How Long Does It Really Take To Create A New Habit?

They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit.

 

That’s kind of a weird idea though, isn’t it? It doesn’t take that long to form a bad habit. And sometimes no matter how hard we try it takes us a lot longer to form a new habit.

So how long does it really take to create a new habit?

The answer is that it depends. It depends on your mindset and it depends on how big of a change it is from what you are doing now. If it is your habit to eat a bowl of ice cream at night and you switch from regular ice cream to a low sugar frozen yogurt version, it’s probably not going to take you very long to make that new habit. Giving up ice cream altogether though or cutting out all sugar on the other hand might take a lot longer.

When we ask that question, what we really want to know is how long do we have to tough it out before it gets easier. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel where we don’t have to try so hard anymore? In other words, when will this new behavior become automatic?

While it will be different from one person to the next and even from one habit to the next, there are a few things to keep in mind.

It’s easier to make a new habit than get rid of an old one. Be prepared to work a lot harder to give up checking your email every 2 minutes or snacking late at night. Whenever possible, try to replace an old habit with a new one. For example if you’re wanting to give up coffee, brew a cup of herbal tea in the morning and throughout the day when you would usually reach for your cup of Joe.

Habits will form faster if you stick to the same time and environment each day. Instead of going for a walk whenever, keep your sneakers next to the door and schedule your walk every day at 6pm, right after dinner for example.

A constant reminder of why you’re trying to change your behavior is also helpful. Remind yourself every day that you’re exercising so your body stays strong and you can go play with the kids or grandkids in the yard. Or put up a picture to remind you that you’re making frugal habits so you can one day purchase your dream home. Keep your reason why you’re changing front and center and then be prepared to stick it out. Yes it will take some time to make new habits and replace old ones.

But it will be well worth it in the end!

Hugs, Elle

 

 

 

back to school, cooking, family, healthy eating, healthy living, kids, lifestyle, Vegetables

How To Pack School Lunches That Your Kids Will Actually Eat

 

Summer has come to an end and school has started. That of course means it’s time to get back into a school year routine. Part of that routine in many households is packing school lunches. Packed lunches are a great option when your child isn’t too fond of what the school has to offer or you want a little more control over what your child is eating.

Packed lunches are a great option when your child isn’t too fond of what the school has to offer or you want a little more control over what your child is eating.

Of course if your child has dietary restrictions or food allergies, packing lunches is a must. Frankly, packing a lunch allows you to include healthy foods your child will actually eat and it doesn’t have to cost any more than what you would be paying for lunch at school.

Of course packing a lunch every day doesn’t do any good if your child doesn’t eat it or ends up trading most of it away for junk food. The key then is to find things that your child loves and enjoys eating.

The best place to start is to get your child involved. Depending on the age of your kids, you could even put them in charge of making their own lunches. Not only do you know that they’ll pack something they will eat, being in charge of packing lunch will teach them responsibility.

Start by talking to your kids about what they want in their lunch box. Make a list of options and then head to the store so you have everything you need for the first week of school. Getting the kids as involved as possible will make sure that they end up with lunches they will eat. For older kids that may mean making their own lunches (under your supervision of course).

Younger children can help. Even your kindergartner can wash grapes and put them into a container, or pick a snack for his lunch box. Get in the habit of making lunches together the night before. Over time you can give the kids more and more responsibility for their lunches. This alone will help make sure they eat what they’ve packed. After all, it’s the lunch they made. Along the way you’re teaching them independence and important life skills.

Of course you want to encourage your kids to pack and eat healthy foods. Insisting on all healthy, organic food options all the time may not be your best strategy though. Strike a balance and make compromises. If your kids pack and eat a healthy wrap or salad for example, let them have some cookies for dessert. Teach them to make good choices, but don’t freak out if they decide to pack some cookies or gummy treats. Your goal is to get them to eat fairly healthy and make smart food choices, not restrict all access to junk food, causing them to trade with friends for forbidden Twinkies.

Much love, Elle

 

 

healthy living

3 Steps to Creating New Habits

Let’s talk about forming new habits.
We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk. Or it could be work related, or spiritual, or… There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. We seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging.
Let’s break it down into a three step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new behavior and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.
Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to exercise more. Instead say something like “I will go for a 30 minute walk every single day”.  Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.
Remind Yourself To Get It Done
The next few days should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
Maybe it’s raining and you don’t really want to go out and walk. Or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.
Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.
Make that daily walk part of your after dinner routine, or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack.
Congratulations!
Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.
 
cooking, family, gluten free, healthy eating, healthy living, lifestyle, recipe

Feelin’ Fruity

Summertime…. fresh fruit!                                                                                            
A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity, optimum weight, abundant energy and balance. By using fruit to satisfy our taste for sweetness, we can leave behind the use of chemical, processed and refined sweeteners. Fruits are easy to digest, are cleansing and cooling and are great for those who are overstressed and overheated from excessive mental strain or hot climates. Fruits are filled with fiber and liver stimulants, which act as natural, gentle laxatives. Whenever possible, buy fresh, locally grown fruit as opposed to imported fruits shipped from far-off places. This keeps you eating in season, and more in harmony with your environment and climate.
Eating raw fruit in summer months is highly cooling, while baking it in the winter months neutralizes the cooling effect. Fruit in the form of juice is a great choice for cleansing the body, but be aware that juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash soon after. Frozen, whole, puréed or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats. Try frozen grapes, banana-coconut smoothie popsicles or lime juice ice-cubes in iced tea!
Whether you are having fresh fruit for a light early morning breakfast, a midday snack or evening treat, enjoy nature’s sweetness and whenever possible buy organic. Here are a few summer fruits and their health benefits:
Apricots: Great for lung conditions and asthma; used to help treat anemia due to their high copper and cobalt content.
Bananas: Help to lubricate the intestines, treat ulcers, detoxify the body and manage sugar cravings; are rich in potassium (which helps hypertension).
Cherries: Slightly warming in nature; increase overall body energy, remedy arthritis and rheumatism and are rich in iron, which improves the blood.
Grapefruits: Treat poor digestion, increase appetite during pregnancy, alleviate intestinal gas and reduce mucus conditions of the lungs.
Papayas: Tone the stomach, act as digestive aid, moisten the lungs and alleviate coughing; contain carpaine, an anti-tumor compound.
Raspberries: Benefit the liver and kidneys, cleanse blood of toxins, regulate menstrual cycles, treat anemia and can promote labor at childbirth.
Recipe of the Month: Fruit Nut Smoothie
Prep time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients:
1 banana
1 cup soy or rice milk
1 cup berries
1 cup diced melon
1/2 cup almonds
2-4 ice cubes
Directions:
  1. Mix in blender for 1-2 minutes and serve.
Note: You can add other ingredients for added nutrition such as a spoonful of bee pollen, coconut oil, flax seed oil, spirulina powder or a scoop of protein powder.
 
Share the LOVE!
It’s such a pleasure to help those closest to me become happier and healthier. Please share my blog with friends, family members or colleagues who might be interested and inspired by it.

XO, Elle

family, healthy living, lifestyle

Accessing the Power of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

•  Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

•  Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.

•  Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.

•  Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.

•  When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

•  Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.

As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

cooking, family, gluten free, healthy eating, healthy living, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Why I Love Green (And You Should, Too!)

Leafy greens are some of the easiest and most beneficial vegetables to incorporate into your daily routine. Densely packed with energy and nutrients, they grow upward to the sky, absorbing the sun’s light while producing oxygen. Members of this royal green family include kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, broccoli rabe, watercress, beet greens, bok choy, napa cabbage, green cabbage, spinach and broccoli.
How do greens benefit our bodies? They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc, and are a powerhouse for vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Their color is associated with spring, which is a time to renew and refresh vital energy. In traditional Asian medicine, the color green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity. Greens aid in purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, improving liver, gall bladder and kidney function, fighting depression, clearing congestion, improving circulation and keeping your skin clear and blemish free.
Leafy greens are the vegetables most missing from the American diet, and many of us never learned how to prepare them. Each time you go to the market, pick up a new green to try. Soon you’ll find your favorite greens and wonder how you ever lived without them.

What greens will you try this month?

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”— Virginia Woolf