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5 Positive Lifestyle Changes for the New Year (Part 2)

3 January 2013

Are you in a rut? Are you feeling like you’re losing your “touch”? Is complacency becoming the norm? Maybe what you need are some basic lifestyle changes. In the coming days we will review five suggestions for the New Year to help improve your health and overall wellbeing – helpful advice that may also initiate a sense of self-renewal and give you more energy, which in turn will give you a whole new outlook on life. To review part 1, click on:  Go on a cleanse or detox diet.

Here’s part 2…

2. Improve your dietary choices

Everyone who knows Rae Indigo knows quite well she practices and promotes a plant-based (vegan) diet, and ultimately recommends that for all her students. Rae leads retreats worldwide, including diet & nutrition programs that provide students with the knowledge, experience and skills to use proper food choices to transform their lives from the inside out, deliciously, enjoyably and with purpose.

Knowing that it is very hard to instantly (and completely) switch over to a plant-based diet, this article will share some simple ways that anyone can use to improve their diet. Anyone who practices these habits and incorporates them into their daily lives will vouch for their benefits. Here are 7 ways to get you started and headed in the right direction…

1. Eat a colorful diet. And this doesn’t mean different colors of candy. Make it a habit to include at least five different colored foods (preferably fruits and veggies) a day into your diet. Some suggestions…Instead of the standard American breakfast of eggs, home fries and bacon, make a smoothie in your blender with a banana, some blueberries, strawberries, OJ and almond milk. For lunch, toss some salad greens with grated carrot, tomato and bell pepper strips. For a mid day snack, have an orange or an apple. For dinner, baked butternut squash filled with blanched peas and carrots and some brown rice on the side.

2. Exchange or eliminate refined sugars and sweets. Candy and most sweets are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other additives that are bad for your health. So when your sweet tooth is calling, satisfy that craving with items that are naturally sweet. Stock your kitchen with dried fruits, homemade trail mix or cacao bits. Make sure you have plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit in your fridge (like peaches, apricots, grapes, berries or cherries). Melon kabobs are a quick and easy sweet snack for the whole family. Without sacrificing your health, you can still indulge your sweet cravings by snacking sensibly.

3. Prepare more meals at home. Preparing raw dishes or cooking at home not only saves you money but it also keeps you in complete control of what you are putting into your body. You are certain of all the ingredients that go into the dishes that you make. If you learn to plan ahead, the task of cooking at home becomes a joy, and it doesn’t need to be time consuming either. By using recipes that give you several days’ worth of meals you won’t have to slave over the stove for hours every day.

4. Buy locally and eat seasonal foods, selecting organic fruits and veggies whenever possible and/or practical. By shopping wisely you’ll find there are a variety of different fruits, vegetables and grains that are available at different times throughout the year. Whenever seasonal produce is available, you not only save money (since items aren’t overpriced due to importing costs), but you also get more flavor. This practice keeps you from getting bored and sustains your motivation to eat well, allowing you to consume a variety of different and beneficial nutrients.

5. Start a small indoor container garden. Growing your own food is a great way to add variety and flavor to your meals during the off season when your outdoor garden is asleep. Going outside to pick a few fresh things to add to your meal is very rewarding, but for many this is not possible all year ‘round. Depending on the amount of room you have (and window space), you can grow anything from tomatoes and peppers, radishes and lettuce, chives, parsley and herbs, and even if you have limited space, sprouts are always a nice addition. Not only do the things you grow taste amazing, they’re practically free.

6. Buy things like grains, beans, lentils, and seeds in bulk. Perhaps start a coop with like minded friends. In most cases this will help you save money, reduce waste, and keep your pantry well stocked. Having these items on hand you can quickly put a healthy meal together, helping you to resist the temptation to get take out.  They key is to remember what you have and occasionally rotate your supplies so they don’t go to waste.

7. Rather than one or two large meals a day, eat smaller meals multiple times a day. By eating small amounts of food throughout the day you’ll keep your blood sugar levels normal, preventing you from allowing your blood sugar get too low, which makes you feel like you’re starving, often leading to binge eating. This also helps you control your portion sizes keeping your stomach from being stretched. Most importantly perhaps, by eating regularly throughout the day you’ll keep your metabolism fired-up. In order for metabolism to continually burn calories it needs fuel.

Improving your dietary choices really isn’t all that difficult. As you can see, these seven small changes will improve your overall fitness, motivating and prompting you to continue to look for ways to further achieve your goal of an optimal state of health and wellbeing.

Stay tuned for part 3. – Find a daily activity that insures you’re getting enough exercise.

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