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Five ways to feel fabulous fast

By Nonie DeLong, ROHP, CNP

Dear readers,

This week’s question comes from Brianna in Innisfil. Brianna wrote in feeling sluggish. She knows she needs to change her diet, but doesn’t have the energy to make big changes. She wants to know if there are little things she can do to improve her diet and health without overhauling everything. Happily, the answer is yes, there are many things we can do to improve our health very quickly. Often swapping or adding a few products or changing a few habits can change our health in a short time. Today we’re going to talk about five of these that I find to have lasting benefit.   

  1. Replace sugar

If you do nothing more than go through your cupboards for the items that contain sugar and ditch them or replace them, you will start feeling noticeably better within one to two weeks. This includes improved energy, improved sleep, improved fat burning, improved mood, and improved focus. It also includes a reduction in your appetite and cravings. But it’s so very addictive! How do we do this successfully?

I find the best way is to have healthier alternatives. The natural sweeteners that are most healthy for alternatives are stevia, xylitol, monkfruit, and erythritol. Why do I recommend these over natural honey and maple or rice syrup? Because they are low glycemic and will help us stop getting a sugar high (and crash!) from the food. They do not impact blood sugar the way Splenda and aspartame and others do. Some nutritionists and doctors are reluctant to embrace them because they are new or because they eschew all sweet tasting foods as being dangerous. But I don’t want to live my life without ever enjoying anything sweet again. Do you?

In the past these sweeteners weren’t very common. I remember when I started growing stevia about 12 years ago. I couldn’t find it in anything, as it wasn’t even approved yet for use in foods here! But now you can find candies, chocolates, and soda (Zevia) sweetened with these at local bulk and health stores and even at some Superstores and Shoppers Drug Marts.

We can also replace the sweets we are used to with homemade sweets (where we have the time) using these sweeteners. Do you like chocolate almonds? These are my favourite! But I dislike the sugar content, so I lightly roast my almonds at home then drizzle in my own homemade chocolate made with the bars above that have been melted. I use a parchment sheet and voila! Easy, healthy snacks!

This goes for our coffee/ tea, as well. The sugar and artificial sweeteners we put in our cups actually set us up for weight gain, fatigue, cravings, poor sleep, and mood swings! Just swapping this for a healthy sugar substitute with consistency really does make a difference!

Now, if at first you find you don’t like the taste of the sweeteners, don’t distress! There is a secret here that anyone who has ever made dietary changes for the long haul has realized. Our taste buds actually change over time with exposure. So, the first week we make a change it can be unappealing. However, over time, it grows on us. Now I dislike coffee or tea with any sweetener other than my stevia! This is why kids born in countries or raised in homes that strongly favour savoury foods will spit out candy or soda we have here because it’s “too sweet.” We train our taste buds according to what we expose ourselves to!

  • Add a fresh green juice

Green foods are notoriously healthy for us! They are packed with nutrients we just don’t get enough of, in most cases, and are highly detoxifying to the liver. By adding a green juice to our routine we can supplement those important nutrients in an easily digested form. However, many green juices I tried were gross or took so many veggies to make that it was a deterrent. So, I made one I like that includes some fresh foods and some superfood powders to add to the benefit. It’s really easy and takes very little time to make!

I make this one in my Ninja blender, not my juicer. I don’t strain it, but drink the pulp with it. It includes:

  • 1 cup of water (more if you like after tasting)
  • 1 scoop collagen powder
  • ½ scoop greens powder, like All Greens or Greens + powder
  • ½ a cucumber, sliced up
  • a tiny bit of fresh bitter melon for blood sugar (I mean a tiny bit)
  • a large green apple, cored
  • a small bit of raw dandelion leaf (it grows wild here)
  • a handful of chopped fresh curly parsley
  • ½ a lemon (I just cut the rind off and throw half the lemon in)
  • ice if you like

If you find it too sweet, cut the greens powder or add water or ice. This is a really simple juice that has a nice flavour and keeps prep time down. It also has protein from the added collagen powder. If you do this consistently for two weeks you will notice a terrific improvement in your overall health and vitality!

  • Add a daily walk

This one takes no money at all and is accessible to every able-bodied person.  A walk might seem like it’s not really exercise, but there’s ample data to back up the health benefits. From the Harvard Medical School publication:

“The simple activity of walking has so many powerful health benefits. Done correctly, it can be the key to losing weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and boosting your memory, as well as reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more.” source

A walk will also help you get your vitamin D, get your blood flowing to tone your vascular system, and help you stay limber and active. If you schedule it to make it a regular thing and commit to a brisk walk of 20 to 60 minutes every single day, you will see a BIG difference in your energy, mood, focus, and sleep within a month.

  • Create a regular bedtime

Too little sleep impacts us more than we realize. Losing an hour with daylight savings has been shown in studies to be linked to increased traffic accidents and higher rates of stroke and heart attacks. It also increases our desire to snack, our desire for sweets and stimulating foods, while reducing our self-control. Put simply, it’s just plain bad for our health. The best way to avoid this is to create a regular sleep schedule – and stick to it! Waking refreshed will be a fast game-changer in your daily routine and you may be surprised by the impact it has on your waistline.

Turning blue lights off, dimming all lights, and capping screen time in the evening will help with a better bedtime transition. The makers of “better sleep” have created a list of things you can do to help create a better sleep routine. Apps like this can help us track our progress and focus on staying consistent long enough to get results, with expert tips along the way.

  • Meal plan

Eating healthy on the fly with no plan is a truly difficult challenge. And, believe it or not, making a meal plan for your weekdays does not have to be a huge endeavour. And it doesn’t have to involve “dieting.” If you find it overwhelming, read on. A simple way to keep it manageable is to plan for one meal at a time. So, each month you tackle one meal. Say this month it’s breakfast. Figure out what a healthy breakfast looks like for you – with four to six options. All month, no matter what you eat the rest of the day, you focus on having the perfect, most nutritious breakfast you can, using those options. Next month you do that same breakfast menu and add an amazing lunch. Then the next month you tackle weekday suppers. The month after that you can add healthy snacks to replace ones that bring your health down. You’re going to be eating during those months anyway, and breaking the project of eating healthier down into little snippets like this really makes it doable without dieting or being extreme. The goal is just to get nutrients into the body via healthy choices. And it leaves room for weekend cheat days. If you’re interested in a program that does just this, over a period of six months, send me an email to get on the list.

Photo credit: ©Ikostudio via Canva.com

If you have your own health issue or question, just send me an email at nonienutritionista@gmail.com. And if you’re looking for more specific health information check out my website at hopenotdope.ca. If you want to learn more you can find other articles like this one at askthenutritionist.substack.com.

Namaste!

Nonie Nutritionista

Nonie DeLong is a registered orthomolecular health practitioner, licensed nutritionist in both Canada and the U.S., and student of the Ontario College of Homeopathy.  

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