Maintaining Healthy Changes After the New Year

The holidays have come and gone, new resolutions have been made, and we are in the “dead of winter”. These are the days where we face some of the year’s coldest temperatures, very little sunlight, and when new year resolutions tend to falter.

Eat clean food, drink more water, less alcohol, go to the gym etc. these are some of the most common resolutions people make. Changing new habits can be challenging (especially when the novelty has worn off) but staying focused on your health doesn’t have to be complex and time-consuming, it just has to be mindful and intentional.

Listed below are simple and straightforward ways to maintain our focus on health as we approach the darkest and coldest time of the year.

1. Clean Eating

Focus on wholesome nutritious foods. NO CRASH DIETS!! These don’t work and can create more havoc and stress on the body. The body craves equilibrium so it will be thankful for healthy balanced foods.

Think fiber-rich vegetables and fruits – greens (e.g. kale, Swiss chard, rapini) cucumber, bell peppers, broccoli, squashes, beets, cauliflower, sweet potato, berries, apples, pears, citrus fruits, plums etc. Think about your plate being a rainbow of colour.

Choose clean proteins like wild caught fish and meats that are organic, pastured/grass-fed, and raised without added hormones or antibiotics. There are also plenty of vegetarian options such as legumes (lentils, beans), organic tofu and tempeh (fermented tofu). Protein is excellent for blood sugar stability and maintaining lean muscle mass, it also helps with satiety so you’re not craving sugar.

Incorporate anti-inflammatory good fats like cold-water fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and cold pressed oils. These are all examples of high quality fats that help to reduce inflammation and ward off diseases like arthritis, atherosclerosis, and dementia.

Increase your consumption of fermented foods, which help rebalance the gut microflora. Pick foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, and organic unsweetened yogurts. Rebalancing the gut helps improve digestion, increase energy, and boost mood. Taking a quality probiotic daily will also aid in strengthening gut flora. Speak to a qualified practitioner at The Big Carrot dispensary for advice.

2. Move Your Body

Layer up your clothing and get walking outside, hit the gym, book a session with a personal trainer, or attend a yoga class solo or with a friend – whatever your preference, just get up and move! Challenge yourself physically and work up a bit of a sweat. By committing to some activity at least 3-4 days a week you will feel better in no time.

Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, improves digestion, increases endorphins (which elevates your mood) and stabilizes blood sugar. All of which improves an overall sense of wellbeing.

3. Hydrate

Did you know that up to 60% of the human adult body is water? Water is the main component of cells, tissues, and organs and has many functions in the body. It transports nutrients and oxygen throughout the body and removes impurities and toxins out of the body. Many of us don’t drink enough water, especially throughout the colder winter months.

Alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and salty foods have the potential to upset our fluid balance and make us more prone to dehydration. To help recover and get back on track, optimal hydration should be a top priority. The average adult needs somewhere between 2.5-3L of water a day, more or less depending on activity level, caffeine/alcohol consumption, illness, and types of food ingested.

Flushing the body with water helps to remove metabolic toxins as well as excess salt, which cause bloating. As a result, the skin, kidneys, liver, and large intestines will all reap the benefits.

Get yourself a reusable environmentally friendly, water bottle and be intentional about finishing the whole thing throughout the day. Alternatively, always have a glass or bottle of water close by – at the desk, car, gym, table etc. – you’ll be more likely to drink it.

Eating whole, nutrient dense foods, challenging yourself physically, and staying hydrated are the cornerstones of optimal health and well-being. Whether or not you made health-related New Year resolutions, our bodies can all benefit from refocusing our attention on eating good quality food and setting intentions about improving our physical state.

Remember, the body always strives for balance and it speaks to us when we need to make a change in order to regain this balance. It’s up to us to listen!

Wishing you a healthy and vibrant winter.

Laura Benson, Holistic Nutritionist & Wellness Supervisor – The Big Carrot Danforth Community Market.

Photo by Kimberly Nanney on Unsplash