I prefer to focus on the positive aspects of dietary and lifestyle choices, but recently I came upon Amy Morin’s LCSW work, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” and thought it would be fun to write its equivalent for health. So here goes:
1. Don’t predominantly purchase processed foods.
Shoot for less than 15% of your diet from manufactured foods. What does that look like? If you can purchase the majority of your food at a farmer’s market or the perimeter of a grocery store, then you’re on the right track.
2. Don’t make vegetables a side dish.
Healthy people pack in vegetables throughout the entire day and make it the star of most entrees. Vegetables are a powerful antidote to inflammation and free radical production. Get a grip on those two and you’ll live longer.
3. Don’t rely on a computer or cell phone for deeper connections.
The reality is that social media doesn’t induce oxytocin or serotonin release, which are the feel-good hormones you want circulating throughout the day. What is released? No different than porn, cocaine and heroin, dopamine pumps out with every view, like, share, and text message. If you truly want to nurture your soul, meet more friends in- person and less on-line.
4. Don’t live in their head.
Healthy people have some type of daily meditation practice that helps them navigate their reactive, rambling brain. Understanding that perception is a moving target can lower anxiety and ultimately improve gut and DNA health.
5. Don’t sit all day.
Move your body every day, but in moderation. On the flip side, excessive exercise spits out free radicals that your body has to neutralize. The Goldilocks theory is applicable here- not too much or too little…opt for the middle.
6. Don’t act like vampires.
Incredibly magical things happen when your skin is exposed to sun. You don’t need much, but ~20 minutes without sunscreen should be enough to induce the sulfation pathways that are vital to cardiac and bone health. If you live in an area where that isn’t possible, consider a light box.
7. Don’t eat low fat.
You don’t have to eat high fat either, but fat is the building material of every single cell membrane in your body. You skimp on fat, you have structurally weak cells.
8. Don’t eat refined.
Healthy people tend to focus on whole grains, starchy vegetables (with skin), and whole fruit as a carbohydrate source. If you want to lower your weight, estrogen and cholesterol levels, blood sugars, and have stellar gut health; then choose foods that keep the fiber intact.
9. Don’t put sleep on the back burner.
Healthy people take sleep seriously because you truly can’t be awesome without it. If you need some tips, refer to my recent post on sleep.
10. Don’t drink unfiltered water.
Given that ~70% of our body is water, consuming adulterated water is incredibly damaging. Every single toxin that spews out of industry goes directly into our water sources. Get a water filtered that removes hormones, antibiotics, solvents, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, and endocrine disruptors. (And please avoid drinking water out of plastic bottles, as the plastic leaches into the water).
11. Don’t eat a lot of food with refined or natural sugars
listed in the first five ingredients. Enough said.
12. Don’t use drugs and alcohol as a coping method.
Keep a healthy relationship with drugs and alcohol and bring an intention when you use either. If you’re always reaching towards a substance for amusement or placation, you may want to examine the dynamic.
13. Don’t let stress run amok.
There isn’t a single organ in your body that isn’t profoundly impacted by chronic stress. Healthy people get savvy with stress management whether it’s meditation, dancing, gardening, yoga, mindful techniques, or a hobby. Find one that works for you.
14. Don’t inhale their food.
You are more likely to eat less and experience greater satiety when you slow down. Chew and enjoy your food…not to mention it’s a smoother ride for your digestion.
15. Don’t eat massive portions.
Visual aid: Try keeping it to 2-4 “fists” of food on your plate.
Shannon is a registered dietitian and functional nutritionist with a penchant for provocative topics, almond butter, and local theater.