Good Habits

| Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Take time to enjoy your life!

How do you keep yourself healthy and keep disease at bay?  This is a question I get asked a lot.  It is something I don’t obsess about.  After almost 10 years of figuring out a routine that works, it has now become like breathing in and out–you just do it automatically.  Keeping cancer at bay has been a mission.   Here are some of the habits I’ve formed along the way that may interest you.

1.  Upon waking in the morning,  I drink a fresh glass of water with 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar with the mother.  It gets my digestion going, has many health benefits and rehydrates me after a long period of sleep. After breakfast I quickly figure out what we will have for lunch as well as dinner, so I won’t have to think about it again. This means checking out what’s in the fridge, pack house or freezer well before meal time. By devoting a few minutes to more nutritious eating, you invest in your own health and that of your family. And when I say a  few minutes, I mean it: Studies from UCLA suggest that a wholesome, home-cooked dinner takes only about ten minutes longer to prepare, on average, than serving processed or ready-made food. If you make enough for leftovers, you’ll save more time and money in the long run. And don’t forget: obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease all lead to doctor and hospital visits—which make not only for tremendous expense in dollars, but also in precious time.  Besides, it’s not much fun either.


2.  Each day, I try to make fresh organic fruit a part of our breakfast by having either a cup serving or by making a smoothie (recipe on right of this page under “Breakfast”). While I avoid boxed cereals, I do occasionally enjoy steel cut oatmeal that has been soaked overnight then cooked for 5 minutes the next morning.  I include walnuts, blueberries and a very ripe banana to sweeten it.  You want to go after that fiber and this combination has it.  Sometimes I will have 1/2 cup of organic cottage cheese mixed with 1 tablespoon of ground fresh flax seed and a small handful of raw walnuts or sunflower seeds. Most days we usually have an omelet from the eggs our wonderful chickens lay each day served with a slice of gluten free toast. These eggs are loaded with omega 3’s and are a perfect protein.  Don’t fall for the false idea that eggs aren’t healthy.  Just make sure to buy locally from a farmer you trust.   Sometimes I will warm up what we had for dinner the night before if it strikes our fancy.  After breakfast is the time to take morning supplements.   Around 10 am, or whenever hunger hits, I have a healthy snack like nuts or fruit.  Important.  Try to eat small meals all through the day so you won’t feel starved.


3.  Every day, rain, snow, heat or humidity, try to walk, stretch, swim or do yoga.  To avoid stiffness and painful joints start by moving in a gentle way. Don’t sit all day in front of a computer without getting up every 20 minutes and stretching.  Several days a week, lift 5 pound hand weights for resistance training.  To stave off osteoarthritis,  try gentle yoga.  Sign up for a class and don’t think you have to bend like a pretzel.  You will be astonished how much better your joints and muscles feel just after one class and how much better you can move.  (Of course, before beginning any new exercise program, consult your physician.)


4.  Lunch and dinner usually revolves around good protein and vegetables, soup, salad or last night’s leftovers—served on a 7″ plate to remind us to eat less.  Quinoa, brown rice, avocado, lentils, chick peas, greens or salad, grilled or broiled wild salmon are just a few of some wonderful choices- remembering that each animal protein portion should be the size of a deck of cards.  Salads are sprinkled with chia seeds, nuts, veggies and homemade salad dressing. We don’t use store bought dressing, as homemade is far healthier and too easy to make.  Just blend in 1 part fresh lemon juice or good vinegar like balsamic with 3 parts extra virgin olive oil.  I  add crushed garlic and a touch of Dijon mustard as well.  You’ll find not only that it tastes better and is healthier, but the costs are vastly reduced.


5.  Around 3 pm, I start looking for a snack to take the edge off until dinner.   In planning ahead that morning I decide what the snack is and try to stick to it.  Usually it is a handful of almonds or walnuts, 1 small piece of dark chocolate, 1/2 cup of berries or a small slice of Swiss cheese.  Just pick a food that is nutritious.  However, try to eat the dark chocolate before 2 pm to avoid caffeine highs later in the day.


6.  Just before dinner my husband Larry usually pours us both a small glass of organic red wine.  While this is a personal choice, it is a treat and can be very beneficial for good health.  Just stick to one 5 oz glass. If you don’t drink wine then pour unsweetened tart cherry juice in a wine glass so you feel it’s special.  Great for arthritis by the way!


7.  Our meal time is usually reserved and expected.  We cook dinner together.  Preparing a meal is when I feel most creative and happy.  It is an established routine that keeps both of us focused on creating a beautiful and colorful meal.    Eating together as a family makes it less likely that you’ll choose to eat fast food or products that have little nutrition and more likely that you won’t overeat.  Family life is so satisfying when you prepare food and eat together at the table.  There are numerous studies to prove it.


8. At dinner, we make sure our plate consists of at least 50-75 percent vegetables.  It could be salad, broccoli, sweet potato, asparagus, cauliflower, kale, swiss chard, tatsoi, beets or whatever colorful veggies you choose. Just have variety.   This ensures that we get enough nutrients and automatically reduces the amount of fat and calories we consume.


9.  We try to drink water with every meal.  If we slow down and savor each bite , express our gratitude for this marvelous food and talk about how delicious and beautiful it is we tend to experience “mindful eating”.   Studies indicate that simply by eating at a leisurely pace, you could drop several pounds a year.


10. Retrain your palate.  I found this to be far easier than I thought it would be but then I was extremely motivated after having had cancer.  Our taste buds can be taught to appreciate new and subtler flavors. When you eliminate processed, high-fat  and over sweetened food for healthier fare, it can take one to two weeks before your taste buds acclimate. Don’t expect to love new flavors right away. Just keep serving the new dishes, and soon neither you nor your palate will recall what all the fuss was about.


The Last Word….You really are what you eat.
Most of us want radiant skin, shiny hair, more intimacy, more flexibility as well as great health as we age. Consider that all of this and more depends on the flow of blood for nutrients and oxygen—which, in turn, requires healthy blood vessels and a steady supply of red blood cells.  The best way to keep your body humming is to eat a well-rounded, nutritious diet and MOVE.  You can do this… It is how I strive for good health.—–Lee Newlin