What is a healthy lifestyle, and what is the easiest most painless way to achieve it? These questions are so often asked in the toxic world in which we find ourselves.
Often bad health is a result of bad conditioned thinking patterns around food and exercise. Maybe you over eat for a number of reasons, be it comfort, contentment, or simply because you just love your food. Whatever your reasons, if your eating habits are making you overweight, sick or completely miserable then it’s time to get out of your unhealthy food rut for good.
Living a healthy life is a journey. You will learn as you go, and you will never stop learning.
This ultimate guide is designed to help you achieve a healthful and abundant life whilst also living to your full potential.
What is meant by a healthy lifestyle?
Some people believe they are living a healthy lifestyle simply by adding an apple to their lunch, OR taking the stairs instead of the escalator every now and then when the situation calls for it. While others go to the extremes of only eating organic raw foods, drinking lurid green drinks and getting up at 5am to squash in that hour long training or yoga session all before a full day’s work.
In this post we will talk about the many facets of healthy living. There are actually many factors involved that need to come together in harmony if you wish to enjoy great health for a lifetime. There are no guarantees, but hopefully with a few tweaks and changes you can lower your risk of disease and add years to your life.
What Is The Perfect Healthy Lifestyle?
Mediocre attempts at staying fit and healthy like those mentioned above will not yield you great results. This is especially so if your main diet consists of junk foods, refined sugars and trans fats. In these cases eating the odd piece of fruit just isn’t going to be enough to balance out all the bad stuff.
You need to proportionately balance out your bad habits with good habits, and ideally cut the bad out completely.
There is no perfect healthy lifestyle and trying to achieve that will probably leave you miserable. We like to use the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time you should try and do healthy habits such as exercise, good food and meditation/prayer. 10% is left for when you want to do unhealthier activities. When you balance like this, the body can handle the few unhealthier activities.
A healthy lifestyle is a journey!
If you smoke 40 cigarettes a day then there is nothing you can do to counteract that damage, so this rule has its limits. “Everything in moderation” is a saying that has stood the test of time for good reason. However, we do not recommend smoking at all to be clear.
The reason why a healthy lifestyle a ‘journey’ is because that is how it feels. The body and mind need time to change, adapt and grow. All of which is a process. If you were to jump straight in at the deep end chances are you would fall off the wagon very quickly.
How to Change Ingrained Belief Systems
The reason why it’s good to start with small changes is because it will give your mind a chance to not only form new habits. This will slowly change its deeply embedded belief systems AND build new neural pathways in your brain.
The changing of old belief systems is key here, and as with any other new journeys or paths in life this is no different. The mind needs time to adapt. Making small changes one step at a time is not only the best, but it’s also the most proven way to form new habits for life.
How To Have A Healthy Lifestyle
The tips and strategies in this post are changes you can start making today that will start you off on your amazing journey to supreme health. You WILL literally start to feel the healthy lifestyle benefits within days. And, every day after that you will feel better and better.
Yes, food and exercise really is that powerful!
By the time you’re a year down the road, you will feel totally transformed and bursting with energy and vitality. Plus, your skin will be clear, your eyes brighter, and most awesome of all you may be helping to protect yourself from disease.
Make a couple of changes a week and stick to them. Don’t try to do too much at once and give yourself a chance to get used to this different way of living. Keep in mind the word ‘journey’ as it will be your best friend when things get tough. It will remind you that you don’t need to do everything at once!
Healthy lifestyle on a budget
Not everybody can afford fancy superfoods and gym memberships, so we I have made allowances for that in this post. You can live a healthy lifestyle on ANY budget. You shouldn’t let a lack of funds be the reason for not giving your body good wholesome food and regular physical exercise that it needs.
What is A Healthy Lifestyle? – Your Ultimate Guide
1. CLEARING OUT THE JUNK
Start by taking a look in your kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer and take note of all the high sugar and fat foods you have lurking in there.
If you look at the labels you will be able to see at a glance how much sugar is in a food. It is under the ‘carbohydrates of which sugars’ section.
Anything over 22.5 grams per 100G is considered high, and anything under 5 grams is considered low.
Sugar can come disguised under many different names (there are over 50 different titles for what is essentially just sugar, please check out the full list here). These sugars are hidden like dangerous little assassins in almost everything you buy if you aren’t meticulous about checking.
Anything that contains refined sugars or sugars on the list should go. Or, instead of wasting food, take it to a food bank or give away to family and friends. You will not be needing these types of foods on your healthy lifestyle going forward.
To be clear, do not get rid of maple syrup, agave or brown rice syrups, xylitol, stevia or date paste. You can use these sweeteners in moderation in some of your baking.
What Are Free Sugars?
Free sugars are any sugar that has been extracted from its original source, such as in the case of granulated sugars. They can be white or brown sugar, honey, fruit juices, agave syrup, maple syrup or any other kind of syrup. Yes, some are considered healthier than others, but they are still free sugars and so need to be eaten in moderation.
The average person is consuming more than DOUBLE the safe amount of sugar than the recommended guidelines. When you start to clear out your cupboards and realise where your hidden food sugars are coming from, it is easy to see why.
It is in fact, downright dangerous, to repeatedly consume more sugar than your body can assimilate. Too much causes a fast blood sugar spike, triggering a high insulin response, in turn leading to more cravings, weight gain and risk of many other diseases.
How Sugar Can lead To Type 2 Diabetes
An insulin response is quite normal and natural after a meal. But, an unnatural amount of sugar on a consistent basis may eventually cause insulin resistance. This can then lead to type 2 diabetes, increases your chance of other diseases such as obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and even some cancers. All of which come with their own risks and complications.
Cutting down drastically on sugar really is the NUMBER ONE thing you should start doing for yourself today.
Below are the amounts of ‘free sugars’ (in grams) that is considered safe by medical professions. You should try your best to adhere to these guidelines as much as possible.
- Men – 38 grams (9 teaspoons)
- Women – 25 grams (6-8 teaspoons)
- Children under 8 years old – 12.5 grams (3-4 teaspoons)
This isn’t much and seems mean when you consider that one can of soda is 10 TEASPOONS of sugar in itself!
BUT, there is light at the end of the tunnel for all you sweet toothed ones out there, as this rule only applies to free sugars and not whole sugars.
What’s the difference between free and whole sugars?
Free sugars are so called because the original food source has had its sugar extracted from it, making it what is known as a ‘fractured’ food. The extraction process of many foods automatically turns them high GI. It is then called a refined food.
This means their sugars hit the bloodstream quickly, due to the fact that most of their fibres and nutrients have been removed. Fibres and nutrients that would have otherwise ‘slowed down’ that release of sugar into the bloodstream, thus giving a much slower energy release.
Free sugars are very high GI
The process of refining is actually done with many foods and not just cane sugar.
Free flowing oils have been extracted from their original source too, but this doesn’t necessarily make them bad for you.
Good quality, cold-pressed olive, avocado, flax, nut and coconut oils are way better for you than cheap cooking oils like canola and vegetable. You will know if it’s a good oil usually by price!
The same goes for syrups. Maple syrup and honey are both free sugars, but still have nutrients in them, therefore making them preferable to refined white sugar. However, they are still a high GI free sugar and therefore need to be treated the same as any other sugar and added to your daily sugar allowance.
How Free Sugars Affect the Body
Good old-fashioned, white table sugar is a ‘free sugar’ because it has been extracted from its fibrous cane, Further more, during the refining process has had all of its nutrients removed.
This means the body doesn’t have to work at breaking the sugar down like it would have to do if it still contained its fibre and nutrients.
ALL THIS has already been done for you in the refining process. And, as sugar gets broken down and refined even further still (as in the case of syrups and fine icing sugars) it becomes even higher GI and even MORE unhealthy. Just think high fructose corn syrup if you want a good example of such a case.
The more the body has to work to break down a food, the slower the release of energy into the bloodstream. This means a lower insulin spike. All this is good in terms of health. This is why we recommend a whole foods plant based diet for the highest health benefits and the Plant Based Doctors all agree.
FREE SUGAR FOODS
Free sugars come under the terms of white sugar and derivatives of, such as icing sugar, syrups, syrups made from other plants such as corn, brown rice, agave, honey and maple syrups. Also, sodas and fruit juices are free sugars.
Yes, you heard that right, even fruit juices are not healthy. Not only have they have had their fibre taken out, but have been juiced down for an unnatural consumption of fruit in one hit.
You could easily drink the equivalent of 10 oranges in a juice, but you would never eat 10 whole orange in the space of a couple of minutes in the same way you can when it’s juiced up . This means your body will be hit quickly with an unnatural amount of fruit sugar, thus promoting a rapid insulin response. Obviously, this is not good and is the reason that fruit juices are not considered a whole food.
Our bodies were actually designed to eat the whole fruit and trying to mess with nature always leads to trouble.
This process also applies to refined flours, white rice, white pasta and white bread. Though technically these foods are not a sweet kind of sugar as we know it, they are still high GI and act the same as a sugar inside the body, causing the same insulin spike. So thinking you’re safe because you’re ‘not a sweet toothed person’ isn’t necessarily the case.
Whole Sugars That Can Be Eaten Safely
Whole sugars are sweet foods that haven’t been fractured in any way and are still in their whole form, such as:-
- All fruits – the lowest sugar being berries (of all kinds). The highest are tropical or other high sugar fruits such as bananas, mangoes, pineapple, papayas and grapes. Eat higher sugar fruits in moderation.
- Dried fruits – in moderation, as it’s easy to eat too many.
- Slow roasting sweet vegetables – such as parsnip, butternut squash, beetroot, sweet potato and carrots really helps bring out their sweetness.
- Sweeteners – such as xylitol, stevia, date paste and brown rice syrup are all the lowest GI substitutes. Though not technically whole sugars, they are still a much healthier alternative that should be eaten in moderation.
Now you have an understanding of sugar and the sugars hidden in your cupboards, let’s move on to FAT. Often fat is demonised unfairly, but we still need fats on a healthy diet; just the right kind.
Trans fats are the bad guys here. These include almost anything deep-fried, plus pretty much ALL junk foods contain trans fats as their primary source of fat for the simple fact it’s cheap.
These cheap fat’s are made in a factory process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oils to make them more solid (a process that is technically illegal, but there are ways around it as it’s a grey area). But, the end result of this process makes them very bad for your body.
Which Foods Contain Trans Fats?
You will find these trans fats on your food labels under the term ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’. But, a trans fat is also produced in another form when oils are heated more than once in the cooking purposes.
You will find examples of this in most fast food joints where the same cooking oil is used to deep fry foods over and over again.
Food’s in your cupboards that will contain either trans or unhealthy fats will be items such as:-
- Cheap commercial chocolate
- Pre-made frosting for cakes
- Ready meals such as pizza, frozen chips, burgers and anything else deep-fried.
- Cooking oil
- Cooking lards
These are the fats that you should be using in future for either cooking. Or, to pour cold onto salads, vegetables, or in cold dressings:-
- Olive oil
- Extra virgin olive oil (for using cold only)
- Sesame oil
- Avocado oil
- Flax oil
- Hemp oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Coconut oil
Need help clearing the junk from your cupboards?
If you have lots of items you need to swap, or even completely remove from your cupboards and you think it will be an arduous task, then please read here 10 steps to eating clean. This post will explain how to go about replacing food products over a period of time.
Remember you don’t have to do it all at once; small changes are much more likely to last, and will also give you time to adapt to your new lifestyle.
The Plant Based Diet
Once you’ve sorted all the rubbish from your cupboards, you can start to think about going for more healthier options when out shopping.
As well as the above healthier versions of sugars and oils, you should also add in lots of alkaline plant based foods rather than animal products as much as possible. Make them a staple and main part of your diet. If you have to eat meat and dairy, then keep it to a minimum or in very small portions.
Plant foods should steal the show on your healthy plate as they are full of antioxidants, fibre and a whole array of nutrients to keep your immune system strong, your weight down and your skin glowing.
Foods You Should Eat Every Day On Your Healthy lifestyle
Eat the below foods as much as possible and try to swap unhealthy foods for some of these plant based alternatives.
When you first start out eating lots of nutritious plant foods. you will need to learn the art of correct food combining. This will help you to be sure you put together a nutritionally complete meal that includes proteins, fats and low GI carbohydrates together.
- Fruits – especially dark berries.
- Vegetables – especially leafy greens and orange coloured veggies. It is good to eat a ‘rainbow’ of colours to get the full spectrum of phytonutrients and antioxidants.
- Pulses – including lentils, beans, such as cannellini, borlotti, soy, kidney, butter, aduki, chick peas and green peas.
- Nuts of all kinds
- Seeds of all kinds
- Wholegrains – such as quinoa, brown rice, brown pasta, amaranth, pearl barley, millet, buckwheat.
- Green superfood powders
Adding specific superfoods to your diet will be the most important thing you can do if you want to boost your health completely into the stratosphere.
The difference this makes to how you feel can only be experienced and not explained. And, the effects will just get better and better as your body starts to detoxify itself better.
Superfoods don’t need to be obscure and bank breaking products. They can be some of the most budget friendly foods when you know what you’re looking for and what is available in most supermarkets.
What Exactly Are Superfoods?
The word superfood is the term given to a food, or group of foods, that have high amounts of antioxidants, phytochemicals and nutrients.
Antioxidants in particular act as free radical scavengers in the body and can help prevent and even reverse the aging process. Yep, you sure heard that right! Antioxidants are THAT important and will help slow down the aging process on both the inside and out.
Green Superfood Powders
You can go to whatever level you wish with your healthy eating lifestyle. But, take a shot of green juice every day such as wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina, moringa, chlorella. Or, best of all, buy a blend of all of them.
I do this every day at the same time as having a big spoonful of my homemade turmeric paste and they work fantastically well together. The fats and powerful anti inflammatory antioxidants in the turmeric work in harmony to help the absorption of the fat soluble nutrients in the superfood powder.
Which superfood should I use?
Check out these Amazon reviews on some effective green superfood powders. They are such a simple way to make sure you are getting all the greens you need into your diet. Not just for the anti aging benefits, but all the other myriad of healthful benefits that go with it.
Green superfood powders also give you a noticeable energy boost (which is great before a workout or the mid-afternoon slump), and did we mention they also make your skin glow?
Yes they really do – literally within about half an hour of drinking them!
Fortunately, you don’t actually need to pay for expensive gym memberships in order to get fit. You can either do it in your own home, or better still use nature’s very own fitness facilities.
Opportunities for fitness are everywhere and you probably come across them every day. These include the beach for running, hills for climbing, or a power walk to work instead of using transport.
A physically fit body is MAJORLY important to a healthy lifestyle. The fitter you are, the stronger your heart and immune system will be. This means less chance of sickness and disease in the first place!
Fitness And Weight Loss
Having high amounts of muscle mass on your body will also help you to burn calories even when you’re resting. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat just to maintain itself; so great for those wanting to lose weight, or just maintain their physique.
Get your exercise in at least 3 times a week. Make sure you combine resistance training such as weight lifting, HITT training, boxing and power walking with cardio such as running, cycling, skipping; or even lots of sex (seriously, it’s actually great for fitness)
Or, do whatever else floats your boat – just make sure you get moving!
Getting enough good quality sleep is another absolutely vital part of a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t get enough Zzz’s then you slowly but surely start to fall apart in both body and mind, and it can be truly painful.
This happens because your body is healing and rejuvenating itself whilst you sleep and doing all the repair work it can’t do during your waking hours when it is busy using its resources elsewhere. It’s the deep REM sleep that is the most important. We need 2-3 cycles a night, which is only possible if we get a good 7-9 hours of good quality shut eye in.
Can lack of sleep be harmful?
Not sleeping enough on a consistent basis can lead to serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes (due to blood sugar levels being thrown completely out of whack).
If you have problems either sleeping or getting off to sleep, you should maybe look at some natural sleep remedies to help you out.
5. ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMICALS
You cannot escape all environmental chemicals, but you can some of them. These include the chemical cleaners you use in your home, smoking, and the lotions, potions, soaps and make up that you put onto your skin. Your skin is highly absorbent; meaning everything you put onto it eventually makes its way into it.
Sounds pretty awful when it’s put like that, but really hammers it home just how much junk our bodies have to detoxify from every day. The very least we can do is give it a helping hand by cutting down on this chemical assault as much as possible.
Using chemical free products in the home
There are all sorts of organic and chemical free cleaning products, make ups, shampoos and soaps on the market these days, making it pretty easy to find swaps for most of your regular things.
Or another option is, you can always also make your own at home out of much cheaper items such as lemon juice, baking soda and white vinegar. The internet is awash with homemade cleaning and skin products.
TOP TIP – Extra virgin coconut oil is the ultimate multidimensional product. It can be used not only in cooking, but as a skin moisturiser for face and body, a make-up remover, a deep conditioning treatment for hair and it’s also great for teeth whitening.
Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and green superfoods will all help to neutralise and flush out heavy metals and other toxins from your system. And, this happens to be another great side effect of a plant based diet.
The most powerful detoxifying foods include:-
- Broccoli sprouts
- Psyllium husks
Stress is another potentially life threatening disorder. But, luckily one that you have complete control over if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
Stress, when left out of control, is a big killer. If not the biggest killer of our time.
On one end of the spectrum stress can cause headaches, low immunity, frequent infections, palpitations, loss of sexual desire and insomnia. On the other end it can lead to heart disease, heart attack, cancer, plus accelerated aging and inflammation, of which studies are showing to be the root cause of many modern day diseases.
Keep your body in a state of homeostasis
You can now start to see the connection of all things in the body and how everything has a knock on effect on everything else to eventually bring about ill health and disease. When you start to see things from this perspective, you can see how it’s actually a hundred times EASIER to keep your body in a state of constant homeostasis in the first place to help prevent all of these problems.
Ways To Reduce Stress Levels
- Breathing exercises
- Exercise, especially weight bearing
- Eating a healthy Diet
- Getting enough good quality sleep
- Talking about your troubles
- Switch off all phones/internet/TV distractions and read a book
- Take up a hobby you know you’ll enjoy
- Exercising or walking in nature
- Visualisation techniques
For some more great tips and techniques on relaxation, please check out this YouTube video for inspiration!
7. KEEP ON LEARNING NEW THINGS
No matter what your age, keeping yourself in a continual cycle of learning new things about the world around you is so important to an all round healthy lifestyle. Learning keeps your brain sharp, which slows down the aging process and gives you a sense of achievement and worthiness.
You can keep your brain active by reading books, starting a new hobby, job in the wellness industry or enrolling on a course that could send you down a new and exiting career path. You can do all of these at any age so don’t let being older stop you.
The world really is your oyster the moment you realise that anything is possible and that in every second you are in fact creating your own reality.