I’m a big believer in making small changes for long term success. It’s the cumulative effect, where every penny (in this case, bite) counts. When I tell people that I studied nutrition, their immediate reaction is often, I could NEVER be disciplined enough to eat healthy all the time. I get that nutrition can appear to be daunting, but just like anything you take on, it doesn’t have to be huge changes. When you sign up for a half marathon as a newbie runner, you’d never force yourself to run 10k on day 1 of running, right? Same goes for implementing nutritional practices. It’s one small stride at a time that can lead to huge strides. Here are 3 tips that are super small, but can improve your health:
1.Water: Timing and Temperature
Starting with the basics, we’ve all heard that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day. I think this is fairly sound advice, but I learned that along with the quantity of water, there are other factors that are equally as important: when you drink your water and the temperature of your water. A common place where you will have water is when you are sitting down to have a meal. It happens in restaurants where you will get ice cold water, and maybe you even grew up with having your meals with a cold beverage of some sort. The challenge with this is that upon eating, your stomach acts as a fire pit, breaking down foods to become your energy source to give you fuel to function, and your body fuel to do it’s thing (you know, like keeping your heart pumping, no big deal). If you happen to drink a glass of water before, during, or even after you eat, you end up extinguishing the fire. This will slow down the time that food gets digested, keeping the energy in your stomach, and taking it away from doing other functions that keep you healthy.
Try this: The Asian cultures did it right. They serve you tea in a small, tiny teacup. It’s not a lot of fluid, and it’s warm. Have small amounts of water while you eat, and skip the ice. As well, try and drink water in between your meals or away from your big meals.
2. There’s a Right Way to Eat your Greens
Over the last few years, greens have become more mainstream than ever. Kale chips, kale salads, smoothies – kale on everything. I’m all for kale and its fellow dark leafy greens (including spinach, swiss chard, beet greens), but did you know there’s a ‘right’ way to eat your greens? Dark leafy greens have a super intelligent, naturally occurring molecule called oxalic acid, that acts as its own defence mechanism. This acid binds with other nutrients (especially calcium), to become less absorbable in an attempt to avoid being broken down, making it an ANTI-nutrient. Imagine we eat all the greens thinking we are doing our bodies good, but in fact, it could be causing imbalances internally.
Try this: For your greens, in order to get rid of the oxalic acid you can either cook the greens, or add a little acid to your greens such as lemon, lime, tomatoes or even apple cider vinegar. The citrus helps prevent it from binding with calcium, making it easier to break down, and allow for your body to absorb its nutrients.
3. Watch Your Poop!
Let’s talk about poop without being squeamish or grossed out. Everyone poops, and not pooping is worrisome. The worst thing you can do is not look at it. It’s a magical window to see what’s going on in your insides. Your poop is one of the few things that tell you the current status of your digestive and intestinal system. You want your body to be eliminating on the regular in order to avoid the toxins re-circulating within your body, or feeding the unhealthy bacteria in your body. In other words, but not being regular, you could be auto-intoxicating yourself. By checking your poop, it can often tell you how long your poop has been sitting in your intestinal tract. Depending on what you eat, often the colour can be telling of how long it’s been it’s been sitting there. The darker it is, its likely its been sitting there longer. It should be the perfect, Crayola brown colour. The smell is quite telling of how long it may have been making its way down the intestinal tract. Chances are, the stinkier it is, it is more likely that it’s been in your intestinal tract longer, fermenting and rotting as it waits for its turn down the slip and slide. Lastly, the texture can provide an indication if you are lacking anything such as fibre, more water, or if you are potentially sensitive to some foods that you are eating
Try this: Ideally you should be visiting the throne at least 2x per day. The factors that create the ideal poop situation is water, fibre, and lubrication (in the form of healthy fats) to make things easier to pass through. Check how your poop is, and try and manipulate your final product by introducing more water, fibre, or fats. Everyone’s body will have a different mix of the right formula. Play around with what you eat and see what happens. Most importantly, pay attention and respect the throne.
Totally doable, right? Yes, all 3 tips are linked to the digestive tract, and if you haven’t come across a post of mine praising the digestive system, you will quickly learn that I believe that your digestion makes or break your overall health.