It’s no surprise most of my time revolves around healthy food. If I’m not creating recipes, hosting a cooking masterclass, or designing the next product for my functional food range, I’m recipe testing for my next meal or writing a chapter for my next book.
Having to build my business and work crazy hours means a healthy work-life balance is a big challenge. For many of us, our lifestyle, poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, too much sitting, and environmental toxins all directly contribute to health problems that are ruining our health.
If you’re overworked, over scheduled or sleep less than you should, it’s important to realise that there’s no ultimate magic pill that will give you vibrant health. It's about focusing on the the triangle that adopts FOOD - EXERCISE + REST.
Reclaim control of your time and energy with my 7 healthy practices for better health:
1. EAT REAL FOOD
It's no secret that highly processed and refined foods that are loaded in sugar, salt, hydrogenated oils, chemicals and preservatives have had a detrimental effect on our health. Focus more on the quality of foods you eat than the quantity. When you eat high quality foods, the quantity takes care of itself. Base your diet on real, whole foods like organic or grass fed meat and wild caught fish, vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy fats. Good fats are a crucial part of a healthy diet because they help us to absorb nutrients we get from other foods. My best advise is to have a repertoire of reliable healthy recipes that are simple, fresh and quick to prepare. I always have a base selection that I can draw from every week and they vary based on the season as well as how I feel.
2. STRESS LESS
Chronic stress can keep cortisol levels in the blood elevated for longer, which in turn can affect metabolism, suppress thyroid function and increase abdominal fat. If you simply have no time during the day to take time out, ensure you get enough down time for yourself a few hours before bed by learning to chill out and relax. If you have an anxious mind or find it hard to just unwind, I find a warm bath with lavender oil or a cup of Healthy Hot Chocolate helps promote sleep. This drink is comforting, nourishing and full of magnesium which helps calm the nervous system. Combine it with cashew milk, and you also get a good dose of tryptophan, the amino acid which helps to make serotonin – the FEEL GOOD hormone responsible for feelings of wellbeing and feeling great! Serotonin is also crucial for the proper development of the enteric nervous system (ENS) to support digestion.
In the mornings, I also make sure to have a warm mug of Healthy Chef Matcha, that helps me feel relaxed, calm and happy due to the high levels of L-theanine. Matcha energizes your body as it relaxes your mind and also has the ability to support immune function and reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
3. HEAL YOUR GUT
More that 2000 years ago, Hippocrates told us that all disease begins in the gut. Now research also tells us that an unhappy digestive system can lead to a number of health related conditions, including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue, constipation, bloating and more. Look after your digestive health and make it a priority. Use fermented foods such as cultured yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir and include them regularly as part of your meal plan. Fermented foods are naturally packed with probiotics that promote healthy gut bacteria.
4. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
When I find myself working myself into the ground, I go out of the office. Sometimes I like to go to one of my favourite cafés in Surry Hills and have a herbal tea or a turmeric latte with my hubby, while other days I like to bake and indulge in my chocolate cravings! Other times, when I’m feeling stressed or rundown, you’ll often find me taking a light stroll in the sunshine which instantly makes me feel calm and relaxed. Incidental physical exercise forms part of the foundation to my everyday health. I make sure I walk most of the time and try and get over 10,000 - 15,000 steps in the day. It makes me feel so good at the end of the day. I also support my health with Natural Immune Support that gives my body the full recommended daily intake of Vitamin D (1000 IU) as well as 10 X the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C (>450 mg) that my adrenals need during stressful periods.
5. REST + RECHARGE
This is by far one of the most important ways to keep healthy. If you’re not investing in taking time out or getting adequate sleep every night, it’s reflected in how you feel, how you work and how you perform. These days, I have to really focus on getting enough sleep to get me through my busy week because if I don’t, my body let’s me know by weakening my immune system and removing that outward glow I strive for. Perhaps one of the most important tips I’ve learnt for a good night’s sleep is turning off the computer and phone at a decent hour and making sure I get a solid 8 hours of quality sleep. By morning, I feel like I’m ready to attack the next day with renewed energy.
6. BE MINDFUL
While food is an important part of keeping healthy, it’s how you eat that’s just as important, but can be overlooked. Mindfulness is really important when you’re eating. It means chewing slowly, eating at a table with no distractions, and being conscious of redirecting your energy in savouring your meal. Many of us rush around and chow down our food when we’re stressed, but this can hinder proper gut function and peristalsis – which pretty much explains why your digestion can go a little haywire and you can often feel slow and sluggish.
7. ALLOW YOURSELF TO INDULGE
Being healthy isn’t as complicated as it is often made out to be. I get a lot of emails from people who are so confused and rightfully so! There’s a sense of ‘food anxiety’ amongst many people who are trying their best to do the right thing. When it comes down to it, we’re all different and there's no one-size fits all approach. What works for you may not work for the next person. I’m a huge advocate of moderation, going by my 80/20 philosophy, which consists primarily of wholefoods, and treating myself the other 20 percent of the time. If you’re placing too many limitations, you can’t enjoy the pleasure of eating the foods you love and make you feel good.