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How To Define Health On Your Own Terms and Go from Healthyish to HealthiHER
Minor shifts can make a huge impact
Are you ever TERRIFIED eating healthy could also mean losing flavor?!
I thought the same thing. I was so concerned I would be stuck with bland food. Believe me when I say, that’s the last thing a Southern girl from Texas, raised on soul food needs. But here’s the good news, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health!
However, in today’s world when it comes to food and you think of a healthy, convenient meal a plant burger from McDonald’s or vegan chicken nuggets from KFC may come to mind. Here’s the thing, you are reducing your risk of exposure to meat related illnesses by eating or going vegan. But vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. These fast food options are highly processed which means they contain high amounts of salt and sugar.
I hate to break it to you, but if you think you are making a “healthy” choice by choosing one of these processed plant-based options, you’re not. These are foods I’d label, “healthy-ish”. Which leads me to my first point…
What Is Healthyish?
You’ve likely seen the term healthy-ish floating around the Internet. Whether on social media, a blog post or sliding through your DMs. But what does the term really mean?
Here are a few examples I’d use to define healthy-ish: a plant based burger made from processed meat or cheese, baked potato chips and this one might hurt: a salad loaded with high fat dressing and any type of fried meat. Ouch, I think the last one hurt worst than watching Carrie being dumped on a post it note.
That said, in general, I would describe healthy-ish as foods, diets or lifestyles that could be healthy but miss the mark in some way. This could be foods with too much processing, excessive fat, or healthy eating paired with lack of exercise or physical activity. The problem is a healthy-ish lifestyle is dangerous because far too many women think they’re being healthy, when in reality they’re not.
Well, how do you attempt to fix it?
By making healthier swaps. Here’s why: ingesting an excessive amount of salt, which in reality is easier to do than you may think, can cause high blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease.
Let’s define “easier than you might think” with a few real life examples:
- It’s lunch time and you forgot your lunch. Burger King is the closest food joint so you decided to grab the Impossible Whopper. According to Fast Food Nutrition, this burger contains almost 50% of the recommended daily value amount of sodium (1078mg)! Yikes.
- Or take Chipotle for example… and this one really hurt… Chipotle’s Sofrita’s burrito contains 52% of the recommended daily value amount. That’s half the recommended daily value amount of salt in one meal!
So, what’s a girl to do?! Stay informed…
How Much Salt Is Too Much Salt?
…and know your numbers. A healthy diet should consist of the recommended daily value amount shared by the Food & Drug Administration. The Daily Value for Sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
But which foods actually contain too much salt? The list might surprise you. According to the American Heart Association’s ‘Salty Six‘, this is where you’re getting a lot of your daily salt intake… and by a lot, I mean too much.
- Bread and Rolls
- Cold Cuts and Cured Meats
- Burritos and Tacos
It’s wrong. It’s so wrong. We should never fear eating a taco, and I mean never. But yet, here we are.
Luckily, there is some good news. Some people are so freaked out by this they’ve decided to take action and make healthier options of some of the items above! And God Bless them, right?! Because no one has time to be scared of eating a taco!
Here are a few examples of what you’ll want to keep an eye out for when grocery shopping.
Foods That Don’t Meet The Daily Value Amount for Sodium
Canned, packaged or restaurant-prepared soups tend to have a lot of sodium. For example, just one can of Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup contains almost half (46%) of your recommended daily value amount of salt!
While juicing is great and does help you get in some much needed nutrients, some packaged vegetable juice contains way too much sodium. Take V8’s Vegetable Blend with Tomato Juice. Just one serving of this contains a third (28%) of your daily value amount of sodium.
Salad dressing is another heartbreaker. Unfortunately, many salad dressings aren’t just packed with sodium but plenty of processed ingredients and preservatives as well! We’ll need Kleenex, blackout shades and Mariah Carey’s Butterfly to get through this one.
Because who knew ranch could be so bad for you? For example, Vegan Ranch from Whole Foods, while tasty, holds 10% of your daily value amount of salt in just two tablespoons. And let’s be real who’s only eating two tablespoons of salad dressing with their salad?!
What about pizza? Pizza could never harm you, right?! Especially not a vegan pizza! Unfortunately, that’s wrong. Even that veggie lover vegan pizza you love so much contains a whopping 45% of your daily value amount of sodium!
One thing about going vegan is the lack of cheese. Let’s face it, America knows how to get you addicted to that ooey gooey goodness. The thing is, whether vegan or not, a lot of salt typically goes into the making of cheese to preserve and/or age it. This popular vegan brand of cheese, while definitely delicious, contains 7% of your daily value amount of sodium in just one single slice. An amount that can easily add up over time and depending on what you’re making.
Lastly, while quick and easy beware of frozen meals. It’s so easy, especially as a young busy professional, to always be on the go and not make time for your health. But frozen meals, such as Gardein’s Saus’sage Pasta Bowl, adds about 37% of sodium to your daily value amount!
Step away from the box…
How Much Sugar Is Too Much Sugar?
Now on to sugar.
Sugar is everywhere. Not just in the processed foods you eat but in healthy foods too, like fruits. But sugar in fruit is considered naturally occurring and there is no recommended daily value for the total sugars. Unless you’re diabetic and in that case speak to your doctor.
There is, however, a recommended daily value for added sugar. Added sugars are the sugars added during the processing of food. The daily value amount for added sugars is 50 mg based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
So, where are most of the added sugars hiding??
- Sugary Beverages
- Baked Goods
But this certainly is not specific enough. Keep reading for common foods you should watch out for.
Foods That Don’t Meet The Daily Value Amount for Sugar
Yogurt can be a sneaky source of added sugar. For example, if you ate Silk’s Strawberry Yogurt for breakfast, you would consume 20% (11g) of your added sugars for the day in just one sitting.
Condiments. We all love sticky, sweet barbecue sauce. But it’s surprising the amount of sugar hidden in this tangy, smoky goodness. Take, Whole Food’s Original Barbecue Sauce. In just 2 Tbsp you’re getting 11g of Added Sugars! That’s one fifth of your added sugar “budget” for the day gone.
Fruit juice is another silent killer. Tropicana’s Grape Juice Beverage contains a whopping 31 g of sugar in one serving! You’re better off just making your own juice, but we’ll get into that later.
Spaghetti sauce is a repeat offender mainly because to mask the bitterness of the tomatoes and to preserve the freshness, salt and sugar are added during the process. That said, this same bottle of Ragú Chunky Garden Combination Pasta Sauce contains 4g of added sugars in 1/2 cup sauce. Again, be mindful of how much sauce you’ll actually consume when eating.
How about granola?! Often touted as a healthy snack or cereal but in actuality its typically high in sugar and calories. A 2/3 cup serving of this Whole Foods Maple Almond Butter Granola packs 20% of your daily value amount of sugar.
So, what’s the answer?! Throw all of these foods out the window and pick up a carrot and never look back?? Well… not exactly. It’s about knowledge and moderation. Let’s continue with knowledge and examine the definition of healthier.
What Is Healthier?
It’s important to start the discussion and definition of healthier with the following statement: you should always determine what healthier means to you. Healthy is a subjective term and everyone’s DNA makeup is unique. However, there are plenty of scientific research articles and books to support what a healthy lifestyle should look like and how to maintain it. This is what the healthier definition will be based on.
According to the The China Study, “people who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.” This is the founding principle of healthier. Eating a whole food plant based diet encourages reversal of many chronic diseases and better mental performance.
Therefore, it’s important to understand what a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet is. According to the T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies, here are the parameters of a WFPB diet:
- Doesn’t include meat, poultry, fish or eggs
- Includes a large variety of fruits and vegetables
- Includes foods which are minimally processed, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes
- It also includes, in moderation: nuts, seeds, avocados, natural sweeteners, and certain soy or wheat products that don’t contain added fat
- Heavily processed foods are not included in the WFPB
Most of what is eliminated in the WFPB diet, unfortunately, can be found in the standard diet. Consequently, without the right support it may be challenging to sustain this diet. Which is why the first thing to do, if looking to transition from healthyish to healthier, is to view it as a lifestyle shift and not just a diet.
Next, it’s important to seek support and find like minded individuals. Which is exactly why the Kitchen Dance Partii was created, to help you on your journey from healthyish to healthiHER.
Here’s How to Sustain a HealthiHER Lifestyle
Sustaining a HealthiHER lifestyle requires a mindset shift, commitment, accountability, habit changes and positive reinforcement. All of these factors working together along with the right education will have you on the journey to a HealthiHER you in no time! The HealthiHER Framework supports you with education, accountability and positive reinforcement. Here are some of the educational elements that will help you succeed as you transition to a whole food plant based lifestyle.
The first step in adopting the HealthiHER lifestyle is becoming more aware of your habits around nutrition. You can become more aware of your eating, fitness and hydration habits by simply tracking your daily activities. Since you likely have your phone with you almost everywhere you go, a good tracker to use is one that can be downloaded and accessed using your phone.
Once you’ve become more aware of your habits the next thing to focus on is loving and accepting your body. The goal shouldn’t be to change yourself to look a certain way. Rather the goal should be to optimize your health in the best way possible for you! Embrace your body. Love your body. Be grateful for all the wonderful things your body does for you day in and day out. If you want tools and techniques on how to do this, check this out.
Next up, is reframing any negative thoughts. Have you ever caught yourself thinking: “I’ve tried all the weight loss products and tools and failed. I will never be able to lose weight” ? If so, stop! Get yourself together gorgeous because you’ve totally got this!
This is a type of cognitive distortion known as black and white thinking. It’s a thought pattern that’s identified as all-or-nothing thinking and leaves no room for in between. Here’s what to do, shift your thoughts to: “I will continue to work towards the health goals I have set for myself knowing it will not happen overnight.” There are certain techniques you can use to tap into your thoughts and begin to shift them to a more positive perspective. Check out this framework and start now.
After becoming more aware and reframing your negative thoughts to be more positive, the next thing to focus on is developing and sustaining the healthy habits you need to succeed. Developing habits and routines around fitness, diet and mental health will all help to propel you forward.
Here are some healthy vegan recipes to help you develop the right meal plans to align with your goals:
- Portobello Mushroom Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
- Jerk Sweet Potato Bowl
- Kung Pao Cauliflowr Noodle Bowl
- Lentil Tabbouleh
- Sticky Sesame Chickpea Bowl
Looking for a starting place to designing a comprehensive plan to fit your unique journey? Learn more about the HealthiHER Framework to get started today.
Next up! Is juicing. A large part of eating healthier and living a HealthiHER lifestyle is getting rid of what no longer serves you. This may include harmful habits like drinking and smoking, negative thought patterns and the toxins hanging out in your body.
It’s true, you likely have an undesirable amount of toxins you need to flush from your system. Especially if you’ve never done a cleanse before.
One way to cleanse is through juicing. Juice cleanses are an easy way to gently flush and detox your digestive system. But don’t just jump into a cleanse. Instead follow these steps:
- Start drinking more water.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine you usually consume. Use this time to start incorporating green tea into your diet.
- For a week or so prior to your cleanse, include more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet every day. An excellent way to do this is by preparing at least one green smoothie per day.
- One or two days prior to your cleanse, eliminate meats and dairy from your diet entirely. If you are used to consuming meat and dairy with every meal, start a few days earlier. This will help your digestive system accept the plant-based cleanse easier.
- If you’re still consuming processed foods, just stop. Processed food provides you with no benefits and can be responsible for many health problems. Start to examine labels. If you aren’t familiar with an ingredient, the chances are good you shouldn’t be consuming it. Beware of hidden sugars, even in foods labelled natural.
Once your body is prepped and ready it’s time to start your juice cleanse! Here are a few examples of the type of cleanses you can do:
- Kidney Cleanse
- Anti-Aging Cleanse
- Energy Cleanse
If you want to access these cleanses and more, join the other gorgeous women committed to their health and get a bonus Juicing Guide for Beginners.
Everyone suffers from fatigue and exhaustion in their lives for many different reasons. Whether it’s because they work too hard or don’t get enough sleep at night, or because they have a lot of mental baggage that drains their energy, or they maintain an unhealthy diet.
One of the leading causes of chronic fatigue is eating an unhealthy diet. If you eat the wrong kinds of foods often, you can begin to feel tired and overly exhausted. In order to eliminate fatigue and enhance your energy levels, you need to avoid those foods that make you feel tired and heavy.
Here are some tips on how to improve your energy levels:
- Consume Food That Give You Energy – Foods that contain complex carbohydrates and are high in protein help to increase your blood glucose levels and keep them at the right level, providing your body with energy for a more extended period.
- Eat Foods that are Rich in Magnesium – In order to break down the glucose in your blood and turn it into energy, you need to consume Magnesium. Along with converting glucose into energy, magnesium is necessary for the other 300 biochemical processes that take place in your body.
- Eat Small Snacks Between Meals – It is far better for you and your energy level to eat small meals with snacks in between, rather than eating less frequently, but overeating at every meal. This is what is known as power snacking.
- Drink Plenty of Water – Water keeps your body hydrated at all times which can help to prevent fatigue. To take full advantage of the power of water, you should consume at least eight cups of water daily.
If you want more tips on how to improve your energy levels and know which foods contain complex carbohydrates, magnesium and more – learn more about the HealthiHER Framework. With nutritionally dense recipes for clean, plant-based eating and evidence-based tools to help women find their healthy weight, the HealthiHER Framework includes everything you need to live confidently healthy—and never have to worry about feeling like your body is holding you back!
Health is multifaceted. It’s not just about fitness or food or even mental health. It’s about several layers and dimensions of you working together harmoniously. Therefore, the best and healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to develop your own wellness network. But what does this look like? Here are some ideas to help get you started.
- Know yourself and habits. Use a tool to begin tracking your activities so you know where to improve.
- Find a trusted health practitioner. This could be a Primary Care Physician, OBGYN, Naturopath, Chiropractor or whatever makes the most sense for your lifestyle.
- Add movement to your lifestyle! Find a gym, a dance studio, rock climbing, cycling – whatever it is get moving and don’t stop.
- Incorporate other holistic services into your routine. This could include spas, saunas, massages, acupuncture, etc.
Becoming HealthiHER doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Instead take it day by day and nurture yourself in a loving way along your journey. While establishing healthier habits may be challenging at times, you will absolutely thank yourself later for hanging in there!