Tired of being tired? Sick of being sick? Wish you had energy to burn? Can't remember when you last felt truly well? We hear you. With 2019 well underway, and those unrealistic New Year’s resolutions long forgotten, we asked the wonderful Dee Copland, Naturopath and Nutritionist, to give us some advice about how to make 2019 a great year for our health and wellness.
First of all, for good health we really must take an honest look at what we are eating. Clean eating is no longer a fad, but the key to a healthy lifestyle. Eliminate processed foods where you can - these foods might be convenient, but they contain vegetable oils, colours, flavourings and preservatives which increase the load on our liver as they are recognised as foreign to the body. According to Copland, “if we base each meal around vegetables then add some nuts/seeds/grains/egg/fish/chicken or lean beef or lamb, then we are eating easily digestible, nutrient-dense meals. Eating well doesn't need to be complicated and the rewards can be felt quickly.” For those who are really short on time, a greens powder can be a useful addition to your diet. “Greens powders are popular and are a good way to boost the nutritional value of meals. Adding a concentrated greens powder to a smoothie at breakfast if you are travelling or in a rush can be very convenient.”
Secondly, how much sleep we get (or don’t get) has a massive impact on our health. “Many people, especially Mums, stay up late to get some quiet time in the evenings, but this impedes on your body's repair time. Our ancestors would have had to retreat to a cave when it was dark and rise with the sun and this is in line with the sleep-wake (circadian) hormone cycle,” says Copland. She also recommends taking a look at your bedding - choose linen that is made from 100% natural fibres so that it breathes during the night and regulates your body temperature. Also air your mattress and bedding regularly and replace pillows annually. Creating a wind-down ritual can also help induce sleep - a warm bath, a cup of herbal tea, a sleep spray and some magnesium oil can play a part in improving the quality of your sleep.
Another important step in our overall wellbeing is getting some exercise. While it can be hard to feel motivated to exercise, the benefits of regular movement will be felt almost immediately. According to Copland, “exercise improves circulation, detoxification, mental wellbeing and your metabolism. Just being active around the home isn't enough. Try to set aside 30 minutes a day, which is only 2% of your time, for some physical activity. Vary it to keep it interesting such as a power walk while listening to a podcast, yoga on your living room floor via YouTube, swimming, gardening or dance lessons.” Pairing up with a friend for regular exercise can also help keep you motivated, as it will help keep you accountable which will make it more likely you will stick to your plan.
It’s a well-known fact that most of our best intentions and New Year’s resolutions have faded by February. But instead of feeling overwhelmed by adding more to your to-do list, Copland has a few tips for managing to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She recommends sticking to a daily routine of getting up at the same time each morning, scheduling exercise and going to bed early. Always plan your meals ahead of time - that way you won’t be tempted to grab a takeaway or something convenient from the supermarket on your way home. Setting aside some time on a Sunday to plan or prep some meals can be a good way to ensure you are eating nutritious food throughout the week. Copland also advises that we need to have a plan to manage stress. “Get out in nature every day, take holidays, plan occasional weekends away with friends and loved ones. Learn to breathe properly and don't sweat the small stuff.” Sound advice - and something we can stick to!
* Dee Copland is a Dunedin-based Naturopath and Nutritionist. Visit her website: www.deannacopland.co.nz
Photo credit: @vegukate