Many of us try different things to keep ourselves healthy, whether that be certain lifestyle changes, diets, exercises, and even our sleeping habits and possibly where we live. Most all people know that health matters more than just what size pants we wear or what the number of pounds on the scale says. It’s more about how foods affect your brain focus, mood, and your sense of well-being. Good health also refers to how well you’re sleeping, your exercise routine, and how active you are in general movement throughout the day. That being said, if you’re looking for some ways to see if your current meal styles are working for you, here are some signs that you’re on the right track:
1. You’re Energetic and Focused
If you’re suffering brain fog, a low mood, or even a little anxiety every day, you might consider what you’re having first thing in the day. Sugary cereals and even whole grain toast with not much else can all send your blood sugar soaring and leave you hungry. As carbs digest in the body, they can either steady insulin or cause it to rise and drop. The quicker it drops, the moodier you feel, the more tired you feel, and the less you can think about anything else except when you’ll get to eat again. The answer isn’t to cut carbs but to instead focus on extremely filling foods in the morning that boost your mood, have no added sugars and are as close to their whole food state as possible. For example, a bowl of whole grain oats (either soaked or cooked), a smoothie with whole food protein like hemp seed protein rich in fiber and protein, and even a berries and greens smoothie with some oats, almonds, and chia seeds added would be a much better choice. Think whole foods that contain fiber, protein, and antioxidants, with omega 3 fats that also fuel brain power and improve the mood. Also see our complete list of foods that will improve your focus quickly.
2. You’re Sleeping Like a Baby
How fast do you fall asleep each night? Does it take a while or does your body wind down naturally (before midnight) and you sleep well through the night? Your sleep has a great deal to do with how healthy your food choices are. Foods high in sugar, caffeine, and even dairy or meat products can cause some problems with sleep for certain individuals. You want foods that are balancing and grounding for dinner, not stimulating or hard to digest. Keep caffeine out of your day after 4 p.m. or earlier and be sure to eat a plant-based dinner with foods like wild rice, root vegetables, leafy greens and green vegetables, nuts, seeds, or beans and legumes if those work for you. These foods contain more magnesium, Vitamin B6, and grounding properties that prepare the body for rest and may help you wind down to rest. They’re also kinder to the adrenal glands, which control your stress levels that caffeine, meat, sugar, refined grains, and dairy can all cause to become imbalanced.
3. You Recover Quickly From Exercise
Aches and pains around the clock? Consider your diet and how well you’re recovering after you workout. Dairy is a common trigger of inflammation, which is one reason so many people using dairy-based proteins have achy muscles and joints. Other foods such as fried foods, sugary foods, and even refined grains and grain products can also lead to inflammation. Foods that help the body recover after exercise are alkaline and energetic by nature, and contain amino acids that will help fuel your muscles and repair them for your next workout. See some of our favorite plant-based foods that contain all essential nine amino acids and some foods that reduce inflammation and how to create an anti-inflammatory diet to transform your health.
4. Your Digestion is Rockin!
Hey, we all have to deal with it, so we might as well make sure we’re all doing well in this area. How well is your food digesting? Bloating, indigestion, and other unmentionables are all important when it comes to our health. If your digestion isn’t going so well, it’s time to address that ASAP or your energy, sleep, mood, and even your workout routine can all be affected. First, concentrate on foods that are whole food-based, that are easy to digest, and that are free from sugar, dairy, refined grains, and hard-to-digest gums, additives, and fillers added to a host of foods. Check your non-dairy milk to make sure it’s carrageenan-free, along with your cheese and other non-dairy products too. Balance your meals out and try to stop when you’re 80-90 percent full so you don’t overdo your system. Give yourself a few hours in between meals and snacks so your body isn’t always digesting around the clock and try not to eat right before bed or right before a strenuous workout. Also consider adding some probiotic foods to your diet, and test out new foods to see which ones work and which ones don’t. When your digestion is rockin’ around the clock, your skin will look healthy, your energy will be good, and you’ll just feel much better throughout the day.
It’s also very important that you make sure you give yourself enough time for rest, stress management (even if it’s just 30 minutes), and a few minutes each day or an hour on the weekends to prepare healthy meals and snacks. If you’re crunched for time, see our tips for the busy bunch, along with some simple ways to prepare healthy meals in just 30 minutes that anyone can do.
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