Our Wellness Tips To Help You Stay On Track This Year
We recently had the awesome opportunity to interact with an inspiring group of amazing ladies when we hosted a health and wellness Q & A on the Well.ca Facebook page. During this super fun hour, we did our best to answer your most pressing questions about how you can stay on track with your health and wellness goals and resolutions this year. We were so impressed with the questions you asked us and we loved sharing our tips, tools and knowledge with you! Not only did you inquire about our top tips to help you eat well on a budget (a topic we LOVE to chat about!), but also the best ways to bust sugar from your diet, our favourite supplements that'll help boost and maintain your energy levels (especially important during the cold and dark winter months!), the best ways you can ward off muscle cramps during and after a yoga class and the best place to learn about the uses and benefits of essential oils (one of 2017's biggest health trends!).
We had so much fun answering your questions, we have decided to round-up our answers here, so you (and others!) can have access to the information, any time you need a little reminder. Keep reading to check out our advice on how to tackle some of your biggest health questions so you can have a healthy, happy and fulfilling year.
How can I bust sugar from my diet?
We truly believe one of the most important things we can do to boost our overall health is to start cutting processed sugar from our diets. Our best tips to start kicking sugar to the curb are 1) Take steps to reduce (or better yet, eliminate altogether) any soda, sugary beverages and even most vitamin-enhanced drinks. These contain loads of unnecessary sugar and will immediately cut how much sugar you consume daily. 2) Avoid adding any extra sugar to coffee or tea. Give it a week and we promise you won't even miss it. 3) Boost your consumption of naturally sweet veggies (think squash, carrots and sweet potatoes). These are abundant in natural sugars which can help curb your sweet tooth. 4) Increase your hydration by drinking more water, especially warm lemon water. Why? Warm lemon water helps detoxify our body and liver and helps reduce sugar cravings. 5) Avoid over-processed foods, which often have hidden and added sugars. Instead stick to whole unprocessed foods, including grains, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, fruits and veggies. 6) Eat one to two squares of dark chocolate daily (containing at least 70% cacao). Dark chocolate is one of the most potent sources of antioxidants on the planet, and it can help reduce cravings for other sugary foods. Plus, it's super delish, right?!
Are there any vitamin supplements that can help boost my energy?
We could all use an energy-boost, especially at this time of year. The first question we ask when someone asks us about increasing energy is "Are you taking a probiotic?". 2017 has been called "The year of the GUT", and for good reason. We know now that our gut health is essential to our overall health and wellbeing. If our gut is out of whack, we can feel sluggish and have less energy than we might normally have. For this reason, adding a daily probiotic to your supplement routine is something we highly recommend for everyone. Additionally, it's also super important to consume a diet that is balanced and rich in vitamins and nutrients, most importantly antioxidant-rich foods. So, upping your consumption of green leafy veggies, berries, nuts and seeds and high-quality grains (think quinoa) is another great way to boost your energy levels naturally.
Where can I find information on the uses of essential oils?
The internet is a wealth of information on, well, pretty much everything. But, how can we trust the information that we read? Sometimes — especially when it comes to our health and wellness — we are looking to find information from someone we can trust. Such is the case when looking to find information about the benefits and uses of essential oils. Our advice? Skip google and instead visit your local health food store or Whole Foods Market and inquire if they have someone on staff who is educated in this field. I live in Burlington, Ontario and at Goodness Me, there is a lady who is an expert in the field of essential oils (goodness me, I wish I knew her name!). So, when I've got questions about which essential oil I should use, I head straight to her, confident I will receive a trustworthy answer. Not sure where to look? Try googling to see if there is an essential oils expert in the area you live, or ask someone at your local health food store. You never know, they just may be able to recommend someone like this for you.
What are the best vitamins to help ward off colds and flu bugs?
Many people believe products such as Cold-FX can help alleviate your cold and flu symptoms and they turn to them at the first sign of a sniffle. But, if you're looking for other ways to keep a healthy and strong immune system, we believe you can achieve the same results by consuming a diet that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. We've all heard that drinking a glass of OJ when you feel a cold coming on will alleviate that sniffle or eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away. And we couldn't agree more (to a certain extent - store bought OJ is chock full of sugar so something we recommend avoiding!). But, the truth is oranges and apples are both loaded with vitamin C which is essential in strengthening our bodies immune defence. Other key vitamins and minerals (vitamin D, B, E and Zinc) are also essential for optimal immune function and play an important role in keeping us healthy. So, our advice for achieving a healthy, strong, powerhouse of an immune system is to eat a diet that is made up of local, fresh and seasonal veggies and fruits that are as colourful as the rainbow (think berries, apples, oranges, lemons, leafy greens, broccoli, red peppers — the more colour on your plate, the more vitamins and minerals!). It's also a great idea to include fatty fish like salmon, lean meats, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs and even avocado to your diet. Another great way to enhance your immune system is to learn about and use essential oils, many of which can help strengthen our response to those nasty bugs!
How can I boost iron and protein in my diet and are there good vegetarian options?
Iron is an important health topic as a deficiency can lead to us feeling, well, down right awful. Often we chock-up our sluggishness to laziness. However, if there's an imbalance in our bodies that can be detected and looked after, it can be easily fixed. If you're feeling this way, it's important to visit your doctor and ask for a blood test to check your iron levels. Vegetarians, vegans (and those who limit their meat intake for other reasons), may be at an increased risk for Iron-deficiency as meat is one of the richest sources of iron in the diet. But, thankfully there are many other iron-rich foods that you can consume to keep those levels from falling. The best sources for to boost your iron are high quality red meats (preferably organic or grass-fed), fatty fish (think salmon) and seafood, dark green leafy veggies (spinach, kale, collard greens and brussels sprouts), beans and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), tofu and tempeh, whole grains (brown rice and quinoa), oatmeal and a variety of nuts and seeds. The great news is that many of these foods also give the added bonus of increasing the protein in your diet! Our advice? Try adding some of these foods to you daily diet and we bet you'll feel more energized and healthy in no time!
Is it possible to eat well & healthy on a budget?
Yes, we absolutely believe that it is possible to eat well on a budget and we've got loads of tips to help you out with this. 1) Although choosing organic is a great option — if it fits with your budget — we get it can be expensive for some. Our recommendation is to check out the 'dirty dozen' and 'clean 15' lists. These two lists have been created to help people decipher which foods are better to choose organic (as they contain more pesticides) and which you are safe to buy conventional. Keeping a copy of these lists in your smart phone (or even in your purse!) can help you decide when you're out grabbing your groceries, which foods you may want to splurge on and which you don't. 2) Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. This is where the majority of whole unprocessed foods (think fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, fish and proteins and healthy grains) are found. Buying packaged and over-processed foods can be more expensive and add unnecessary (and often unhealthy) foods to your grocery bill. 3) Stay organized! Each Sunday, sit down and make a weekly meal plan. Not only will this help to ensure you make most of your meals at home, but it can help you choose wisely and stay on top of your budget. Also, this can ensure you don't eat out or order take-away as often, which we all know can drain your wallet! 4) During the spring, summer and even fall take full advantage of your local farmers markets. Here you can stock up on local and organic fruits and veggies and save your bulk ingredients for a trip to a more expensive grocery store. This has the added bonus of helping our local farmers and the overall economy!
Is fasting a good method for weight loss?
There are so many fads and trends out there swirling around the health and wellness industry, that sometimes it can seem almost impossible to keep up! Fasting is yet another buzz-word that's on-trend these days. With this latest fad, we're not talking about "Long Term Fasting", rather something that has become known as "Intermittent Fasting". And, there's a big difference. To be clear, we don't recommend long term fasting (fasting for several days or weeks in a row) to lose weight or improve your level of health and wellness. Rather, we recommend eating a healthy and varied diet that consists of clean, whole and mostly unprocessed foods. When your diet consists of mostly fruits and vegetables, greens, healthy whole grains, healthy lean meats (organic and grass-fed are our preference), beans, nuts and seeds and healthy fats (EVOO and avocado for example), then you will naturally move towards looking and feeling your best. The buzz-word "intermittent fasting" refers to a way of eating where you consume your food within a shorter time frame in the day, thereby leaving longer stretches without consuming any food. One example of this eating regime is consuming all of your food between the hours of noon and 8pm in a given day. Then, you would not consume anything again until noon the following day. Advocates of this method believe that it promotes an optimal metabolism as it gives your gut time to be empty, therefore your body relies on using your bodies energy stores. As with every trend, there are those who strongly believe in this, and others who advocate other methods (for example consuming several small meals throughout the day). If you're curious to learn more about intermittent fasting, we encourage you to seek advice from a professional who is experienced and start slowly. For example, 1-2 days a week, wake up and have a big glass of warm lemon water and then wait until noon until you have your first full meal of the day. Listen to your body and assess how you feel and you will slowly learn if this method works for you.
What is our favourite prenatal vitamin?
We were both fortunate enough to have experienced two healthy pregnancies and two healthy babies. So, we have used (and experimented with) a lot of prenatal vitamins! We were each plagued with a great deal of nausea during our first trimesters and, on top of that, we each tend to have tummies that are sensitive to taking too many vitamins at once, even when we're not pregnant! So, it took us a few attempts to find a brand that we not only felt good about taking, but that did not send us running to the closest bathroom. And let us tell you—it made a world of difference knowing that our little ones were getting the vitamins and minerals they needed to grow happily inside our tummies. The brand we ultimately fell in love with is called New Chapter and it's their Perfect Prenatal Vitamin. What we love most is that it's a whole-food cultured multivitamin that uses organic vegetables and herbs. Once we started this multi, we said goodbye to our nausea and we felt great about what we were adding to our, and our babies, diets.
What vitamins and minerals can help with thinning hair?
We all know that a poor diet can affect how we feel. But, it can also affect areas like the health of our scalp and hair. The good news is, if you are someone who has experienced thinning hair or you just want vibrant and shiny looking hair, you can achieve this simply by making improvements to your diet. The benefits of consuming foods full of antioxidants are plenty, and healthy hair is top of the list. Thus, if you want to keep those locks looking their best, it's essential to eat a variety of foods containing vitamins C, D, E and B, as well as the minerals iron and zinc. Simply eating a variety of different-coloured fruits and veggies (think green veggies, orange fruits and veggies and red berries) can help you achieve this. Other sources that are rich in B vitamins (which are very important for scalp health) are salmon, whole grains, brown rice, seaweed and green leafy greens.
How can I ward off muscle cramps during and after Yoga?
You're in your fave Yoga or HIIT class killing it and suddenly, without warning, you are doubled over in pain from a cramp in your leg or foot. Sound familiar? Muscle cramps are actually very common (with higher rates in athletes and older people). And, although there can be many causes (dehydration being one of them), they are often due to an imbalance in minerals in our muscles. Magnesium is one of these minerals that is oh-so important as it helps to relax our muscles. So, if your body is deficient in magnesium (which many of us are), you may suffer from muscle cramps. One recommendation is to add a high quality magnesium supplement to your daily routine. It's best to take this before bed as an added bonus is that it helps with sleep! We recommend taking 300-500 mg before bed and see how you feel. One of our fave products is Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate Powder which can be found on Well.ca! Another great option is to simply increase the amount of magnesium-rich foods that you consume. Green leafy veggies (kale, spinach, collards), beans, nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds and almonds), avocados and bananas are all great sources. Another thing to keep in mind with muscle cramps is to always ensure you are adequately hydrated (especially for those who love to sweat!).