When I start a nutrition coaching plan with new clients, the first step is to fill out a ‘Health History Questionnaire’. It consists of a couple of pages about your present and past health history, what your goals are in terms of working with a Certified Integrative Nutritionist, and what some of your biggest struggles have been to date with your health and wellness. With almost every single form I have ever received back, I always hear ‘I want to feel healthy’.
My next step is a follow-up call to ask a few deep dive questions. One that I always ask is ‘what does healthy look like, and more importantly FEEL LIKE, to you?’ And every single person answers it differently.
For some, it is being at their ideal weight on a scale. For others, it is reducing medications for their chronic pain or diseases. Having better sleep, more energy, feeling in control of their health and a strategy for a long, healthy life are all answers I have heard. There is no wrong answer to this question. What healthy is for you, isn’t necessarily what it is for me, and the answer can change over time.
In my twenties, I don’t think I really even thought about it. I was young, having way too much fun, and had priorities that were changing as often as I changed my address. When I entered my thirties, things seemed to shift for me. The biggest priority when it came to my health in my early 30’s was working out. I was in the gym five times per week, and was in great physical shape. I loved it so much that I completed my certification to be a fitness instructor ‘just for fun’. It wasn’t at all what I was doing with my career, but loved the knowledge and know-how for my personal workouts.
From my mid-thirties and onward, I have found a huge love and passion for nutrition. I have been my own best guinea pig when it comes to nutrition trends. I have tried almost every trend with food and nutrition out there in order to see how it felt with my own body. That’s the thing about health…we are all bioindividuals, so what works for me, won’t necessarily work for you.
When someone in the health and wellness field gives you a ‘diet’ to stick to, it won’t work…or at least not for long. Why not? First of all, it isn’t customized for YOU. What works well for your digestive system, energy level, fitness regime, genetics, or taste buds. Secondly, how long do you plan to eat that plan for? Forever? Have they set you up to understand how food works with your body or are you now tied to them forever to know what to eat?
After losing my mom in 2013 to a horrific battle with cancer, something was sparked in me to learn. I wanted to learn more about why our digestive system is the key to health; I wanted to learn about how we can strengthen our immune system with food; I wanted to learn how food and lifestyle can lead to longevity. This thirst for knowledge and spark I have found for myself is now how I coach.
What does healthy feel like to me now? I am in my early forties with a baby under a year old. Healthy feels to me like really good energy. Having the energy to go go go with her all day long. Having the mental energy to make really good decisions about what is best for my little family. Having the energy to walk my 80-pound dog with my Baby every day for and sometimes still finding the energy to do a workout that day too. Healthy feels like happiness.
My nutrition is on point. And let’s be honest…I would feel like a bit of a fraud if I was telling my clients to eat all of this nutrient dense food and not doing it myself. But I don’t do it for that. I do it so I can feel healthy! I love that I don’t have any digestive issues. I love that when I see a doctor for an annual check-up he tells me I am in terrific health. I love that I wake up every morning without pain or feeling unrested. I love that I look younger than I am. So, what is healthy to me…this is it. Will it change again? Absolutely…that’s the fun thing about life.
Once you learn how to make better decisions for yourself with food, the next step is to ask yourself while building a plate or a meal, ‘how can I make this healthier?’ It is taking little steps to make things a bit better for you on the inside. This idea is what I talk to my clients about, and I call it ‘Superfooding Your Life’.
Here are my top three tips to make your nutrition routine healthier:
- Eat more fruit and veggies. You should be having approximately EIGHT servings per day of these nutrient dense goodness foods. One serving is approximately the size of your palm. Are you getting enough?
- Increase your healthy fat intake daily. These are foods like avocado, nuts, seeds (chia, hemp, flax), olive oil, coconut oil and high fat Greek yogurt.
- Replace your meat consumption with beans and lentils. You should be eating beans and lentils every single day. I am not here to make you a vegetarian or vegan – that is a personal decision that only you should make. BUT, you really shouldn’t be eating meat every day. Take that down a notch or two for your health.
Lastly, remember food is supposed to also bring you joy. Whether that means breaking bread with friends and family, having an ice cream treat with your son at the end of a school week, or finding the joy in cooking from scratch, it is not to be over thought nor bring stress. When we start to make good decisions for ourselves when it comes to our health, we will start to feel good physically and mentally for a longer, healthier life. It’s about consistency. One bad meal won’t make you sick, and one good one won’t make you healthy.
So, I challenge you to ask yourself, and PLEASE feel free to comment here or shoot me an email, what does healthy mean to you?