A guide to living a healthier lifestyle both physically and mentally

By Laura Lima

I know you. Okay, I suppose I don’t really know you, but I do know one thing: you’d love to feel amazing every single day. You dream of waking up and springing out of bed with ease, going through your day with lots of energy, and still having the bandwidth left at night to spend quality time with your family.

Am I right?

If yes, it’s because this is what most of us desire in our lives. And yet, too many of us seem unable to see those hopes through. At the end of the day, this affects our physical body, our mental outlook, our family, our job… basically, every part of our world.

So, my friend, it’s time to shake things up. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and figure out what’s getting in your way when it comes to living your healthiest life and feeling your absolute best, every single day.

1. You’re not eating enough fat.

Hold the phone. What? Yup, you read that correctly. You may not be eating enough fat. We need this hugely important food component because it feeds our brain and nervous system and builds healthy, strong cells. Fat also enhances our satisfaction from food and keeps us feeling full longer between meals.

Is there a wrong kind of fat? Oh yeah! Try to avoid vegetable oils (like canola, soybean and corn oil) as well as margarine. Instead, focus on good fats like butter, eggs, fish, avocados and healing oils like coconut, olive and flax oil.

2. You’re not spacing your meals out enough.

This reason is twofold.

First: After we eat, our body needs time to break down our food and absorb the nutrients from it. And it takes a lot of energy to do this. If we eat again during this process, our digestive system will slow down to wait for the incoming food, and only when we finish that food will our digestion be able to efficiently resume once again. This can create a constant fatigued and sluggish feeling throughout the day.

Second: Every time we eat carbohydrates, and to an extent, protein, our pancreas secretes insulin to ensure that our blood sugar level doesn’t get too high. Great, right? Well, yes, if everything is working as it should. The problem is that, for various reasons that we’ll save for another day, insulin often ends up converting some of this sugar into fat, storing it mainly around our abdomen.

The key factor behind this is called “insulin resistance,” which so many of us have to some extent, often without realizing it. The more exposure our cells have to insulin, the more likely they are to become resistant to its effects. And remember, virtually every time we eat (unless we’re only eating fat), an increase in insulin results, perpetuating this cycle.

Aim for 3-5 hours in between meals, snacking only if you’re hungry. Ensure you’re eating enough protein and fat with each meal in order to carry you over to the next.

3. You’re choosing the wrong “healthy” foods.

Perhaps you’ve been told that they’re healthy, but they’re not. Whatever am I referring to? Those low-calorie, artificially-sweetened bars and other snack foods. Artificial sweeteners, flavours and colours do not serve us; putting these in our body has the potential to slow us down and reduce cell function.

Do not be lured in by the empty promises that oh-so-many labels make; whole, real food is where it’s at.

Another biggie is low-fat dairy products; we need fat to function, and when it’s removed from food, well, bad things happen. The food is digested more quickly, leading to a faster-spiking blood sugar level, which we both now know leads to more insulin production… and this can end in fat storage and low energy. Plus, when fat in foods is removed, flavour follows, so extra sugar and/or other ingredients are added in order to make the food tasty once again.

So, here’s the name of the game: eat fat, space your meals out, and focus on whole, real foods. By doing this, you’ll be feeding your body the right kind of fuel and giving it a chance to use that fuel in the best possible way. This will result in more energy and vitality that will allow you to actually enjoy your days, rather than just “get through them.” And really, this has the power to enhance our happiness and overall enjoyment of life… and who doesn’t want that?!