Wellness Tips

How Can I Stay Healthy During Covid-19 and Create a Sustainable Healthy Lifestyle?

With COVID-19 having ravaged the world and been particularly hard on those whose health is compromised, so many more people are focused on how to be healthy for the long-term. As a world population, we have realized that health is everything. It is the fuel that gives us the energy to get through each day with ease and grace, have healthy and thriving relationships, be productive at work, and frankly, even begin to harness happiness. Most importantly, the better our health, the more prepared we are to fend off pathogens like the coronavirus.

While there are a million ways to improve your health and well-being,  I’m going to provide you with a few critical ones with which you can begin your wellness journey. Wether you’re looking to prevent, manage, and reverse chronic disease, lose weight, reduce your blood pressure, decrease your stress and anxiety levels, improve your sleep, or be more focused and productive, these tips will set you on your way to wellness, for life.

Eat a plant-based diet. Eating in a plant-based manner is easier than you think and will greatly enhance your health. Many eating patterns are considered plant-based, which gives a wide range of options for people with different tastes, needs, and preferences. Four I work with frequently are flexitarian (which allows for some meat, dairy, and eggs), pescatarian (allows for fish, dairy, eggs), vegetarian (allows for dairy and eggs), and vegan (no animal products allowed). What does this range mean? It means that you don’t have to go to the extreme to be plant-based. You can find an eating style that works for your lifestyle and body.

    • The basic tenets of plant-based eating are to:
      • Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and plant-based proteins (i.e. tofu, tempeh, seitan),
      • Decrease your intake of animal-derived products (i.e. meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy).

Reduce your meat intake. If you’re an Omnivore you can do wonders for your health, the environment and animal welfare, merely by:

  • Reducing your meat intake by in the least, one serving a day
  • Avoiding processed meat all together (This includes deli meat, fast food meat, and any other meat like bacon and sausage that is modified from its natural state)
  • Saving your consumption of red meat for special occasions
  • Choosing 95% lean cuts of meat when you buy it
  • Choosing “sirloin” “round” or “loin” cuts of meat
  • Trimming off any excess fat
  • Eating white meat rather than red meat
  • Cooking your meat on lower heat (Cooking meat over high heat on a grill for example, produces carcinogenic chemicals you will end up ingesting)

Develop mindful eating habits. There are so many ways to eat more mindfully and here are few with which you can start:

  • Listen to your internal hunger and satiety cues (If you’re full, stop eating, if you’re hungry, eat more)
  • Eat slowly, chewing your food at least twenty times
  • Engage your senses by smelling your food, acknowledging the texture, hearing the sounds of the preparation (or the crunch of your teeth sinking into the food), and seeing the colors, arrangement, and anything else that catches your eye on your plate
  • Plate your food on appropriately sized plates with equally appropriate portion sizes
  • Be device-free at mealtimes
  • Engage in social conversation at the table
  • Eat your meals at approximately the same time every day with three- to four-hour breaks in between. (I’m a big proponent of three meals a day and an afternoon snack if needed)
  • Create a calming attractive environment in which you enjoy your food. (Warm colors, candles, nice tablecloths, flowers, music, and meaningful objects can all add great beauty to the dining experience)

Nurture Yourself. Life can be tough. Curveballs we can’t control, that are simply and inherently negative (i.e. sickness, death, unemployment, divorce), are constantly thrown at us, which is why it is so important to make sure you are kind to yourself. Here are some self-care ideas you can incorporate into your life that will add to your contentment quotient and ultimately enhance your health and well-being:

  • Go for a walk or hike in nature
  • Sit by a body of water
  • If you are in an urban environment, take a stroll through a park, the botanical gardens, or a museum
  • Call up a friend for a drink or hang out with family and play games, tell stories, workout together, cook together
  • Hone your home cooking skills and make delicious healthy food
  • Listen to music and discover new tunes
  • Get a massage or facial
  • Sign-up for an online course to learn something new, which is purely for the sake of your enjoyment (not for school credit, because you need a license, or someone told you to)
  • Get your nails done
    • Get lost in a book or an iconic movie

Meditate several times a week. Meditation is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress, anxiety, and systemic inflammation, all of which drive chronic disease and distress. You don’t have to do a meditation marathon. A few minutes a day is effective. And you can build over time, if you care to.

  • Find a comfortable place you can sit where you won’t be disturbed
  • Make your spot cozy and comfortable with lighting and candles that are relaxing, scent diffusers or incense if you like, and a comfortable blanket, pillow, or chair on which you can sit (you can also lie down if sitting is not an option)
  • Set a timer for five minutes
  • If you prefer guided meditations, select your soundtrack for the day, however, if you can, sitting in silence and training your mind to let go of thoughts that arise, is most effective (you can use internal mantras like “let go” or “be calm” to assist you in reigning you back from going down the rabbit hole of thought)

Exercise regularly. The Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans call for at least one hundred-fifty to three hundred minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or seventy-five to one hundred-fifty minutes of vigorous exercise spread throughout the week. In addition, the guidelines recommend at least two days a week of strength training whether with weights and machines, or your own body weight.

  • Choose physical activities you love to do. Walking, yoga, biking, Pilates, spinning, gardening, swimming, tennis, jogging, weight-lifting, and even house chores like vacuuming, count
    • Once you know which activities you will make a habit of doing, create a schedule for yourself using a calendar to map out what you’re going to do, on which days, and for how long

Find a supportive community. Who we surround ourselves with has a large impact on our eating and exercise habits and behaviors so pick your companions carefully. For many, this starts at home. The more knowledge those around you have about your goals and the reasons behind them, the more helpful and encouraging they can be. The value-add of this welcoming approach is that usually everyone reaps a reward—they too might lose some weight, find a new dish they love, or develop a greater consciousness about climate change— which makes for a win-win situation. You can ask your support group:

  • To try the new eating pattern with you for fun
  • To keep tempting processed foods out of sight if not out of the house entirely
  • To join you and cook with you, or at least share the finished product
  • To watch a documentary on the subject of the environment, animal rights, or healthy eating
  • To meet you for a walk in the park once a week, an outdoor HIIT session, or a tennis game

My new book is out!

Reinvent your diet, take control of your health, and live a better life with a flexible and sustainable plant-based diet solution.