Wellness is so much more than the absence of disease! Being well and feeling well is when our body and mind are functioning optimally, where we are feeling full of vitality, really getting the most out of our lives and enjoying it. Two key components of wellbeing are food and lifestyle choices. Many of us are free to choose the types of foods we eat each day, as well as what we do with our free time. Our thoughts also play a critical role, but can sometimes be the hardest to alter: how we think and our energies towards things can sometimes take a little bit more practice and awareness to get out of bad habits. That said, habits are generally what keeps us stuck in our day-to-day diet and lifestyle routines too.
They say that it takes three weeks to make a habit and three weeks to break habits. The good news is that whilst starting to change behaviours can be a challenge at first, it becomes much easier over time as good habits also start to come habits. The best thing about including more health-promoting habits into your day is that you will not only start to feel amazing, you will also reduce the risk of developing chronic disease as you move through your life.
We all know that mental health issues are fast on the rise in our communities worldwide and there is a plethora of scientific research that supports nutritional adequacy as being one of the key factors involved in prevention. This doesn’t just mean calories, it means ALL of the essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and loads of fibre, provide everything that our system needs to do what it does naturally and that is heal and regenerate!
Rule # 1: Eat Loads of Plants
Eating a mostly plant-based diet has been shown repeatedly in the research to reduce the risk of developing chronic disease, like mental health conditions, as well as improves life expectancy and quality of life. Not a bad rap for food that just grows naturally out of the Earth!
A variety of different plants contain a large variety of different essential nutrients, like vitamins and minerals. Keeping a high intake of different plant foods will help to ensure you are getting ALL the essential nutrients your body requires to function.
When we talk about plant-based foods we are talking fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts and seeds, beans and other legumes, unrefined whole grains, lean meats and seafood. There is so much variety to choose from.
Here’s the thing, nutrients are called essential because they are necessary for the body to work, however, the body does not make them. So, this means that it is essential for us to consume them through our food intake. It sounds simple hey!
The fact is though that majority of us do not get all the essential nutrients our body needs and the statistics show that over 90% of us aren’t consuming the minimum 5 serves of vegetables each day. From this perspective, it’s easy to see why so many of us become to develop ill health!
I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty here, I’m just hoping too to highlight some of the most effective ways we can all quite easily improve our health and be able to enjoy life in the long term.
The Australian dietary guidelines suggest that we need at least five servings of vegetables each day to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases. One serve is only half a cup of vegetables or 1 cup of salad leaves, with a measuring cup being only a teacup size or 250mL.
It is not that difficult to achieve this mark if you are thinking about where you can fit these in and replace some of the higher calorie and low nutrition, side dishes with our meals, like bread, pasta, white rice and too much meat. The recommendation using the new plate model is that 1/2 of the plate be vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 whole grains, to give you a good visual picture.
Lastly, I’d like to debunk a false rumour getting around that fresh food is expensive and unaffordable for some people. A large research study was conducted quite recently, in Australia at the University of Wollongong, that showed that it was in fact cheaper for families to stick to the dietary guidelines rather than relying on fast and convenient, junkie type foods!
I hope you enjoy eating your rainbow every day so you can live your life to the fullest into the long-term…
About the Author
Dr Niikee Schoendorfer PhD, HSG Wellbeing Facilitator, Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, Academic, Research Fellow, Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher, Traditional Medicine Practitioner & Intuitive Guide.
Dr Niikee is a holistic health specialist, with a heart centred approach. With her vast and diverse skill sets, Niikee has been facilitating learning for over a decade on the principles of body, mind and spirit interrelationships to optimise health and wellness in the long term.