Despite what you see in the media, there’s no secret formula or special pill that’s going to make you feel healthy, good looking, or happy.
But it’s easier to be the best possible version of yourself than you may have imagined.
Sure, having six pack abs will take some hard work, but if you’re just looking to feel great and look better, follow these tiny changes to your everyday routine to feel more energized and look your best.
Shop the perimeter at the grocery store
On any given trip to the supermarket you’re bombarded with aisles of food options. The sheer number of products can be downright overwhelming.
However, if you’re on a quest to live healthier so you can feel great and look even better, navigating efficiently through the grocery store is your first step.
The majority of grocery stores are laid out the same way: the produce, meat, dairy, and seafood sections form a border around the interior aisles of shelf stable products. To shop the perimeter, stick with the outside aisles and only go down the interior ones for certain staple items like brown rice and cooking oils.
You see, the perimeter aisles are the freshest, healthiest aisles. The interior aisles are jam-packed with hundreds of boxed or prepackaged options – some healthy, others not so much.
But without really knowing Nutrition, it can be confusing to assess whether an item is actually good for you. And if you’re in a rush, you may not have time to read all of those labels.
All you have to do is steer clear of the aisles where all the preservative-laced food choices live and stick to the fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and natural foods found on the perimeter of the store.
As an added bonus, shopping the perimeter will not only help you feel better since you’re not filling your body with chemicals, but it will also help your wallet.
Save the money and skip the inside aisles.
Generally avoid caffeine
Caffeine is one of those health items experts can’t seem to agree on.
Is it really good for you? Can it boost your metabolism?
Some studies, like this one from Obesity Review via Livestrong, suggest that caffeine does in fact help your body burn fat.
But other experts like Gillian McKeith, author of You Are What You Eat, mentions the fact that coffee, which contains caffeine, actually increases your blood pressure, “leaving you feeling anxious and restless.”
On top of that, “[caffeine] overworks the adrenal glands, tiring out both them and you,” according to McKeith.
So what should you believe?
When it comes to caffeine, ask yourself about your main goal for drinking it.
Are you looking to boost your metabolism?
Then one to two cups a day should be your limit. If you notice any restlessness or anxiety, cut it out altogether.
Are you using it as a pre-workout before hitting the gym? If you feel there is a noticeable difference in your performance with caffeine vs without, I would take it. I myself take a pre-workout drink every day before hitting the gym, but I don’t drink coffee regularly.
Stay away from alcohol
This one is sometimes harder for people to avoid than caffeine.
A recent Google search led me to this snippet from the Mayo Clinic:
According to the Mayo Clinic, “many doctors agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart,” but, “too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.”
Alcohol is also another hot button for McKeith.
McKeith promotes the fact that alcohol puts too much strain on your liver and digestive system. She even goes so far as saying, “Alcohol weakens your liver, the basic organ for fat metabolism, and stimulates your appetite.”
If looking and feeling great is your goal, alcohol will not get you there.
As a depressant, the more you drink, the worse you’ll feel.
By eliminating alcohol entirely, you’ll be one step closer to feeling great and looking even better.
Herbal teas are a must-have
I have to admit that I’ve always loved tea. There’s something so comforting and warm about a steamy mug of heavenly scented tea leaves that it’s hard to believe most people don’t include it as part of their daily routine. Even on the hottest days, I’ll reach for an iced tea and will be just as refreshed and satisfied.
But most of us, including me, have been familiar with drinking black or green tea.
And while there’s nothing wrong with either choice, they both contain caffeine, which as we mentioned earlier, might be a potential issue.
To avoid that dilemma, it’s time to discover the world of herbal teas instead.
I found this quote via Reader’s Digest Best Health from herbalist Marianne Beacon of Elderberry Herbals very interesting. Beacon says, “We might get more benefit from a good organic tea than from a vitamin pill.”
For example, peppermint tea is known to alleviate gas and bloating. Ginger tea is great for stomachaches from nausea, vomiting, or motion sickness. Chamomile tea has been studied and used for its calming and sedative properties, according to Best Health.
The best part of drinking herbal tea is that you can sip as many as three to five cups per day. So whether you’re looking to relax, feel better, or boost your mood, tea can be your natural go-to, saving you calories and headaches.
Avoid added sugars
Added sugars are everywhere. Seriously – it’s in everything these days.
We’ve even mentioned 15 surprising foods with added sugar in our recent post here.
From oatmeal and salad dressings to fruit juices and condiments, the only way to get around hidden sugars is to read the labels and learn exactly what goes into the food you consume.
According to Business Insider, the problem with sugar is that it can lead to:
- Insatiable hunger
- Weight gain
- Insulin resistance
- Liver failure
- Pancreatic cancer
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Cognitive decline
- Nutritional deficiencies
With a list like that, it’s almost too easy to keep your distance from dangerous added sugars.
Certain carbs should not be avoided
With low-carb fad diets came the notion that all carbohydrates are evil and should be cut from our diets completely.
Yet, the reality is that this is only partially true.
And that’s the problem that most of us face.
I’ve found that people consume too many of the wrong kinds of carbs.
To get the most out of your carbohydrate intake, you’ll want to stick to whole, unprocessed grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and whole wheat pasta.
According to Lori Zanini, R.D., via Men’s Health, cutting carbs out completely is not a good idea. Instead, the goal is to consume carbs throughout the day and in moderation. This keeps your energy levels stable so you don’t crash and end up binge eating on junk food.
Enjoy more veggies than fruit
Remember when your mother told you to eat your veggies?
Yeah, I hated that, too.
But it turns out she was right this whole time.
While fruits are still considered healthy, they can be somewhat bad if consumed in huge quantities.
With vegetables, it’s almost impossible to overeat them. And I say almost here as I picture someone eating a mound of carrots while his skin turns orange. Trust me, it’s happened before, and you don’t want to go there.
Veggies are low in calories and sugar and require much more effort to be metabolized by our system. This additional effort makes us eat slower and realize when we’re actually full so we don’t overeat.
Have you ever sat down to a giant salad only to be tired of all that chewing halfway through?
That’s the power of vegetables.
Fruits, on the other hand, don’t require too much effort to eat, so they can leave you feeling hungry. Plus, some fruit is also higher in natural sugars and doesn’t offer much protein.
There’s no doubt in my mind that following the recommended advice of nine servings per day of fruits and vegetables will keep you feeling and looking your best.
Omega-3s are essential
Omega-3 fatty acids became very popular at one point.
However, I don’t see as many people interested in Omega-3s as they once were.
But the truth of the matter is that if you want to feel and look your best, you’ll want to add Omega-3s to your diet.
“We need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain, and since our bodies cannot make omega-3 fats, we must get them from food,” Dr. Frank Sacks, professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard School of Public Health, explains.
Before you go reaching for an Omega-3 supplement, you should try to consume them naturally through your diet.
You have two options: the plant-based route or the fish route.
It’s important to note that some experts believe eating fish is the only way to properly consume Omega-3s. Supporters say reach for fish like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines, according to the American Heart Association.
If plants are more your thing, opt for dark leafy greens such as romaine, arugula, and spinach. Beans like navy or kidney, and seeds such as flaxseeds, are also plant-based options loaded with the highest amounts of Omega-3s.
Either route is a good option, and as this article shows, there’s just not enough evidence to side with one way or the other.
At the very least, start taking an Omega-3 supplement on days when you don’t eat any of the suggested foods above. Keep in mind that Omega-3 supplements should be used sparingly versus daily.
Soak up some Vitamin D
In our post, Vitamin D: Everything You Need to Know About the “Sunshine” Vitamin, we uncovered typical sources of vitamin D and its benefits.
So without giving away too much, here’s an important takeaway: you need to consume vitamin D regularly.
Without it, you may not be able to feel your best physically or mentally, thanks to the fact that vitamin D gives our bodies the ability to move freely and prevents brain disorders like dementia.
Supplements are helpful, but not a solution
I think supplements are great.
I take a multivitamin every day along with a combination of other essential fatty acids and minerals to keep me feeling at my best.
But you can’t supplement a poor diet by eating your fill of vitamins instead. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
You still want to eat as healthy as possible and only use the supplements to fill in the gaps, so to speak.
One of my favorite supplement companies is Legion. Each of their products is thoroughly researched, tested, and backed by science.
However, everyone is different.
Although Legion might work for me, it could be all wrong for you. You may have to do some research or ask your doctor for recommendations and advice about what you should be taking.
My only supplement tip: don’t go overboard. Choosing to consume 1000% of your daily recommended value of vitamin C will do nothing for you. In fact, anything over 100% of the daily recommended value is unnecessary.
Remember, vitamins are used to fill in the gaps, not offer a substitute for eating healthy.
Diets don’t work
As you may have noticed, this list doesn’t mention following one diet or counting a single calorie and there’s a reason for that.
I don’t believe in diets and I don’t believe they work. And you shouldn’t either.
Counting calories can be a major waste of your time. Instead, become more mindful of what you’re eating and pay attention to how the food you eat makes you feel.
The main idea is to eat healthy, whole foods and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol at the very least. You can start adding each of the items listed above to your diet and in a short time you won’t even recognize your new, energized self.