Our patients often ask us what they need to do to change. Often what we ask of them is difficult and overwhelming. Some are disheartened, and we never what that to be the case. We are here to help. I decided to write this as a simple guide to changing your lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be all at once. I know some people can handle that but most of us don’t like to rip the band-aid off all at once. I usually only ask my patients to do that with foods that are really messing with them. But other things don’t have to happen all at once.
When my wife and I started making changes in our lifestyle we started slowly. The first thing was gluten as it was the cause to many of my migraines. That had to go, but that left a rift in our recipe book. So we started searching for new recipes. We also were on a tight budget being school still, so that made things more difficult. In other words, we get it! It can be tough, but the health benefits are so rewarding. Over the years we slowly became completely organic and we make most things from scratch. We love it! Our next step is to have our own garden, but that is awhile of yet.
So Where to Start
First, start with the elimination stage. You may have already known triggers or you have come to see us and we removed some foods from your diet, so the first stage is getting rid of any trace of that food. Depending on the food it could be short term, long term, or for life. Some foods are touted as health foods but in reality have some damaging effects on the body such as coffee, green tea, and chocolate. We see quite a bit of caffeine and other methylxanthine toxicity in our office. So eliminate known food intolerances, if you don’t know yours try the elimination diet. You can use Whole30 diet for this or AIP which is stricter. You can also come in and we can test you too. Each one will eliminate problematic foods and then bring them back in after a period of time to see how you cope.
From there some fine tuning may be needed. We typically focus on more nutrient dense foods being the primary goal like pasture raised quality meat and dairy, and lots of organic, locally grown fruits and veggies. Nuts too are a great source.
It may be good to keep a food and symptom diary to track how you feel.
Start collecting recipes. Check out thedomesticman.com or you can check out my Pinterest for some ideas. Find foods you will like to eat and try new things! It will take time to adjust, but stay vigilant! If need be take one recipe at a time.
Cleaning out the pantry and fridge. Remove any and all processed foods. Start slowly if this is overwhelming. Throw those sugar cereals away or give them away. Replace your white sugar with sucanat, maple syrup, or honey. Flour may take it a bit of time if you can handle gluten. It’s best to have organic non-GMO flour especially ancient grains that you can grind and ferment yourself. It can be a bit overwhelming, that’s why most people just give up on wheat. An easy change is to use pink Himalayan salt instead of your typical table salt. Pink Himalayan is high minerals that table salt doesn’t have.
Replace processed plant oils with good cooking oils like coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil, palm oil, grass-fed butter, and pasture-raised lard and tallow. Olive oil is great for dressings, but don’t cook with it.
Shift to organic. A helpful tool is the Dirty Dozen app you can download it on both Apple and Android I believe. It tells you which foods have the worst amount of pesticides. Shift to pasture-raised and grass-fed meat. Lastly, if you can find it local, buy it local.
As you find recipes you like you will start collecting different ingredients. We pride ourselves on all our herbs and spices. We love them. You don’t have to go get everything at once, just a step at a time! Don’t run faster than you have strength.
Stick to it. It will be hard, but I promise it gets easier. The cravings go away and soon food that you used to chow down on will be of no interest to you. You will feel better, you will have more strength and energy.
Your friends and family will look to you for guidance. Be the example!
Lastly, don’t apologize for seeking better, long-lasting health.
Cleaning Up Your Environment
Slowly, start looking at the chemicals you use to clean your house. Replace them with healthier ones. We use castile soap and some essential oil blends. But good ole fashion vinegar and water works wonders! Replace the laundry detergent and your shampoo. I have for a few years been using my own DIY shampoo.
Our latest change has been to a new organic mattress from Avocado Mattresses. We love it! It has been a great blessing compared to our old hand-me-down mattress.
Get Outside and Move
This article would be remiss if I didn’t mention movement. Get outside and move! We are nature and movement starved! It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just go for a walk. Start with 30 minutes per day, whatever feels right. But get moving. We love hiking and being in nature. Not to mention it’s good for you! Whatever your choice of exercise is, just get moving. I am not going to go into detail of good, better, and best here, but one thing is for sure we live in the beautiful Ozarks with many hiking trails.
- Elimination Diet-avoid the problem foods
- Lots of fruits and veggies
- Collect Recipes-take it one recipe at a time
- Try New Foods
- Clean out the Pantry and Fridge
- Throw out process foods
- Replace unhealthy cooking oils
- Shift to organic
- If you can find it local, buy it local.
- Be Vigilant
- Clean up your Environment
- Get Outside and Move
- It will take time. So breathe and be patient. It’s okay if you stumble.
If you want a more detailed step-by-step guide let me know and maybe I’ll write one up. Otherwise, I hope this helps!
Some of my favorite websites for some good info and recipes: