January represents a new chapter, a great time to take stock of what enriches your life and what doesn’t. For nutritionist Katie Morley and Plenish, it’s all about easing into the year, embracing self-care and prioritising health to get into the rhythm of ‘feel good’ habits that work for personal health. Below, Katie outlines eight steps she’s taken to find her wellness flow, to revitalise her mind and body this year.
1. Engaging with Mindful Eating
Eating mindfully is an effective health hack to support your mind and body. What’s more, it may be linked with a range of benefits such as increased awareness of hunger and fullness cues to maintain healthy weight management, improved cognitive function and reduced levels of stress. It involves taking time out of your day to consciously eat without distractions, putting away any electronic devices, sitting down and appreciating the food you are about to eat, being still and present while eating and listening to your body to pick up on cues that let you know when you are full. With ‘hustle culture’ in full swing at this time of year, taking a step back and focusing on mindful eating may be the simple daily habit you need to improve your mood, promote a sense of calm and support overall well-being.
2. Focusing on “Adding In”
Focusing on nutrient-dense, colourful foods such as vegetables, fruits, pulses and wholegrains is important due to their high content goodness – fibre, water, micronutrients and phytonutrients such as polyphenols and flavonoids. Why are these nutritional components good for us? Research suggests they have powerful anti-inflammatory effects in the body, which in turn supports optimal health and reduces the risk of chronic disease. On the flip side, energy-dense foods, such as processed, refined foods with high fat and sugar content, may activate an increased inflammatory response in the body, leading to possible adverse health effects. Aim to include 8-10 portions of varied fresh fruits and vegetables per day. If this seems a little too much to begin with, try incorporating our juices for an easy-breezy way to increase your daily fruit and vegetable count.
3. Choosing Superfoods
Superfoods are increasingly popular in the media and can be defined as foods that contain all or mostly all the vitamins, minerals and trace minerals the body requires to function properly. In simple terms, incorporating superfoods means including foods that contain a diverse range of nutrients. Chlorophyll, the compound that gives fruits and vegetables their green colour, is a great starting point for many as it features in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, parsley, watercress and rocket. It provides a rich source of vitamin A, C, E, K, magnesium, iron and potassium, and may be linked with an array of benefits such as reduced inflammation and increased energy production. Pomegranate is another superfood to put on your January shopping list, as it’s rich in key nutrients such as vitamin A, C, K, folate, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Thanks to its nutrient-rich content, it may be associated with positive health outcomes such as better digestive health and reduced inflammation in the body.
4. Incorporating Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting involves alternating between periods of eating and periods of fasting. There are various intermittent fasting methods such as 16:8 (fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour window) or 5:2 (consuming 500-600 calories for two days per week). Ultimately, the main premise is ‘time-restricted feeding’ which generally leads to limiting your calorie intake as it’s to a set period of time. According to a plethora of research, this may be associated with health benefits such as promoting healthy weight management, reducing inflammation in the body, supporting longevity and improving cognitive function. At Plenish, we embrace the 5:2 fasting method and make it easy to fit into a busy schedule, you can find out more about it here.
5. Supporting Immunity
Making a conscious effort to support your immune system in January is the gold-standard for starting the year on the right track. Winter is typically the time most of us catch that cold or flu going around the office or just generally feel a bit under-the-weather. To shield your body in the best way possible, incorporate a variety of colourful, diverse foods rich in vitamins such as A, C, D, and minerals such as zinc. In addition to this, aim to include probiotics to promote a healthy microbiome and improve digestive function. After all, 70-80% of our immune system resides in our gut! Reducing sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake, as well as incorporating regular activity, preferably outside in nature, may be advantageous for enhancing immunity.
6. Upping Hydration
Adequate hydration is essential for promoting better health. Since our body is 60% water, it’s important to stay hydrated to support essential bodily functions, which equates to roughly 6-8 glasses of water per day. Increasing water intake doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to plain water as a variety of beverages such as juices and juice shots can be incorporated to meet your daily hydration requirements. Some of the most hydrating fruits include watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches and oranges. During January, a warming broth or soup is the perfect way to increase your hydration levels.
7. Making Time for Movement
Exercising doesn’t need to involve a sweaty circuit class or intense endurance run. Instead, you can opt for slower, more gentle workouts including yoga, pilates, barre or a brisk walk to reap the benefits of movement, especially during the colder, dark months. Research shows that exercise may be positively correlated with preventing chronic diseases, as well as boosting energy levels and supporting overall mood. This is potentially due to the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals called endorphins, which may explain the ‘runner’s high’ often talked about. Alternatively, flowing through a zen yoga class may also be linked with reduced levels of stress and an increased sense of calm.
8. Experiment with Cold Water Therapy
Cold therapy has been around for centuries and the concept involves reducing the temperature of our bodily tissues to promote overall well-being and provide symptomatic relief for specific health conditions. Numerous health benefits may be linked with cold therapy, including bolstering immunity, alleviating depression, improving circulation, and reducing inflammation and muscle soreness. Dip your toe into the world of cold water therapy by taking a cold shower (basically, as cold as it can go) everyday or every other day. Begin with 30 seconds and work up to 5 minutes for an easy way to reap the potential benefits.
Author: Plenish Nutritionist, Katie Morley
DipNT, mBANT, mANP, CNHC
Email: [email protected]