It’s no secret that everybody enjoys a bonus. Monetary bonuses are great and perks and prizes are fun, but just how much more valuable do we deem a health and well-being bonus? This week, we’re focusing on how you can improve your overall health and all the bonuses that come along with it! A big example that comes to mind when discussing this topic is weight loss or other health measurements such as blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure (also known as the silent disease), you are damaging other areas of your health and body, thereby increasing your risk of additional chronic illnesses.

Lifestyle versus medication.  Sure, you can take a blood pressure medication, but that won’t necessarily impact your weight OR other chronic conditions. It may be necessary, but combined with the advice of your physician, we encourage a lifestyle change first. For example, a simple lifestyle option to try could be reducing processed foods. When you reduce processed foods you greatly decrease your salt and sugar intake and decrease your refined carbohydrate (low fiber) intake. This will not only impact your blood pressure, but also your risk of diabetes, heart disease, gut issues and more! Read more lifestyle ways to lower your blood pressure.

More Bonus Benefits.  Health and wellness is much more than just our weight or other biometric measurements. Essentially, when we use lifestyle changes to address our health issues we will likely experience other well-being benefits. Well-being can be defined as a ‘flourishing human’, or in simple terms, thriving over surviving. It includes all dimensions of wellness beyond your physical health. As you reduce your sugar and refined carbohydrates, your emotional well-being will improve, your risk of anxiety and depression will decrease, you will feel better about yourself (another bonus being that your social health may improve as well) and your spiritual health will improve as you connect with your values and value yourself. These dimensions have a domino effect and can even change other major areas of our lives such as our occupational and financial health. We will desire to improve our environment, starting with our fridge and pantry!

The Big Three. The wellness profession often talks about the big three: exercise, stress and nutrition. While all of these are extremely important, the nutrition aspect carries the most weight when it comes chronic illnesses. (Don’t worry, we will discuss exercise and stress management later this month!) Balanced Wellness offers a Take 5! Program which focuses on 5 strategies to improve your health, with three of them being directly related to nutrition:

  1. Eat Whole Foods.
  2. Fill half your plate with fruits or vegetables.
  3. Drink water to stay hydrated.
  4. Move!
  5. Mindfulness

This brings us to the idea of adapting a Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) nutrition plan. We highly encourage you to move ‘toward’ a nutrition plan focused on plant-based nutrition for some of your meals. Achieving this may be easier than you anticipate, as we can do this by making half our plate fruits or vegetables and making our starches healthy whole foods! Even substituting a meal or two a week with a plant-based protein such as beans or lentils can go a long way in helping you to eat a more plant-based diet. Worried about protein?  Listen to Dr. John McDougall share where to get your protein and how much you need.

Inspiration Moment.  Read how Jackie not only reduced her blood pressure but gained additional health benefits in just two months!  At just 25 she weighed in at 213 pounds and experience several health conditions.

Ready to get started?  Terry Gehrke, M.Ed., MCHES, EP-C offers coaching to transition to a WFPB nutrition plan or simply increase your fruit, vegetable, and whole foods.  She has completed the eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition certificate and has been primarily plant based since 2013.  Check out the Forks Over Knives beginners guide.

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