Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Every woman should have access to healthy food, period.
As we continue to age, its so key that we feed our souls with the most natural nutrition and do our best to follow a healthy lifestyle that works for us. Healthy living is merely an act of balance between the following mental, nutrition, physical activity, relationships, and your overall lifestyle.
Ask yourself, what do you currently attract vs. what you admire to attract? The universe will only work in your favor if you show in your decisions made everyday that you are ready for wellness in your life. It will also show up in your body, the foods you decide to consume, and most importantly in the relationships you develop with yourself and others. Your body and your soul are your temple, mama! Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.
Our ability to balance our soulful pillars (mental, nutrition, physical activity, relationships, and your overall lifestyle), will vary because of our socio-demographics and access are different. We women also require different emotional, physical, and mental needs.
The ultimate goal is to incorporate each element into your daily routine and reach an optimal balance to improve your overall health and wellness.
Let the journey to feeling good and honoring our needs begin!
Every woman deserves access to healthy foods ...
2 out of 3 women die from chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes. A healthy diet can decrease your chances of developing many chronic diseases.
If you are unsure on where to start, I highly recommend kickstarting your healthy journey with doing a juice cleanse. This was one of the most spiritual and physical detoxing I have ever done for myself. I am proud yo say that I am now permanently juicing Monday through Friday, and designate the weekends to eating meat and heavy carbohydrates. Let me share my juicing experience with yall...
My experience doing a juice cleanse
I was scared, intimidated, and didn't feel ready to accomplish 5-days! Upon doing mad research, I chose to give Pressed Juicery a try and it was the best choice I've ever made. I felt very bloated for a while, even while eating healthier, so I wanted a cleanse that targeted my gut and digestive system. I chose the 3-Day Juice Cleanse. The cleanse comes with eighteen juices, and I had six juices a day for three days. You can't eat any food, but you can drink lots of water. If you are starving, you can have a handful of nuts/seeds and vegetables. The juices included celery, pineapple, kale, spinach, passion fruit, and many other flavors. I am pretty much used to eating vegetables at this point, so the green juices were not too bad to drink. They were my favorite; I can't believe I am admitting that. Who am I?!
Something spiritual happened ladies..
While I was detoxing I instantly was able to feel other's energy and encourage close friends and family to pursue their goals in wellness and life. I may sound insane, but it is something that the juices from mother nature does when it enters your bloodstream. You instantly feel refreshed, reenergized, closer to your soul, and this overall clarity in the direction you are intending on heading.
Doing a juice cleanse is a form of a detox diet. It is meant to give your digestive system a break from all the foods we consume throughout the day. You are still consuming vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamins, minerals, and other anti-inflammatory compounds that your body needs. This type of cleansing eliminates toxins, improves digestion, and your immune system. It also assists in emptying the colon and diversifying your microbiome. Please know that it's not meant to be something you do for an extended time, as it can lead to liver, kidney, and gallbladder problems.
Raw, fresh juice made from fruits and vegetables
Gluten-free vegan meals
Raw vegetables, like carrots or peppers, to snack on
Meat, poultry, or dairy
Sugar and sweets
Exercising during cleanse
I read reviews, and many shared that they felt tired and unable to exercise during the cleanse. I was able to exercise but still decided to slow down. On the first day of my cleanse, I did a heavy leg/booty workout. It was early in the morning, and I started drinking the juice after training. On the second day, though, I ended up doing a light upper-body exercise to avoid overwhelming my body. On the third day, I didn't feel like moving too much, so I went for a 45-minute walk. On the first day post-cleanse, I did a HIIT workout. When it comes to fitness during a cleanse, it's best to listen to your body. Please do not work out if you are feeling low and fatigued.
After the cleanse, it's recommended not to indulge because it can have adverse effects on your body since your body hasn't processed solid foods in a few days. I wanted to start monitoring myself to detect any food sensitivities and foods that caused excessive bloating. So, I continued following the pre-cleanse diet, only eating vegetables and fruits. I will start including dairy, meat, and legumes over the next few weeks to identify whether any of these cause triggers to my body. I didn't have any cake this time. If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for anything sweet. But, I didn't have any sugar cravings after the cleanse.
If the cleanse doesn't sound like a good kickstart..
how to start: nutrition edition
Diet and nutrition are some of the most significant factors that contribute to health roadblocks. Did you know that minority women die at higher rates from chronic diseases, strokes, and diabetes mellitus than their white counterparts due to poor diet and nutrition. We know that eating healthy is essential for our health, but it is still not the most pleasant and straightforward practice to change. Before we discuss the prospects of eating healthy, it would be a disservice to not consider the social and economic limitations that hinder minority women from starting to eat healthier. These limitations include the lack of access and cost of healthy foods, beliefs about diet, residence type (urban vs. rural), social support, and even education level. Income alone affects whether a person can afford to purchase healthy and "organic" foods. Many low-income communities in the U.S. do not have healthy food options, also known as food deserts. This lack of access results in lower fruit and vegetable intake. You have to be aware of the barriers you face to eating healthy and start where you are.
Full transparency, my barriers to eating healthy included $$, and my beliefs. I always had a difficult time gaining weight and operated under the misconception that people only ate salads and vegetables to lose weight. I even had people tell me I didn't need to eat this way because I was already skinny. There are many misconceptions about diet. The biggest one is that dieting means losing weight when it's actually about what you are putting into your body. I started my journey because of this misconception – I wanted to get leaner and tone up, so I began to eat more green veggies and lean protein. Although being more lean was my starting goal, I kept going because honestly, I saw a difference when I ate nutrient-dense foods vs. processed foods. My energy honestly shifted into a positive path. I created my nutrition journey into a lifestyle now because I want to give my body (ie. my temple) the nutrients it needs to function. That alone is a good enough reason for me to continue to eat healthy and incorporate healthier eating habits into my life. I know this is easier said than done – but, at least start because your health depends on it, especially for us women.
Here are a few tips on how to start eating healthy and focusing on eating more nutrient-dense foods.
Start Slowly Swapping - Do not overwhelm yourself with all the recipes and diets out there. That's how you cause burn-out, and before you know it, you are back to square one. Start by slowly introducing new vegetables, fruits, and food options into your eating pattern. You can start swapping your protein options (opt for salmon/tofu/beans instead of meat), switching your milk to fat-free and low-fat dairy – I drink unsweetened almond milk. Add 1-2 vegetables and 2-3 different fruits, and/or drinking 1-2 natural juices per week. Regardless of how and what you decide to change first, by starting in this way, you will allow your body to get used to these new foods instead of overwhelming it immediately.
Choose Whole Foods - Swap the frozen and fast foods for whole-grain brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and pasta. Whole grains have all the essential nutrients you need, such as protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Diversify your Foods - This is the key to ensuring you are getting all the nutrients you need. When you eat oranges every week, you are only getting Vitamin C. You need more than that. You need Potassium, Vitamin D, Calcium, etc. So when doing groceries, try to make your cart colorful. Choose red, orange, purple, or green-colored fruits. Go ahead and try that fruit you never had before. The same thing applies to vegetables. Choose red, orange, or dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, beets, etc. Make it fun by trying something new.
Drink More Water - This might not be so easy at first, but it's worth trying. Set a goal for # of ounces a day and walk around with your water bottle. There are a lot of water bottles out there to make it a fun daily challenge. About 60% of your body is made up of water, you need water to stay hydrated and stay alive. You can also increase water intake by eating water-based fruits and adding a bit of lemon/lime or cranberry to your water for flavor.
Keep A Balance - Please don't stress yourself and feel like you need to eat super clean 24/7. Allow your body to adjust and get to know these new foods without eliminating all food groups. You can still choose cookies, candies, and ice cream as occasional treats. By following a balanced eating pattern, you are allowing your body and mind to enjoy all that is available to us.
The thing with starting to eat healthy is that you are essentially resetting your taste buds, re-teaching your body how to react, what to like, and dislike again. Food is available for us to function and to fuel us with energy. When you reprogram your taste buds, you'll find that there's a lot more that you actually like. My relationship with food is still or ever-evolving, but I am now in the space of trying new recipes, new fruits, and vegetables and eating in moderation. I do not eliminate the things I love, even if they are deemed "bad." Remember, this is a lifestyle change, so take your time and be gentle with yourself. The same way you learned to love the foods you want, you can learn to love the foods that you do not know/ think you dislike.