Vancouver is home to an inspiring population of hustlers, dreamers and go-getters. People who have set out to change the direction of things, to shake up the status quo and to carve out a life that is meaningful and fulfilling. This city is in constant bloom with fresh ideas and new people on the scene grinding to make a positive impact. This city also happens to be home to beautiful hiking trails, vibrant farmer’s markets and yoga studios on just about every corner. It seems we have mastered the practice of work/ life balance but for many of us it can be easy to get lost in the hustle and consequently neglect our own health and happiness.
I have curated a collection of simple to implement health strategies for the tireless entrepreneur, the young professional, the passion project pursuer and the eternal stoke chaser. Small changes everyday can amount to big transformation so never underestimate the power of your daily rituals. Without further ado, I present to you five ways to nourish yourself amidst the chaos.
1. Creating mental space through meditation
Meditation can look differently to everyone and can be practiced in a multitude of ways. The goal: to clear your mind, to relax and for some, to explore their spirituality. It can be adapted to fit with your unique lifestyle and preferences. Breath work on your commute to work, listening to a guided meditation on your lunch break or attending a group class in the evening are all viable options. In this fast-paced professional climate it is more important than ever to take care of your mind. Meditation is a time to unlock and detach from the daily pressures of our thoughts. It is often in these moments of quiet that our brightest ideas are born. Realign with your true self by crowding out the details and sitting with the present moment right where you are, as you are.
Research backs this up by the way. No more excuses of it being new agey and hippie-like. A study at Harvard University in 2011 found that meditation caused physical changes in areas of the brain associated with empathy, stress and sense of self. Pretty powerful stuff, eh? I am not being hyperbolic when I say meditation just may change the world.
2. Hydrating your way to health
I know you’ve heard it before but it can’t be said enough. Water, water, water! As a holistic nutritionist, I have seen dehydration as the root of many symptoms and underlying issues. You should be consuming 2.5 – 3 litres of the good stuff per day. A great way to ensure you are reaching your quota is to invest in a good water bottle and track your H2O intake. Inadequate hydration can result in digestive disturbances, mental delirium, fatigue and a false sense of hunger. It is so simple and yet it is an aspect of our health that is so often over looked. Don’t love drinking water? Try jazzing it up with some tasty seasonal fruits, a fermented greens powder or fresh aromatic herbs (hello lemon balm!).
3. Loving your gut
Love it up baby because all health comes back to the gut. We literally become what we eat. It is in our gut that we break down food and assimilate its constituent parts into the building blocks of our physical and energetic body. I know, so sci-fi. You can consume all of the organic kale that you can afford but if your digestion isn’t functioning optimally those precious nutrients will pass right through – literally! One way to love up your gut is to take it easy on the known aggravating culprits such as wheat, caffeine, dairy and yes sadly, alcohol. These foods can provoke inflammation and disrupt the digestive process. Another way to love up your gut is to introduce probiotic-rich foods to balance your bacterial flora such as kimchi, tempeh and miso. Supplements, such as L-glutamine, can be taken to facilitate the repair of damaged intestinal lining. Digestive enzymes can be taken before and after eating to naturally aid in the breaking down of food. Also, that little paragraph above about hydration? Super important here as well to help move our food waste along in a timely manner. Maintaining a healthy digestive system is imperative to your ability to get out there and get after it. Healthy digestion ultimately uplifts all facets of our health including immunity, energy levels, organ function, muscle repair and even our emotional wellbeing.
4. Fasting intermittently
Intermittent fasting. Have you heard of it? It’s when a person intentionally refrains from eating for 10-20 hours per day. Sounds crazy, right? Allow me to assure you it is in fact very sane. Research shows that intermittent fasting may help to reduce insulin levels in the blood, increase metabolism, protect the body from chronic disease and potentially increase the longevity of one’s life. It is suggested to start slowly, one day a week with a short fasting period. If you are considering implementing this strategy please consult with a professional on how to maximize the benefits for your individual needs and how to execute it safely.
5. Shifting your relationship with coffee
Coffee. We rely on it to fire us up in the morning, to get us through those final hours of the work day and to check off items on our seemingly never-ending to-do lists. We fill up our thermoses, sip midday lattes and slam back double shots of espresso. Unfortunately, when our relationship with coffee becomes utterly dependant in this way, it no longer nourishes us but instead depletes us of our vitamins and minerals, acidifies the body and wreaks havoc on our already fatigued adrenal system.
Coffee itself is not necessarily inherently ‘bad’ for us. There are good things to be said about it when consumed consciously and in moderation. It is high in antioxidants and can increase mental acuity and improve physical performance. I am not suggesting a total kibosh here (although if you are hopelessly addicted it may be a good idea to take a break) but rather to drink less and to drink it when you can sit down and mindfully enjoy every sip.
Nourishing, healthful alternatives to coffee include high quality matcha, dandelion tea and chaga mushroom tea. Find a recipe for a medicinal chaga latte below!
MEDICINAL CHAGA LATTE
- 2 heaping tbsp dried chaga mushroom
- 3 cups water
- 1 tbsp coconut butter
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ⅛ tsp maple syrup
- pinch of dried turmeric
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- Boil water on the stove top. Add chaga to boiling water and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and strain out the chunks of chaga. (** tip: freeze the strained chaga for future use!)
- Add remaining ingredients (except pepper) + the chaga tea to a blender and blend on high until frothy.
- Pour and serve with a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.
- Sip + enjoy!