It’s no secret that life has changed for all of us over the last couple of years. In some ways drastically, in some ways subtly, but it didn’t ever really slow down. We’re all still juggling a million things at once, whether that’s at home or at work. Scheduling “you” time can feel counterproductive, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s the only way you can show up for yourself, your loved ones, and your career in the strongest way possible. Jeopardizing our health and wellness for the sake of our “to-do” lists isn’t sustainable — but what is? How do we embrace healthy habits, diets, and boundaries?
Protecting Our Overall Health
The last two years have been an absolute whirlwind. We are constantly reminded of the different measures we should be taking to care for ourselves to stay safe and healthy. Though these are essential steps to increase our immunity, incorporating necessary nutrients into our diet will forever rank as a high (if not higher) priority when it comes to maintaining our health and wellness. A healthy diet can change your life and has quite an effect on your overall health. There are many different ways to tackle nutrition, and what works for some may not work for others, but what we do know is this: a healthy diet is attainable and more accessible than most people think.
Breaking It Down
To put it simply, nutrition is what we put into our bodies to maintain our overall health and growth. Our bodies need certain vitamins and minerals to function which we typically get from our food. However, not all bodies are built the same and some of us need more of a certain vitamin or mineral than others, and that’s great! We just need to figure out what our body needs and what foods offer it.
In 2022, The Dietary Guideline for Americans credited dairy with 13 essential nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Vitamin D, Zinc, Phosphorus, Niacin, Riboflavin, Protein, Potassium, Iodine, Pantothenic Acid, and Selenium. These nutrients are crucial to our body’s daily functions and can be found in some of our favorite dairy foods.
So, what does incorporating dairy into your diet look like for you? Dairy products offer a cost-effective and simple way to ensure we can protect our overall health without having to sacrifice on taste. Consuming three servings of low-fat, fat-free, or whole dairy products every day can fulfill a substantial portion of the necessary nutrients our body needs to operate. Those who incorporate dairy products into their diet regularly, like milk, will enjoy a daily dose of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Zinc, and protein, which are vital factors in boosting our immune system.
Calming Our Energy
Our energy levels can dip pretty low, especially in the colder months. Caring for our emotional well-being is just as essential to our overall health and wellness as caring for our physical well-being is. As a general rule of thumb, remember that when we feel stressed, overwhelmed, or just exhausted by the constant shifts in life, a big part of this can be attributed to what we ate that day.
Our mental health can be linked to our diets, just like our gut health, and our brain functions best when we feed it the proper nutrients it needs. Though the approach to a healthy diet can seem rigorous, there are simple ways to ensure you’re getting the food you need to feel energized and clear-headed throughout your day. Food shouldn’t be daunting, it should be fun! And by making simple changes to your diet, you can take charge of your health, wellness, and energy. Yes, it’s that simple (as we humans tend to complicate things).
Sustaining your mind and body throughout the day is vital for feeling good. Milk is a rich source of protein, carbohydrates, electrolytes, and hydration, which is ultimately broken down through our digestive tract to enforce higher energy levels.
Though we frequently have less time on our hands than we’d like, it’s important we prioritize our well-being. Taking 10 minutes out of your day to reset with dairy is an easy way to fuel your body with essential nutrients that will give you the kick you need to take on the day. Here are some quick and easy ways to seamlessly incorporate vital nutrients into your daily routine:
- Adding a splash of milk into your coffee
- Enjoying some cottage cheese with vegetables or fruit as a midday snack
- Adding fun cheeses like brie, cheddar, or parmesan to your salad
Everything’s connected. Your body and mind are a direct reflection of what you put into them. Food affects your gut and your mental state. Fast food every day is going to have you feeling quite a bit different mentally and physically than a beautifully colorful and hearty meal.
Supporting our digestive health starts the minute we wake up! Taking the opportunity to have a healthy breakfast, and maybe even a quick walk after, can leave us feeling recharged and ready to tackle the day. One way to take the driver’s seat in your digestive health journey is by simply noticing what you’re eating throughout the day. If you want to give it a try, here are a few ways to do it:
1. Every day for one week, try to write down everything you ate and drank throughout the day. This isn’t a diet, it’s just awareness! You can record this in your notes app, a journal, a post-it, whatever method works best for you.
2. Sunday night: what did you find out about yourself? Are you eating enough? Too much or too little? Was it balanced? How many times did you sneak a veggie or two into your day? How much water did you drink? Have you gotten your three daily intakes of dairy?
3. Monday morning, week 2: start your day with something that would make your gut happy. Yogurt and kefir are great resources for healthy gut bacteria. Try to continue the trend throughout the day, but be realistic! Small changes always lead to bigger results. Big changes can become overwhelming. Try to do one little thing to make your gut happy every day until the end of the week. Now, notice how you feel. Did you see a difference in your energy levels? Mental clarity? Mood?
As unbelievable as it may sound, most of us move so fast we don’t even realize what we’re eating throughout the day. Making conscious decisions about what foods we eat properly ensures our gut is happy and healthy and can drastically improve our day-to-day. We should be eating foods that fuel us!
The Big Picture
We all have jobs to do in 2022 — and not just the ones we get paid for. Taking care of ourselves and our loved ones happens right alongside all of our other responsibilities and “to-do” lists (and trust us, we know it’s a lot to take in, you’re not the only one!).
Refueling with what we know to be healthful, further impacts our wellbeing, and by taking small steps to impact your life, you impact the lives of others positively.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Accessed at https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf
- MD, E. S. (2020, March 26). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626