Stephanie Johnson founded pollen+grace based on her belief that 'beauty starts on the inside. If you look after your body, your body will look after you.' In her first article for Balance Festival Journal, she brings you her top five tips to a healthier, happier you.
Health's not a trend, it's not a fad and it's definitely not a quick fix diet either. That said, it can be quite confusing keeping up with the latest trends, super foods and lifestyle options to hit the market, and what was once a simple ‘eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day’ is now a confusing plethora of contradicting opinions. So where do you start? We’ve stripped it back to the basics with 5 key steps to help make a happier, healthier you.
1. Eat natural
The golden rule of choosing healthy options: if you don’t know where it came from, you probably shouldn’t eat it. There are so many natural, wholesome ingredients packed full of delicious flavour that there really is no need for any of the processed stuff. Yes, this does usually mean cooking your own food, but it really isn’t that complicated once you strip it back to the basics. And what do we actually mean when we say ‘natural’? Basically anything that comes from natural sources and hasn’t been processed: veg, fruit, legumes (beans/lentils), grains, meat, eggs oils, spices and herbs.
2. Keep it simple
With so many different opinions and options available, it can sometimes get pretty overwhelming. Should I be vegan? Should I stop eating eggs? How about gluten and dairy? And what about paleo? In fact, what even is paleo…? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Whilst one person is advocating weekly juice fasts, another is claiming juice has as much sugar as soft drinks.
3. Eat for your body
The best advice is to just ignore it all and keep it simple. Use natural ingredients, cook from scratch and cook for taste.
Something that can quite often be forgotten: everyone is different, and that’s part of why there are so many different options available. There’s no one size fits all: the same as everyone looks different on the outside, everyone also functions differently on the inside. Which means some people can eat everything and feel great, whereas others can benefit from going easy on certain foods such as gluten, wheat and dairy. We all know our bodies best: take note of how you feel after certain foods then avoid or cut back where necessary.
4. Follow your gut
There's actually good reason for sayings such as ‘gut instinct’ and ‘follow your gut’ — your gut is basically your second brain.
If your gut's not functioning as it should, you won't absorb all the nutrients from your food, with many common diseases stemming from this. Good gut health is obviously key to your overall health then, which is why you should add fermented products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kombucha to your diet and avoid sugar (other than natural sugars) which feeds the bad bacteria.
5. Eat for happiness
And the final point: focus on your happiness and the experience of eating. Eat mindfully, enjoy your food and eat consciously. Stress impacts your digestive system negatively, so spending too much time stressing and worrying over what you are eating leads to unhappy insides. Eating slowly and consciously also aids digestion — chewing being the first step in the digestive process.
So cook natural, wholesome food you know you will enjoy, and leave the stress away from the dinner table — food is for enjoyment.
Keep your eyes peeled on the Balance Festival Journal as Stephanie will be writing regular articles to help keep you fit, healthy and happy.