I have found that incorporating a morning healthy habit helps me stay more on track during the day than if I start off my day without it. For example, I started drinking 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water every morning and I feel like it helps me avoid carbs and make better breakfast choices in the morning (small protein, more vegetables or greens).
If we can get our parents to incorporate 1 habit every 2 months, they will likely notice a huge difference in their eating habits and will become more likely to avoid the sugar and bad carbohydrates that they don’t need.
1) Collagen Peptides
Taking Collagen Peptides for their joint health (side benefit - great for hair, skin, nails) - you can simply add to your morning chai (or coffee). There are a few plant based collagen builders that are vegan, but they won’t have actual collagen because the collagen is by definition an animal byproduct. Thus, I don’t know how effective the plant-based options are for vegans/vegetarians.
2) Bone Broth
Anyone who has ever spent any time at my house knows how crazy I am about bone broth. I use it in cooking, I sip on it like tea. My favorite is the Tomato & Clove broth. I don’t get any kickbacks for this, I really just love bone broth and believe in the healing benefits of it. Any time one of my kids gets the sniffles or looks like they might be catching something, I warm some up and have them drink a cup! My mom has osteoporosis, so I've convinced her to drink broth on a regular basis to help prevent further deterioration of her bones.
3) Eat more Vegetables
Trying to drink a green drink of some sort daily. While we try to eat our vegetables, I don't think we have the time or energy to eat nearly the amount we probably should be eating, so if we can all start to incorporate greens into our juice/smoothie, it's a great start. GreensFirst is a great option to get those nutrients in. Also, introducing "riced" cauliflower or broccoli as an alternative to rice is another way to incorporate more vegetables. Stores like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Natural Grocers have offered riced cauliflower for a few years now. Even Green Giant is now offering "riced" veggies now. It's a great way to cut the carbs in half. Start by switching out half a cup of rice with the riced veggies and keeping half a cup of rice.
We could all benefit from added flexibility. There are millions, yes, millions of free YouTube videos that offer yoga poses that target whatever issue you may be having. For example, “Yoga for Asthma,” and you will get results that include many Pranayama breathing postures. “Yoga for lower back pain” and you will get many videos featuring postures that focus on core strength to help ease your lower back pain.
Most of our parents have a tablet these days (mine only know how to “skype” or FaceTime) with theirs, but if we load them a YouTube playlist of Yoga videos, they can easily access that playlist and just choose a video to do. Try to encourage them to do one short video each day.
5) Increase DHA & Omega 3s
Again, I know this means fatty fish, but there are actually vegetarian DHA and Omega 3 supplements out there. If your parents do eat fish, try to encourage them to include wild caught salmon in their weekly rotation.
6) Brain Health
Let's not neglect our most important organ: our brain. While doing sudoku, crossword puzzles, and word games can help, the more important thing is that you are learning and trying NEW things that challenge you. This includes trying new exercises.
Sleep is just as important, if not more, than exercise. Poor sleep habits and poor quality of sleep often lead to bad food choices and skipping workouts. As we age, sleep is even more important to help prevent injury.
8) Reduce Stress
This is not something that you can magically make disappear. However, it is something that you can become more conscious of. If you start paying attention to your stress triggers and address them one at a time. For example, I don't usually get visibly "stressed out," but my back, neck and hip muscles get very tight and I know I'm heading towards a dangerous place when my neck starts to stiffen.
After dealing with recurring tension in my neck, back, & hips for over ten years, I know what I need to do to prevent it from getting so bad that my neck stiffens up. I usually carry and travel with a lacrosse ball to help knead my muscles and keep them from knotting up since all I need is a wall and the lacrosse ball to do a few easy exercises to keep those muscles from getting too tight when I travel.
Laughter releases dopamine, which triggers the desire to do something over and over again, similar to eating chocolate, or having sex. Let's stay away from that image of our parents. I'm still 99% certain that my parents just picked my brother and I up from the hospital, as they would bulk toilet paper from Costco.
Fitbits are a great way to encourage our parents to move. Many of them are retired and get excited to learn how to use new technologies, so a Fitbit or any activity tracking device or app can be useful to encourage them to move more and avoid falling into a sedentary lifestyle.
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