Find this article in print in today’s edition of The Reading Eagle.
Have you ever stopped to reflect on longevity? Most of us are too busy in our daily lives to really put time and effort into considering why people in some places of the world live longer and healthier lives than other places. According to the World Health Organization, here in the United States (as well as other ‘high income’ countries) heart disease and cancer continue to top the charts as the leading causes of death, but how can it be that in the US, these diseases are cutting our lives and the lives of our loved ones short, while in other parts of the world that is simply not the case? In low-income countries, the leading causes of death are communicable diseases (diseases caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another) as well as diseases of pregnancy and childbirth. These types of diseases represent only 7% of all deaths in high-income countries. (Source for health/death statistics: Global Health Estimates 2016: Deaths by Cause, Age, Sex, by Country and by Region, 2000-2016. Geneva, World Health Organization; 2018). So what exactly does all this mean?
It means we should all take a good, hard look at our daily habits instead of always looking for a quick and easy solution to dinner. The industrial food revolution has really taken a toll on our health. I know it’s hard to bypass the quick and easy solution; I find myself busier than I have ever been in my mid-forties, from running my business to running my kids everywhere they need to go, and I’m often guilty myself of sacrificing something to fit it all in.
In the book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business one of the key points proven to make habits more successful is the habit loop: cue, habit, reward. In other words, to make a habit successful, you must also have a clear cue to drive you into habit mode, and a clear reward waiting for you. Think of longevity as the reward for healthy, intentional, plant-based eating.
By setting aside some time to be intentional about your habits, you can begin to implement small, achievable habits to help foster better nutrition, which in turn will foster a more healthy and balanced lifestyle. Not all habits need to be life-changing; even small habits can start to change your everyday life in ways you would never imagine. Habits such as meditation and exercise cue other habits to develop, such as more intentional mindfulness and healthier choices at the grocery store.
Here are some tips for implementing some intentional good habits back into your life. Don’t worry if you can’t do all of these at the same time…give yourself permission to start by changing one habit at a time.
1. Drink a glass of water with fresh lemon first thing in the morning
Often we feel hungry or crave caffeine first thing in the morning, but in reality, we are just dehydrated. Fresh lemon water corrects the ph in your body and improves digestion throughout the day.
2. Eat breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast gives your body more energy all day and helps you burn more calories.
3. Go to bed at the same time every night
Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning (regardless of the day of the week) is a great way to bring about regular sleep habits. You’ll start to notice with a better, deeper sleep your daily good habits and activities will be easier to develop.
4. Take a break from your phone
Many of us are in the habit of checking our phone all the time. I’ve seen people check their phone in the middle of a conversation, in the middle of a meeting and even while out to dinner. Be intentional about when you check your phone and get back into the habit of living in the moment so you can appreciate the people you’re with.
5. Exercise at the same time each day
People who work out at the same time every day are far more likely to stick to the habit. This is difficult in the beginning, but if you can intentionally find a time that works for you, and power through the initial doubts, it will eventually become second nature.
In this recipe, I’m sharing a favorite way to enjoy linguini with shrimp. If you stop by the farmer’s market and buy shrimp that has been pre-cooked, cleaned, and de-veined, you can throw this recipe together in about 20 minutes.
Thai Coconut Ramen with Sautéed Shrimp
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 small vidalia onion
1 red bell pepper seeded and sliced
1 can of coconut milk
juice of one lime
4 tablespoons of high quality fish sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons basil leaves chopped
1 green onion
1 cup roasted peanuts, crushed
1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
Chinese noodles (prepare according to package directions)
Saute the onion and pepper in olive oil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, lime juice, peanut butter, coconut milk and brown sugar. Once the onions and pepper are caramelized, add the garlic and turn down the heat. Slowly add the sauce ingredients and the shrimp and bring to a low boil over medium heat. The Chinese noodles only take about 3 minutes to boil. Sprinkle with green onion, crushed peanuts, and red pepper flakes just before serving.