1. Know your “why”.   Are you experiencing a health crisis? Do you suffer from a disease you’d like to reverse naturally with a healthy lifestyle? Are there things you want to do but can’t? Think about what motivates you to invest the effort into changing habits and routines. This is your “why”. Put your thoughts and goals on paper and imagine what life will be like when you have more energy and vitality, less pain and suffering. Refer to it daily, especially when you’re tempted to get discouraged or off track.

2.  Eat more plants: the agents of healing.  Eating a wide variety of rainbow-colored plants is the foundation for health and healing. Fiber-rich legumes (black beans, garbanzos, lentils, peas), whole grains (wheat, barley, oats, brown rice, quinoa), whole fruits (berries, pears, cherries, peaches, apples), and above-ground vegetables (leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, squash), help prevent and treat diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and cancer. They are full of powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that fightdisease.

3.  Consume fats from plants versus animals.   Fats that come from whole plants (nuts, seeds, olives, avocadoes) contain less calories and disease-causing saturated fats, and are easier for our bodies to process than animal fats and refined oils. Studies show that using only unrefined fats naturally present in whole plant foods and limiting total fats to around 10% of your daily calorie intake can reverse disease1.

1Dean M. Ornish, S.E. Brown, et al. “Can Lifestyle Changes Reverse Coronary Atherosclerosis? The Lifestyle Heart Trial,” The Lancet 336, no. 8708 (July 21, 1990); 129-133, https://doi.org/10.1016/0140-6736(90)91656-U.

4. Drink plenty of pure water. Water is necessary for life, and our bodies function best when they are well hydrated. Drink at least six to eight cups throughout the day, starting as soon as you wake up. Watch the color of your urine. If your urine is a pale yellow, you’re getting enough. If it’s dark, you need more!

For a little flavor, try herbal tea or infuse water with sliced lemons, cucumbers, pineapple, or mint leaves. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks— sodas, sweet tea, coffee drinks, fruit juices— that increase blood sugar and contribute to weight gain.

5.  Snooze for success.   Getting enough quality sleep is just as important for good health as a proper diet. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Establish a regular bedtime routine that will let your body know it’s time for rest. Put your screens away at least an hour before bedtime. Avoid caffeine and heavy meals in the evening.

6.  Exercise 30 minutes at least five days a week for thirty minutes.  Making this a life habit brings many benefits— from improving mood and brain function, to reducing disease and living longer! Make it your goal to add as much activity into your day as possible. If you have a smart phone or device that counts steps, aim for at least 10,000 per day. Take a walk with a friend, park farther away from the door, ride your bike, play ball with the kids, take a gym class—just move!.   If you have chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or obewsity be sure to consult your doctor before you start and begin slowly if you haven’t been active.

7.   Meals: timing is everything!    Do you remember the adage “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper”? Turns out, that is actually best practice! It makes sense to fuel up at the beginning of the day when you need more energy rather than at night when your body is slowing down. Eating a light meal at night increases your body’s fasting time which allows it to heal, activate new cells, and burn more fat. It also helps you sleep better.

8.  Count your blessings.  Many studies over the past few years indicate that expressing gratitude is good for your health. Journaling the things you’re thankful for releases feel-good hormones, boosts energy, relieves stress, improves sleep, and helps ward off depression. With all those benefits, it pays to take notice of and record the blessings in your life every day.

To learn more details about each of these topics, check out the Eat Plants Feel Whole book.