7 Simple Choices you can make daily for yourself & for the planet

Let me first begin by saying that this blog is based on my research as a consumer. I am by no means an expert but I sure am someone who likes to make choices which are healthy for the body and considers the impact on the environment at large. My journey into being a conscious consumer was driven by my commitment to my personal health and my desire to understand the impacts of my everyday choices on the environment we live in.

Here are 7 choices I try and make almost every time I shop for myself:

  1. Eat more real, whole, organic foods – While some people think that organic farming is nothing but a marketing gimmick to charge high prices, I follow what my senses tell me. When I smell a bunch of organic cilantro it seems divinely aromatic versus a conventional one which doesn’t seem to smell as strong. My father was recently visiting from India and oatmeal happens to be his breakfast of choice. For the first 10 days he was eating the Organic Rolled Oats I bought from Whole Foods and when we needed to replenish he decided to buy the conventional variety. The next 2 days he ate the conventional oats and told me that he experienced a difference in taste between the organic vs the conventional one. From the environmental perspective, it makes sense to me to reduce the usage of chemical based farming products which may increase the yield in the short term but cost us the quality of the soil in the long run.
7 Simple Choices you can make daily for yourself & for the planet

2. Buy garments made mostly of natural fibres i.e. cotton, wool, linen etc. – Not many of us look at the composition of our garments and we perhaps no longer know what are natural versus synthetic fibres. Until now what I simply knew was that natural fibres help your body breathe better which is something all women who wear cotton panties understand very well 🙂 I did not know until this Sunday when I watched Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act on Fast Fashion that materials like nylon, polyester, acrylic and spandex are developed using natural gas or oil.

3. Reduce your consumption of animal products – In all the arguments made for animal protein, the one that I chose to listen to was that if you follow the food chain, the animals we eat are mostly herbivores who eat plants themselves, so , why not cut out the secondary digestive system processing of another organism and get to the greens directly? Aside from food, we also use animal products in clothing/furniture/cosmetics which can easily be avoided for more sustainable substitutes. Considering that 24 % of the global green house gas emissions come from the Agriculture sector (read about Methane release from cows if you haven’t yet), if we all consumed 10-20 % lesser animal products daily, it might just help our future. Watch The Game Changers on Netflix to find out why many world class athletes switched to plant based diets.

4. Source local when possible- I would think that this is true for all products we consume however we may not be able to source all products locally. In our quest for ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’, we have perhaps created a global disparity where the more populous and poor countries end up becoming manufacturing hubs without much regard to any fair trade practices in terms of wages, working conditions or dumping or waste into their oceans/air (which is ultimately the one single earth we have) . When you can buy local, you can not only honor the local economy but you would also be on an alert for any waste being dumped in your neighborhood. In my humble opinion , small and local is always better from the long term perspective. Personally, I do try and look for produce which is local but being in the northern hemisphere, I do have challenges around winter when there isn’t much local produce that I can buy. Just, do your best and be more mindful.

5. Use as less plastic as possible- find out what is recyclable and what’s not- I don’t think we have any idea of how much plastic exists in our lives in the form of carry bags, storage containers, shipping materials, water bottles, disposable cutlery etc. While we can remain ignorant in the short term, we can’t do so in the long run. Here is a link I found useful which is local to US to find out which plastics are recyclable and which will end up in oceans/landfills.

By the same token, I also avoid products that contain synthetic fragrances (parfum) since they are usually made of undisclosed chemicals. Thanks to my sensitive olfactory system, I can easily detect when I am in the presence of a synthetic fragrance in the form of scents/air fresheners/cleaning products/shampoos/conditioners etc. Often times we think of air pollution as something gray, dark, heavy and smokey where you can’t breathe easily, the irony of synthetic fragrance is that it momentarily makes you feel good but our bodies work a lot harder to process these foreign substances. Hopefully we all know that the Beauty industry has been taking advantage of how highly unregulated it is. For more on fragrances, check out Stink on Netflix.

6. Walk/bike/use public transportation more to get to your destination when possible – This bullet point here perhaps needs the least ‘push’ of all since we do understand the perils of breathing in highly unhealthy air quality. I do understand that not all cities have great public transport , in which case we can try and carpool often.

7.Follow circadian rhythms- Anyone wondering what this is? It is as simple as following the day/night signals set by nature. This is not only healthy in the long term for our bodies but would also lead to lesser consumption of energy if more of us tried to sleep/wind down around sunset and wake up close to sunrise. We try and instill this habit in our children but it definitely get difficult as we start ‘adulting’. In this age of gadgets, we could surely try and switch off as many gadgets as possible with sunset and reuse them in the morning. This may also prove to be useful for our real family time 🙂

Hope you find this info useful!

Would you like to share how you make practical life choices to co-exist with all other life on the planet?

7 Simple habits that have helped me stay fit

Over the years I have developed some habits which have helped me stay fit and I thought I would share those with you. Aside from helping me lose unwanted body weight and then sustain it, these habits have led to reducing the inflammation I experienced in my body earlier as tightness in upper back, bloating , acne, occasional headaches and PMS symptoms.

Many of these habits appear to be very basic and simple but my journey so far has been marked by sifting through the complex and reaching back to the basics. Many of these basics can be found in Ayurveda which is the ancient Indian science of longevity. Basics always work!

  • Getting good sleep– The past 4-5 years, I have averaged 8-9 hours of sleep per day. Prior to that I would get anywhere between 5-7 and I would actually feel like I am missing out on ‘doing’ something if I slept longer.  I have observed that functioning close to the sunrise/sunset cycles makes total sense for the body/mind. Quite naturally I sleep less in summer and more in winter. I had to learn to turn off all bright screens at least a half hour prior to bed. I do have my days when I end up looking at my phone later than I would want but overall I think I have developed good sleep hygiene. I don’t work with a laptop in my bedroom and I also don’t have a TV in my bedroom.

 I try and get max rest during my periods just as nature intended it to be. In my experience, sleeping well has also helped stabilize my body weight.

  • Eating real food– My definition of real food is good quality ingredients. I eat fruits/nuts/oatmeal for breakfast and good amount of veggies and beans for lunch/dinner. I follow my hunger cues and eat only when am hungry. I try and eat my meals at the same time every day. Based on my personal experimentation I have found that my body does better with no dairy/eggs/meat. I eat seafood occasionally and l have reduced the intake of grains by half. The grains that I eat are Quinoa, Farro, Brown/Wild Rice. I used to be a daily 2 times a day white rice eater which is now perhaps 1-2 times a week. Good fats are important and I love my Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil and Sesame Oils. I was using Clarified Butter/Ghee but I have reduced it only to get more plant based products instead of animal based.

Processed food is kept to minimal in my kitchen. One major change was to meet the ‘something sweet’ cravings with natural sugar found in fruits/dates/figs/raisins etc. I do buy Indian sweets from a local confectionery when I feel like.

If 70% of fitness/health is based on what you eat then I would say atleast 50% of what you eat should be seasonal fresh produce. Absolutely fresh is a luxury in today’s world and therefore I do the best I can. I don’t believe in ‘cheat’ days because I am not depriving myself of anything and feel satiated.

  • Cooking at home – I live by myself and I cook at home 90% of the times. I have found many people say how difficult it is to cook only for one person. I have my lazy days too when I don’t want to cook but for the most part my body drives me to my own home cooked deliciousness. My cooking base is Indian style and I have altered my ways to only lightly saute my vegetables with a good fat, some garlic, salt, black pepper and lemon. I am learning to let the ingredient shine instead of masking it with different spice mixes.

When I travel once/twice a month I do end up eating out. I do my best to pick places/foods which are closest to what I have come to understand as clean/pure/real. I resort to fruits and salads when I can but it’s also important to be flexible. When the situation calls for eating a dairy/meat based item, I eat it without any guilt because I know that on the whole I am taking care of my food intake.

  • Exercise– In a week, I try and give myself 4 days of 35-40 minute exercise. I do anything from weights, pilates, yoga, running, dancing, walking, to taking the stairs instead of the elevator. I think I am now in tune with my body’s energy and choose the type of workout based on those levels. Regular exercise has helped me avoid the PMS symptoms that many women experience. I have found that the intensity of those symptoms increases when I have not exercised regularly. During summers my body doesn’t want to do intense workouts and a simple walk in the woods is enough.
  • Meditation – I meditate everyday twice a day for 20 minutes for the last 5 years. The benefits are well known and I must say that meditation acts as a great system refresh because it helps reduce the cortisol levels in the body. I try and do this no matter where I am. There are times when I have missed my evening meditation but my morning meditation has been going steady so far.
  • Staying hydrated – For the past 12 years or so I have had a 12-16 oz glass of warm water with honey before I eat/drink anything else in the morning. Last couple of years I started adding a few drops of fresh lemon juice to this morning honey water. A mix of honey, lemon and cinnamon is an age old Indian tip to boost the body’s metabolism and lose weight.

I love drinking my 2 cups of chai everyday and I balance that out by making sure that I drink half my body weight in ounces in water. For example, a person who weighs 120 pounds would drink 60 oz water. Room temperature water has always been my go to as against cold/ice filled water.

  • Probiotic and Multivitamin supplements– I tried a couple of different probiotics and then found what works well for me. Two that I liked so far are Garden of Life Probiotics for women and Liquid Plant Based Probiotics by MaryRuth Organics. Probiotics helped me lose unwanted weight and also keeps my acne in check. Sauerkraut is something new I have added and like.

As for Multi-vitamins, this is a new add for me since I tried to stay away from the unknown ingredients and the capsule materials which I didn’t want to ingest. A couple of months ago I found Innate Response Formulas Plant based multi-vitamins and I have found those to be a good addition to my daily routine. I added multi vitamins after I learned that B-12 is difficult to get from any food source. Every so often I give my body a break from these too.

If I were to sum it up it would be- get the sleep you need, increase plant based content in your diet, stay hydrated and get moving, switch things up every once in a while & most important of all is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

Feel free to visit lifespa.com for Ayurveda related information and Medicalmedium.com for clean foods/supplements.

Best,

Pooja

Disclaimer: I have not been paid by anyone to endorse their products/services. All statements in here are my personal experience/opinion and should not be taken as advice.