I have built my healthy lifestyle through a lifetime of hard work and by studying what scientific research tells us about diet, health, and wellness. Now, I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you about how to develop healthy habits for life. You’ll learn what has worked for me and what might work for you, too!
Begin with a morning ritual
Starting early sets a positive tone you can continue throughout the day. Personally, I love getting up early. My alarm gently rouses me every day at 5 am. By waking early each day, I have more time to devote to myself and the rest of my healthy habits.
Creating a morning routine sets you up for success. You give your energy to your kids, your job, your friends, everything. Your morning is your break from all that. You take care of your needs first and are then able to give back with a bucket that’s overflowing!
After I awake at 5 am, I devote 10 minutes to my meditation practice.
Then I read for 15 minutes. I am looking to read something that is new and interesting to me. Reading keeps those neurons working! I like to read non-fiction books or CNN.com to keep up with the latest news.
Because it’s still early, I have plenty of time left before I head to the office. The next part of my morning ritual is a vigorous 30-minute workout followed by a relaxing shower. My morning breakfast is always vegetarian and always high in lean protein and low in carbs.
My morning routine ends as I head to work, ready to face whatever the day has in store.
How to live well during a busy day
Our lives are busier than ever before. Our stress levels are through the roof. Our diets are a mess. Our hormone checkbooks are not balanced. Too many of us are living unhealthy and unsustainable lives.
The best gift you can give yourself is to eat consciously, focusing on a vegetarian diet full of real natural foods:
- Protein shake – A protein shake during the day will keep you full and eliminate your urge to snack on unhealthy foods. My favorite tip is to throw a handful of flax seeds in with your protein shake for added healthy fats and protein!
- Healthy snacks – If you do feel pangs of hunger, don’t reach for candy or junk! Instead, choose healthy snacks like veggies and hummus. Say no to cavity-causing cola drinks and say yes to iced tea!
- Dinner at 6 on the dot – Another key to healthy living is a consistent routine. Personally, I believe it’s important to have dinner at the same time every day. I enjoy a home-cooked meal at 6 PM. Knowing I have a delicious and nutritious dinner ahead helps me avoid the temptation of stopping at a restaurant or stuffing myself with sugary snacks throughout the day.
End the day with a nighttime ritual
Just as important as my morning ritual is my nighttime ritual. In my morning ritual, I prepare to face the day and create energy I can share with the world. In the evening, I process and close out my day, reflecting on the day’s events and letting go of stress, anxiety, and worry.
I start my evening routine with a piping hot shower to release negative energy and relieve the stress of the day. After my shower, I settle down and take 20 deep, giant breaths. With each exhalation, I release more stress until the only thing that remains is pure bliss.
Avoid these common mistakes
Caffeine is not a substitute for a healthy diet
Too many people feel they’re too busy to eat. Instead, they give in to pangs of hunger and low energy by indulging in highly-caffeinated (and often extremely sugary) beverages. Lattes, frappuccinos, and other coffee beverages should be treated like dessert, NOT made a part of your daily routine.
If you do need a caffeine fix, consider:
- Green or black tea
- Black coffee
To minimize tooth staining or damage from acid, swish your mouth out with water after enjoying coffee or tea!
Salad is a meal
Don’t believe the protein myth! Virtually everyone gets enough protein and most people actually eat too much. Instead of chomping into a big burger at lunch, opt for a lighter salad. Tofu, chickpeas, and other plant-based proteins will give you all the energy you need to get through the day. Read more about a few of my favorite healthy SF restaurants.
Do not eat until you’re stuffed
Too often, people eat quickly and get stuffed before their brains realize it!
Slow down and savor every bite. Listen to your body and stop eating when you’re satiated even if it means not clearing your plate. Being too full places stress on your body and mind. This stress can lead to chronic inflammatory responses and a host of negative health effects.
Organic is the answer
In today’s world, we must trust the source of our food. Chemicals, pesticides, and other contaminants are serious problems with potentially devastating health effects. Choose food that’s certified organic and your body will thank you for it!
Alcohol in moderation only
Sometimes it feels like having a social life in the city revolves around alcohol. Drinks after work, boozy brunches, 3 martini lunches, and trips to the neighborhood bar with friends — it all adds up!
When it comes to alcohol, my #1 tip is to limit yourself to a drink a day, ideally, red wine that’s high in antioxidants. Dark red wines are one of my biggest anti-aging secrets.
Find a dentist who sees the world the way you do
At my practice, I’m not “just a dentist.” I look beyond your teeth and gums. I’ll help you create a plan to live a long, healthy, and happy life. Read my book to get started!
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.