We all know how important it is to get the right, health-building foods into our bodies - veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, good quality meat proteins - sometimes we just fall back into old habit patterns with our choices. Nutrition can be our number one, front line defense against most diseases, but especially against viruses like the flu. Use these steps to get your nutritional profile on the right track to a stronger immune system and greater health.

The first step in changing your eating habits is the decision to change. Familiarity is so comfortable that it makes leaving difficult. First, make the intention; set the goal: "I am now making healthy eating choices," or "Eating well is good for me," or "Healthy eating attracts me now," or any short, goal-affirming statement that feels right to you. Encourage the goal or the positive elements in your affirmation. Don't try to overcome a negative. Avoid quasi-affirmations like, "I want to lose weight," or "I don't want to eat sugar," or "I've gotta eat better," (this last one isn't bad, just weak). Give your attention to the choices you desire for better health: more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, good quality meats and all in good proportion. Focus your attention about eating on the good foods that will make your body happy and contribute to your greater health.

Begin to change your eating routines and choices simply by adding healthier foods to the meals you are already eating. This will make the transition to healthier eating easier to integrate. At every meal, make sure there is at least one healthy choice and increase from there: add some fresh fruit or yogurt with nuts to your morning breakfast, order a salad at lunch in addition to whatever else you want to eat, add two servings of vegetables to the evening meal. Just add. It's easier to think about adding to our routines rather than taking away - it's just more fun. Avoid worrying about the choices that still aren't the best for you - let the new choices come with your new approach. Focus on the foods you want to begin eating more of with each meal you eat.

Listen to your body. Better eating habits with lots of energy-giving nutrients will translate into feeling better, having steadier energy and more of it, and being more relaxed. Digestion is a high-energy operation so when we provide our bodies with food that are easy to metabolize, we have more energy available. Notice how you don't have the dips in energy when you avoid processed sugars; see how you still have energy left over at the end of the day when you've balanced the high protein and high calorie meals with lighter, energy-giving vegetables. Listen to your body - it can tell you a lot about your overall health, both in mind and body.

Exercise. With your additional energy, use it to improve your health even more with exercise. The nicest thing you can do for your body is to keep it moving. Everyone has time for a walk of five minutes out and five minutes back at least once a day and if you can't walk, simulate it. Lie on your back, raise your right arm and left leg simultaneously as though your arm was swinging out and your leg raising in a "walking" movement. Lower and then do the other side - opposite to arm to leg. Twenty minutes of exercise a day is optimum - your muscles will soften so you'll be more relaxed, you'll feel more flexible, and you'll be providing your system with a huge health/immune system boost: oxygen!

If your eating habits up until now haven't been the greatest, be prepared for your body to "detox" as you start making better eating choices. The effects are temporary; trust the process. Drink lots of water at the beginning of your eating routine change (as you eat healthier, however, your body shouldn't need a lot of additional water).

Your choices in nutrition will naturally adjust as you no longer provide the environment that supports poor choices. This means that once your body starts using the great fuel available through a better eating regime it'll continue to ask for this healthier routine.

Cleanses can be helpful and should always be done with the guidance of a health care professional. A cleanse will move the detox process along and give you a clean slate to work from with your new eating routines.

Discuss a new eating routine with your health care professional, especially if you have other health concerns or are taking medications.

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