Seeking the Right Balance

Form a well-rounded strategy to stay healthy physicially, emotionally

By Deb Dittner

nirvanaAre you struggling with your health despite eating well and living clean?

Have you been told of thyroid issues, digestive problems, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions? These underlying health problems can be difficult to treat with simply avoiding junk food, eating your greens, and going to the gym.

So what else can we do to get your health where you want it to be?

Many of you may stress out over the foods you eat. There is no need to over-think what foods you are putting into your body.

This additional stress can cause anxiety and be harmful, leading to chronic conditions such as auto-immunity, adrenal fatigue, gut issues, and more. If you are devoured by stress, it may be time to look at mindfulness tactics to bring some calm back into your everyday life.

Being mindful can be incorporating simple breathing techniques, sitting down to a meal without any interruptions while solely paying attention to what you are ingesting, yoga postures, meditation, and emotional freedom technique or tapping.

Exercise is important in our wellness program but too much exercise can actually increase inflammation in the body, affecting your immune system and possibly contributing to adrenal fatigue.

Exercise creates much needed energy but needs to be in balance with other bodily systems. If you are working out too much and not allowing your muscle fibers to recover and repair, inflammation can increase.

Some healthy foods may not be optimal for you. You are an individual and what your body needs may not be the same as what your neighbor’s body needs.

Underlying food sensitivities can cause gut issues, fatigue, skin issues, and more. One easy way to determine what foods work or don’t work for you is to conduct an elimination diet. Foods that can be considered for elimination include dairy, corn, soy, wheat, peanuts, eggs, wheat, caffeine, and alcohol.

You need seven-to-nine hours of sleep nightly and many of you, I’m sure, do not get that. Sleep allows your body to repair and rejuvenate.

Consider a bedtime routine starting 30 to 60 minutes before your head hits the pillow.

Remove all electronics such as television, iPhone, iPad and computer during this time, and consider an Epsom salt bath, soothing cup of tea, soft reading, nature sounds, and a cool and darkened room for a restful night.

Sugar comes in many forms

You may feel that eating lots of fruit is good for you, but fruit contains fructose that is a sugar, and sugar is sugar is sugar no matter what kind it is.

Your body doesn’t know the difference between a doughnut (high simple sugar) and a banana (high fructose).

Too much of a good thing — such as fruit — places stress on the liver and can eventually lead to insulin resistance. An alternative sugar such as agave nectar is high in fructose.

Others sugars such as stevia (the white powdered form) are chemically processed and may contain other additives. Xylitol is known to create digestive issues.

Raw, local honey and pure maple syrup are better alternatives but still need to be limited to no more than two tablespoons daily.

You need to eat a variety of foods and not be limited to only the foods you like most.

By alternating your fruits, vegetables, and protein selections, your body will receive a variety of nutrients allowing balance to occur.

By changing your food choices, you are also decreasing the possibilities of food sensitivities. I also encourage you to try a new vegetable each week that will allow you more options and provide different nutrients.

I know many who take a large amount of supplements daily. Sometimes supplements may be necessary but sometimes you may be taking supplements that are not right for your individual needs or requirements.

Too many supplements can actually cause digestive concerns. Consider speaking with your health care provider about having some blood work to help determine certain needs.

Even a few alcoholic drinks per week can cause chronic inflammation in the body. You can still have fun with family and friends by alternating with “mocktails.” An occasional small glass of red wine has also been shown to reduce inflammation. You need to get the best thermoelectric wine coolers to enjoy your wine at the right temperature.

You need to balance your immune system and influence your metabolism with amino acids in order for all bodily functions to work properly. Too much protein though can actually create unwanted side effects. I typically recommend 40 to 70 grams of lean, clean protein daily depending upon your lean body mass.

Not only is too much protein not good for you, but too many carbohydrates can also create havoc.

Vegetables high in carbs convert to glucose in your body, raising you blood sugar. Alternate your vegetables and don’t forget about your dark, green leafy veggies.

Then there are those healthy foods that you may not be able to enjoy because of lectin and phytates. These are natural proteins found in dairy, grains, nuts and seeds, chickpeas and beans. These foods can create inflammation in some people.

Another group of inflammatory foods are nightshades such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Eliminating these foods will help in the process of determining what is right for you and your body.

The most important information is to listen to your body as that is what will guide you along the paths of your health journey.

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at or contact her at 518-596-8565.