20 Wellness Intentions for 2020 from Leading Experts in Functional Medicine and Nutrition
With a new, fresh decade ahead, now is a great time to reflect on and set intentions to help you optimize your health and well-being. Think about how amazing you can feel if you made 2020 the year that you honored your body, heart and soul and prioritized your health. This is the year to step into your power and consciously choose to attract more healing, energy and health into your life.
This article highlights 20 wellness intentions from some of the leading experts in functional medicine and nutrition. These experts are friends, colleagues and teachers of mine who have so much wisdom in approaching health and well-being very comprehensively.
Choose intentions that may work for your own life and set a few realistic goals. And to help you change your mindset, flood yourself with uplifting and trustworthy voices of inspiration by following myself and everyone listed below.
1. Add Herbs and Spices to Your Life
This can be as simple as a few sprinkles of the mixed herb blend z’atar on your morning eggs, cinnamon in your oatmeal, a dash of cardamom powder in your morning coffee, dried oregano and thyme on your lunch salad, and fresh garlic and dill on your fish. Herbs and spices boost your mood and your metabolism, and provide detoxifying, immune boosting phytochemicals that are hard to get anywhere else in our diet. Do this every day, and even at every meal for a surprising shift in food pleasure, and an easy way to nourish health.
Dr. Aviva Romm, MD
2. Start your Morning with 5 Minutes of Movement
Whether it’s a series of gentle stretches, some air squats, or 30 burpees, there’s no better way to prime your body and mind for the day ahead than movement. So, set your alarm 5 minutes earlier or skip the snooze button tomorrow and start moving as soon as you roll out of bed – your body will thank you for it!
Dr. Julie Foucher-Urcuyo, MD, MS
3. Pack in the Fiber
Nourish your gut microbiome with the quintessential substance that contributes to your health and well-being – FIBER! Add In more vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruit. Fiber informs your gut to produce protective compounds that safeguard your mind, mood and memory!
Kathie Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, EBQ
4. Spend More Time in Nature
If you can, spend more time in nature—in the country, or in a park if you can; if not, simply be aware of trees, earth and sky, as you walk slowly, breathing deeply, down the street. Science tells us what tradition has always known: time in Nature calms our body, quiets our mind, helps to dispel troubling and traumatic memories, and enhances our mood. We feel connected with, and sustained by a force greater than ourselves.
Dr. James Gordon, MD
5. Aim for 4 Cups of Vegetables
Vegetables are a great way to provide your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that allow the body to function more optimally. Aim for 2 cups of vegetables at lunch and dinner. One cup is about the size of your fist, so 2 “fist fulls”!
Dr. Rachel Paul, PhD, RDN, CDN
6. Find a New Obsession
Food and body is not worth it. Allow your mind to be channeled into something creative. Worrying about what to eat (and what not to) rarely brings success. Instead, eat mostly vegetables, some fats and small amounts of protein. Carbs depend on your exercise intensity. Find your rhythm. Trust your body. It knows best.
Dana James MS, CNS, CDN
7. Mind your Blood Sugar
Controlling blood glucose isn’t just for diabetics. Consuming sugary and processed food will get you on the roller coaster of feeling wired before later crashing as your insulin tries to reign in your blood sugar. When eating a diet rich in vegetables and other fiber-filled low-glycemic foods, blood sugar stays stable and insulin levels remain low leading to an even energy level throughout the day. Keeping your insulin level low has the added benefit of decreasing your risk of heart disease and cancer too!
Dr. Dani Urcuyo, MD
8. Get your Blood Pressure Numbers Below 125 and Below 85
BP is a (maybe, the) leading cause of aging of your arteries: aging of your arteries is the leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, memory loss, impotence, even wrinkling—whether it is arteries to heart or to skin or to your gonads they are your arteries. That is why getting your BP to the 115/75 is optimal for aging, whether by lifestyle or any of the about 150 BP meds or their generics approved by the FDA. The RealAge benefit: 6 years younger than a person with the average BP of 130/86.
Dr. Mike Roizen MD, FACP
9. Commit to One Habit
The best thing you can do for yourself in 2020 is to set one simple (no cost) health related behavioral ADDITION to your life. Perhaps its drinking 8-16 oz of water before you do anything else, a morning meditation, or option for a book rather than your cell phone an hour before bed. Choosing one single anchor behavior, rather than a laundry list of things you shouldn’t eat/shouldn’t is empowering and sustainable for creating real change and building your self-confidence.
Lisa Hayim MS, RD
Lisa was echoed by Kelly Leveque, who recommended:
Instead of overhauling your entire day and life in the New Year, commit to becoming a master at one foundational habit that will make a difference in your day. Only add the next goal when you have mastered the first for example, commit to 30 minutes of movement or breaking your overnight fast with blood sugar balancing Fab 4 Smoothie.
10. Begin to Incorporate Mindfulness into your Fitness Program
We all know that a daily meditation is helpful but we often fail to make this new habit stick. My suggestion is to simply add a brief meditation to your already positive habit of working out. Try his free meditation here.
11. Start your Morning with Breathing Rather than your Phone
For anyone experiencing anxiousness in the AM, I’d recommend avoiding checking your cell phone at least 60 minutes after you wake and using a box breathing technique for a minute or two while doing your morning routine (eg making coffee or in the bathroom or shower). Box breathing entails: Inhale for 4 counts…hold the inhale for 4 counts…exhale for 4 counts…hold the exhale for 4 counts. Repeat this 4 times.
Dr. Nate Bergman DO, MBA, IFMCP
Chief Scientific Wellness Officer at Kemper Cognitive Wellness
12. Meditate Twice Daily for 15 Mins
Relaxing the body and letting the mind slow down is something I recommend to all of my patients. Slowing the sympathetic nervous system, “fight or flight”, and increasing the parasympathetic system activity throughout our hectic days can improve immune function, sleep, weight control and overall mental health!!
Take note my friends, prayer is not the same, When we pray, we are thinking of others, often times whom we are worried about, or concerned about- thus we still aren’t decreasing our “fight or flight activity”. And for some deep breathing to cause some anxiety as well… the point is, just to sit and relax your muscles and gently train your mind on focusing on one point, or a mantra -not fighting the dialogue that goes on in the brain, but just refocusing, anytime you have a new thought- gently recognize it, and then re-focus.
Dr. Aunna Herbst, DO, IFMCP
13. Take More Time to Chill Out!
Part of my 5×5 Framework and method is honoring the many ways food and nutrition play a role in our lives — while nutrition is the catalyst for optimal health, it’s also not the only thing and many of us forget that. Reducing stress, prioritizing downtime, and taking conscious efforts to be with yourself increase self-awareness, cultivates stronger intuition, and can support you in making healthy choices that are completely unique to your body and wellbeing. So in 2020, remember to make time for you and take care of yourself because you deserve it!
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN
14. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Right now I’m all about practicing sleep hygiene and recommending the same for patients and community. Going to sleep and waking at the same time each day creates a rhythm for your body. Only use your bed for sleep or romance. Don’t keep a television in your bedroom: Studies show the artificial, bright light can disrupt brain activity and alter sleep hormones like melatonin. Here’s an easy way to fall asleep more efficiently. About an hour before bed, put your phone to bed. And all electronics for that matter. Find a relaxation technique (it could even be a hot bath) that helps you drift into deep sleep.
Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
Practicing good sleep was also emphasized by Dr. Hyman’s Nutrition Director at the Ultra Wellness Center, Maggie Ward, who said:
Good quality sleep is right up there with a good diet to promote overall health and longevity and where many of my clients need more support. Although there are dietary and supplemental options to help improve sleep, much of it comes down to what you are doing at night.
1. Turn lights low and get off screens at least 30-60 minutes before bed. This gets in the way of making your melatonin which is your sleep support hormone. If you have to be on a screen or keep brighter lights on, look into getting blue light blocking lenses or glasses.
2. Do something that feels calming. A warm bath or shower is great! You can add Epson salts (magnesium helps the body relax!) and a favorite essential oil. Lavender is probably the best to lower anxiety and support rest. 15 minutes of deep belly breathing or following your breath can be very effective. I like to light a candle and listen to calming music. All of these techniques help to lower cortisol. High cortisol will make it very difficult to fall asleep.
3. Have your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. Definitely on the cooler side to prevent overheating when you get into bed.
4. And if you want to take a supplement, I recommend some extra magnesium. Most of us do well to take additional magnesium in addition to what we get in our diet. It can really help to relax muscles and promote rest. I recommend a magnesium glycinate form, gentle on the stomach and well absorbed. 150-300 mg is a good typical dose and can be found at most health food stores. (Always good to consult your primary physician or licensed nutritionist before taking new supplements).
Maggie Ward MS, RD, LDN
15. Find a Trustworthy Friend
I think every person needs at least one friend in their life they can be honest with about the challenges they are going through. Don’t have a friend that has your back? Make it a top priority for 2020.? Your friends not only have a huge impact on your success, but they also have a big impact on your average daily level of happiness!?
16. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Write down three things you are grateful for every day. Gratitude can help you feel more happy and enjoy your life. Practicing gratitude is associated with less depression and stress. Because of this, writing down what you are grateful for each day can even help improve the functioning of your immune system.
Dr. Elizabeth Boham MD, MS, RD, IFMCP
17. Consider Sustainability
When consider which diet is ideal for your goals, here is the secret – the best diet for you is the one you are most likely to stay on long-term.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN
18. Take Time to Discover the Foods your Body Loves and the Foods your Body Hates
The food we eat on a daily basis can either fuel health or disease. I wrote my book The Inflammation Spectrum to uncover their individual inflammation levels and their own food intolerances. Ultimately, it’s loving your body enough to nourish it with good food medicines.
Dr. Will Cole, DC, IFMCP
19. Go Homemade!
The act of cooking is actually a health behavior. As a nutritionist, of course I want you eating healthy fruits, veggies, fish & healthy fats at most meals, and in an ideal world I’d love you to be making it or at least prepping some of it too. Blue Zone Research, where people live to be over 100, shows that the act of cooking, including planning, food shopping, chopping and measuring, and socializing while eating, is a key part to longevity and keeping our brain active, engaged and young! Plus, you avoid junky ingredients and oils from restaurant meals. So aim to make at least 2 homemade meals a week, and if that’s too much, throw together a simple salad, no cooking necessary. Can’t wait to see what you cook up!
Carolyn Brown, MS, RD
20. Immediately Upon Waking, Get Full Spectrum Light Exposure
This means opening your blinds or using a full spectrum light box. By doing this with in 15-30minutes of waking, you will greatly improve your cortisol awakening response that helps your alertness, energy, resiliency and overall circadian rhythm for the day.
Dr. Carrie Jones, ND, MPH
My Bonus Tip: Nourish Your Body As An Expression of Gratitude
The greatest gift you will ever be given is your body, mind, spirit and health. You only get one body. You only get one life. Ask yourself whether your choices align with that truth. Do you treat your body like it is the greatest gift you have ever been given? Express gratitude every single day by eating well but not ‘perfect’, thinking kind thoughts, moving, sleeping, and loving yourself.
Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, LD, IFNCP
Wishing you a healthy and vibrant new year and new decade. If you liked this article, pass on the inspiration to your friends and family!