About a month ago I was on the City Girl Talks podcast with the lovely Yasmine, who wanted to know my take on the holidays and all the sugar and things that tempt us at this time.
How is one to handle it?
My reply was to approach it with a sense of celebration and see it in perspective. You can listen to the episode here.
Today, I would like to dive a little deeper into some of the things we discussed, will you join me?
Traditions, gatherings and cycles all serve purposes that support us – and our health – in proven and important ways. It’s bigger than food.
For one, I suggested that this is a time for taking care of an aspect of our health that is often ignored; CONNECTION.
I got together with my cousin, which means our kids got together with their cousins, which all in all really grounds you in your tribe. Plus, it is a lot of fun – we play games and build gingerbread – a lot less stressfull than gathering with other members of family!
I mean, if you even just speak with your cousins on the phone over the holidays that may be contributing more to sense of belonging or connection to a tribe than you have had most of the year.
So, instead of focusing on how hard it is to stick to a diet over the holidays, and the worry about how that will impact our health, we should give appropriate emphasis on the POWERFULLY healthful act of being with loves ones, CONNECTING.
On the podcast I brought up BLUE ZONES.
What is a Blue Zone?
There are pockets around the world of people with a higher than average life expectancy. These Blue Zones are the top five places with the highest proportion of centenarians and the highest life expectancy.
Aside from the fact that these people all live in warm, sunny, seaside locations (why would you want to leave a place like that?), is there anything special that they have in common? It turns out, yes.
A team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists evaluated the groups for evidence-based common denominators.
They found nine RULES FOR LONG LIVING, but I want to share a selection of them
- Loved ones first
- Wine at five
- Right tribe
- 80% rule
- Down Shift
I am suggesting that getting together is VERY important for our overall health. This is one reason why I studied holistic nutrition and not simply dietetics.
At times traditionally for gathering, celebrating, and sharing, the focus is about family – and while we may have different relationships with our family, we can focus on modelling healthy behaviours around food for the children around us.
- Our energy is dependant on the mitochondria in our cells, that are tied to our rhythms, waking & sleeping, and the cues of the seasons.
At family gatherings we can model being respectful of differences. We can spread a positive message about food. We can cultivate enjoyment of food, helping us foster a positive relationship with food, and learn about flavour, and our own tastes, and appreciate food quality and cooking skills.
Watch your internal policing around food, your internal dialogue and especially what you say aloud. Your unconscious and those of children listening don’t know what you aren’t meaning literally. They might think that some food is truly bad, and develop negative associations to food, instead of a love of celebration.
Why do I say that?
Surveys of French and US Americans show the difference, and an unhealthy one, around our food associations – when the French are asked about chocolate cake, their main association is “celebration”, while our North American association is “guilt”.
All food serves a purpose, and there is no need for guilt. Feeling guilt can affect the way the food affects us as well, physiologically. Being guilty is bad for our health!
Community is healthy, and the health benefits of gathering may outweigh any sugar we may eat, anyhow. This is one of the secrets of “blue zones” – areas where people live until ripe old ages. So, even if you are totally unable to follow your diet you are getting other health benefits from eating with others.
We can use community for mental health, to cure loneliness. We can use community to boost the happiness-making and calming chemicals that we otherwise get from carbs!
Bring what you wish was there, share recipes. Introduce a mash made with ingredients you can eat, maybe it will become a new favourite.
- Check out my alternative gravy recipe – gf and vegan option
- Check out these dessert bars, the sweet that could be a protein bar https://www.florahealth.com/us/blog/go-beyond-bars
- Discuss allergies and restrictions
- Boundaries, and love. Must love yourself to love others, must know that food with love has a different energy if we let it
- difference between dont love them more than yourself
- Requires self knowledge
- I have more than one client with a list of cannots that’s is more than 35 items and a list if cans that is more like 10
- Sometimes we can’t please everyone.
- Allergies are not understood by many of older generation, they are literally new
- Bring your own food if necessary
- Anything life threatening like Celiac or Anaphalaxis, tell your host – but don’t expect them to understand
- What are healthy habits?
- Drinking water first
- Taking small portions
- IF during the day
- Leaving alcohol last
- Fibre and greens brunch
- Avoid snacking
- Eat sweets with meals
- Digestive enzymes in your purse and digestive bitters in your drinks
- Go for a walk and see the lights
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Holiday indulging can also be offset by eating smaller portions, and giving additional support to your liver, in the form of bitters, enzymes, digestion boosters and bile builders, and supporting your brain with inversions, like in yoga, or when in the pool.
20 ways to make it through the holiday well
1. Go with the flow. Keep your attitude flexible.
2. Prevent stress by doing less.
3. Get to bed. Yes, really, sleep is the balm you need. The less you can imagine doing this, the more likely you need to do it.
4. Make a huge pot of soup or stew on your day off. Something easy to digest, so don’t load it up with beans unless you are ok with that. Make it an easy way to get winter veggies and lean protein to balance out the sugary holiday stuff.
5. Prior to a social event, have a bowl of that soup or stew. Or make it a light lunch.
6. Have a breakfast with lots of fibre and protein, such as a broccoli omelette, and if dinner will be large, replace breakfast + lunch with brunch. Delaying breakfast may decrease the amount of food you eat during the day, and allowing the development of hunger stimulates a hormone called ghrelin, which stimulates growth hormone, fat loss and lean muscle maintenance.
7. Start the day by focusing on things you appreciate and take a few deep breaths before you get out of bed, to help to balance your stress hormones. If you start the day stressed out about your to-do list, you activate cortisol, a hormone that triggers blood sugar dysregulation and storage of fat around your middle.
8. Gift ‘experiences’ to loved ones when you can. The gift of an experience will mean more togetherness and activity and less wrapping, cleanup, recycling, and clutter.
9. Don’t drink your sugar. Pumpkin pie is more nutritious and filling than a pumpkin spice latte!
10. Buy long-keeping produce like sweet potatoes, cabbage, and frozen berries, tart apples, carrot sticks, that are also seasonally appropriate and convenient. They will be there for you when you are ready to cook.
11. Plan family events around activities you love. Make new traditions and memories for the holidays!
12. Spend unstructured time in nature.
13. Acknowledge all that you have and give to those less fortunate. Gratitude fills us with joy, and it is a great time to give! Donate money, coats, or your time to people and causes you care about.
14. Do not act as if you have more money than you do. Avoid overspending to keep up appearances. Stay within your means. Do avoid money woes, but do not avoid your financial statements!
15. Show the kids how to play outside. You are tough, so bundle up. Think snowshoeing or nature hikes in the sun, walks to see lights, skating!
16. Compassion starts with yourself. Being hard on yourself works opposite from what you want, so be easy on yourself. An important reminder, especially if you have an illness or a particularly complicated or exhausting family dynamic to deal with over the holidays.
17. Now is a great time to try to get an earlier start—you will be well into your new routine come 2020. A morning walk or yoga session allows for a moment of gratitude and presence and makes you feel like you started the day with a win.
18. Stand with your back to the buffet when at events, it will be easier to avoid mindless snacking.
19. Eat protein at every meal.
20. Alternate wine or other alcohol with water. Drink more water than you think you need to. Carry it with you!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! If you need connection, please reach out to me, or to the healthy habits Facebook Group!