Every November, I love the reminder to be more mindful of giving thanks and appreciating friends and family. It’s this time of the year when everyone starts to host dinner parties and share home made goods from handmade crafts to sweets. While this is wonderful, it can also be stressful.
If you’re on the road to heal your health, or to maintain your health, the sudden rise in all of the cookies and pies can be hard to ignore, and suddenly you’re eating food you promised yourself you wouldn’t all because you don’t want to be ungrateful or rude!
I’ll never forget the one year we had to survive the holiday season with an almost 3-year-old suffering from severe constipation. We had only been seeing Juli and using Hen Sen digestive Herbs for a month and a half before the holidays started. It was stressful to keep her on a high vegetable diet full of plain grains without any sauce or gravy or cheese! But it was worth the awkwardness as relatives and friends wanted to feed her cookies and candy. Thankfully, a few already knew we were working hard to help our daughter and took no offense to our apologies as we said no to more sweets than we knew she could handle – even if she begged for more sweets! So, how did we survive?
We knew that digestive health was dependent on a good diet. We also knew that our daughter needed to eat real, unprocessed foods to avoid constipation, pain, and the suffering that comes along with that. We tried many recipes and methods for getting kids to eat vegetables, and eventually learned that we have to put more vegetables in front of kids. They like to snack all day, so replace the chips or crackers with carrots. It wasn’t that simple, but the wonderful thing about making small changes like this for her was that all of us found ourselves feeling better health as a result. This is how we accidentally learned we can survive the holidays without cookies and pies…
What to eat is the first question that comes when you attend a dinner or party. Most meals involve 3 food groups: meat, grains, vegetables and/or dairy. If there’s enough of all groups, focus on filling up on the vegetables first. Then, you can enjoy a slice of Turkey or cheese mashed potatoes. If it’s a pot-luck type event, then bring some vegetables so that you’ll know there’s plenty of the real good stuff to start your meal. This worked well for our daughter loved carrots and cucumbers. I brought a home made veggie platter for a year to every party just so I could count on serving her something I knew she would eat and that we could share.
What about those sweets is the second question. Just like with vegetables, you can pick your treat and then treat it with moderation. Try to pick one type of sweet and have one serving. For example, our daughter loved cookies, but not pie at 3-years-old. Knowing that holiday cookies typically have extra sugar with icing and candy decorations, I made simple shortbread cookies from scratch that have little sugar in them but are filling from butter. One pretty shortbread cookie at an event was what she could have. For the rest of us, it might be apple pie or Gingerbread cookies, but the basic idea is the same: what do you love most? Have a serving and enjoy just one.
It didn’t take years for our daughter to find her digestive health back in order, but it was a good challenge during the holidays to learn how to feed ourselves better during a stressful, busy time of the year. To this day, I’m still the guest who offers to bring a salad!
Now, besides the food that makes the holidays special, there is the stress that comes from so much activity and a change of season. The other keys to good health are hard to remember: stay hydrated, get exercise, and plenty of sleep!
It’s cold in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, so it’s hard to stay hydrated, because you may not feel as thirsty as during the hot summer days. One suggestion is to drink hot water, or warm water with a little squeeze of lemon juice or mint leaves.
For more ideas on recipes and food you can make from scratch, did you know we have a blog: HenSenLifestyle.com – and a collection of recipes to share from home made pizza to vegetable dip to scones – all wonderful to share with friends and family. Simply go to the Categories section and select from the drop down menu, “Recipes” for inspiration.
And, last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy the company of friends and family even if they want to give you more cookies than you can eat! For some people, giving cookies is how they show their love, and you can love them right back with words of encouragement and a thank you card. I love the quote, “You have the power to make someone smile,” and like to remind myself of it during the holiday season.
May you enjoy Thanksgiving and fill yourself up with warm memories!
p.s. Here’s a list of our recipes that are made from scratch and easy to share at Pot-lucks!