Monthly Archives: November 2015

How To Survive The Holiday Sweets Season

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!

Just When You Thought You Had Enough

Let me start off with a question I feel like everyone has experienced at least once in their lives and that is, Have you ever had so many unfortunate things happen all at ounce? Did you feel overwhelmed or did you handle the situation with ease? Recently, my car blew its engine while my boyfriend and I were on the freeway. Luckily, we didn’t get into an accident and it was toward the end of the night when there wasn’t too many cars driving by. Sitting on the shoulder lane, rummaging through my car for my insurance card only to find that it was left at home, while calling a tow truck and learning that the tow truck driver will be an hour late. Not only that but the day before I had an unpleasant experience with the salad I had for lunch causing some light food poisoning, still feeling the lingering effects .

Sitting in my broken down car waiting I was stewing in my own anger. “How could this happen? What did I do wrong? Why do these things happen at the worse times possible?” The questions just kept rolling in my head encouraging my anger. Just when I was ready to explode, my comforting boyfriend hugged me and encouraged me to think of the possitives.

Usually, I tend to look at the cup half empty when situations like this occur. I thought “yeah right what’s so positive about this?” But, when I started to look at all the things that could have gone wrong I was so relieved. We started saying out loud all the things that could have happened to us and all of a sudden I could feel the heavy anger turning into a lighter load. I realized that I was alive first of all, and my boyfriend was alive too, and that is something to be really grateful for. We didn’t get into a massive accident, no intense injuries, no one else was hurt, the car wasn’t torn to pieces. This was probably the most mild car encounter I could have ever experienced! Then fate turned around when the tow truck driver arrived, he gave us a $10 discount for arriving late and we got home safely.

With this whole experience I learned that, it’s just another part of life. Things break down, unfortunate events can exhaust many emotions, and when it rains it pours. But with all the bad there is always good, Yin and Yang. My new outlook when things get me down is to do this. You take the situation(s) that are making you angry or sad and look at its potential worse possible state. Then, you look at all the wonderful things you have in your life right now. There will be obstacles in life that can be overcome, and hey life is short. Happiness is what you make it to be. Be thankful, be positive, and most of all be happy!

~With Love, Shaila

Finding A Healthy Balance During Seasonal Changes

For thousands of years, Chinese philosophy has held that good health is a result of five elements, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, being in harmony. Getting in touch with the elements can help us find better balance, in our bodies and our lives, and help us feel more connected to the natural world.

Earth is unique among the five elements. Earth is linked to times of change throughout the year: those few weeks between seasons in which autumn changes to winter, winter to spring and spring to summer. The Earth element is associated with the spleen, pancreas and stomach, the organs of digestion and nutrition. The stomach receives the food you eat and starts to break it down. The spleen and pancreas then distribute the nutrients throughout the body. The pancreas also regulates your blood-sugar levels.

Also pay attention to how you eat, not just what you eat. Eating calmly and slowly and having reasonably sized portions will let your stomach and spleen work best. A good rule of thumb is eating until 70% full, and try not to snack before the main meal to avoid over eating. After eating, take some time to relax and move the body, because movement aids the digestion, assimilation and distribution of nutrients. Thanksgiving is in season, we should take time to make sure everything pure and necessary is used and maximized, and that anything unnecessary or wasteful is eliminated.

I also wanted to touch base with the change from Autumn (Metal) to Winter (Water). Autumn is associated with the Lung and the Large Intestine which both deal with purification and elimination. The lungs take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide through breathing. The large intestine absorbs water and completes the absorption of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. It also holds and eliminates waste.

Eating vegetables and whole grains is necessary for our bodies year-round. Because they serve as cleansers for the intestines, however, they have added significance in autumn. A balanced autumn diet consists of hearty, rich and warm foods, including meats, cooked nuts, fish and oils.

Sauerkraut (natural fermented probiotic) like other preserved foods, provides a source of nutrients during the winter and restores gut flora. Root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, garlic and onion, are particularly healthful metal foods. Ginger promotes good digestion and elimination. Do weight training to make good use of muscles, building from the protein you crave as winter comes.

You might also try practicing a form of breathing meditation for the health of your lungs. Prepare for the change of weather and store up on our cold and flu regimen. Focus on relaxation in the evening hours as you get ready for sleep.

Change is inevitable, but we must try to embrace this to thrive on this roller coaster of transition. Let’s have a ride of your life, and I will meet you on top!       

Love, Juli