For “Giving” Thanksgiving

What if we approached for-giveness just as we altruistically do in being for “world peace” or supporting “animal rights”? Can we be for “giving”? It’s not being for “taking” or for “avoiding”, but making it our cause to give

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Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

something good. The initial thought about forgiveness is usually that it’s something we’re doing externally. But the deeper, more healing type of forgiveness starts with giving ourselves some love, understanding, and comfort. Then we have the capacity to share it with those around us.Sometimes during the holidays, we’re overextending ourselves in giving externally. Just like forgiveness must start internally, so does giving. In Whole Women Link, we talk a lot about mindfulness and balance. This season is a special time to exercise some of these habits we’ve already discussed so we can more fully enjoy our celebration with our loved ones.

As we consider being for “giving”, we want to apply this practically, so let’s talk about applying it this season with food. I can’t think of a more self-giving practice we do daily than eating. Let’s remember to give ourselves good things. We can go in with a plan before our get-togethers, remembering the healing and freedom we’re wanting to give ourselves. When going to a party, I always bring a bag of pumpkin or sunflower seeds with a piece of fruit because I know what I want to give: health to myself and happy bonding experiences with my friends and family. By doing this, I know I won’t go hungry and I can still enjoy the foods others have brought. If there are sweets I’m craving, I remember I’ve got my apple and I’m there to savor my time with friends. If it’s one of those times where your mother or grandma is saying, “Won’t you please try a piece?” I can accept a bite-sized portion, truly savor it, authentically thank her, and go back to my seeds or fruit after.

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I share this with my patients and help them remember their big vision of enjoying vitality of health. When we focus on giving food to ourselves to reach our full measure, there’s no guilt or shame. Instead, we’re creating habits of true nourishment. We can also give ourselves some grace when things don’t go as planned, and try again.

Holiday Invitation:

  1. Each get together, let’s remember what we really want to enjoy in the moment and long-term, like happy bonding and vibrant health.
  2. Then check in with ourselves after and see how we were able to balance those goals, cherishing those happy moments and memories.
  3. If tweaks need to be made, then we can be for “giving” that to ourselves during our next party with a more well-defined plan.
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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Let’s celebrate the holidays together, so share with us your ideas of how you’ve balanced this for “giving” pattern in the past or what your plans are this year. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to reply to this post. Have a happy, for “giving” Thanksgiving!

Mindful Eating: A Restorative Boundary

Let’s talk about some food basics. My understanding in nutrition didn’t start in academia learning about magnesium’s effect on sleep and cramps, or enzymatic malfunctions when we eat trans fats.  It was much more of an elementary beginning (well, technically high school). It all started with a cookie.

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Photo by Jade Wulfraat on  Unsplash

My immune system had tanked when I was 14. As I was working to regain my health, I began to detect suppressive patterns. One eureka moment I had was during a church youth night where they had my favorite treats—cookies. After finishing one cookie and biting into a second, I noticed my nose started to run. Soon enough I was sneezing, had a sore throat, and my eyes were swelling and watering from the ensuing congestion. The next day I had yet another cold. I remember thinking how strange it was to come on so strongly and with such immediacy. I then began to notice every time I had a sweet treat, the same downward spiral would occur.

 

No matter our age, we can each begin to detect the positive and negative effects food has on us. Learning to recognize how foods make us feel can have a powerful impact on our health, emotions, and longevity. In fact, there is a poignant adage from ancient Eastern medicine that depicts the beautiful freedoms the foods can allow us:

If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.

If diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” 

One simple way to know what diet is wrong or right for you is by paying attention to how it makes you feel. By learning how cookies made me feel back in my youth, I began to recognize that pastas made me feel bloated and drinking from plastic water bottles made my throat itch. I also perceived what foods were “correct” for me. Sunflower seeds became a snack that kept me satiated longer and fresh fruit curbed my sweet tooth and strengthened my immune system, thus letting “food be [my] medicine” (Hippocrates).

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Photo by Brooke Lark on  Unsplash

At our most recent seminar, I shared that the way we feel affects how we fill, and vice versa. This is putting that principle to action. So for example, if we’re feeling frail either emotionally or physically, instead of further depleting ourselves with sugar spikes or caffeine, we can savor a hearty soup, like vegetable quinoa. If we’re feeling heavy, a nice avocado and berry smoothie or salad can help us feel lighter. The other side of the coin is noticing that how we fill affects how we feel. You can check in with yourself after eating and see, “Did this make me feel sick, bloated, jittery, or did it make me feel comforted, revitalized, and healthier in some way?” This is practicing mindfulness in eating.

 

Our challenge this month is the same that I start with every patient who sees me, whether for hormonal balance, emotional stability, or digestive support: add foods that are healing. We aren’t going to focus on cutting foods right now. As Sommer mentioned in the recent seminar, we want to build off our strengths. When we start being our own barometer, we don’t have to follow fad diets, but instead be self-regulating. We can then continue on the track of keeping healthy boundaries that nurture our well-being rather than feeling pulled or torn by other’s opinions.

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Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash

Weekly Challenge

As we discuss boundaries this month in order to create more healing environments, the same end goal can be applied as we set boundaries for eating. Consider applying these goals for the next week, and work them into a new habit:

 

  • Have the end goal of being healthy so I can fulfill the measure of my creation
  • Perceive how foods make me feel—well or unwell. (Be honest with yourself)
  • Create a boundary to add and eat more foods that make me feel good

-Dr. Crystal Nix Dayton, DC, CAc