Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween!

Dressing up and celebrating Halloween can be fun for kids, and adults, but it can also be unhealthy for your body and the environment!

Consider these tips this year:

Have fun and walk with your kids!

When my sons were younger I sometimes saw parents driving slowly while their children trick or treated. If you are injured and this is absolutely necessary, I totally understand. But if you can walk I’m going to suggest that you do! Move your body a little and appreciate the fresh air. It’s also much more entertaining!

Give Treats You Would Like Your Children to Receive

Enough said.

Create a Low-Impact Costume

Rather than buying a new costume every year, get creative with items you already own, swap with friends, or shop the local resale shop.

Be Mindful of Toxic Chemicals

Most makeup, face paint, and coloured hairsprays contain ingredients that do not support healthy bodies. Even though you might argue “it’s only once a year” I’m still going to remind you there are alternatives! Get creative and have fun with costumes without using chemicals that don’t belong on your children’s skin, or that you wouldn’t want them to inhale.

Decorate Naturally

Grab pumpkins, gourds, hay bales from a local farm. Reuse decorations you have from previous years rather than purchasing disposable items every year that add to the landfill.

Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween!

It’s totally possible to have lots of fun this Halloween, while protecting your health and the environment. Hope you have a great one!

RYH Episode 18: The Health Benefits of Gratitude

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and also my favourite time of year in the practice. In addition to the amazing weather and abundance of produce from local farmer’s markets, we have also set up our gratitude wall – an annual tradition in my practice. Today’s podcast is all about gratitude, so listen in and find out how making gratitude a daily practice will actually do great things for your health.

For more on the health benefits of gratitude, check out this blog post.

Healthy Holidays!

244800b7b65u7f4The words stress and holidays seem to go together, and yet that also seems rather ironic. 60% of North Americans say they stress they ‘won’t get everything done’ before Christmas. Frequent questions I hear in my practice during December include “Are you ready for Christmas?” and “Have you finished all your shopping?”. The stress doesn’t just apply to our emotional states, our bodies are also stressed by the foods we eat, minimal exercise and too little sleep.  I certainly see a higher level of stress and anxiety in my patients during the holiday season, leading to sluggish immune systems and more frequent injuries.

Is that what the holidays are supposed to be about? Of course not. It may sound cliché but we say the same things every year, and yet nothing changes unless we make a change. Doing the same things and expecting different results is…INSANITY!  So if you’ve been feeling the same way, I challenge you to consider the following points and make some changes in your life and within your  family this holiday season:

Socialize – We all need social connections, but during the holiday season many people are ‘overstimulated’, ‘over-committed’, and ‘overwhelmed’ with too many events. Be choosy about how you spend your social time. Be assertive and learn to say no to situations that will upset you.  Decline invitations (if you can do so without grossly offending the invitee) that create unnecessary emotional stress, or will simply burden your schedule and shortchange you of sleep.

Reach out – At the other end of the social spectrum is loneliness.  With changing family dynamics, different living arrangements, and simple geography for some people, many are left alone during the holidays.  If you feel lonely or isolated consider getting involved in different activities, volunteering your time at seniors homes, food banks or other organizations geared towards helping others. The rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

Exercise – Quite simply, physical activity makes every system in your body work better. Instead of taking a break from your exercise routine, keep it up! or consider getting started! It doesn’t have to wait until January and your resolution of getting in shape or losing weight.  The fact is, exercise is simply something most people have to build into their lives, work into their schedules. You will always find something better to do with your time! Exercise helps relieve stress and prevents weight gain.  Moving your body will always give you a boost, even just a some stretching or a brisk walk will rejuvenate your body and mind.

Eat Regularly & Prepare for Outings – If you are going to  a party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation.  Doing so will  slow your metabolism, leave you ravenous and more likely to overeat later in the evening. Instead, eat small meals or snacks throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to over-indulge when you are out. If you are planning on consuming alcohol be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects.

Take a Breather – It IS the season for family, friends, and being on ‘holiday’ so don’t forget to take the time to relax and indulge in activities you enjoy! Make time for yourself too, often time alone is what is easily neglected with busy social schedules or family commitments.  Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you and change your perspective if you are having a frantic day.  Do something that clears your mind, slows your breathing and restores inner calm, Journal, listen to music, take a brisk walk and look at the lights, read a book, whatever interests YOU and gets you in a quiet place for a small bit of time.

You CAN indulge, celebrate, and still feel good in January!

Make good choices for yourself and your family, and you’ll enjoy the holiday season more and start the new year in good health.

More Chocolate? Other Ways to Fill Easter Eggs

ID-10074204Traditional easter egg baskets are filled with chocolate, but why not consider some other ideas this year? 

I’ve been asking patients in the practice some of the ways they celebrate easter weekend with their children and they have shared some fantastic, creative ideas.  Whether you create a basket for children in your life or conduct an easter egg hunt, consider these tips to avoid the overdose of chocolate, sugar and unnecessary waste that is often created with commercial packages.

Chocolate, jellybeans, and candy are fun treats for most children and adults, but in moderation! Even a teaspoon of sugar causes the immune system cells to drop substantially, and can dramatically affect behavior.

If you enjoy filling eggs, purchase ones (yes even plastic) that you can reuse every year and try some of these items to place inside…

  • Stickers, coins, small toys
  • For older children try little pieces of paper with bigger ‘prizes’  written on them. Then create a scavenger hunt to find them too!
  • Use numbers or symbols inside the eggs, and have a corresponding chart for them to follow on – they will love the challenge and skills they will build!

As with all gift-giving, don’t forget about the gifts of ‘experiences’. Many of us already have enough ‘stuff’. Movie/event tickets, lessons for a sport or hobby, gift cards for music or clothing, jewellery, sports cards, games (especially if they are ones you can play as a family!)

Get creative, have some fun, and share  some of your favorite ideas too!

 

Healthy, Colourful, Eggs for Easter

Dying eggs is a common, fun, activity for Easter Celebrations…but have you ever thought about what you are using to create those psychedelic colours? Commercial food dyes are created from many chemicals that do not belong in your body.  This year, consider food based dyes – your kitchen might already be full of them!

How?

Select a dyeing agent, and place it in a large pot using the amount listed below.  Add 1 quart of water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar to pot; if more water is necessary to cover ingredients, proportionally increase the amount of vinegar.  Bring to a boil, and lower heat.

Allow the ingredients to simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a

bowl, and let cool.

☻            Red-cabbage dye: 4 cups chopped cabbage

☻            Turmeric dye: 3 tablespoons turmeric

☻            Onion-skin dye: 4 cups onion skins ( skins of about 12        onions)

☻            Beet dye: 4 cups chopped beets

☻            Coffee dye: 1 quart strong black coffee (instead of water)

Cold Dipping Method

With this method, the eggs and the ingredients for the dye are boiled separately.  Using a metal spoon, lower cooled hard-boiled eggs into a bowl of dye, and let them soak for as little as 5 seconds or as long as overnight, depending on the depth of colour you desire.  Remove eggs with spoon, pat dry with paper towels, and let dry on a wire rack.  The cold-dipping method produces subtle, translucent shades, but can result in an uneven colour unless the eggs are rotated vigilantly while in the dye.  Lightly rub with olive oil when dry for shine.

Boiled Method

This method involves boiling the eggs with the dye; the heat allows the dye to saturate the shells, resulting in intense, uniform colours. Set raw eggs in a pot of strained dye; bring to a boil for the amount of time specified in our colour glossary. Remove and dry eggs as with the cold-dipping method.

Natural dyes can sometimes produce unexpected results, so don’t be surprised if, for example, your red-cabbage dye yields blue eggs.  Use the following guide to help you achieve the colours you desire.

Deep Gold:  boil eggs in turmeric solution, 30 minutes.

Sienna: boil eggs in onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.

Dark, Rich Brown: boil eggs in black coffee, 30 minutes.

Pale yellow: soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes.

Orange: soak eggs in room-temperature onion-skin solution, 30 minutes.

Light Brown: soak eggs in room-temperature black coffee, 30 minutes.

Light Pink: soak eggs in room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes.

Light Blue: soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 minutes.

Royal Blue: soak eggs in room-temperature cabbage solution overnight.

Lavender: soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature cabbage solution, 30 seconds.

Chartreuse: soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes.  Follow with room-temperature beet solution, 5 seconds.

Salmon: soak eggs in room-temperature turmeric solution, 30 minutes. Follow with room-temperature beet solution, 30 minutes.