Parasites 101

Don’t freak out, but you should know it’s very possible that you have a parasite. You may only think of parasites as something that gives you diarrhea on holiday in a tropical third-world country, but actually, parasites are just as rampant in the Western world, and are related to illness and disease of ALL kinds. Yes, even we, your gurus for all things Primal, have both had parasites that have significantly affected our health.

Parasites have been a subject of interest for many years now, especially since Brad started studying the work of Paul Chek and obtaining many certifications as a CHEK Practitioner. To learn more about parasites, we met with a legend in the world of Parasitology, Dr. Omar Amin. He’s the Professor of Parasitology and founder of the Parasitology Center, Inc. (PCI) in Scottsdale, Arizona. Arizona just happened to be our last stop on a 7 month world trip, and we knew that we had certainly picked up some new bugs whilst traveling in Japan, Europe, Mexico and the USA. We left Dr. Amin’s office with a wealth of new information AND a specially formulated botanical remedy to give us relief from our own parasites. Brad has had issues with pinworms/threadworms on and off for many years and Bex more recently with Dientamoeba Fragilis.

Mr parasites himself, Dr.Omar Amin, with Bex and Brad at his home in Scottsdale Arizona.
Bex and Brad with Dr. Omar Amin (center) at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Symptoms of Parasite Infection

The most common indicators that you may have a parasite are: diarrhea, constipation, bloating, cramps, indigestion, mucus, fatigue, nausea, skin rash, dry cough, headaches, allergies, joint pain, memory loss, and brain fog.

But it hardly stops there. Other symptoms can include:

Abdominal pain, lethargy, excessively dry or itchy skin, itchy nose or anus, depression, chronic mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, waking a lot during the night, grinding teeth during sleep, inability to lose or gain weight, uncontrollable hunger OR loss of appetite, muscle pain or cramping, numbness of hands and/or feet, arthritis, fast heartbeat, bad breath, excessive body odor, anemia, hypoglycemia, sexual impotence, yeast and urinary tract infections, cysts and fibroids.

How do parasites cause illness and disease?

They take nutrients away from their host (you, in this case), and produce toxic waste called mycotoxins. Parasites can occur anywhere in your body – every organ, tissue and even in your blood – and they can cause symptoms that mimic other disorders. So you may have been treated by your doctor for many different problems over your lifetime, but because they were never diagnosed as being parasite related, the parasitic infection may continue to affect your health in various ways.

How do we get parasites?

Parasites are all around and can enter your body through food, water (drinking/touching), insects, air, pets, people and soil. There’s no use worrying excessively about trying to avoid them, but there are lots of simple sanitary precautions and lifestyle habits that will minimise your risk of contracting a parasite, such as washing your hands and vegetables, drinking filtered water, chewing your food well, avoiding antibiotics, taking care of your digestive system, and not biting your nails or kissing your pets. In general, the stronger your immune system is to prevent parasites creating a home within your system, the better the chance you have of preventing them from getting too comfortable within your internal environment.

How do you know if you have a parasite?

If you are suffering from some of the symptoms above, take this Parasite Questionnaire. If your score is 15 or higher, parasites may be affecting your health.

It would be wise to then contact PCI directly or an integrative doctor or naturopath for further consultation and possible lab testing. The ‘Full GI Panel’ is the number one test Dr. Omar Amin offers.

One thing to be aware of with parasite testing is that results can often be inaccurate. You may get an incorrect negative result, as many types of parasites are not detected by common stool tests, and parasites are cyclical so may not show up every time. Or you may get an incorrect positive result as undigested food particles can look like certain parasites, as you can see in these parasite test photos at the bottom of the page. For this reason, it’s best to test with experts in parasitology, such as PCI. Or if your symptoms have been chronic for a long time, then consider starting parasite treatment even if your test results are negative. As Brad has learned from Paul Chek, there are over 1000 parasites that can affect the human body. Common stool tests may only test for 9-12 of the most common ones.

How do you treat a parasite infection?

The million dollar question. Even when people finally discover that a parasite is the cause of their problems, figuring out how to safely and effectively treat the infection can be an even bigger challenge.

Antibiotics
Parasites are often treated with antibiotics, but these drugs are harsh on your system, weaken your body, and kill off the beneficial bacteria in your system which helps keep the parasites at bay in the first place. So the parasite may go away for awhile after antibiotics, but re-infection is common. A vicious cycle, really.

Bex experienced this personally when she took antibiotics to treat her Dientamoeba Fragilis. Her parasite seemed to go away, and symptoms were temporarily relieved, but have now returned. We also learned from Dr. Amin that D. Fragilis is a type of parasite that ‘sits on the line’, so often only an immune compromised person will show a positive result. So maybe her parasite never actually left.

Dietary changes
Following a primal diet of real whole foods is definitely key in preventing and treating parasite infections. However, once the infection is deep and long-lasting (usually when the symptoms get worse/obvious), most people find dietary changes alone can’t treat the parasite problem. You can be assured, however, that if you take a medical or botanical remedy but don’t also change your diet and lifestyle, parasite reinfection is very common.

Natural Remedies
For years, we have tried using many natural anti-parasitic substances as part of level 3 and 4 of our Primal Cleanse. These include oregano oil, wormwood, detox teas, Naturopathic Tinctures, Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and Diatomaceous Earth. Other known remedies are black walnut hulls, cloves, pumpkin seed oil, garlic, neem, thyme, and marshmallow root. However, knowing how to use these properly, in what combination and proper dosages is really just a guessing game for people like us. And we’ve heard that many of the expensive commercial formulas in the shops don’t work very well. Dr. Amin also warns, “The body understands and wants consistency. When you try too many things all the time, it confuses your body.”

This is what we are currently taking for our parasite infections

Needless to say, we were really excited to meet a holistic-minded parasitologist who has worked hard to create completely natural and plant-based formulas which are helping thousands of people all over the world get relief from their parasite infections. We decided to take Dr. Amin’s formulas, called Freedom, Cleanse, Restore, for 3 months. At the time of writing, we’ve been taking it for 2 months.

Freedom, Cleanse, Restore parasite protocol.
Freedom, Cleanse, Restore parasite protocol.

As mentioned, we’d just returned from traveling the world for 7 months. We could certainly recognise the return of our previous parasitic symptoms, so we are looking forward to seeing how this remedy works for us. If Dr. Amin’s credentials and the testimonials are anything to go by, we think we’ve found a winner.

Note: We do not receive any commissions for mentioning this remedy, and are not qualified to prescribe anything to you. We simply believe in natural health solutions and are happy to recommend good ones when we find them!

Dr. Amin told us that this treatment is designed to work for all known species of parasites, including single-celled organisms, worm parasites, fungus and pathogenic bacteria. However, he greatly advises parasite testing to be sure that your symptoms are parasite related and also to see what type and how chronic the infection is, to regulate dosage and length of treatment.

He recommended no less than 3 months of taking the remedy, which may seem long to you and so many of us who are used to quick fixes. But the body is complex, and slow and steady often wins the race, especially when it comes to healing.

When you might have to keep your parasites

Dr. Amin corrects us when we say ‘eradication’, as there is no such thing. Only homeostasis, or balance. If we can keep parasites at low levels (and our system strong), they don’t cause problems.

You see, our bodies are designed to live in balance with low levels of foreign bacteria, which we accumulate from our environment after birth. It is only when this relationship becomes ‘imbalanced’ – that is beneficial for one but detrimental to the other – that it becomes parasitic.

In some instances, however, Dr. Amin warns that fungus and parasites can actually be beneficial to your body and should not be treated yet. The example he gives us is of Candida, which can be very harmful to the body. However, candida protects against heavy metal poisoning by metabolising the heavy metal and carrying it out of the body. So people with heavy metal poisoning would actually benefit from having candida!

It gets worse before it gets better

As often occurs in healing, once you start a remedy, you may feel worse at first. As your parasites die off and your body slowly flushes them out, you may experience more severe symptoms such as sharp intestinal pains or cramps, fatigue and grogginess, nausea, swelling, and foul smelling gas. Be assured that this is only temporary and is actually a good sign – it means that the remedy is working! Relief is on the way :). Brad has had this happen several times during our Primal Seasonal Cleanses, resulting in large amounts amounts of inflammation and swelling around the lymph node areas, and even the face.

Whatever you do, don’t discontinue the remedy as soon as you start feeling better. The danger is that there is still a residual population of parasites which can mutate into drug-resistant strains which are extremely hard to treat.

Paul Chek’s ‘Healing Fungal and Parasite Infections’

If you want to know more, save yourself thousands of dollars in course fees that Brad has spent learning about this stuff from CHEK Institute courses, and go straight to Paul Chek’s DVD series to give you all you need to know about Parasites. Well worth the investment.

Have you had a parasite and have some pertinent information to share with the Primal Health community?

Sources:
http://www.parasitetesting.com/
https://www.humaworm.com
http://www.undergroundhealth.com/eliminating-intestinal-parasites/
http://www.chekinstitute.com/Advanced_Training_Programs/HLC.php

Bex and Brad – Parasites 101 – 2015

Luxury or Community: Which Do You Really Need?

Luxury or Community - Which Do You Really Need?

Luxury, of course, right? We’d be so healthy and rejuvenated if only we had more money, comforts, alone time, and maybe some pampering. That’s definitely what I used to think…

Don't forget the important ingredients of Community and Love
Answer: Community (& Love!)

I have listened enviously to friends tell me about their retreats at health centres. They stayed in luxurious accommodations where all their needs were taken care of while they focused on their chosen wellness program. They were served gourmet meals cooked by qualified chefs, and treated to healing treatments by beauty and wellness therapists. They came back from these retreats feeling so pampered and relaxed. But experiencing it for myself always seemed out of my reach due to the very high prices for accommodation and food, plus any extra costs for treatments.

So I had to pinch myself this morning when I woke up early to the sounds of roosters and chirping birds to join a morning meditation before my green breakfast smoothie and yoga on the roof, overlooking a lush tropical beach village in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I am nearing the end of my own week ‘away’ at a wellness retreat, and what an amazing week it has been. But it didn’t cost me much at all, and instead of luxury and pampering, I was treated to something even more valuable…a community.

When I found the website for The Sanctuary, the ‘healing haven’ looked like a wonderful place to relax, detox and get away on my own for a while. The prices were so low, that I thought there must be a catch. Ah yes, Guests have to work or contribute their time one hour per day, Seva Guests work 2-3 hours per day, and Volunteers work even more, serving as longer term staff.

I can hear you say, “Work time at a health retreat? Didn’t you go there to get away from work?”

However, isn’t a wonderful concept? The guests working together lowers the costs of running the place, so that lower rates can be offered for accommodation, food, treatments, and activities. This way, a health retreat is accessible to people of all budgets, as it should be.

Contributing to a community boosts your health!
Contributing to a community boosts your health!

And as I found out, this concept offers something even deeper and more valuable than getting a good price on a holiday.

After morning yoga on the palapa (roof veranda), we have our work time for an hour or two. Today, Barbara does some gardening, grinds some spices, and sews a ripped cushion cover. Eva waters the pot plants and sweeps the verandas. Tony puts away the clean dishes, feeds the cat, and fills up the water filter. I get to work making some signs for the bedrooms and bathrooms.

On the surface, we may seem like unlikely companions, varying widely in our ages, belief systems, experiences and personalities. But working together like this gives us a community feel that filters into the rest of the our day. It creates deep conversations, friendships, support-systems and connections that help us heal and grow.

Under the guidance and generosity of our host, Pete, we are learning to heal ourselves and others. Instead of having professionals take care of us, we are learning how to do our own detoxification rituals, meditations, and emotional healing techniques. We are learning much more about healthy cooking, supplements and food than if we never went into the garden or kitchen. This way, our physical and emotional health continues to improve even after we leave the retreat.

On Sunday when our young local cook Jose takes the day off, we all make lunch together in the kitchen, sharing ideas and expertise, and experimenting with flavours – all the while enjoying each other’s company and putting lots of love into each dish. When it’s done, we feel very proud of our meal, and the contributions we’ve made to our temporary home.

It doesn't take long to form tight bonds in a community setting
It doesn’t take long to form tight bonds in a community setting

You see, here we are working together. We are contributing our various talents and ideas, feeling useful and needed, being a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are learning that whether we are in our 20’s or 60’s, whether we live a life of struggle or privilege, whether we are in good or poor health, we are all people with the same needs of love, cooperation and community.

This large Mexican style home called The Sanctuary is a place for relaxing, centering, and healing, yet there are no qualified ‘healers’ here, no gourmet cooks, no luxurious suites or professional body treatments. But what I realised this week is that sometimes the best treatment for our minds and bodies comes not in getting, but in giving and sharing with others.

See a video of me at The Sanctuary Healing Haven!

Do you feel rejuvenated and healthier from some community activity or group? Please comment and inspire us with your experiences!

Contradictions of The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Contradictions of the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Smoking, drinking, late nights, no breakfast and tons of bread! We were shocked by some of the Greek diet and lifestyle habits which strongly contradict their traditional healthy Mediterranean diet. Are we wrong in what we think are healthy choices? Or are we forgetting the most important key to good health?

 

 

 

 

Contradictions of the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Smoking, coffee & other favourite Greek pastimes

As I explain in What We Can Learn From The Mediterranean Diet, the Greeks have a beautiful real food traditional diet. However, when it comes to toxins and poor health habits, the Greeks have their fair share.

Smoking up a storm

We have never, ever, been in a country where people smoke so much (and we’ve traveled a lot!). The Greeks love their cigarettes and smoke anywhere and everywhere, with little consideration for other people or any health risks. A couple Greeks we met said they quit smoking years ago and now they suck candies instead, but no one ever talked about smoking as a problem, or talked about trying to or wanting to quit. Yet they are known for their longevity. Hmmm…

Raki, Ouzo and Wine…for good health

Drinking is also never frowned upon. On the contrary, alcohol is thought of as healthful. When you toast, or cheers, you say “yamas”, which translates as “to your health”. Greeks are very proud of their strong local spirits raki and ouzo, which are served at the end of every meal and called a ‘digestive’. And with all those grapevines growing madly, they have beautiful wines, which taste great with all their food. A book we found even shows the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as including alcohol.

However, maybe this mindset about alcohol is what keeps it healthy, because it’s only ever consumed in great moderation. There is no social rebellion in drinking alcohol, so binge drinking and alcoholism is highly uncommon. Men sit in cafes sipping the same tiny shot of raki for hours, wine is served by the ½ liter for a few people to share over a meal, and beer is rarely drunk at all. And the rebellious youth? They drink coffee…

Raki alcohol is a post-meal 'digestive' in Greece
Raki alcohol and dessert is served free as a post-meal ‘digestive’ in Greece

Caffeine all night long

Coffee is clearly the favourite national drink, and the social drink of choice for everyone from young Greeks in trendy city bars to old men in the village square. Frappes are the favourite – a combination of Nescafe and plenty of sugar whipped or blended until frothy. Though the old men may sit and sip the same coffee all afternoon, the younger generations seem to drink a huge amount, and well into the late hours of the night, since they go to bed so late.

Late dinner, no breakfast

In The Mediterranean, our primal pattern of sleeping and waking in rhythm with the sun is completely disregarded. Instead the Mediterranean sleeping and eating schedule goes like this:

7-10 am – Wake up and eat nothing except maybe a sesame bread ring
2-6 pm – Light lunch and a 2-3 hour nap
9-10 pm – Large dinner
1-2 am – Go to sleep

Instead of a nutritious breakfast, healthy lunch and light dinner, the Greeks are eating nothing until mid-afternoon, then eating their main meal after 9 o’clock at night! And aren’t they missing hours of restorative sleep by going to bed so late? Even the little children are out late with their families, eating at 9-10 pm and playing in the village square while their parents chat all evening. They still have to get up for school in the morning too…

The beloved bread

If the Greeks do grab a tiny breakfast, it’s usually koulouri on the run, a bread ring covered in sesame seeds sold at vendors on the streets. At lunch and dinner, giant loaves of sliced bread are served before or with every meal, to be dipped into a plate of fresh olive oil and maybe some dried oregano. Even if you order something that comes with bread already, like the popular gyro pitas, there will be a basket of bread on your table.

Bread is on the bottom of that Mediterranean food pyramid, along with rice and pasta, as the primary food group, just like on the USDA food pyramid. Though flour is not in everything, like in some cuisines, bread is always on the table and in the home, and many traditional foods incorporate filo dough and pita bread.

Traditional Greeks take pride in having fresh bread, and it’s still often home-baked or bought fresh-baked from the bakery. And bakeries are absolutely everywhere, chock-full of breads, pastries, cookies, mini ice creams, chocolates and candies.

It is true that the Mediterranean societies have always been agricultural, and that grains, especially wheat, are an integral part of not only their cuisine, but their culture. So maybe their metabolic type is suited to eating so much bread? We do know many Europeans who eat bread and cheese all their life, but it’s only when they move to Australia or America that they easily gain weight from eating these things. So maybe it’s a matter of traditionally made breads versus commercially processed versions.

Sugary coffee and cigarettes are favourite Greek pastimes
Greek shopkeepers pass the time with sugary coffee and cigarettes all day

So how do the Greeks stay healthy?

Despite all these factors, the Greeks remain on all the long life-span lists and are known to be in general good health.

Maybe these contradictions are a sign of modern commerce crowding out traditional ways, or maybe the Greeks and other Mediterranean peoples have just found a balance in diet and lifestyle that works for them. Some of these habits may well be moderated by their stable traditional food culture. Or maybe we are simply wrong in our own assumptions about what is a healthy lifestyle, and the Greeks have it all figured out. 

The Greek mindset is a healthy one

It’s probably most likely that the Greeks have simply found a balance in their Primal 6 – Thoughts, Air, Water, Food, Movement, Sleep. And since Thoughts are the most important, how about we look to the Greeks as a model for healthy Thoughts, as much as we do with their Mediterranean diet.

The Greeks prize family and community. They work, rest, play and eat with their large families, friends and community. They leave work for several hours in the afternoon to eat and nap with their loved ones, then meet up with the whole community again in the village square for dinner, playing and talking all evening. Meals are usually long, social or intimate affairs. They take care of the elderly in their family, including them in home and social life. Their Greek Orthodox Church brings a sense of community to the people, without obligation or guilt. And there’s no guilt, stress, or remorse felt about eating, smoking, drinking and indulging…only enjoyment.

Thoughts are more important than diet and lifestyle

It’s these thought principles that create contentment and a healthy, happy mind, which in turn keeps the body strong and vital. In many young societies like America and Australia, we are so focused on diet that we fail to see how unhealthy our modern thought principles are making us.

Almost every story I have read about a person who has lived beyond 100 years old without serious illness or disease reports that they are surrounded by friends and family and have regular social plans and gatherings. Many of them have paid little attention to their diet and exercise, and even regularly smoked and drank alcohol. There is definitely a pattern showing the power of Thoughts, and our month in Greece has reminded us of this most important aspect of our health.

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World?

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World?

According to the WHO stats, the Japanese are some of the longest living people in the world. But a long life doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy one. Personally, we would rather add life to our years than years to our life, so we like to study healthy people and copy what they do. Here’s what we found when we lived in and visited Japan and analysed their diet and lifestyle…

Are the Japanese the Healthiest People in the World

Is the Japanese diet really that healthy?

Seafood and processed food

Most people attribute the long average lifespan of the Japanese to a mostly primal diet rich in seafood. While it is true that the Japanese do eat a good amount of seafood, including various types of nutrient-rich seaweeds, these days their traditional foods are very processed and often replaced with modern commercial western foods.

Breakfast gone bad

We have only lived in the Tokyo area, and I would assume the big cities suffer more from this food commercialisation than the rural villages and countryside towns. However, in the Tokyo area, Japanese people often eat a breakfast not unlike the SAD (Standard American Diet) breakfast: boxed cereals, processed milk, bakery goods, or just coffee and toast. There are bakeries absolutely everywhere, offering sugary processed alternatives to the traditional Japanese breakfast of rice, fermented soybeans, fish and vegetables for many city-dwelling Japanese.

Dessert

In addition to fancy cakes, crepes, profiteroles and other European sweets, there are plenty of traditional Japanese desserts, mostly made from rice and beans, which makes them seem much healthier, even though they are sweetened with sugar. When not homemade, however, they are laden with the usual preservatives, additives, and processed sugars and syrups.

Traditional Japanese food is processed and packaged all over Tokyo
We thought there were healthy food selections at 7-11, like this spinach and pork, until we translated the long ingredient list on the back of the package.

Traditional foods all wrapped in plastic

The same goes with pre-packaged bento boxes, sushi rolls, rice balls, and even salads. At a glance, they are traditional healthy goodness. Fish, seaweed, rice, radish, ginger, fermented veggies and the like. And yes, if Japanese meals are home-cooked with traditional ingredients, they are surely the staples of long-living, healthy people. But in bustling Tokyo and its sprawling suburbs, these traditional meals are packaged up with long ingredient lists that include stabilisers, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours, MSG, and various sugars. I talk about this in my article about eating gluten-free in Japan, as many traditionally gluten-free Japanese foods are now full of processed wheat. As in many other societies, traditions are not being passed onto the new generations, who only know a world of ready-made food.

Organic food in Japan

Driving or taking a train through rural Japan, you can see plot after plot of home-grown and community-grown fruits and vegetables. I have no doubt this is a key factor in Japanese longevity. These days, however, a great number of Japanese buy most of their food from the supermarket, where the produce comes from heavily chemical sprayed farms and the meat is mostly factory farmed. There is also tons of imported food in the shops – American pork, bananas from the Philippines, Aussie beef, Vietnamese farmed fish – which our Japanese friends say is because it’s just so much cheaper to import.

Trying to find local or organic produce in a Japanese supermarket
One Tokyo suburb supermarket had a section showing pictures and locations of the farmers who grew the food. But no information on chemical use.

Our few health-conscious Japanese friends have sourced organic or spray-free produce, through a weekly farm box delivery, but properly raised meat is hard to find and very expensive, so they just don’t eat too much of it. There doesn’t seem to be many places to buy organically grown/raised plant and animal food in Tokyo, though the magazine for the English-speaking community lists 4 weekly farmers markets, touting either organic, farm fresh or just local.

One friend is very vigilant not to buy fish caught anywhere near Fukushima, for fear of radiation levels from the nuclear plant. Other people, however, say they heard on the news that people over 20 years old are not affected by radiation, so they don’t think about it. Hmm…

Finding certified organic food in a Japanese supermarket
The symbol at the bottom is one of the logos for Japanese certified organic food

My lifestyle determines my death style

Ok, that line is a bit dramatic, but it’s a favourite from a Metallica song and has a great ring of truth to it. For the Japanese, just as with the contradiction between their traditional and modern diet, there is a great gap between the traditional lifestyle which clearly promotes longevity, and the modern lifestyle which leads to rampant disease and untimely death.

How the Japanese live so long

The traditional lifestyle, still followed by millions of rural Japanese, is one of organic farming, affirming spiritual beliefs, and strong family ties. The elderly are cared for by their families, and continue to proudly work in their gardens and fields despite their age. With a traditional, unprocessed Japanese diet, you have a winning combination for a long, healthy life.

And why so many die young

Modern times, however, has brought great economic and social pressures. The Japanese are very proud people, who would rather die than feel as if they have disgraced their company with poor performance or let their family down with less than the best success. Consequently, Japanese mothers feel it their duty to push their children hard into academic excellence. From a very young age, study hours are long, tutors are many and pressure is high.

Once in the workforce, businessmen are slaves to their company, if only shackled by pride and obligation. After long work hours and uncompensated overtime, workers are expected to socialise with colleagues over drinks long into the night. After a long train ride home, and a short sleep, they do it all over again, usually 6 days a week.

Japanese people sleep everywhere, probably due to overwork and stress.
Japanese people sleep everywhere throughout the day, probably due to overwork and stress.

This lifestyle doesn’t allow much time at all for sleep, self-nurturing, exercise, or for family bonds to develop. Many times the pressure, fatigue and loneliness are so great, it leads to suicide. There is even a Japanese term that translates as “death from overwork”.

Learning from a land of contradictions

It’s all these contradictions that make Japan so interesting and mysterious. The crossing over of ancient tradition and high technology, quiet rituals and chaotic cities, primal vs. modern diet and lifestyles.

It’s really never enough to look at a list of the longest living peoples and make assumptions, as each country and culture is so complex, and true health is gained from a combination of factors which are never clear cut. However, by looking at the various cultures of the world – their traditions, daily habits and contradictions – we can begin to learn what may be best for our own health.

 

Do you think the Japanese diet and lifestyle are good models of health of longevity? Why?

 

 

The Japanese toilet that warms, cleans and entertains you!

The Japanese Toilet That Cleans, Warms and Entertains You!

Join Bex on a Japanese toilet! You may have heard about or seen some of the amazing Japanese inventions, and their toilets are no exception. It’s like sitting on a space ship! Traditional Japanese toilets are squat toilets, aka hole in the floor, which are amazing for the fully emptying the bowels. These days, most Japanese now use western toilets, and though the benefits of the squat position are lost, they’ve made up for it with toilets that provide exceptional service. Toilets in Japan can warm your bum, clean you thoroughly, play music for you, release pleasant scents, and raise the lid and seat so you never have to touch it.

The Japanese Toilet That Cleans, Warms and Entertains You!
The control board of a typical Japanese Toilet

6 Things to Avoid Before Bed, For a Good Night’s Sleep

6 Things To Avoid Before Bed, For a Good Night's Sleep

If you feel energetic at night, take ages to fall asleep, wake up in the middle of night, or wake up feeling tired, your sleep habits need help asap. Start by avoiding these 6 common things that you may not realize are affecting your sleep quality. Though some of these things are healthy for you, they are best avoided in the hours leading up to bedtime.

6 Things To Avoid Before Bed, For a Good Night's Sleep

1/ Vigorous exercise

You body naturally releases catabolic (break-down) hormones in the morning to enable you to stay alert and work hard. So the first half of the day is best for exercising. These hormones slowly decrease after midday and are replaced by anabolic (build-up) hormones which enable you to rest and repair while you sleep.

If you exercise vigorously in the late afternoon or evening, your hormonal system will be disrupted so that even when you are sleeping, your body’s system’s are not resting and repairing – which is the whole point of sleep! Make an effort to change your exercise schedule so you are not doing a hard workout late in the day.

Sex is an exception to this rule, as the hormones that are released from sexual activity can actually aid sleep. Woohoo!

 

2/ Stressful TV shows and movies

Your mind has such a powerful influence on your body that even if you are laying down motionless, your body will respond to stressful situations – even TV plots – by releasing those catabolic hormones again. TV shows and movies full of violence, murder, arguments and suspense can get your pulse racing, even when you don’t feel emotionally affected by it. And then once again, your body is in stress mode while you’re sleeping!

Though it’s best to turn off the TV well before bedtime, if you’re going to watch something in the evening, keep it comic or light. This is also why it’s best to ‘never go to bed mad’. Calmly resolving stressful fights before going to bed will make all the difference in your sleep.

 

3/ Food that is hard for you to digest

Normally, digestion processes are greatly slowed during sleep so your body can put it’s efforts toward growing and repairing other areas of the body. To ensure this growing and repairing (the point of sleep) takes place each night, avoid eating any foods before bed that require great digestive effort.

Sugar and junk food should be an obvious no-no before bed, but there are also many primal foods that can require lots of digestive work. This usually includes meats, and for some people may also include raw vegetables, nuts, grains, and dairy. Better choices are light soups, low-sugar fruits like berries, and avocado. If you have regular digestive problems, it’s best to avoid eating anything for 1-2 hours before bed.

 

4/ Cacao

Speaking of eating before bed, if you’ve been indulging in paleo and primal style desserts, you’ve probably discovered cacao. We surely enjoy raw cacao chocolate bars from time to time, and got addicted to raw cacao avocado mousse as an evening snack. However, cacao contains a compound called Theobromine, which is a strong stimulant and was used by the Spanish to keep their armies going while conquering Central and South America. Therefore, it will also keep you up at night, or keep your body’s system’s up at night when you think they are sleeping with you. Best to avoid cacao several hours before bed, or for the second half of the day if your sleep needs serious help.

 

5/ Caffeine – it’s not just in coffee

And while we’re talking about stimulants, be aware that even if you’ve wisened up to not having coffee late in the day, there are also caffeine and other natural stimulants in black tea, jasmine tea, chai tea, and green tea. Avoid any of these drinks several hours before bed. Good naturally caffeine-free alternatives are herbal teas (like peppermint, ginger, chamomile, etc.), dandelion root tea (which resembles coffee) and Rooibos tea.

Having said that, if you’re prone to waking up in the middle of the night to go pee, it’s best to not drink any liquids for at least 3 hours before bed!

 

6/ Computers & Mobile Phone

The blue light emitted from your computer and phone screen is also present in morning light. So when you are staring at those screens before bed, your body thinks it’s morning and starts releasing wake up hormones, which also suppresses the release of sleep hormones like melatonin.

You may have heard this one a lot lately, but it’s a hard habit to break in our internet addicted world, so even we need to constantly remind ourselves and each other to turn off the screens before bed.

Set yourself an electronic curfew alarm two hours before your bedtime, and plan for other activities instead. If you make it a rule to avoid electronics before bed, you will have more time for reading, meditating, a relaxing stress session, or having sex – all which will encourage sleep.

 

Apply these rules to your kids too

If you are struggling to get your child to go to sleep and not wake up at night, look at some of these same six factors. Are they watching dramatic shows, playing violent video games, or using a computer at night? Are they having stressful arguments with you about dinner and bedtime? Are you trying to ‘tire them out’ with lots of physical activity at night? Which is in fact just stimulating them more? Are they going to bed right after a huge meal? Are they having any stimulant drinks at night?

Focus on avoiding these 6 things in the hours before bedtime, and you may be amazed at how well you and your family sleep!

Other sleep articles by Primal Health:
Are Your Daily Habits Affecting Your Sleep Quality? Take the Quiz.
How My Body Swelled Up From Sleep Stress

 

Have you had problems getting quality sleep? What have you tried to improve your sleep?

11 Natural Ways to Eliminate a Flu in 24 Hours

11 Natural Ways to Eliminate a Flu in 24 Hours

Most of us spend flu days staring at the TV, eating snacks, and taking medicines to lessen our symptoms. Unfortunately, this is not a good recipe for getting well again. Yes, it’s great to get the day off, but if you are really sick with the flu and feeling awful, all you want is to feel better. And fast.

11 Natural Ways to Eliminate a Flu in 24 Hours

Last month I came down with the worst flu I’ve had in 10 years. Chills, fever, mind fog, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint aches, headache…the works. Yes, it was December and I could have blamed it on the ‘flu season’ and felt sorry for myself. But I know better than that.

I know that the only time that we get colds and flu is when our immune system is depressed and can’t fight off the usual bugs that are always around us. And there are plenty of factors that depress the immune system in the ‘flu seasons’: over-scheduling; over-planning; family stress; party anxieties; holiday junk food; alcohol; decreased sleep, minimal rest and extreme temperatures.

If and when you do get sick, understand that it was your choices and your current lifestyle that caused it. Don’t be hard on yourself, just take responsibility and recognise that your health is in your own hands. Then you will also realise that YOU are the one who can get yourself well again.

Yes, it takes a little more effort than staring at the TV, but it’s not hard. Getting well is mostly quite enjoyable, actually. And you’ll be feeling back to your healthy self tomorrow. Here are 11 natural ways to get rid of a flu in 24 hours or less.

These first few are easy because you don’t actually have to do anything. Your body already knows what to do; you just have to let it!

Run a Fever

A fever is your body’s natural response for fighting an infection (whether bacterial or viral). The fever is actually a good sign, as it shows that your immune system is doing its job of warding off the illness to get you well again.

Therefore, taking medications to decrease your fever is actually working against your own body! This is often what prolongs illness and makes it so hard to get well quickly. So put down those pills and let the fever run its course. A fever might be uncomfortable and hot, with intermittent chills, but it’s crucial to fighting your flu, so let it do it’s thing.

If your fever is extremely high, or you are concerned about a child’s fever, learn more about when medical care is needed.

Sleep

Once again, your body knows what it needs to get well. That’s why you feel so tired when you have the flu, because your body wants you to go to sleep! Sleep time is when our body grows, repairs and heals. If you have the flu, you need lots of healing and repairing, hence you need lots of sleep.

If you stare at the TV or computer all day, you will thwart your body’s efforts to drift into restorative sleep. So get away from screens as much as possible, keep the lights low, stay in bed and provide a restful sleep environment throughout the day and night. What an enjoyable way to get well!

Be Idle

In between sleeping, do as little as possible. I know it’s really hard for most of us to do “nothing”, but that’s often one of the reasons we get sick in the first place! Both your mind and your body must rest, rest, rest.

Watching television doesn’t allow your mind much rest, so again, don’t lie in front of the TV all day. Space out, daydream, watch your family from a distance, give yourself a face massage or arm tickle. Lie down outside and stare at the trees and clouds.

Meditate

Even if you’re lying down all day, if your mind is still running amuck, your body can’t fully relax. One way to help with this is meditation, which is not only relaxing, but also extremely healing.

Even if you’ve never meditated before, you can do it now. Brad can guide you through a meditative session in his video, ‘Meditation Made Simple‘, and if you’re well enough to stand, try his ‘Qi Gong and Tai Chi’ video. I also love these free guided meditations, which I listened to when I was sick.

Drink

No, not the sort of drinking you did last weekend that contributed to your flu. I’m talking about drinking that liquid gold stuff that you maybe didn’t have enough of lately. Water! Drink it like it’s the best thing you ever tasted and you can’t get enough of it.

Keep a giant jug (pitcher) of water and a glass beside you and drink more water than you thought you could handle. Think of it as your medicine, because it is.

Nourish

Your other main medicine is food. I mean real, whole, organic, nutritious food. I know you have the flu and you’re tired, but when you eventually reach for something to eat, make it incredibly nutritious.

Avoid packaged snacks, processed foods and sugar like they are the plague.They will only depress your immune system further and make your flu worse.

Fresh fruit and raw vegetables require the least preparation and plenty of nourishment. When you get enough energy, make yourself some eggs or quickly pan-fry some chicken or fish. Better yet, get someone to cook a nourishing meal for you.

Use nourishing foods to eliminate flu
Add these to your nourishing meals to eliminate flu

Eat Less, Then More

I hear ya. Sometimes when the flu is really bad, the last thing you want to do is eat. And that’s your wise body again, telling you that it needs a rest from digesting, which is hard work. So listen to your body and eat less or not much for awhile.

Then, when you start to feel better, you may want to eat more than usual, to replenish your body with vitamins, enzymes and other nutrients that will keep that flu from hanging around.

Increase Bacteria

In addition to your nourishing foods, a healthy dose of good bacteria will really power up the leader of your immune system – your gut. When you have plenty of good bugs in your system, they stand strong against the bad bugs taking over. Like that nasty flu you’ve got.

You can drink kombucha or kefir, or eat unpasteurised fermented foods. But if you haven’t made these or know where to buy them, a good quality probiotic supplement will do. We use and highly recommend InLiven, but if you need something right away, ask for a recommendation at your local health food shop. (affiliate link for InLiven helps keep Primal Health running)

Sun Bake

Yes, you heard me right. Once you are well enough to get out of bed, go sit or lie in the sun for about 30 minutes (depending on your skin colour). If it’s warm enough, let your skin be exposed to the sun as much as possible, and don’t wear sunglasses or sunscreen. This is so you can get as much Vitamin D as possible, from the best source of it, the sun.

Vitamin D is responsible for an amazing number of functions in our body. The lack of it we have today from living and working indoors, and other diet and lifestyle factors, is one key factor in our huge rates of illness. If you want to get rid of your flu fast, this is an important part of the formula.

When I had the flu, I took a blanket and pillow outside and laid in a sunny spot on the grass, feeling the wind and the sun’s warmth and looking up at the clouds and trees. It was healing in so many ways.

Oil Up

No, I don’t mean suntan oil while you are getting your sun. I’m referring to essential oils, an often overlooked yet very effective healing modality. When our daughter Kaiya is sick, essential oils get her feeling better quick, and they are easy and pleasant for all of us to use.

Essential oils will help with your flu symptoms and also act as anti-virals and anti-microbials to fight the illness. Put three drops of eucalyptus, oregano, peppermint or lavender oil into one tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil, then rub the oil mixture onto your chest, neck and/or bottom of your feet every 4-6 hours or so.

Laughter & Love

I’m serious about this. Stop being so serious! Whoever said laughter was the best medicine was onto something. Thoughts are #1 of the Primal 6 to optimal health, so if you want to get over the flu, get your mind feeling relaxed, loved and happy.

Once you’ve gotten plenty of rest and sleep, watch one short funny show or movie. Read a funny book. Tell jokes or make funny faces with your family. Call the people you love and tell them you love them. And get lots of hugs and touching from those you are closest to.

Different tools for different flus

Every single body is different, and every illness is different, so there is no one magic formula for getting over the flu. But there are plenty of primal tools that we can use to assist our body is eliminating the flu and gaining strong immunity again, and these 11 things are what worked for me when I had a terrible flu last month.

I also gargled with very warm salt water several times a day, as my throat was so inflamed, I felt like I was swallowing razor blades. My intense flu symptoms started the afternoon of Christmas Day, and by early evening the next day, I was feeling very well again, had no sore throat, and was ready to go to work (at my relaxing bookstore job) the following day. That’s because I spent those 24 hours taking care of myself with these 11 natural remedies.

I hope you feel better soon!

 

Did you get rid of your flu quickly? Which of these remedies did you use?

How to Keep Your Resolutions All Year

How to Keep Your Resolutions All Year

How many times have you resolved at any time of the year to eat right, exercise, lose weight, save money, read more, get fit, or work out more…then felt lazy, unmotivated, unsuccessful or a failure because you didn’t follow through on your resolutions?

How to Keep Your Resolutions All Year

Well, the bad news is that it’s possible you really are just too lazy, unmotivated, not ready or don’t want it bad enough. But the good news is that it’s much more likely, especially since you’re reading this article, that the real problem is not you, it’s your resolutions. With a tiny bit of tweaking and a few simple strategies, you can not only keep your resolutions this year, but you can slowly turn those resolutions into positive life choices that stick with you forever.

Make SMART Resolutions

First and foremost, your resolutions need to be SMART. This acronym, used widely by business coaches and goal-setters, stands for (with some variations): Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable/Actionable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely/Time-oriented. Make sure each of your resolutions is stated with these in mind.

For example, let’s take a common resolution like ‘exercise more’ and make it SMART.

Be more Specific: What kind of exercise? Where will you exercise? Who with?
Make it Measurable: How many exercises session will you do each week? How long will you exercise for each time?
Make sure it’s Achievable and think how to Action it: Will you join a gym, buy equipment, get a coach, schedule time in your day?
Make it Relevant to your life and preferences: What type of exercise do you like? Which is most likely to work with your schedule and budget?
Lastly, put some time frame around it: How about an 8-week exercise class? Or a commitment to run through the spring season?

Are your health goals SMART?

Write everything down

Write down your SMART resolutions, list any action steps needed for each resolution, and continually jot down any ideas, worries, challenges, small successes, and affirmations that come in your mind.

You can keep a food diary, an exercise log, a calendar, a daily diary, a happiness journal – whatever it takes to help you achieve your resolutions.

Writing accesses the subconscious part of your brain, so you will get to know some of the ‘hidden’ thoughts and emotions behind your desire for change and be able to address any that are keeping you from making those changes.

Work on a few changes at a time

Though you may have 6-10 resolutions in mind, it may be easier for you to focus on only 2-3 of those at a time. You could focus on 3 of your resolutions in February, and once those are becoming part of your normal routine, you could add 2 more new resolutions in March. Give those a month to become habitual, then add 2 more in April, and so on.

When making health resolutions, it’s best to work on Thought and Food resolutions first, as then you will be in the right mind-set and have enough energy and nutrients to dedicate yourself to your other resolutions.

Find a support system

Often the first place we look for support is in our home, but our family members and close friends are not always on the same page as us or have differing lifestyles that make our resolutions hard to follow.

Instead of trying to change your family members, just keep focusing on you, and find other like-minded people for inspiration, motivation and encouragement. Facebook pages and internet forums are great for this, as are local community groups, health gyms, studios and classes.

Visualise yourself already achieving your resolution

When you’re sitting in traffic, daydreaming at lunch or lying in bed at night, picture yourself doing the actions you set in your resolutions. Picture the same thing over and over, and imagine yourself as the best you can be at it.

Visualise yourself doing the toughest yoga poses, bounding up the 3 flights of stairs to your office without getting winded, savouring a deliciously cooked nutritious dinner, or responding to your angry boss or child with serenity and understanding. If you truly desire the things you have resolved to do, these images will make you smile and your thoughts will in time become your reality.

Sometimes a resolution has a goal at the end, such as running 4 km 3 times a week in order to run a marathon next season. But often, a resolution, such as running 4 km 3 times a week, is the goal itself. This makes resolutions very flexible and achievable not only once, but many times!

It also means that every day is a fresh start. Just because you didn’t follow your resolution yesterday doesn’t mean it’s over. Start fresh tomorrow! When you keep going back to your resolutions, you will achieve them more and more often until the new action becomes a permanent part of your life.

Keep your SMART resolutions somewhere where you can read them often to remind yourself of what you want to achieve and who you want to be, and every day is another chance to make those positive life changes for good.

Make vague resolutions into SMART life choices
Make vague resolutions into SMART life choices

Some Resources & Inspiration

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This book is a fabulous read for anyone wanting to make some positive life changes, as the author models a very organised and inspiring way of making and following resolutions. There is now a second book, Happiness at Home, and a website full of tools for keeping resolutions.

13 Food Resolutions for the New Year – Great ideas for specific resolutions that will ensure you ‘eat healthier’ all year long.

My Best New Year’s Resolution Diet from Jane’s Healthy Kitchen. You can download the blank form at the end of the article and write in your own foods!

 

What are your health resolutions this year?

How to Stay Healthy Over the Holiday

How to Stay Healthy Over the Holiday

Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day or any other celebratory event, everyone has their own traditions and way of celebrating, but much of it will include a lot of sugar, processed food and alcohol. These “festive foods” are strongly tied to all the happy holiday memories, making a powerful emotional connection in our minds when we eat these foods. In our minds, happiness is tied to eating marshmallow bunnies, christmas cookies, halloween candy, valentines day chocolates…and as we get older, washing it down with celebratory drinks. So it’s no wonder so many people are sick at the end of the holiday period, when it’s time to get back to school and work. Well maybe it’s time for some new traditions! Isn’t it possible to celebrate, have a holiday AND take good care of our bodies so we feel amazing even after the party is over?

Bex and Brad enjoying the Christmas Holiday 2008
Kaiya was in my belly this XMAS. There’s sparkling water in my champagne glass.

All I Want For Christmas is a Good Body

The number one New Year’s resolutions are to get fit, lose weight, and eat healthy, but we spend several weeks before the new year trashing our bodies! Well, this is the year things are going to change for YOU. You are reading this article, and soon will be armed with new ways of approaching any holiday time so that you don’t come out the other side tired, sick and several kilos fatter. So let’s get to it – If there’s going to be a holiday feast and party platters, let’s talk about food!

Every Feast Starts with Meat & Veggies

Meat and veggies are always a feature at any holiday gathering, so make these foods the bulk of your plate! If you’re throwing the party or bringing a plate, make colourful and delicious meat and veggie dishes. When you go to a party, find the meat and veg and fill up on those first. What’s more festive than a roast pork with crackling and roasted vegetables? Or for summer holidays – fresh prawns, barbequed meats and colourful salads? The list of festive meat and veg dishes could be endless but here are some ideas:

– Chicken, beef, lamb or fish on skewers! Alternate the meat with colourful veggies and grill them up for an easy main party dish. Kids love to help make the skewers too.

– Roast turkey, lamb, ham, chicken, pork, or beef. Rub on some salt and herbs; crisp up the crackling; stuff poultry with cut oranges or lemons. You’ll have healthy leftovers for days.
Throw plenty of veggies in too while you’ve got the oven on. Whole sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips, beetroot, onion…or cut them all up and make a roast veggie medley.

– Whole grilled fish, fish cakes, fresh prawns and other shellfish. Seafood is very festive and the possibilities are endless.

– Green beans or broccoli sprinkled with crispy bacon; grated/shredded cabbage, carrot and capsicum (bell pepper) salad with chopped nuts, raisins, orange wedges, oil and vinegar; leafy green salads with loads of colourful toppings.

Make low-sugar, flour-free holiday treats
Raw gingerbread men from chocolatecoveredkatie.com

Sweets without all the Sugar

The best sweet food for any occassion is fruit. Make fruit skewers, fruit salad or a fruit platter. Use as many colourful fruits as possible for the season. Cut fruit shapes with cookie cutters. Hollow out melons to use as a decorative fruit salad bowl.

Nuts and seeds are another perfect snack food for any get together. Toss raw nuts with mixed spices; serve nuts in the shell with a nutcracker; make a trail mix; roast pumpkin seeds.

One of the biggest obstacles, however, to your healthy holiday is all those chocolates, cakes, cookies and candies. Every holiday, there they are staring you in the face, luring you with happy sugar-filled fun memories. There are three ways of getting over this hurdle:

1/ Just say no. If you are the type of person who can’t just have one bite, and is easily addicted to sweets, make a pact to yourself to not even have one bite. Before each party, remind yourself of the consequences of eating sweets: weight gain, bad moods, tiredness (sugar coma), getting sick, or whatever relates to your body and goals. Fill up on meats, veggies, fruits and nuts, and if anyone asks, keep your explanation simple and upbeat.

2/ Choose your battles. Decide which holiday sweets are your absolute favourite and have a small plate or handful of that. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule – take great care of your health 80% of the time, and it will be strong enough to handle the stress, sugar, and toxins you incur 20% of the time. Have a plate of christmas pudding, a slice of pumpkin pie, or a small Lindt chocolate bunny as part of your celebration. Enjoy it slowly and leave it at that.

3/ Make paleo / primal sweets and treats. With the paleo ‘movement’ and health awareness growing rapidly, there are hundreds of recipes for baked goods and sweets with less to no sugar and flour. And being homemade, it won’t have additives and preservatives! Some great sites for these recipes:

www.fastpaleo.com
www.elanaspantry.com
www.thenourishinggourmet.com
www.primal-palate.com
www.civilizedcavemancooking.com

You can celebrate holidays without drinking alcohol

Cheers! What about alcohol?

In many of our cultures, hardly any celebration is without alcohol. However, if you are eating well, exercising and making lifestyle changes to feel healthier and/or lose weight, drinking alcohol can quickly reverse all your hard work. So try these ideas during the holidays:

If you want to only have a few drinks:

– Sip your drink slowly. Slowly drink a full glass of water between each drink.
– Drink spirits straight or only mixed with water, soda water, or sparkling water. Leave out the soda and fruit juice mixers!
– Dilute your wine and champagne. Halve your glass of white wine and fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. Fruit puree fills up a champagne glass well and tastes nice.
– Keep lots of healthy food snacks nearby as alcohol will make you crave junk food.

If you want to celebrate without drinking at all:

– Bring a bottle of sparkling mineral water and some fresh limes, so you’ll have a nice drink for yourself. Also, drinking this in a short glass looks like a cocktail, so you won’t get pestered to have an alcoholic drink.
– Make mocktails with blended fresh or frozen fruit and sparkling mineral water.
– Think about how great you’ll feel tomorrow and know that you’re not really missing much.

Eating isn’t the only holiday activity

There is more to holidays than consuming food, alcohol and material goods! Put your time and energy into memorable activities and traditions and make your celebrations revolve around the activity.

– Go for a walk or drive to look at Christmas lights
– Set up an Easter egg hunt or a more challenging scavenger hunt for adults
– Have a Halloween costume parade and competition
– Go Caroling or sing carols at home
– Play board games, do puzzles, make crafts
– Play at the beach, in the snow, by the lake, in the park
– Serve meals at a homeless shelter or deliver old clothes to the needy
– Dance!

Don’t forget the other 5 of the Primal 6

– Thoughts: Say no if you feel too busy or pressured; omit holiday traditions that are too stressful; stay within your budget and do free things; make time for yourself.
– Breath: Take time to stop and breathe and/or lay on a foam roller; use your holiday time to learn breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.
– Water: Keep drinking plenty of filtered water. Keep your water bottle with you at all times.
– Movement: Get outdoors and play; dance with friends and family or by yourself in the living room; do some stretches every morning or night; join an active group or sport.
– Rest/Sleep: Get to bed by 10pm on the nights when you are not out, so you don’t accumulate too much sleep debt from late night celebrating. Don’t overschedule yourself, make rest time.

The Golden Rules of Healthy Socialising

Lastly, never forget the golden rules of staying healthy at parties, dinners, and social events. These apply perfectly to holiday time:

1/ If you know there won’t be much healthy food offered, eat well before you leave home!
2/ Never stand next to the food table / buffet / snack table / bar.
3/ Carry lots of whole food snacks with you like raw veggies, nuts, fruit, egg muffins, salmon cakes, and spinach bread. This is especially important for your children!
4/ For main meals, serve up your plate then don’t go back for seconds. Avoid family style dining and buffets when possible. Learn more on portion control.
5/ Decide before you go if you will have no sugar and/or alcohol or just a little, and stick to it.
6/ Enjoy a small amount of unhealthy food and drinks if you are following the 80/20 rule for health and weight maintenance.
7/ Don’t make a big deal explaining your healthy choices. Simple, upbeat answers work best.

Above all, enjoy yourself! Stressing about the challenge of staying healthy over the holiday can cause more health problems than actually having the cookies. So instead of thinking that you will be deprived of treats and drinks, focus on all that you will receive and enjoy about the holiday – homemade food, friends and family, music and activities. Happy Holidays!