Well, what a start to 2021 – we are still in Pandemic mode, still stuck at home and there are still a few bags of Taytos hanging around along with all those soft-centred Roses that nobody wants. We are only a few days into the new year and some folk have already made plans to get healthier in 2021, maybe get out more, clock up more steps during the day, eat less crap and drink more water – all very honourable resolutions and to be commended. The Diet industry is geared up for its busiest time of the year as more than 40% of Irish adults resolve to lose weight every January, most of whom repeat the same resolution, year on year. If improving your health is on the agenda this year, maybe try a different tack, particularly for weight loss goals and ditch the quick-fix diets, food fads and the countless celebrity-led regimes that will break your heart and make you feel like an utter failure. This year try a little Kindness to yourself, step back and watch the good times roll!
I have made some wild predictions for food trends over the years, most of which are still in the making – Camel milk (2016), Insect powder protein (2013), Medicinal mushrooms and CBD-infused pyjamas (2018), Poo emoji Ice cream (2019) and the brain performance enhancers, Nootropics (2020). Disappointingly, I might have got a few things wrong, but the good news is that critter-crunchies, bug buns and wormaghetti could still end up in your local supermarket in 2021! With food sustainability high on the agenda, the experts are again predicting that insects will make it to our shores, but perhaps with the Brexit fiasco, the camels will have to re-think their route! This year I will play it safe and forget the trends dictated by corporate interests – instead let’s look back at the extraordinary year that was 2020 and improve upon the positive opportunities that came from an unforgettable year.
One of the great outcomes of 2020 is the huge surge in home cooking and people trying out new recipes and new ingredients. Although there was a glut of banana bread in the beginning of the pandemic, it soon settled down and families finally had time to cook from scratch and share meals together. Cooking real food is at the core of self-care and self-preservation. When all else seems out of your control, the food you choose to prepare and eat can be the anchor to keep you grounded, nourished and fuelled for all the craziness going on around you. Whether you are cooking for one or dishing out for a few – be kind to your body, nourish it with the best quality ingredients that you can afford and stay clear of cheap processed foods. This is a true act of kindness and one that will not only help you shift a few kilos but will empower you to create other healthy habits in your life! The good news for 2021 is that it is the UN International Year of Fruit and Vegetables – yippee! Experiment with new ways and recipes to put the good stuff in your belly this year.
The suddenness of adapting to the Covid19 crisis put many people in a state of Fight or Flight last year. The stress response is the body’s way to survive imminent danger in the short term, it over-rides many functions of the body to deal with a threat at hand and does so very well. However, long term stress (also known as chronic stress) never allows the body to recover and repair itself and the constant state of alert can wreak havoc on your health. This year be kind to yourself and accept that we are not out of the pandemic yet. All the tools you need to manage stress are within you – your thoughts, your mindset and your physical body when allowed to, can deal with extraordinary events. Allow yourself to rest, opt-out of social media and the news and take deep breaths when it gets too much. The space you create for yourself to “take a moment” is the space from which solutions and hope flow. Trust this space. More than 45% of people eat more in response to stress – make sure the food you surround yourself is going to feed you and not feed the stress-monster. Mineral-rich foods come from our soil and sea bed. Dig deep when you need to dig deep for nutritional support during stressful times. Include roots, sea vegetables, mushrooms, bones and plenty of dark green vegetables in broths, slow-cooked stews and earthy meals for the kind of sustenance Mother Nature provides for us.
Finally, the greatest act of kindness you can show yourself, is to get a good night’s sleep! People who average 6 hours sleep per night or less, consume 22% more calories the following day. Sleep allows the body to process the day’s events and put them in perspective. Sleep enhances the immune response and recharges the batteries. Prepare for a proper sleep with a plan to truly wind down. Ditch the night-time snacks to allow for a 12-hour gap between the last meal of the day and the first of the following day. I am often asked what the best night-time snacks are and honestly, there are none but if you are in dire straits you could try a couple of squares of dark chocolate, melted in warm milk and a handful of pumpkin seeds. Instead of focusing on food in the evening, unwind by dimming the lights, switch off the screens and become stiller and quieter. Think back to what you would do to put a baby to sleep (cuddles, warmth, a soothing bath, peaceful atmosphere) – be kind and do the same for yourself.
Whatever you resolve to do better this year just make sure it is something that gives you joy and comes with ease. I’m not giving up on the insect-dinners or the camel milk lattés and look forward to heralding their health benefits when they finally arrive!
Wishing all of your a wonderful, healthy and happy New Year, Irene x
Ré Nua Natural Health Blog
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