Female Friendships: Part I

FriendShip is a Sheltering Tree

Friendships are an important aspect of a happy, healthy life.

As part of our work with clients, we address social support systems – not just to figure out potential obstacles with newly developed healthy eating patterns (i.e. how to now navigate book club, happy hour, pizza night) but to also check in and see how to supported our client feels in life and how to improve it further. Studies show that, particularly for women, social support is a determinant for health.

In addition, the concept of ‘soul-food’ comes into play. Sure there’s nutrition that helps build our bones, cells, muscles, but there’s also invisible energy that also ‘feeds’ us on a deeper level. Think back to your childhood or adolescence when you went outside to play with friends for hours or were thoroughly engaged with a project of your choosing. Your parent might have called you in for dinner but you were so involved in the game or in a state of ‘flow’ with your individual enterprise that you responded with “I’m not hungry!”

While we know that social media is not a substitute for creating deeper friendships, it’s often easier to scroll through our feed, “like,” and move on with our day. We create a self-deceptive illusion of not being isolated; instead, we believe we are ‘connected’ with our community and x-number of friends (followers).

The common challenge for many clients is that, particularly for those in their 30s-50s, the busyness of work and family life, moving away or having friends relocate, changing jobs, and the changing seasons of our lives can loosen the bonds of friendship and social support. It may be years before one even realizes the effect these gradual changes have had on their previously-strong support system.

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The Mother’s Day Hangover

mothersdayforallmothers

Image source: found on Pinterest and Facebook, artist/origin unknown

Despite what Facebook and Instagram would have you believe, Mother’s Day is not all balloons, flowers, cards, love and chocolates. For many, the hangover following this holiday is in full effect. Around Mother’s Day, there can be difficult conversations and experiences that are often not acknowledged.

This graphic is the perfect illustration for some of the feelings experienced by those who didn’t have the societally-normalized Mother’s Day.

Starting from the top left – mothers who have lost children. How difficult this day is for those who lost a child or children. Perhaps it was a child they never met alive, one who was miscarried or stillborn. Or a child who died after spending a few years on earth. It can be very challenging to celebrate your special day when the child who made you a mother is no longer here….or never came to be.

Those who have lost their mothers have Mother’s Day as a reminder of how much they may miss them. It’s not an easy day celebrating the memory of your mother without being able to hug or talk to her anymore.

Have a strained relationship with your mother? A mother’s day Facebook feed of people who call their moms their best friends could be difficult to see when you and your mother have historically butted heads or not seen eye-to-eye. You may wish it were different and that you too could fully celebrate your relationship with your mother. Vice versa, maybe you’re a mom who has not been able to fully connect with your own son or daughter in a way you had always hoped. This day can be a reminder of that disappointment.

It’s not a popular decision but there are women (and men) who chose not to have children. Incomprehensible though it may be to some in society, it’s still a valid, though often not validated, choice. These people, women in particular – who choose not to have kids- have their own battles. Their decisions are questioned by others, especially around Mother’s Day.

On the other side of that same coin are women who are desperate to have children. They’ve been through painful egg retrievals, suffered the side effects of Clomid and other fertility drugs, IVF, and at the very sign of their cycle starting, realize their efforts were all in vain. They grieve the glimmer of the dream they temporarily had, hoping that this time, the pregnancy would stick. They feel betrayed by their bodies and wonder ‘why me?’. They find it difficult see babies or pregnant women in public, and to celebrate others’ baby showers, though they do.

Beyond the above illustration, there are mothers who didn’t necessarily want to become mothers, or who had a very different idea of what raising children would be like. Their sense of fulfillment is lacking and they feel that there is no one to whom it would be safe to vocalize these feelings.

Though the causes may differ, what all these women have in common is their pain around mothers and motherhood.

As with any other hangover, there are things that help it along, like water and easy-to-digest food or taking a nap. For the mother’s day hangover, perhaps treat yourself to some quiet, recuperative time. Indulge in a face mask and hair treatment. Take a nice warm bath. Be gentle with yourself about your feelings; acknowledge them without judgment. Talk with a confidante about your frustrations as a mom, with your mom, or with attempting to become a mother.

Sometimes the best way to get out of a sad mood is to help another. Imagine the sorrow of the divorced mother whose ex-husband kept the children with him and their new step-mom during the Mother’s Day holiday. Maybe suggest a walk or bike ride together in a beautiful park. Support a friend who you know struggles with her complicated relationship with her mother….or one whose mother has died.

Whether you were or weren’t treated with a bouquet of roses or breakfast in bed, your joy or pain is valid, your story is important and it matters.

Burgers & Frittatas: Five Star Foodies

fivestarveganburgers

A couple of months ago, as you may remember, we spoke about vegan grilling options. To our delight, the quest for finding a darn-near-perfect veggie burger was achieved when we found Five Star Foodies in the Kroger frozen food section.

In the past decade or so, food companies have been stepping up their game when it comes to their veggie burgers. No longer is the only option a frozen gray disc made of soy protein, gluten, and questionable flavorings.

We’ve been to local restaurants with great veggie burger options and made recipes from scratch; however, if you just want to run into your grocery store and secure yourself a delicious, easy dinner, this might be for you.

vegan burger

Why you might like the Five Star Foodie products:

You’re vegan or plant-based and want a delicious burger

A great variety of artichoke burgers beyond the original recipe include French Herb, Indian Tandoori, Thai Coconut, and Italian Herb. We recommend doubling the deliciousness by topping with one or more of these options: guacamole, mustard, crunchy lettuce, fresh parsley or cilantro, and salsa.

You’d like to secure your 3 burgers for less than $6

Beyond burgers, they have vegan frittatas that are soy & nut free, gluten-free, 70% organic and non-GMO. Our personal favorite is the Potato Parsley one and we recommend adding some salsa or hot sauce on top.

You have friends or family members who are vegan or gluten-free

You like an ingredients list that is pronounceable and easily identifiable as food items

Why you may NOT like these products:

You still believe that the word ‘vegan’ means tasteless or ‘only for vegans’

You’re a vampire.

Your name is Gaston; you’ve eaten between 4 and 5 dozen eggs a day for years now and stubbornly refuse to switch things up and try a vegan frittata.

We’re stretching our creativity here :D. There’s only one thing to do, try a food item and see if you like it!

Want to learn more? Check out Five Star Foodies products and more.

*This post was not sponsored (but we’d certainly not mind if it were *nom nom nom*).

Tips: Healthy Holiday Indulgence

pumpkin pie

1. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you set your eyes upon a prepared feast. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how much food you’ll need to feel satisfied. Your surroundings, mood, stress  and hunger levels will influence your answer. Be mindful.

2. Restricting one’s self takes a lot of willpower and brainpower, which can pull focus away from enjoying a meal together and spending time with loved ones. Take time for conversation, slow down, relax, savor your food, and listen to your body’s response.

3. The holidays are marketed as ‘special’ and ‘limited time only’, which makes it so we often believe this is our only chance to eat certain foods. This causes thoughts of scarcity and deprivation, which can easily lead to over-indulging, just to ‘get it while it lasts’!  Remember, you can have these special foods again – ask for the recipe, go back for a second helping, have leftovers. This helps with staying mindful while enjoying our food and the holiday celebration.

4. Identify a few things that really make the holidays for you. For some it’s visiting  the zoo lights and hot chocolate, reading by the fire, or time with friends over a pastry and coffee. For us, the holidays come alive while baking cookies with family.  Since this isn’t something we do during the rest of the year, it’s nostalgic and has a wonderful feeling of holiday celebration. Find the special treats that are an integral part of your holiday celebrations and take the time to mindfully savor them.

5. Hosting for the holidays? It’s easy to forget to eat while cleaning the house, bathing the dog, and running errands; however, skipping meals during the day can lead to intensified food cravings and overeating at night. Remember to check in with your body often to assess hunger level and have healthy snacks or meals on hand.

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5 Fast Ways to De-stress

5 Fast ways to de-stress

Running late, getting stuck in traffic, an irritating headache, a conflict at work…all of this can cause us to feel stress. During these times, here are 5 quick methods to employ:

  1. Breathe – when under stress, we tend to forget to breathe and do so very shallowly. Whether you’re waiting for a web-page to load or are in a conversation with a co-worker or boss, remember to breathe deeply. Take 5 deep breaths right now.
  2. Re-hydrate – most people we’ve encountered are chronically mildly dehydrated. Grab a refreshing glass of water or hot peppermint tea to help rehydrate and have a better mindset.
  3. Walk – physically moving our bodies helps us connect better to them and can be very therapeutic. Stand up and take a 5 minute break to walk around the block or the office. If people who smoke can take a cigarette break, why can’t non-smokers take a ‘health break’?
  4. Connect + Laugh – call or text a trusted confidant or friend and share your concerns or annoyances. Perhaps he or she will be able to provide a bit of levity and help you release anxiety and worry. Also consider watching a short, funny video to reduce stress and remind yourself to relax.
  5. Organize and Manage Time – some stress can result from clutter, feeling overwhelmed, and lack of time management skills. One excellent anti-dote is to start getting organized by de-cluttering, building routines, creating a reasonable ‘to-do’ list, and delegating responsibilities.