Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle is important for all ages and phases in the human life cycle. If you are a woman, the chances are that in your journey towards becoming a wife, developing your role as a wife and then working towards becoming a mother, you will have an important part to play in making sure that you and your family live a healthy lifestyle. One of my first introductions to just how important and powerful this is, was when I was a new graduate working in a major teaching hospital. I was asked to cover for a fellow occupational therapist in facilitating the cardiac rehabilitation group. As I reviewed the topics covered thus far and what was necessary to include in the group I was to facilitate, it struck me that the lifestyle being recommended to those who had already suffered a heart attack was important to all of us. In fact, I began thinking, if we encourage our clients to alter their lifestyle after a stroke or heart attack, why not encourage clients to develop the kind of lifestyle that would promote health and prevent illness.
I could discuss how I came to change focus from rehabilitation to an involvement in preventative healthcare and promotion of health at length, however, I had another topic on my mind and I wish to share those thoughts.
So far I have shared that living a healthy lifestyle is encouraged to all those who have suffered a debilitating illness such as a stroke or heart attack. I have touched on the fact that this lifestyle is in fact important to promote health and prevent illness. But where do you begin and what does a healthy lifestyle look like?
One place to start is in the kitchen. Why? Because we all need to eat regularly every day and having a healthy, balanced diet is very important to our health. I’m not going to tell you what you need to eat, as I am not a dietician. In addition, there are so many opinions as to what to eat and what not to eat. For the details of your diet I would say to consult with a qualified dietician, preferably in person. What I do wish to do is to share is a few thoughts that I hope will help you to view developing a health lifestyle in a positive light.
- Transitioning to a healthy diet can be daunting! It is very easy to get scared or to believe that there wont be yummy food items to eat and your life will be transformed into a boring, tasteless, unpleasant experience. This is not true and does not have to be either. Spend a little time researching some healthy meals and take a look at Youtube for ideas.
- Pay attention to detail. Have you noticed that many unhealthy foods appeal to us due to the colours that are used? Well, colour does not have to be artificial. You do not need the additives used in order to create colour. Take a look at the image at the top of this post. You can create colour by making sure to prepare your food items, your table and any extras with beauty and colour in mind. Go the extra mile and have some flowers in your home.Actually, if you are concerned about bugs, I would not recommend flowers on the same table where you are eating, but you can have either a beautiful vase of flowers or an attractive pot-plant near to where you eat your meal. Make sure that your plate is filled with colour and that you have dished up with care, rather than just dumping food any which way. It only takes a few extra moments but the end result for whoever will eat the meal makes a very big difference.
- Perhaps we have gotten ahead of ourselves. Where you serve the meal and what the final plate of food will look like is important. In order to get there you need to take care with your preparation. Firstly, enjoy the preparation time that goes into making your meal.
In the above photograph, you can see red, green and yellow peppers. Obvious? True, for those who can see the image. Now let’s consider them a bit more. Whether you are making a salad or main meal (in Israel, these might be eaten at breakfast too) pay attention to using a range of colour.
Nature is full of colour. This is one of G-d’s gifts to us. Speaking of acknowledging where the vegetables came from, here is another task for you. Let’s say you have selected which vegetables you are going to be eating for the meal. Yes, vegetables are important and if prepared correctly can be so very yummy, nutritious too. While you are cleaning, pealing, chopping or slicing your vegetables instead of thinking that you are wasting time, you have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy what you are doing. Make this task meaningful by contemplating what it is that you are doing. You can even take it one step further to thank G-d for all He has given to you.
Look again at the image above. Appreciate the variety in size, shape, colour, contours and details. Think about the difference in the tastes of each of these peppers. They may all be bell peppers but do they taste the same? Which do you prefer and why? Consider the fact that you have your own specific likes and dislikes in food items and so do your family members. So next time a relative requests you add or eliminate a food item from a dish or from their plate, respect their unique preferences. It really is quite easy to add or subtract an ingredient, no need for an argument or to put anyone down. Let the knowledge that you enjoy some things more than others help you to appreciate that others do to and respect them for having those preferences.
If you have the time, allow yourself to contemplate all that G-d has done for you in giving you that food item. In another blog post or a Youtube video I can share an example of this. For now, let us take a look at another photograph.
Whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan or a meat eater, there are some tasks here for all of you to consider. When you prepare your meal, take the time to separate the food items as you cut them. You will notice that the master chefs do this when they do a demonstration. It really does make the actual cooking much easier. In addition it helps you to both separate those items that cook more quickly and to take note of the appropraite sequence and the final outcome. Make sure your meal will have a variety of nutrients and that the food items will provide the flavours, textures and overall visual effect that ensures a final pleasing experience.
In the above image, are some of the ingredients for preparing a Shwarma dish. Shwarma is a cut of turkey which has many health benefits. To begin with it is rich in iron. It is recommended for anyone needing to prevent high blood pressure or cholesterol and even for a potentially fatty liver.
If you have a memory problem, taking the time to separate the food items onto their own plate and setting them in the order necessary for a given recipe will help you to make sure that you have cooked all those ingredients that are necessary. If you need to, have your recipe near you and work from the recipe.
These are just a few ideas of how to begin using your time in your kitchen to become a more enjoyable experience on every level. Let those daily chores become an opportunity to appreciate your family. Appreciate or contemplate where you are in your life and appreciate all the details involved in what you are doing.
Of course, there is much more to cooking, working in the kitchen, housework and all other tasks that are important to the life of a woman. What do you do to improve those daily tasks necessary for a healthy lifestyle? If you are struggling with developing or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, do post your questions below. If you are in Jerusalem, be in touch to discuss your needs in developing a lifestyle that will help you with your goals of being a happy, healthy wife and mother.
This post is prepared for you by
Shoshanah Shear, Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story” and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom“.