With seasons greetings come seasonal waistlines, and while Christmas calorie counting isn’t something we want to think about until resolution-time, nutrition shouldn’t go out the window for that second helping of Grandma’s famous triple-chocolate cake. Whether you’re skipping meals to fit into your holiday dress wear, or poking an extra hole into your belt because ‘there’s always next year’, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself will not only make you healthier, but happier in the long run – and there’s no fast track fad diet on or off the wagon.
“It’s like on the airplane when they tell you to put the mask on yourself first,” says Registered Holistic Nutritionist Shelley Phillpot of Hummingbird Wellness, noting that she sees a decline in business around this time of year. “Helping yourself first, taking care of yourself, gives you the mental clarity and knowledge to help other people. We forget that.”
Phillpot, who is easy-going, attentive and enthusiastic about her craft, believes that making the right choices for yourself and your lifestyle, focusing on diet, rest, exercise, stress reduction and natural supplements where necessary, are the keys to being happier and healthier. She says the word ‘diet’ means ‘temporary’, and while we scramble in the hustle of December, we need to consider a long-term plan. That might even mean taking some of our holiday activities and committing to them more often – like cooking and eating homemade meals.
“We’ve lost the art of cooking,” says Phillpot. As a mother of two, she wonders how we will teach our children to cook if we don’t make an effort to learn ourselves. She shuns processed and boxed foods, comparing the nutrition in them to being refined to death and then mummified with preservatives that do nothing for your body or can be harmful to it.
“It doesn’t have to be complicated,” Phillpot laughs. “Don’t rely on Pintrest, but it doesn’t have to be from a cook book. Put your love and energy back into the food, real food, that’s enough.”
According to Phillpot, we can generally stick to the foods that are in season in order to maintain a healthy diet – especially when grocery prices change like the weather. In the spring, bitter greens come into season, which are good for cleansing the liver as we stock up on salads. As we head into winter, we can navigate to root vegetables and lean meats, simmering stews and soups, to keep warm and nutrition-friendly. A good reference point are local farmers markets, the Ontario Food Guide which lists foods that are in season, or Community Supports Agriculture programs which deliver locally grown produce to you weekly.
As for the three infamous factors of food – sugars, salts and fats – Phillot says to find natural alternatives and sweeteners to refined sugars like dates; that the iodine in salt is good for our diets but aim for sea salt or try kelp-shakers; and to stop being fat-phobic. Healthy fats such as the ones found in avocadoes are essential to our diets, but unhealthy fats, like those in processed and hydrogenated oils from vegetable to corn can be harmful to our cells – she recommends cooking with butter instead.
Unlike a dietician, Phillpot focuses on more than just diet, including the ‘whole’ of a person, finding a balance of body and mind. Having been a PSW for a decade prior to opening her nutrition business, this weight loss coach, certified BASE allergist, part-time yogi, and constant learner, is currently studying functional diagnostic nutrition. She knows better than most about the necessity of getting healthy, and the consequences of neglecting health, even unknowingly.
It’s hard to get to the bottom of what is good and what isn’t with the vast amount of information available, and someone like Phillpot can help the average person pin point what’s right and wrong for each individual. She insists that it doesn’t have to be complicated – it can be as simple as getting outside instead of cuddling up near the fire this winter. But if you do have that extra helping…
“People go by the 80/20 rule. Enjoy it and don’t feel guilty afterwards, more stress is harmful,” says Phillpot. “But don’t say oh I ate bad, let’s eat like that for the rest of the day either.”
Phillpot offers 6-week and 12-week programs for personal health and nutrition development. In the New Year she will be offering 25 per cent off these programs and she moves out of her public office and aims to work privately with clients in home. She is also happy to answer questions from anyone who is curious about their health. She can be reached via cellphone (705)930-4085 or through her website www.hummingbirdwellness.ca.