Monthly Archives: December 2013

Time to get off the Christmas train

The tradie and I have made the decision to quit Christmas. For the last few years Christmas has been a burden. The consumerist nature of the holiday is both depressing and expensive. The idea that we must all come together as a family is sometimes an obligation rather than a joy, and as non-religious people there is no real meaning to the holiday for us. So why are we enduring it each year?

Making the decision was actually quite simple. I approached the tradie to discuss how we wanted to celebrate Christmas from now on and within minutes we both agreed we didn’t want to celebrate it. Done deal. Telling our family was kinda traumatic; reactions ranged from fully supportive (rare), disappointed, supportive but still wanting their yearly Christmas gift, nearly crying and lastly telling us we’d gone nuts. Won’t someone please think of the children.

When I started searching the internet for other people’s experiences of quitting Christmas I was shocked to discover most bloggers who have ‘quit’ Christmas were actually Christian! Probably the most interesting read was by an ordained minister which can be read here.

Quitting Christmas doesn’t mean that we are just going to sit at home like a normal day; what we are actually doing is finding new ways to create meaningful traditions that align with our family values. Some of these will be celebrated during the Christmas period, while others will be associated with other important days.

This is what we are doing..

A bigger emphasis on birthdays and name days
We are planning to celebrate the people we love more on the day of their birth by giving little gifts in the lead up, more experiences with that person instead of just a party, and really celebrating the life of the person we love. That means a lot more to us. Our girls both have European names, so we also celebrate their name day. So far this has been quite a small occasion but we plan to ramp it right up.

Celebrating days of significance
We would rather celebrate days that represent our values, so we got the UN list of days and marked a bunch down. Some of our choices include: International Day of Social Justice, International Women’s Day, World Literacy Day and Mother Earth Day. These days have a lot more meaning to us, and are also worthy of being marked in a greater way than they currently are. On world literacy day we plan to discuss the importance of reading with the girls, treat them to a few new (second-hand) books and donate some books to kids in need.

Celebrating days of our cultural heritage
We both have an immigrant parent, so we are going to look into special cultural days that reflect our unique heritage.

Gifts, just because
Do we need an excuse to give a gift? We plan to do a lot of craft with the girls that teaches them skills, but also have a recipient in mind.

Giving our time to others
This is the one we are most excited about. We really want to teach the value of helping those in need. When the girls are older we will use the Christmas break to travel to developing countries and help out in local NGO projects. Hopefully by seeing communities in real need, the girls will learn how rich their lives are.

I know these things are not the same as a big pile of brightly wrapped gifts under a tree, but I’m hoping that they will be just as exciting. We are going to build traditions around our family and our values rather than buy into one we no longer believe in. It’ll be interesting to see what future years look like in December, especially once the girls start school. Right now though I’m looking forward to 22nd of April, when we will celebrate Mother Earth Day by buying the girls some trees, and planting them in the garden.

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Filed under Green living

Going sugar free

Today I started to give up sugar. Hooray!

You might be thinking that a naturopath giving up sugar is not exactly blog worthy news, but I have a dirty little secret. I am a closet sugar abuser. Note that I didn’t say addict. I actually don’t think I am an addict per se (is that something an addict would say?), but I do have a sweet tooth and I use sugar as an emotional crutch. Being currently sleep deprived and having PND means I am using that crutch A LOT at the moment. I don’t feel my healthy best any more and as much as I have excuses for why that is, valid excuses in some cases, my diet is a big contributor. So it’s time to kick the habit.

What really spurred me on was this fantastic plan I found for quitting sugar. The steps are basically as follows:

  1. Replace all refined sugars with natural sweeteners
  2. Increase good fats in your diet
  3. Stop buying any pre-made foods with natural sugars, but you can make your own
  4. Reduce daily sugar load (from natural forms) to 36grams or less

Now this is a plan I can follow! The idea of going instantly sugar free is just too traumatic to me, and unrealistic given my current situation. The tradie is also a terrible sugar junkie, so I feel this plan is workable for me given that temptation lurks in our fridge and cupboard.

So today is the big day, and so far I already have two tips to share.

  1. This one comes from my very good friend, who has advised me to eat, eat, eat! Making a diet change requires lots of will power at any time, but try it on an empty tummy or on ‘diet’ sized portions and you are asking for trouble. This little tip has already paid off me today. At morning tea we attended a kids party. The sight of all the cupcakes and treats almost had me changing the start day to tomorrow! However I filled up on the healthy sandwiches and the sugar cravings came under control.
  2. Prepare your house. Learn from my mistake; clear ALL the temptation out of your house before you start. Not only do I have all the tradie’s treats staring at me when I open the fridge, there is 2 types of juice, home made gingerbread, and an amazing rhubarb compote all begging to be eaten. If I had any sense I would got rid of all this stuff. I’ll be honest, I’m probably going to eat the compote (it’s rhubarb compote people!), but the juice and gingerbread have to go. If, like me, you have a sugar addict in the house who is not quitting with you, then ask them not to buy your favourite treats in the early stages.

So what natural sweeteners?

I have chosen three to start with. I might write a post comparing some of the natural sweeteners another time if people are interested. For now I’ll keep it basic.

  • Honey: raw unprocessed honey is such a super food and a favourite with my kids. When not heated it has antimicrobial and healing effects on the body.
  • Maple syrup: most maple syrup is organic and wild crafted. It goes through minimal processing: basically just extracted from the tree through a tap, filtered and warmed slightly.
  • Jaggery (also known as palm sugar, which is not to be compared to coconut palm sugar): jaggery is another unrefined sweetener normally extracted as a juice from palm trees and evaporated to make a crystalline solid. I grew up eating palm sugar, so I really wanted this one instead of similar alternatives like rapadura or coconut sugar. Another reason it that it is so much cheaper. You buy it in a block, and just grate it or buzz it in a processor to get a fine sugar.

I’ll be blogging a lot on this topic, as I feel there is so much I am going to learn and be able to pass on. I hope you might even join me!

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Filed under Mummy health and wellbeing, Nutrition, Sugar free