When Love is Not Enough

Last night, hubby and I were discussing about the Christmas gifts we would give our manito on our company Christmas party. Our kids were with us and they heard our small talk. They asked me, "Ma, what Christmas gifts would you give us?"

Well, I never really thought about that lately, not that I would not give them any Christmas presents but because Christmas is still too far away on the calendar. I have no other great Christmas gift ideas for them than what I could give right now, my love and affection. I answered them, "I will be giving you my love and lots of hugs and kisses!" They reacted over the idea and asked for some "material things" as Christmas gift. I told them, "Love is the greatest gift of all! It's the best Christmas gift I can give you. Don't you want Mama to love you?" They answered back, "We do! But it would be better if you love us and give us Christmas presents, too!" I laughed and asked them, "Okay, do you have any inexpensive Christmas gift ideas in your mind?" They rolled their eyes and kept on naming things they would love to receive this Christmas.

Diet Plans During Christmas Season

We tend to deviate from our diet plans during Christmas season. We overeat during the holiday because there is so much tempting food around. We engage ourselves in "emotional eating" due to holiday stress; and we lower our discipline in anticipation of the new weight loss diet and exercise plans we intend to start as part of our New Year's resolution. Whatever the reason, here are some diet tips that would help you adhere to your diet plans while enjoying the holiday feast.

First, focus on weight maintenance, not weight loss. Weight maintenance is a big enough challenge during the holiday season and this is not a good time to try to lose weight. You only set yourself up for failure by making unrealistic goals for yourself.

Plan on "not dieting" after the New Year; instead, work on your wellness eating disciplines: portion control, more fiber, less fat and consistent exercise. Eat a light snack before the party. It is not a good idea to arrive at the party hungry because you will most likely overeat. Stay as far away from the buffet table as possible. At parties and holiday dinners, we tend to eat beyond our body's physical hunger simply because the food is there and eating is a "social thing". While some foods are more calorie-dense than others are, no food will make you gain weight unless you eat too much of it. If you decide to indulge, make it worthwhile by selecting something you really enjoy then just have a small portion. Eat slowly, enjoying and savoring every tasty bite so that you will feel full faster. Fill yourself up with great conversation. It is a good time to reminisce and savor life's precious moments with loved ones, relatives you seldom see and friends from long ago. Laugh all night long to burn those calories from the food that you have eaten!

Lastly, exercise to take off whatever calories you take in! As much as you can, immediately burn it off by being physically active every day. If you cannot stick to your diet and exercise program, make sure you can at least do some brisk walking.

The important things to remember this holiday season are balance and moderation. Remember what we always say – there are no bad and good foods, only bad diets. So be merry, have fun and enjoy, eat but do not forget your diet plans this Christmas season!

Building Family Relationships

In building family relationships, it is important for family members to eat together at least one meal a day. Mealtimes are special moments of sharing stories and forming family memories. Sharing meals helps strengthen family relationships and encourages bonding. A sense of belonging and mutual trust foster when adults and children eat together and enjoy each other’s company. Eating meals together boosts emotional health. Laughter often happens at the dining table. Mealtimes allow adults and children to express their feelings freely and help the members get along better. Each member knows about the others’ lives and is able to help each other get through difficult challenges.

Family Bonding ActivitiesA good mealtime experience nourishes the mind, body and soul. It provides a setting for moral and intellectual discussion where family members share family values. When children help with meals, they learn skills such as setting the table, preparing food, serving food and cleaning up. Children learn to share, be polite and respect others through the lessons of table manners (for example, when we say “please” and “thank you”). Family conversations also help keep children and teenagers from developing eating disorders. Conversation slows down meals, which help the body digest food more efficiently. Conversation also helps build confidence in young children. It encourages adult-child communication skills such as listening patiently to each other and expressing one’s opinion in a respectful manner. Moreover, children who often hear adult conversation improve their vocabulary, reading and speaking skills. Children shows better grades, healthier eating habits, closer relationships to parents and siblings, ability to resist negative peer pressure, and resilience in the face of life's problems. A study at the University of Minnesota found that young girls who frequently eat with their families have better grades and fewer depressive symptoms. Family meals and the development of adolescent mental health and stability are strongly related. More than a decade of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that when kids eat dinner more often with their families, they are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.

Family meals foster family traditions. It is very essential in building family relationships.