Many cultural holidays celebrate rebirth and abundance during this season, including the Persian New Year Navroz (Nowruz). Navroz means a new day and it falls on the 21st day of March celebrating the rejuvenating season of spring. A centuries-old tradition, Navroz has been celebrated in different contexts around the world.
For our family, Navroz symbolizes an opportunity to reflect, offer gratitude and make resolutions. Navroz is yet another reminder for us to reconnect with each other and ourselves.
In the Persian tradition, a few days before Navroz, a ceremonial table spread called “Haft Seen” (Persian translation of ‘Seven S’), is arranged. It includes seven items; the names of which begin with the letter ‘S’, and includes traditional and symbolic-laden items.
Navroz Haft-seen items with their meanings
- Seeb (apple) – signifies health and natural beauty
- Seer (garlic) – symbolizes medicine and good health
- Serkeh (vinegar) – represents age and patience
- Somagh (Sumac) – symbolizes the colour of sunshine
- Samanu (sweet pudding) – represents affluence
- Sabzeh (sprouts), signifies rebirth and nature
- Sekeh (coins), represent prosperity
Additional items that begin with the letter ‘S’ can also be seen on the table spread. These include:
- Sekkeh (coin) – symbolizes wealth and prosperity
- Sonbol (hyacinth) – a spring flower
- Mahi (fish) – symbolizes life
- Tokhmeh Morgh (egg) – signifies fertility
- Sham (candle) – represents enlightenment
- Shirini (sweets) – symbolizes spreading the sweetness
- A book of poetry or prayer
In the spirit of Navroz and in line with haft seen, I am going to ‘spread’ my 7 healthy tips, to help you get on track and start afresh during this time of the year.
- Set real SIMPLE goals! So often we approach a New Year with ambitious goals that are often overwhelming and abandoned even before we start working on them. Consider breaking down your goal into actions that can be implemented daily. I would recommend setting one goal at a time and building up to ensure greater success, and increased confidence. For example, don’t fret over beginning an intense exercise regime; instead begin with light physical activity such as a brisk 10-minute walk.
- SAVOUR every bite! Practicing mindfulness both in eating and in life is a powerful tool to help us to flourish. When you next have your meal, take the time to consciously and purposefully bring your focus to your food, becoming aware of the colors, flavors and textures. Savoring this moment will help to have a better connection with your food, your body and help you to enjoy the experience of eating.
- Stick with SEASONAL. Food is easier to grow in its season, making it plentiful and more affordable. Why not take advantage of the specials on seasonal produce and enjoy fresh, wholesome ingredients to cook for you and your family.
- Set up a strong SUPPORT system. Our social network has a strong influence on our lives. Research consistently supports that we are more likely to follow through with our health goals and routines if we are part of a group or have a buddy. Involving friends, family, colleagues and neighbours is a great way to offer and receive encouragement, and have some healthy competition. Let’s face it, it’s also more enjoyable than doing it alone! Your healthcare team; including your Registered Dietitian can also be an enormous source of support to help you in your journey.
- Commit to SUSTAINABLE changes. Suddenly bringing about extraordinary changes to our lifestyle can result in extraordinary stress. It is not about drastic changes, rather a sequence of small, incremental and sustainable changes over time, helping to form habits that can last for the long haul.
- STRIVE beyond setbacks. Expect and prepare for setbacks, as these are inevitable. It’s important to be resilient and strive beyond setbacks by seeing them as opportunities for development and growth.
- SMILE intentionally. Smiling is an easy way to boost your mood, be healthier, and feel better. Studies indicate that our facial expressions can influence our brain in just the same way as our brains influence our face. You can actually program yourself to experience happiness by choosing to smile. Additionally, you will enjoy all the beautiful smiles that you receive in return for yours; guaranteed to increase your level of happiness further!