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When in Doubt, Follow Grandma’s Advice!

When in Doubt, Follow Grandma’s Advice!

Grandma really had great health promotion strategies

Grandma really had great health promotion strategies!

We live in a fast-paced world infused with information and technology. A world in which we eat on the go, sleep when we can, and often neglect to take care of ourselves. We call that “progress”, but ironically, as we dig to find the newest, latest, most advanced wellness research, we find that going back to our grandparents’ lifestyle would be much healthier for us. Turns out, Grandma’s advice may be the best after all.

Let’s take a moment to step back in time and examine what Grandma would recommend in terms of sleep, food, mood and exercise. Then let’s see how it compares to current wellness trends.

Grandma’s Health Promotion Strategies

First, Grandma would never be up till midnight watching TV shows or catching up with email. Instead, she probably would have followed the patterns of the sun a bit more, and would have given herself some time to ease herself to bed. She was also very consistent with her sleep times, always the first to rise and the first to go to bed. Our brains and bodies were made to follow the cycles of light and darkness, and they love regularity.  If we were as serious about our sleep as Grandma was, you can be sure we wouldn’t be so prone to insomnia, overeating, anxiety and inactivity as we are.

In terms of food, eating right was always a top priority for Grandma. This is why she had her own garden, and supplemented it with mainly local, organic ingredients (well, back then, organic was pretty much the norm because they industrialized farms and chemical fertilizers were much rarer). She insisted on home cooking almost anything she served. In fact, the thought of going out to eat or even buying a commercially-produced bread, sauce or pie would have not crossed her mind. Grandma would also never let you have desert before you were finished with your vegetables! And what does research show today? Of course, Grandma was right.

When it comes to mood, Grandma also knew that being happy requires making an effort to look on the bright side. She knew that forming bonds and connecting with others help to increase our level of happiness. Grandma did not have time to sweat the small stuff, and she was always the one that would take bad news with a grain of salt. And who can forget how important spirituality was to her? Well, today, there’s also research proving that.

As for exercise, Grandma just didn’t have all the technology that we enjoy today. Her daily activities of cooking, cleaning, washing, and going places required an expansion of energy. There is no question about it, she moved around so much that I bet she’d put a lot of us to shame! Today, we’re increasingly recognizing that intermittent activity throughout the day is better than spending time at the gym and then sitting the rest of the day.

Even her cleaning products were a safer alternative than what’s on the market today! As more and more information shows how polluted the air is in our homes due to harsh chemical cleaning products, I started to go back to her water-lemon-vinegar solutions.

So when in doubt about what to do for your wellness or what to recommend a client, consider what Grandma would have said. It will guide you to what nature intended.

And here’s to all of you, lovely Grandmas! 😉

  • Jeremy McCarthy

    My grandmothers are both deceased, but thank you for reminding me of the important lessons that they would still be teaching me if they were alive today. This is a great article with simple ideas explained beautifully!

    • So are mine, Jeremy! But what matters is that their memory lives on, right? 😉 Glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for your comment. :-)

  • Maudit Bob

    Good day M.J. Grandmas comments regarding lifestyles in their younger days compared to the way of life of today.. They did not have tvs, computers, ipads, ipods etc. to distract their everyday activities. They concentrated most of their precious time raising their families, and not dumping kids to daycare centres as soon as they came out of their wombs!!!!. They taught them how to respesct, how to be polite and never use vulgar language in front of their elders.
    Where are these basic fundamentals in today’s modern family lifestyles????.

    • Well, Maudit Bob, dual income families certainly have their pros and cons – pretty much like everything else in life! LIke you, I believe that nothing can replace a loving mother’s presence in a child’s life. However, we can’t judge mothers simply for using day care centers. I’m sure that’s not a decision they make lightly.
      As for teaching kids to respect their elders, I totally agree that it is very important – this post which is a bit of an ode to grandmothers serves as proof. But I focus my effort on developing better sleep, food, mood and exercise habits. Not that respect is less important, but we have to choose our battles because we can’t be pros at everything! 😉

  • Here’s a world renowned heart surgeon explaining that eating more like our grandmas would prevent today’s epidemics in heart disease and diabetes: http://myscienceacademy.org/2012/08/19/world-renown-heart-surgeon-speaks-out-on-what-really-causes-heart-disease/

MJ Shaar – in 20 seconds


MJ is one of the most sought-after experts blending positive psychology and health promotion. She spent over 15 years coaching, teaching, speaking, researching and testing smart health habits. Marie-Josée Shaar received her undergrad at McGill University in Organizational Behavior, followed by a Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Pennsylvania. She's certified as a Wellness Culture Coach, a Personal Trainer, and a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.

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