This last Friday, I had the pleasure of hosting clients, friends, family, and community members for Thriving Health’s Holiday Dinner Party. It was a time to experience new holiday recipes that were delicious and nourishing, encourage connections with new and old friends, and cultivate a value for local food. The incredible dynamics I experienced as I facilitated this event caused me to reflect on two concepts: community and culture.
Community is defined as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.” Our community can often be divided into many areas of our life--work, family, friends, etc. The culture will likely vary within each division. Culture, is defined as “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.” It comes from the root word, cultivate: “to improve by labor or study; to advance the growth of; to refine and improve by correction of faults, and enlargement of powers or good qualities.” Within the context of our community, the culture has the potential to change, grow, and advance.
When working as a nutritional therapist, I do not simply offer a service and wait for people to come to me. Instead, I actively engage in the community. How I engage depends on the culture; and if my efforts are effective, they will impact the culture. I have found that our culture in Alfred and Allegany County is generally open to better nutrition but desires a simple way to integrate it into life. It can’t cost too much initially (time or money) or it is overwhelming. This is where I meet the culture to provide “bite size” perspective and action, which will lead toward a shift of healthier lifestyles.
The Holiday Dinner was a manifestation of a changing culture. My guests were excited to learn healthy recipes to then integrate into their holiday menus. As we dined together, the conversation organically revolved around their journey of discovery and diet change. It was so valuable to give space for the celebration of thriving lifestyles within the context of a relaxing evening.
Do you find it challenging to be healthy within the culture of your community? Be encouraged that you are both joining others in the exciting challenge to say “yes” to health, as well as influencing the culture around you. And remember, this influence generates from ALL the elements which build your lifestyle, not just the food you eat. I am excited to continue to grow with you!