The See you Later Seder

For many reasons this Passover is quite unusual. The first one without my dad, the first one without family gathered around the table, the first one on Face time instead of embrace time.

Holidays are always a time of festivity, family and fun so this year, trying to feel engaged as an n- of- one was particularly challenging. Luckily, family and friends from near and far gathered virtually to light candles and say a blessing and the open mic on zoom let everyone in the room have a chance to contribute to the conversation.

Passover was my dad’s favorite holiday. He loved grating the horseradish, joking as his eyes watered. He loved leading the reading from the Haggadah. No matter where I would sit at the table, I always landed on the matzoh square story- Matzoh- so simple, plain and flat- the bread of affliction but also the bread of freedom, humility, and hope. A good message for all of us in these troubling times.

Matzoh has also been the topic of  long standing joke in the Joseph-Bonci household- its’ effect  on the digestive tract. #thetiesthatbind. So- a square of matzoh may help to spare toilet paper- #sharetospare

The Seder is truly a meal that takes hours- from the initial blessing to the final songs. There are 4 questions but here is number 5- “Why on all nights do we not take the time to sit, reflect, be grateful and enjoy? “Hard boiled eggs, and celery dipped in salt water, Matzoh balls soup, gefulte fish , horseradish so strong it brings the tears to the eyes. The juxtaposition of the sweet/crunch of apples/nuts/cinnamon and sweet wine in the Charoset mixed with the sharp, pungent eye watering pow of the horseradish is a taste sensation not to be missed. The delicious smells of brisket and/or tsimmes stew of brisket and dried fruit.

And of course, there is always room for dessert: Flourless cakes, almond and/or coconut macaroons , fruit compote and more. Ending the meal with a songfest, enhanced by several glasses of wine to make everyone sound fine. But the sweetest sight was to see everyone gathered around the table rather than staring into a computer screen. But for now,

Stay safe
Stay well
Don’t roam

Next year in my home

Can You Spare Some Time For Self Care?

In the past month all of us have experienced an upheaval in our daily routines. The ability to move around at will, go out to eat, see a movie, attend a sporting event or visit with friends and family has bow come to a standstill. We are staying at home, working via zoom or phone, trying to be creative in our kitchen and limiting our need to roam.

So how can we still survive and thrive during this especially challenging time? Thinking about self-care is not selfish but absolutely essential right now. Not only must we do our part to flatten the curve, we deserve to do the best we can to maintain our health and well-being.

Schedules are irregular, sleeping may be disrupted but some regularity and consistency in self-care can be constructive. Here are some things to consider
Think your drink- consistency with fluid intake
Sit down to savor and chew- you may have the time to enjoy rather than rush through meals
You may not be able to do your regular exercise moves, but if you so choose, you can move in place, in the safety of your living space.

Texture- add crunch to a meal with crispy vegetables, crumbled tortilla chips in a salad, nuts added to yogurt or oatmeal
Temperature- that hot pasta dish for dinner can be a delicious chilled pasta salad for lunch
Taste- consider a flavor station by adding herbs and spices as well as flavored vinegars, mustard, BBQ sauce or salad dressings to bring the pow to the palate

Find your #wealthontheshelf:
What can you pair with what you already have?
Side dish with: Black beans, salsa and  canned corn
Pasta dish with Frozen shrimp, frozen vegetable medley and frozen ravioli
Energy bites with Crushed cereal, peanut butter, oats, honey and raisins
Soup with Manhattan chowder, canned clams and a can of mixed vegetables
Snack of Baked Veggie nuggets tossed with Buffalo seasoning, and a plain Greek yogurt/ranch dressing mix dip
Main dish  of canned chili over a baked potato

Wash your hands frequently
Wipe down surfaces
Don’t share plates, spoon, cups, bowls
Wash fresh fruits and veggies under cold running water before eating
No eating out of the jar or double dips with the chips

This is the time to redefine:
You may want to change the bar- not lowered but realigned
Find something that makes you laugh out loud every day
Reconnect with those that may live far away
If you are feeling overwhelmed or afraid, that is ok
Don’t beat yourself up when you have – “I can’t” days

This is not the time to self- bully or blame, be nice to yourself, it is one of the best ways to take care of your health

Stay Home
Stay Safe
Stay Well

How to Practice Good Self Care in a World of Health Scare

The goal is flatten not fatten the curve. You’re stressed, you’re scared, your body is crying out for comfort. Panic-eating does not have to make you manic. Quality, quantity, consistency are key.. You want to find ways to nourish and nurture without adding more stress because you are eating to excess. If you have more time on your hands, turn this #isolationstaycation into something positive.

1) Lengthen the time of your meals. Take the time to chew.

Sit and savor

2) Even if you are inside more, you still need to think about your pour. Alcohol can stimulate appetite and veggies are not usually the first thing we think about. A glass of wine is just fine, but if you find yourself going through a bottle a day, are there other beverages you can add to the mix? Sparkling water? Herbal tea? Spicy tomato juice without the booze? A glass of milk?

You don’t have to lose all the booze, but because it can affect your appetite, health and sleep you may want to rethink your drink.

3) Make your dine-in feel more like a dine-out. Eat in courses rather than all at once. In a restaurant, the server does not bring you the appetizer, salad, entrée, sides and dessert all at once but spaces them out. Why not try the same thing at home.

4) Activate your kitchen

Expend some calories chopping, stirring, mixing , kneading. Part of the enjoyment of eating is more than the chew and swallow but also the preparation. So being more hands-on ( washed hands of course) rather than hands-off, may help you to eat a more appropriate amount of foo foe you.

5) Appeal to your senses:

Light a scented candle

Listen to some calming music

Knead dough

Pop the color with a napkin, a fruit bowl, a colorful scarf

6) Time to Explore to have your food do more

This is the perfcet time to try new spice combos, new cooking techniques, a new way of preparing an old standby.

The internet can provide a wealth of ideas to help you create, innovate, and activate your inner chef

7) Combine cooking with a workout


While your food is cooking, do some lunges, curls, pushups or crunches.

Explore online recipes but also workouts

8) Quarantine can be the new clean

Scrub not only your hands but counter tops, shelves and cabinets

Strategize and organize: do an inventory of boxes jars, cans and bottles in your kitchen- out with the expired or what needs to be retired and use up the oldest first

9) Lobby for a hobby

Tune to unleash your inner artist to keep your hands busy and let your brain not be in such a tizzy.

Paint, draw, sew, knit, collage, photograph, learn a new language, or skill

Deep clean

10) Put some Smile in your style

For me, this is reruns of funny shows, and reading funny books. Laughing is a good release and helps blow off some steam. This is the time for all emotions to be present, and balance the scare with a little self care.

11) Nurturewithnature

When it just feels too stressful, get up, get out, get moving. Just be smart and stay apart.

12) Out with the self-blaming and food shaming. Right now, we need to do our best to take care of ourselves. Feeling  guilty or ashamed about food escalates the stress and adds to the unrest. What do you need food to do for you? What helps you to relax and chill and why shouldn’t what we eat provide a taste thrill?

Control What You Can with an Eating Plan

As we all try to navigate a new way of working, living and socializing, we still need to take care of ourselves. Trying to put up resistance by keeping your distance means stay at home and don’t roam. So what do we do when we are upset and stressed? When we feel this way, we tend to seek solace, soothe ourselves and look for comfort quite often in the form of food. Yet, comfort food has such a bad connotation- redolent of indulgence, excess and leading to guilt.

So does this mean we have to shun the foods we turn to when we are out of our comfort zone?

A food can provide comfort on many different levels:

The temperature of the food- a steaming bowl of soup or oatmeal or the thrill of the chill of ice cream

The texture of the food: the crispiness of an apple or the crispiness of fried chicken or the creaminess of pudding

The aroma of a food: freshly baked bread or garlic sauteeing in a pan

The flavor of the food: salty, sour, sweet, bitter or umami

The visual appeal of the food: a pan of brownies, a bowl of pasta, a roast with potatoes and carrots

Taking care of ourselves by nurturing and nourishing is the variable we can control in these uncertain times. Chopping can be a stress reliever. Kneading bread can help to dissipate some of that pent up energy. Preparing a soup or stew can give us a sense of accomplishment.

That being said, if you are going to spend time in the kitchen, remember that #quarantineisthenewclean. Wash your hands, wipe surfaces, rinse produce well under running water.

Food can help brighten the mood. Appeal to your senses. Choose foods that allow you sit and savor. This may the time to browse through a recipe book or surf online to try that recipe you’ve been eying for a while.

A self imposed #isolationvacation can also allow you to clear the clutter.  Maybe you have several boxes of opened pasta, or foods that are expired. A thorough cleaning of cabinets and shelves is a way to be productive and constructive.

And if your gym is closed, spending time cleaning and/or cooking is physical activity.

This is certainly an opportunity to take good care of yourself. Make sure you are well hydrated, do eat on a regular basis. Include foods that help to support s healthy immunes system such as adequate protein through lean meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, seafood and also plant based proteins such as soy, beans and veggie burgers and crumbles, and also, and produce in the form of fruits and vegetables, fresh, canned, frozen freeze dried or dried.. Also try to minimize what can be stressful to the body- too much caffeine or alcohol. Do keep moving. Do get your rest.

Right now, let’s emphasize what we can do to maximize and optimize a healthy self. Eating well, hydrating appropriately, keeping fit and finding the time to rest are variables that we can control. Quality, quantity and consistency are key to creating a #healthyselfie.

Why Omega-3s Should Be Part of Your #HEALTHYSELFIE

The health-related benefits from consuming omega-3 fats are nothing new.  For the past few decades, health and nutrition experts have advised that we should increase our intake of omega-3s because of their anti-inflammatory benefits.  More recently, research shows that omega-3s also play a role in reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and soreness, along with enhancing muscle protein synthesis.


Omega-3s are a type of fatty acid found in foods such as fish, seafood, flaxseed, algae,  and walnuts. There are three primary omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in cold water fish such as anchovies, salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, cod, and herring.
  • Docosahexanoeic acid ( DHA) found in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, cod, and herring.
  • Alpha linolenic-acid – (ALA) found in flaxseed, soybean oil, canola oil, chia seeds, algae and walnuts.


The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 8 ounces of fish/week or at least 250-500 milligrams/day.  There is no current recommendation for athletes, although studies that have reported exercise-related benefits have used 1,500 to 3,000 mg/day.


Getting in enough omega-3s can be a challenge if you don’t like fish, you don’t want to prepare fish or don’t know how to cook it, of if you don’t eat walnuts or flaxseed in large enough quantities.  Numerous brands of omega-3 supplements are available and that is how many Americans consume omega-3s.


Omega-3 capsules are an easy way to increase consumption, but common side effects include:

  • Fishy taste
  • Persistant burping
  • Bad breath
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Sweat that smells fishy
  • Potential for interaction with other medications (such as anticoagulants and NSAIDs)


As a sports dietitian, I am excited about Enhanced Recovery Omega-3 Sports Drink because it provides a trifecta of 1600 milligrams of omega-3 fats as:

  • 820 mg DHA
  • 550 EPA
  • 230 ALA and other omega-3 fatty acids

Enhanced Recovery is shelf-stable, ready to consume, tastes great, and contains whey proteins and other ingredients known to support muscle protein synthesis and repair.


Athletes who train hard have to rely on good nutrition to recover quickly.  Even more important, good nutrition supports all of the adaptations that result from hard training and lead to improved performance.  Enhanced Recovery is scientifically formulated with omega-3 fats to support both recovery and adaptation, making it easy for athletes to consume nutrients that benefit both health and performance.


Sustainable at the Store, In Your Kitchen and at the Table

Shopping, preparing and eating foods in an environmentally conscious way is good for our self, our wallet and planetary health. Your food choices could center on foods you enjoy, foods that are available, foods you actually will eat and foods that are affordable. And if those foods are available, versatile, and beneficial to your health, even better! Produce can help you attain, maintain and sustain a healthier self, home and environment. Here are some ways to #haveaplant for a sustainable future


#buywhatyouneeddontexceed Too much means you have to find a place to store it, you may not use it and you end up wasting money

#exploreinthestore Fresh produce is fine, but not in season, may be a great reason to explore canned, dried and frozen alternatives

#Prepandportion If the deal is too good to pass up, divide into usable amounts when you get home, freeze the excess in reusable containers so you won’t waste, and you can prepare in haste when you are ready to use


#healthyshelfie=#healthyselfie Think about how you store your food

Perishables should be front and center so you see and use them

#itsnicetomakeonceeatwice Roasted vegetables can be on the dinner plate AND in the lunch bowl. Chili with beans could be portioned into smaller containers and frozen or atop a salad, on a potato, or served in a whole grain roll. Shredded carrots can add the crunch to a taco, veggies to muffins and color to a stir-fry.

#Beresourceful Decrease energy and water in cooking: think sauté, stir-fry, broil, steam to use cut back on heat and water use

#Saynotothethrow  What do you do with those few remaining carrots, that handful of sautéed veggies , speck of salsa or few bites of fruit salad? A soup or stew  or smoothie is a great way to use up those leftovers so they end up in YOU and not the trash.


#itsonlygreatifyoueatwhatisonyourplate Eat an amount that fills, not stuffs. Make your plate sense-ational with colors, textures, and flavors. Produce can bring the sweet, tart, chewy and crunch with a great nutritional punch. To take up more stomach share without overeating, make ¾ of your plate plants between the produce and the grains and about ¼ from other protein sources which could be animal or plant based

#hoorayforaplantbasedentree Think beans and greens with a little chicken or shrimp, or a frittata with lots of veggies and fewer eggs, or a kebab with 3 veggies to every bite of beef, chicken, pork or fish.

#Personalizetooptimize DIY dinners means everyone eats what they like with less stress, less prep and less waste. DIY fajita, tacos, bowls and potato bars can allow produce to be the star.


If you resist, you may be spending more and throwing more resulting in money down the drain

If you persist, you are one your way to self and budget health

If you insist on making #haveaplant  part of your living green routine, you will be a gamechanger in efforts to preserve planetary health

Romancing the Plant: a Smart Start to Love Your Heart

Valentine’s Day is all about flowers, chocolate and love, but the entire of month of February is devoted to the heart. Show yourself and those you care about some love by being smart about what you put in the grocery cart. Fruits and vegetables have a significant role to play in keeping hearts healthy every single day.


The DASH diet- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension has produce as it’s foundation recommending 4-5 servings of fruits AND veggies daily. The TLC- Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Diet recommends 4 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of vegetables daily.


  • The fiber in fruits and vegetables , especially the flesh or soluble fiber can help to lower triglycerides ( blood fat)  and cholesterol. Beans, potatoes, apples, pears and citrus fruits are top notch
  • The Phyto or plant nutrients such as flavonoids, quercetin, and resveratrol can help keep arteries healthy- think berries, pomegranates, tomatoes, soybeans, carrots and red grapes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts, onions and garlic
  • The monounsaturated fat in avocados may help to lower LDL or bad cholesterol
  • Vitamin K in Dark green leafy vegetables and soybeans can help with blood clotting
  • The potassium in all fruits and vegetables can help to lower blood pressure
  • So make #haveaplant part of the romance all month long. Here are a few ideas to tempt your taste buds

Berries in cereal or oatmeal
A Breakfast burrito with spinach, onions, salsa and eggs
A citrus, banana, pineapple smoothie

Pasta salad with cannellini beans, red onion, shredded carrots and broccoli with Vinaigrette
A kale and spinach salad with pomegranate arils, clementine segments, edamame, and almonds
Lentil soup with added mushrooms, canned tomatoes and escarole

Strawberries with a vanilla Greek yogurt/cocoa dip
A trail mix of prunes, walnuts and whole grain cereal
Hummus or other bean dip with raw veggie dippers or veggie based chips: beets, carrots

A radicchio, endive, fennel salad with goat cheese grapefruit salad
Crispy roasted vegetables: Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli with garlic, Harissa and olive oil
Roasted multicolored potatoes with sesame seeds, Tamari, Five spice seasoning

Grilled pineapple with red pepper jelly
Baked apple with currants, baked in pomegranate juice
An orange half filled with citrus sorbet and topped with orange slices marinated in Grand Marnier

Time to shout, eat your heart out- fruits and veggies every day in every way to help you create a #healthyselfie with the foods on your #shelfie! #haveaplant

2020 Best Diets Review: Top Picks for Athletes

January is the month when many resolutions revolve around losing weight and getting healthy.

It’s also the time when U.S. News and World Report publishes their annual rating of the best and worst diets. Many consumers turn to this list for guidance, but are the meal plans appropriate for athletes? I took a look and want to share my thoughts on the best eating plans and why they may be beneficial.

First, let’s talk about the word diet. Although the ranking refers to the list as best diets, they should be referred to as eating plans as they are not meant to restrict eating. The top-rated plans were found to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss and protective against heart disease and diabetes. And, while they were not rated on their ability to fuel sports performance, many of the eating patterns work well for athletes.

Second, it’s important to remember that eating to alter body composition should be done at the right time to prevent any deleterious impact on strength, speed and stamina. Athletes should start well in advance of their upcoming season or at the very beginning of the offseason. That way, when goals switch from altering body composition to fueling sports performance, they are ready to go.

Here are my thoughts on the best eating plans for athletes and why they may be beneficial.

Click here to download full 2020 Diet Review for Athletes packet

Mediterranean Eating Plan
This plan is based on an abundance of fruits and vegetables, small amounts of meat and poultry, moderate amounts of fish and generous amounts of beans. Full-fat yogurt and cheese are the predominant dairy foods. Pasta, rice, potatoes, farro and breads make up the majority of the carbs. Olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds are the recommended fat sources. This eating plan is not just heart healthy –  it also includes anti-inflammatory foods, so athletes don’t have to train in pain.

DASH Eating Plan
DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Although healthy blood pressure may not be a concern now, maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system is important for all athletes. Coaching is stressful as well, so that’s all the more reason to choose an eating plan that is protective. The DASH diet emphasizes lots of fruits and veggies, three servings of low or non-fat dairy daily, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts and beans. The produce provides carbs, fiber, vitamins, plant nutrients and fluids. The dairy foods provide protein and minerals that are important for bone health.

Flexitarian Eating Plan
This is a mostly plant-based plan but, as the name implies, it suggests flexibility for those who want to include meat and other animal foods like eggs and dairy. The base of the diet is plants – fruits, veggies, beans, peas and whole grains. Those provide the energy for sports. The Flexitarian plan suggests getting the majority of protein from plants, which can be done with beans, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu, veggie burgers and other soy-based products. Fat will come from nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed butters, oil and avocado.

Volumetrics Eating Plan
This plan is great for athletes in weight-class sports, as well as those looking to lose weight without feeling hungry. The concept of volumetrics is to increase the fluid content in the foods consumed to feel fuller. This also supports the increased hydration needs many athletes face. Examples of foods included in this plan are smoothies, soups, stews, chili, salads, bean dishes, stir-fries and oatmeal. Feeling fuller helps to stave off hunger and makes less food look like more. The pairing of protein with carbohydrates that athletes need can come from a Greek yogurt dip along with veggies, or a shrimp-veggie stir fry over whole grain rice. Extra lean beef chili with beans over a baked potato also provides the fill factor, as well as the fuel for sport.

Vegetarian Eating Plan
Athletes looking to follow a vegetarian diet have lots of options. The key is remembering that it’s not just what you exclude from the plate but what you include. Vegetarians can be lacto-vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian or pesco-vegetarian. Here is what each of those eating plans looks like.

  • Lacto-vegetarian – includes eating a variety of fruits, veggies, pasta, rice, bread, cereal, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds. While meat, poultry, eggs, and fish are excluded, athletes can meet their protein needs by incorporating dairy foods like milk, yogurt, cheese– into their meals.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian – similar to the lacto-vegetarian mentioned above, but athletes that choose this plan can also incorporate eggs into their diet.
  • Pesco-vegetarian – eating plan includes the same fruits, veggies, pasta, rice, bread, cereal, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs and dairy foods as the above two plans, but also allows fish and shellfish.

A plant-based diet can be appropriate for an athlete, but it has to be well planned to ensure adequate intake of calories, macro and micronutrients.

At the end of the day, eating is not one size fits all. Any one of these diets can help you improve body composition while supporting your health. It’s important to choose an eating plan that is sustainable, affordable, doable and palatable. Bodies need to be fueled to perform well. That means choosing an eating pattern that provides enough calories to optimize strength, speed and stamina and enough macronutrients to attain and maintain one’s goals – and doing so with foods that you like, can prepare and will eat.

Restock vs Detox

For most of us, January is the month to reset, regroup and focus on the year ahead. Oftentimes, the New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, exercise, get enough rest and work in time to destress fall by the wayside because of other obligations and unrealistic expectations.

So perhaps this year can be about solutions to strive and thrive, not just survive.

As a registered dietitian, I never cease to be amazed by the number of diets/products hawking the need to detox. Many of these extreme plans result in dehydration, fatigue, water and lean mass loss and are not sustainable.

In addition, most of these plans focus more on what you don’t eat, with a very restricted allowed food list. Even though that might sound like the best way to reset, the problem is that the eating plan is all about body neglect. Eliminating entire food groups or macronutrients is certainly not the way to a #Healthyselfie. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, why feel compelled to do so. The body does an excellent job of getting rid of what it doesn’t need,, we don’t need to detox, but if you shortchanged your produce intake over the holidays, now is the time to do right by your body.

So why no focus on what to, rather than what not to do when it comes to self-restoration and renewal? I love the idea of add rather than subtract and produce can help you do just that. The beauty of produce is that it can help you fill up, not out. Produce has a high water content to take up more stomach share for fewer calories. Produce has fiber to make you feel fuller between meals. Produce provides the chew so you get mouth enjoyment from what you eat. Produce provides visual appeal from the rainbow of colors. From fresh to frozen, canned or dried restock your fridge and cupboard for #healthontheshelf with produce any day in every way @fruitsandveggies #haveaplant

So instead of the idea of detox, how about restock? How can you add more produce to every meal and snack?

Extra spinach in your morning smoothie
Berries in your bowl
Applesauce or pumpkin in your oatmeal
Peppers, mushrooms, onions in your eggs
Breakfast burrito with leftover veggies, veggie sausage and salsa

Canned tomatoes in your salad
Frozen veggies added to your soup
Shredded cabbage in your wrap
Fruit on your salad
Bean dip as a salad dressing

Veggie chips that are made from freeze dried vegetables
Salsa with mango added
Roasted chickpeas or other beans on their own or added to popcorn
Hot tomato juice
Fruit s-mores with fruit and nut butter or fruit and a thin spread of cheese


Want to capitalize on the Dry January trend?  You are not limited to plain water. How about mocktails of vegetable juice, or a loaded Virgin Mary- bring on the veggies, or a spritzer of 100% juice, added fruit and seltzer water, or a margarita without the tequila but frozen berries with lime juice and a flavored, no sugar added seltzer?
Roasted vegetables with fruit added for that sweet surprise
Stirfries with extra veggies over a layer of diced cauliflower, shredded carrots or Brussel sprouts
Tacos with red cabbage, mango, salsa, black beans
Lettuce wraps filled with shredded veggies and edamame
Chili with extra beans and veggies added
Dessert of baked fruit with a drizzle of juice for sweetness

A plate that delivers on eye thrill and gut fill with flavor to savor will help you restore and allow your body to do more. #plentyin2020 @fruitsandveggies #haveaplant #producetoperform

The Gift That Lifts

What do the holidays mean to you? Family time, delicious food, buying, wrapping and exchanging gifts, parties, festivities? Rather than send cards, we post pictures, view holiday commercials , listen to holiday music, watch others loading up carts at the supermarket, as well as malls. But what if you didn’t have anything? No tree, no food, no gifts for your children. The holidays would be all about how to survive, not thrive. For some the gift of a toothbrush, or feminine hygiene supplies, or pjs is as meaningful as a Peloton bike.
I am privileged and honored to be part of an initiative of helping a family in need to brighten their holiday through kindness, love, sharing and caring. The power of a simple request from a colleague who was made aware of a family in dire need rallied an online group to come together to help them have a happy holiday.

Part of the joy of the holidays is the joy of giving without expectations by helping others. Giving of our time, resources and heart is a great start. Putting a smile on a face. Instilling hope. In a season that is all about opulence and indulgence we tend to forget about the 50% of the population that lives paycheck to paycheck. Forty two million people in the US struggle with food insecurity. This is not about a sumptuous holiday meal, it is not being able to afford to consistently purchase foods that provide the necessary nutrients for health and well-being. And the need extends beyond food to other necessities such as such as toiletries, feminine hygiene products, shoes, clothing, pet food and cleaning supplies. This is more than a handout , it is a movement the goal is to end the shaming and start instilling the dignity and the possibilities.

Let’s embrace the gift of giving, not just receiving. Experiencing gratitude from joy on a family’s faces when they see a tree with gifts underneath. Deriving pleasure from knowing that we can be a part of the wonder and delight from opening packages and tasty bites. Acting with kindness and compassion through giving on and giving to especially to those who find themselves in difficult situations through no fault of their own. We live in a world that operates at a fast pace, too much food waste, and excess material goods. How can we share the wealth and bring dignity and happiness to those with much less?

This community of stealth elves united to provide toys, crafts, winter clothing and gear, essential hygiene products, gift cards, kitchen supplies, art sets and pet food for a family in need. These simple gestures eased a mother’s fears that she would have nothing to give to her children and instead gave her hope that there are nice people in the world. “These three children witnessed kindness, hope and love because of 17 people from around the United States. Most importantly, they feel valued and seen which will transform how they view themselves and our community.” Clancy Harrison , president of the West Side Food Pantry, Kingston, PA.

We can provide the gift of support, respect, and understanding. Boosting others selflessly and stealthfully as we unite to make the holiday lights shine bright for those we help as well as ourselves.

It truly is a far greater gift to give than receive. Let’s share, let’s care, let’s be aware of those who would appreciate the gift of compassion and give others the gifts of comfort and joy of this holiday season.