Vibrant health starts with clean, nutrient-dense food. But it might surprise you to know that it takes something more than that to live a long and happy life. In 1938, the Harvard Study of Adult Development began tracking the lives of more than 700 men who were either sophomores at Harvard or lived in socioeconomically challenged, inner-city Boston. Over the 70 years since the study began the researchers have tracked every aspect of their respondents lives. They’ve collected detailed questionnaires every couple of years and administered extensive medical testing such as bloodwork and MRIs to be able to build a comprehensive picture of what matters most and is predictive of vibrant health, longevity and well-being into old age - and it’s not what you might think…

It turns out that what matters most is close, personal relationships – being socially connected in our community, having a strong marriage and spending time with others who fill our bucket. Conversely, bad relationships are damaging to our health and loneliness is toxic. When I first watched the Ted talk given by Dr. Robert Waldinger, the study’s 4th director, I was somewhat skeptical. My personal journey back to good health was so closely linked to changing my nutrition, getting my movement and exercise dialed in and learning new skills like meditation to support my recovery. Don’t get me wrong, these things were absolutely foundational, but what I have become increasingly aware of these last few years is how much I crave social connectedness and how many of the experiences I enjoy the most fill my bucket for this reason.

This insight is also a guiding principle in how I am building WholeMade Kitchen and the role I embrace in my new business. My favorite times of the week are when I am in the store on Sundays and Mondays. I spend most of my time chatting, which doesn’t sound very ‘productive’ in and of itself, but what I have become increasingly aware of is that it’s actually the MOST productive work I do because it’s inherently fulfilling – for me and for my customers and staff. Whether I’m participating in the banter in the kitchen while we are packaging our delicious food or whether I am assisting a customer who is struggling with a health issue, it’s this immersion in human connection that is fundamental to my sense of wellbeing.

Similarly, having just concluded the first WholeMade Reboot Program, the resounding feedback from participants has been to create a way for everyone to stay connected. Something more than a private Facebook group is being requested here – it’s being together, sipping bone broth and making those personal connections. Our groups have spent 7 weeks getting to know their own bodies and each other and they don’t want that to end. Many had never completed an elimination diet before and were amazed at how quickly their biochemistry shifted and they watched as the pounds start to melt away, their symptoms improve and their energy and vitality returned. All the while, they were able to share and troubleshoot those experiences with their new tribe. For this reason, facilitating this program and sharing my experience is the most satisfying work I’ve ever done.

So, as we head into the Holidays (typically a frantic time as we try to keep up with our heavily scheduled lives) keep in the front of your mind what will matter most at the end. Embrace those frustrating situations with family and friends and turn a sharp word into a hug. Your health, longevity and happiness depend on it.

From all of us at WholeMade Kitchen, have a safe and happy Holiday.

In vibrant health, Helen