Cultures all over the world have their own set of rituals, some religious, some celebratory, and some connected to wellness.

To achieve long-term health and fitness goals, consistency is essential, which is why creating our own set of daily rituals can be so powerful.

In this series, sponsored by Rancho La Puerta wellness resort, we explore ancient traditions from around the world that can enhance you modern wellness practice.

Wellness in Mexico

Wellness traditions in Mexico find their origins in the folk medicine of the Mayan, Zapotec, and Aztec cultures. The holistic approach to health is rooted in a pre-Columbian cultural tradition of connectivity between the natural world and spiritual dimensions of wellness, and even today many believe that physical ailments are rooted in emotion, spiritual, or environmental imbalances.

There’s a lot to be learned from the mind-body practices of traditional folk medicine, the historically plant-rich diet, and strong family support systems of our neighbor to the south.

The Tradition: Plant-Forward, Protein-Packed Diet

The pre-colonial Mexican diet was based around corn-based dishes flavored with chilies, garlic, onions and herbs and enhanced with beans, squash, and small amounts of meat. Fruits like citrus and mango rounded out the legume-heavy diet. The cornerstone of the diet was the "three sisters" combination of beans, corn, and squash (with the more recent addition of rice), which provides essential amino acids and protein, as well as fiber, B vitamins and magnesium. Over the millennia, these three plants were grown together in a complementary fashion - the beans and squash climbing the corn stalks, providing shade and enhancing soil quality, and much research has been done on the complementary nutrition of the three foods, which became hugely important for the vegetarian and vegan movement.

The extensive use of hot chillies has been shown to have major health benefits, as they are packed with vitamin C, aid in healthy digestion, reduce pain and inflammation, and offer a variety of other benefits outlined by nutritionists at Bastyr University, not to mention fantastic flavor.

The Modern Ritual

Swap sugary breakfasts for hearty Mexican-inspired dishes that include beans or eggs for protein, avocado with salsa, or even simple slices of bell pepper and beef in a kind of breakfast fajita.

Alternatively, go traditional with a dish like huevos divorciados, which includes two fried eggs, one topped with green salsa and the other with red salsa, served alongside beans, sliced avocado and a corn tortilla. The eggs will give you your protein for the day, the beans and tortillas provide ample fiber, and the salsas are packed with antioxidants to get your day started right.

The Tradition: Physical Healing of Emotional Wounds

In Mexican folk medicine, it is believed that disease is caused by disharmony of body, mind, and spirit, so treatment often begins with finding ways to physically deal with emotional issues.

As part of a treatment plan, healers incorporate prayers and rituals, like digging a hole and speaking negative experiences and emotions into it before covering it, and even humor, as laughter, releases endorphins.

The Modern Ritual

Remember the importance of your mental health to your overall health. Make laughter a part of your mental health routine, whether turning off the news and watching something funny after dinner, visiting a comedy club, or just getting together with friends who make you laugh.

And when it comes to trauma or sadness, give it the care and time it needs, seeking support and creating new ways to integrate ritualistic ways of healing that feel right with your beliefs, family, and lifestyle.

The Tradition: La Comida (Lunch)

Traditionally, the main meal of the day in Mexico is eaten in the late afternoon, between 1pm and 4pm, and can be a multi-course affair that is lingered over. Dinner comes much later, around 8 or 9pm and is typically a light snack.

Studies have shown that having a large midday meal and a lighter evening meal can aid in weight-loss, promote better sleep, and give you more sustained energy throughout your waking hours.

Taking the time to slow down and share a meal is also a great way to maintain work-life balance.

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