10 Unusual Tips for A Happier + Healthier Holiday Season
1. Increase The Quality and “Realness” of Your Food, No Matter What It Is
There is almost ALWAYS a way to use better quality and real-food ingredients, no matter what you are trying to eat or make…. which usually leads to a better tasting dish anyways. The fact is, when you use fresh, pure food, you don’t need to do a lot to it, to make it shine with flavor and great taste. It’s the foods that naturally have no flavor or benefit to you that need the loads of sugars, salt, chemicals and preservatives.
Want a holiday cocktail? Great. Have one with fresh juice, club soda, herbal or homemade infusions or a homemade simple syrup from maple syrup or raw honey for flavor, not the bottled “mixer” [check out my holiday guide if you need more ideas and recipes along these lines!]
Want hot chocolate? Perfect.The real-food version of it would be to make your own by melting real dark or milk chocolate with almond milk, hemp milk (hemp uses), coconut milk or whole milk and water. It has a much different impact in your body than that powdered foreign substance. And tastes way better too. No deprivation here, ever!
2. Have Non-Negotiable Behaviors. And Just Do Them [No Excuses]
There is a great study that states that we only have a certain amount of willpower per day. And it’s small. So don’t waste that precious decision making power on insignificant things. And by insignificant, I mean choosing the less healthy option when faced with two. Make the healthy option your default–, your routine, your thing that you don’t even think about doing, you just do it. And then keep doing it. Because that is just what you do. See where I’m going? I don’t mean with everything in life, because frankly people who have a entirely set routine with everything are quite boring and anxiety ridden to be with. But create a routine with the things that you know will actually help you, and create big downstream impacts in the rest of your life.
Me, for example. I get up every morning and have green tea or hot water with lemon and ginger or water or coconut water. Something that hydrates me and sets the tone of my day as I start my morning emails. If I want coffee or something like this later, I just have it afterwards. Hydration first, no exceptions (for most normal days). When the water is boiling, I make my green smoothie or assemble some kind of salad with last night’s dinner leftovers on top for lunch and put it in the fridge so I can take it with me on the go. I just do it.
I don’t wander down in the kitchen and think– hmmm… what should I have for lunch today? A little veggie wrap? Sushi? A Sandwich? Gluten free pizza? Hmm.. maybe I could stop at that little place… no. NO. See where too many decisions can be worse? You’re wasting your precious amount of decision power for the day. But it doesn’t have to be boring or rigid. I put different things in my smoothie daily and mix up the exact contents of my morning beverage. It’s just a non-negotiable habit. No decision making power is necessary and it’s good for me, so I do it, and by this time takes me no brain power to decide to do it.
Other things that make a huge difference?
Drinking water, moving my body every single day, having the mental and spiritual space to process and center myself, and getting enough sleep daily are my other ones [and keeping an eye on my coffee, sugar and wine consumption each week so I can do this successfully]. You do have time for these things.
Think of all the time people waste doing silly things that don’t increase their energy and quality of life overall- pinning on pinterest, watching TV, scrolling FB, etc. These non-negotiable behaviors are the things that impact everything else in your day and life. And they are not the same for everyone. So, what are yours?
Try picking just 2 to start, and really commit to them daily. The 2 biggest and best things you can do, little or big, every single day that will help you feel your best and healthiest. Even in a month that is packed with events and other things. Don’t wait on this, try it. Do it. It can help you immensely.
3. Plan Out Your Week: Food Wise, Event/Party Wise + Daily Schedule Wise
I don’t mean down to the minute. But look at your week ahead. What days will you be out at events, get home late, or what nights will you be at home and can do a tiny bit of cooking. Most people just blow through the week, letting everything be a game-time decision (see #2 on why this doesn’t play to your advantage).
Most households do well with at least 1 bigger dish that you can make on a Sunday or Monday and have for lunch or dinner at least one other time. Soups, crockpot recipes or 1 pot bake ideas are ideal for this. Something veggie based with some good protein. For your party schedule, take a look at the month. Factor in the parties. But don’t think all the other hours of the day are a wash now. Eat healthy all during the day, and enjoy something you love at each party (wine, dessert, etc). But you know you have a lot of these situations coming up, so there is no need to get crazy.
Having a plan for the next morning- whether it’s a smoothie or a workout– will help keep you on track if you find it too hard. Daily, know that you WILL get hungry at least twice. So don’t let it surprise you. Have a plan for what you are doing for lunch and dinner so you’re not left to your tiny willpower decisions as the day goes on.
4. Treat Good For You Food Just Like You Treat Your Treats
Don’t kill me. But, pasta does not taste like anything. Neither does bread. But most people LOVE them. Why? Because they always get paired with more rich and delicious food to help them out. The butter, cheese, bacon, fresh herbs and truffle oil. And compared to steamed veggies, what would any person gravitate towards?
But, what if you switched it? Treated your veggies and real food with just as much respect as the treats? Added some little special additions to your real, nutrient-dense food. It will make you look forward to eating your good stuff, and thus will create a good association with eating good food in your head. Thus, you will be more inclined to do so, and like doing so.
Cook your veggies in butter! Drizzle truffle oil over your kale, spinach or lentils. Add avocado to your soup. Love good food and it will love you back. So much so, that you’ll have much less of a need for nutrient void, processed or addictive foods. Which can make your life better in a number of ways.
5. Not Everyday is A Holiday
Just because it’s December does not mean that everyday is a chance to treat yourself. I mean, you can. But you will feel horrible. And I am all about feeling good. Anyone else? You have way more hours this month NOT at parties than AT them I would guess. Unless you are way more fun than any of us. So, don’t screw the whole month.
Do your non-negotiable behaviors. Eat well. Have vegetables. Drink water. Move your body daily. Identify the treats you love (alcohol, flour based food and sugar) and clear out the rest of the clutter. Don’t eat or drink stuff you don’t care about or don’t like! Save it for the times and occasions that you do. Having dessert at a event is much different than a daily peppermint mocha… just because the red cup is festive to you. What’s more worth it to you?
6. Create New Traditions
If cookie baking is a big time tradition but you can’t help but eat them all, maybe it’s time to rethink if it’s actually a positive thing for you to do. Either upgrade your ingredients on your traditional recipes (again, check out the e- cookbook!), or change the activity. Spend time with people going on walks, taking a hike, making wreaths, playing games, watching movies, making dinner, etc.
7. Get Inspiration
Think of how you want to feel come New Year’s Day. And act accordingly. You won’t get there feeling nourished [in all senses], happy and calm by binging on sugar, flour and alcohol all month. I can almost guarantee that. But everyone needs inspiration. Things that get you excited– a new recipe, magazine, book, activity, workout class, whatever it may be. This is a great time of year to experiment with your health, in all senses of the word.
8. Be Real About The Feel [The 6 Second Rule]
Holidays can be a stressful time for a lot of people. The shopping, the concentrated time with family, end of the year business stuff to tie up, etc. So much is happening at once, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And the way our society is structured is one that encourages people to ignore, deflect, bottle up, distract, and hold in any stressful, anxious, or non-positive feelings. Which leads to some bad habits, and rarely an actual solution. Which is not exactly “healthy” in my book. Whatever is bothering you will just fester in your subconscious and take up precious room and time.
So, what if you did the opposite? To just actually FEEL what you feel. To acknowledge it. Embrace it. Fully. And then you can move forward.
There is a great fact I heard last year that it only takes 6 seconds for an intense feeling to pass. 6 seconds!! So, if you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, bored, whatever, close you eyes and feel that emotion as strong as you can, as hard as you can for 6 seconds. Something magically releases. Try it.
9. Be Careful of Sugar. And Flour
They are the same. And not nutrient dense. And extremely addictive. And there is more of them around this time of year. See Rule #5. Clear the clutter.
10. Want a Present? Be Present
Count your blessings. Count the people you love. Count the great things in life. Count the great things that happen during the day. Becoming aware of these things help you notice more of them in your daily. It may even encourage you to do something nice, just because it could be the best part of someone else’s day. Share the love, whenever you are and whatever you are doing. It’s the best present you can give.
What else helps you get through the holiday season in happiness and with ease? Please share them in the comments below, or tell me what your non-negotiable behaviors will be for the month! If you liked this article, be sure to share it with your friends.
If you like the Simply Real Health philosophy, be sure to check out some of the other ways we can help you feel better, healthier, happier and more energized in your daily life – customized plans + help are available here, no matter your situation + lifestyle.