Welcome, December! Yes, It’s the hap-hap-happiest time of the year, but it can also by the most unhealthy. Landmines of both emotions and food can sabotage the heartiest and jolliest of us. A December of indulging can pave the way for not just a month, but a full winter of battling illness and depression. On this Monday, the first of December, it’s a Christmas gift to ourselves to decide that we are at our holiday (and spiritual) best when we are in- tune with our spirits and our bodies through honoring the laws of health. Even following the basics as much as possible will help significantly at this busy time of the year!

Here are my ten favorite tips that I’m printing out TODAY to help keep ME focused, and I hope you’ll join me!

1.  Plan Celebration Eating.  It’s easy to use the family calendar to put a sticker or circle in red the days that have planned celebrations involving food. You’ll quickly see, as I have for myself, that for most days, it’s life as usual.  With a little planning, healthy meals can easily continue and we can prepare in advance for celebration events.

It’s also a great idea to have some fast, easy healthy soups and menu ideas front and center in your pantry and on your shopping list for busy days when there’s not time to cook or plan.

One of our favorites is our “taco soup” using 1 can of refried beans + 1 can of water + 1 can of stewed tomatoes + 1/2 cup of salsa.  You can add a bit of taco seasoning as well for a bit more kick.  We serve it with tortillas cut into strips that have been toasted in a stove-top skillet with some Pam spray.  So filling, delicious and hearty.  And FAST.

To dress it up, you can add typical taco fixings on top:  chopped tomatoes, onion, olives, a bit of grated chese, etc.  Guests and missionaries love this fun, easy supper. Cut-up fruit for dessert. Bam. You’re done! Beans have such a great way of keeping us full and feeling satisfied for a long time.

2. Stay Active — Even Indoor Walking!   Hallmark movies have their place and I plan on watching more not less this season!  But so does staying active, walking, getting to the gym and whatever you do to get your heart rate up and your body moving.  Regular exercise is also the best emotional protection I know of for shaking off the holiday blues and feeling fat, which definitely do NOT enhance feeling the joys of Christmas.

Brittany, our soon-to-be-a-mommy daughter-in-law, has discovered Leslie Sansone’s walking videos on Youtube!  She walks a mile or two indoors before heading off to work as a first-grade teacher. YES!   What could be more convenient for cold mornings when your time is limited. I just popped onto Youtube.com and there are even several Christmas walking workouts. FUN!

Now as far as the Hallmark movies or other TV viewing, every 20 minutes or so get up.  Just stand in place in front of the TV and gently bounce up and down (with feet on the floor and loose knees) like you are joggling a fussy baby.  Do this every 20 minutes or so, three or four times during the movies for 3-5 minutes.  (Or during commercials).   This is the next best thing to a mini-tramp for bouncing out toxins and aiding your lymphatic system.

3.  Keep Colds and Sicknesses At Bay. It’s not rude to wink and smile instead of shaking hands when we greet others. We can even wear a mask when visiting a home when we know there’s been sickness. We can politely decline invitations from those homes and we can wash our hands with warm water and soap as often as possible.

NEWS FLASH: Revolutionary Hand Sanitizer! We have come across an incredible spray hand sanitizer that is clinically proven protection for 12+ hours and doesn’t dry your hands. This is becoming extremely popular and essential for missionaries. The Church has even begun to purchase it for missionaries and you can see it HERE.

You can easily spray the hands of every member of the family before heading out to school, work, shopping, visiting friends, Church, etc.

4.  Don’t Stress.  Keep It All In Perspective!  Years ago when we were running full speed with a busy young family, we abandoned sending time-consuming Christmas in favor of an annual greeting at Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day or even Easter. Our friends and families loved getting those letters at an unexpected time!

If you and your family love to decorate, great.  If not, less decorating with more of your happy smiles will be the best decorations for your home.

One of our friends found out when her children were grown that her over-the-top tree(s) decorating drove her family nuts. As older teens and adults, they loved telling about how they had secretly dreaded the day they decorated these trees because she was so stressed and so picky about where every ornament went. This is NOT the memory we want our loved ones to have!  She learned too late that they would much rather have had a simpler tree required less decorating, which would have freed the family for something else that day. Another friend had the same experience with the weekend of putting up the outdoor Christmas lights. Her kids and husband HATED that weekend!

Another good friend and her husband decided that they would give three gifts to each of their children. This included the Santa gifts. Three gifts from the three Wiseman seemed like a good gauge, and it sure simplifies things! This is a sweet and easy way to express to children that Christmas is about more than presents, as the Baby Jesus also received three gifts. In truth, for most of us, gifts from grandparents, extended family, etc. makes for a generous Christmas with those three gifts.

What stories do we want told about us in years to come? Less is often more and those three stories are good reminders.

5.  Be A Careful Cook:  December is one of the most common months for people to get food poisoning. To minimize the risks, don’t leave food out all day. Put out small amounts at a time, so that what is on the table has just been cooked or has just come out of the fridge. Ideally, try to use any leftovers within 48 hours or freeze them.

If you think you have food poisoning, Meridan’s favorite herbal detox is fantastic for getting things out of your system FAST.  A double dose will be incredibly helpful.  It comes in easy capsule form and that will be helpful too.   This is a wonderful product to have on hand for unexpected stomach distress.

6.  A Sugar-Free December.  YES! Let FRUIT be a shining star as it no doubt was for Mary and Joseph.  We all love Christmas treats, but way too often sugar takes over our taste buds AND moods.

Last year, I decided (with the help of my daughter, Kelly) for December to be a sugar-free month. It was a great, great month and something special the two of us shared.  Luscious fruit became our go-to treat. I quietly just said “No thanks!” to myself and others when the sugary goodies came around.  It was such a relief to have made the decision before the flood of cookies and candy started.

Years ago, someone said to me, “Really … what does fudge have to do with the Baby Jesus?” I’ve said that to myself many times and will again this December too, as I choose to remember health and how much better I do much better physically and emotionally without sugar.

How did it turn out last year for me? Of course, by being part of the human race at Christmas, I passed up a lot of cookies and special candy.   I was very grateful I’d decided early in the month before I got sidetracked. I craved and enjoyed healthy food all month. As Christmas week arrived, I didn’t obsess over candy and cookies. I wore my cute jeans rather than stretch pants. I was in control rather than sugar over my moods. I slept well. LOVE IT! And I plan to do the same this year.

The emotional effects of the season are often greater than any other time of the year. Scrooge belongs in movies and plays, not in our homes and families because of sugar blues.

The physical effects often leave my husband and I feeling head-achey, sluggish and foggy-minded. We need our wits about us at Christmas. Why drag ourselves through that swamp when a simple, “No thanks” and a piece of fruit or a glass of water (plus 15 minutes for cravings to pass and everyone else to finish their treats) puts us in the clear?

7.  Drink Enough Water.  Now’s the time to get out a water bottle and download an app on your phone that will remind you when you need a drink.  Mine is called “iHydrate” and an alarm goes off at the times I’ve chosen.  Every organ in our system needs water to function.  It helps our skin glow and keeps us energized.  Even with the tea and capsules, water is required for them to work and to get those toxins out.

8.  Give Healthy Food Gifts Instead of Cookies:  Years ago, along with no longer sending holiday greetings in December, we stopped baking loads of cookies and baked goods. Instead, we started giving away a bottle of unsweetened apple juice with a bag of spices tied to the side for spiced cider as our gift to friends and neighbors.  They loved and appreciated it!  The children enjoyed mixing up the spices and putting them together. This was something everyone could do in a short amount of time without making a sticky mess in the kitchen.

We’ve also made “soup jars” with the layered fixings for a yummy bean soup. Low-fat cereal snack mixes, etc. are also low-fat, sugar-free nice gifts that are fun to make and to give.

We can save ourselves many hours in the kitchen and thousands of calories that go into the nibbling for baked and sweet treats.

9.  Get Enough Sleep:  Get That Smartphone Out of The Bedroom! Sleeping is becoming more difficult as I get older.  However, the more I read about getting and staying asleep, I know I have a major enemy:  my smartphone.  That’s where I’ve been reading and “relaxing” in bed at the end of the day with a couple of games I play with friends and family.  Then I charge the phone overnight by my bed.

In essence, however, a little Googling research reveals that the lights and the activities there (especially countless links to entertaining but unimportant articles) keep my mind busy and wide awake.

For the month of December, along with no sugar, I’m leaving my phone outside of the bedroom and turning out the light at a regular, decent time.  I can charge it someplace else too :0)

10.  Keep Your System Healthy With My Miracle Tea. Between the weather, the food, the stress and the germs, we ALL need ALL the help we can get.  Just drinking the tea or taking a capsule may be the easiest way to look and feel our best! This popular product for Meridian readers has done marvels for warding off the colds and flu, along with helping regularity and easing digestive distress. It’s also terrific for quickly passing too much food and sugar from holiday indulging.

With just a little love and effort, guarding and guiding our health is the most precious gift we can give to ourselves … and those we love!
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of eleven. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE