Choose Happy

Here's to living your Best Day Ever. Every day.

Choose Happy

Here's to living your Best Day Ever. Every day.

The Shop

Shop For Daily Inspiration

The Shop

Shop For Daily Inspiration

Holy cow! So many milk alternatives

As more people choose alternatives to cow’s milk, whether by choice or necessity, the milk alternatives vying for a place in your refrigerator are growing. Almond milk, soy milk, oat milk … even banana milk! How can you choose? And maybe some of you are asking, “Why should I choose a milk alternative?” Research has shown cow’s milk doesn’t provide any special health benefit to adults, but so many of us have grown up with it that waving good-bye to milk can be really hard, so I get why some of you may be reluctant. Plus, it has lots of naturally occurring sugars, so it tastes pretty delicious as well. The trouble with cow’s milk is that some people can’t tolerate either the lactose, a naturally occurring sugar, or casein, a protein, both found in dairy. Additionally, the hormones given to some dairy cows, as well antibiotics supplied when cattle are ill, find their way into the milk, which means those substances find their way into you. (No thanks.)     Many of us enjoy unsweetened yogurt with breakfast (lots of good probiotics!), the occasional nibble of cheese at a party, or even an ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day. When you can, choose milk products from grass-fed cows – you’ll be getting a boost to omega-3 fatty acids and CLA that you don’t get in milk from conventionally raised cows.   So many milk alternatives... As I mentioned before, there are a LOT of options when it comes to replacing the moo in your morning coffee, lunchtime smoothie or weekend pancakes for the kids. So let’s take a quick look at a few of those options. Almond Milk Even if you haven’t tried it, you’ve probably seen almond milk in your local grocery store. Its nutty, slightly sweet flavor seems to agree with most palates. Almonds are a natural source for calcium, and while a cup of almond milk won’t match the protein packed into a cup of cow’s milk, it still makes almond milk a standout compared with many of the alternatives. Almond milk is good in most sauces and baking. If you’re crafty in the kitchen, you may even want to make your own almond milk. You’ll find easy-to-do options online. Coconut milk Made from the meat of the coconut, there are two kinds of coconut milk. The thick coconut milk you find in a can is excellent for cooking and baking, but you likely don’t want to drink it – it is ultra calorie dense along with being super thick. Coconut milk beverages, like other milk alternatives, are not so thick and great for the usual milk purposes, such as in coffee or smoothies. Boxed coconut milk doesn’t have much in the way of protein, but what it lacks in protein it makes up for in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), a saturated fat known for helping reduce appetite and improving blood cholesterol levels.  Oat Milk Oat milk is trending! But does that make it worth it? With a good showing of protein and fiber (something the other milk alternatives don’t have) the answer is yes! Oat milk has a thicker “mouth feel,” which may remind you more of cow’s milk and is making oat milk lattes all the rage. Soy Milk The granddaddy of milk alternatives, soy milk stacks up favorably to cow’s milk when comparing calcium and protein content. Bonus for you cooks and bakers: According to the folks at OneGreenPlanet, soy milk’s protein makes it excellent for savory dishes and sauces as well as in baked goods.  Hemp Milk This one is my favorite! Hemp milk provides plant-based protein and calcium along with essential fatty acids. On top of that, this alternative is low in carbs. Made from the hemp plant, it is related to cannabis, but hemp milk doesn’t contain more than a trace of the THC associated with the drug.  Pea Milk Also relatively new to the milk alternative scene, pea protein makes this product another solid choice if you’re concerned about protein. Added bonus: It has less sugar than cow’s milk. With a mild flavor and a thicker texture than some of the other alternatives, those missing their moo may find pea milk to be a good option. Rice Milk Rice milk is a good choice for people with nut or other food allergies, but doesn’t have much of a nutritional punch. Sweet and light, it can be a good choice for using in desserts. Cashew Milk Thanks to its creamy texture, cashew milk is popping up in vegan cheeses and other dairy alternatives like yogurt.   A final word on choosing a milk alternative As with any processed food, it’s important to choose wisely and look for those that are minimally processed. The shelf-stable varieties of any of these milk alternatives will have more ingredients on the label than their refrigerated counterparts. Using the “less is more” mindset, the fewer ingredients the better. While most of these “milks” are composed of their main ingredient (almond, oat, soy) plus water, many do add thickeners and stabilizers. Added ingredients aren’t necessarily bad, but some you can do without. In particular, watch out for: Added sugar – Many brands try to win us over via our sweet tooth, but we just don’t need the added sugar in our diet.  Artificial flavors – Just like the added sugar, you don’t need added flavors such as vanilla. Try the unflavored varieties of several alternatives and see which one has a natural flavor you like best. Carrageenan – Carrageenan can cause inflammation and bloating in some people, so many brands are now opting for alternatives such as gellan gum.  Oils such as canola or sunflower – Ugh, who wants oil in their milk? Yet some varieties add oil as another kind of thickener. While having any of the above doesn’t necessarily kick your favorite alternative milk off the list, check for comparable brands with less of these ingredients. And, really, your best bet it to lose the added sugar. Happy sipping!     Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Read more

Holy cow! So many milk alternatives

As more people choose alternatives to cow’s milk, whether by choice or necessity, the milk altern...

Read more

Introducing play into your work day

It's summertime, and that means the kids are out of school and hard at work doing their summer jobs – in other words, they are hard at play. Play serves a beneficial role in the development of our children's brains. Play allows children to learn and explore in creative ways. Sometimes it looks like getting messy. And sometimes it looks like asking lots of questions. Whatever that child's play looks like, it has valuable learning attributes. This summer, why not take a lesson from your children and introduce play into your work process. Getting creative can be a good way to get unstuck when a creative block has you feeling stumped or you just don't feel inspired to get down to work. Here are a few ideas for introducing elements of play into your work: Get colorful –  An easy way to tap into our creativity is through art. You don’t have to be an artist to have fun with a box of crayons or a set of watercolors. Both coloring and painting have been linked to reduced stress and increased focus, which can help to create the space in our minds we need for that “a-ha” moment. My favorite adult coloring book is by Mike Dooley; it’s a great way to get a break into your day and reset your brain in the middle of a tough task.  Get outside – Parents are always encouraging kids to “Go outside!” and there’s good reason. Being in nature is one of the best things we can do for our mental health and our productivity. Just a 15-minute “walking meditation” outside (even if it’s on pavement) can help clear your brain and let your subconscious solve problems for you. Read more about the benefits of being outside in this Best Day Ever post. Get curious – Take a cue from kids and ask questions. My favorite phrase for this idea is “Tell me more.” You may be surprised that the answers lead you to a solution in an unexpected way. Inga Stasiulionyte, writing for Success Magazine, explains that questions form new patterns in our brains, which allows us to access the answers we already have. Get your groove on – Dance can be a great way to shake up your day. One study found that participants doing either aerobics or hip-hop dance reported greater feelings of well-being as well as less fatigue. My current favorite dance artist is Bruno Mars. And if you’re on Spotify, you’ll find many pre-made playlists that will lift your mood while you move your body. So put on those tunes and get moving!  Give it a try What’s magical about these techniques is that they don’t have to take long. A five-minute dance break may be just what you need to refocus. Or consider scheduling a quarterly “creativity afternoon” for you and your team to do an art project. Here a few more actionable ways to add play to your workday: • Gamify a task –  Turning a mundane task into a game can be the best way to boost productivity. Come up with your own way or find an app to help.  • Get it on paper – Sketch, highlight or doodle your way to breaking a project down into its parts, streamlining a process or seeing your schedule in a whole new way. • Walk & work – Your inner child wants to go out and play, so why not say “yes”? Schedule your next meeting for a walk around the block instead of sitting in the conference room. • Brainstorming with a twist – Brainstorming is inherently creative, but try kicking the creativity up a notch by introducing games to your brainstorming session. Here are three options you can try.  Whatever you choose, know that when you sit back down to the real business of your work you will have benefited from the creativity you engaged in. Enjoy your playtime!   Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash                     

Read more

Introducing play into your work day

It's summertime, and that means the kids are out of school and hard at work doing their summer jo...

Read more

Sugar handling might not be what you think

Sugar handling? As the old joke goes, “Sure, I've got sugar handling down to a science. In one hand I have a bag of M&Ms, in the other hand I have a bag of Skittles.” If your idea of sugar handling is the above, it's time to set the record straight. Sugar handling refers to how your body deals with sugars you’ve digested. Sugar could be candy or soda, or could come in the form of a carb-rich baked potato or even a bowl of corn flakes. Essentially, we’re talking carbohydrates here, and we definitely need the right kinds in the right amounts in our diet, but sometimes the way our bodies handle those sugars gets out of whack. From diabetes to hypoglycemiaMost people will think of diabetes and dangerously high levels of blood sugar when they think of blood sugar issues, but our bodies can also suffer from hypoglycemia – a severe dip in blood sugar. In between these two extremes are a continuum of symptoms that identify possible signs of poor sugar handling. Symptoms of poor sugar handling can include: Sugar cravings Feeling shaky, hangry or lightheaded before a meal or if a meal is skipped Feeling fatigued or sleepy after a meal Headaches Sore joints or backache Digestive trouble The cause of these symptoms isn’t tied to any one disease or disorder. It could be as serious as full-blown hypoglycemia, which can cause seizures, or it could be linked to eating too few calories. A good discussion of some of the common causes can be found here. Whatever the root cause, poor sugar handling affects the nervous system, which ultimately affects every system in our bodies. The effects can be devastating to your metabolism as well as negatively affecting your reproductive hormones. Your liver, pancreas and kidney function can all be affected, as can your circulation. Your mental and emotional health can suffer as well. “Brain fog” – that feeling that you can’t think clearly or focus – is a common symptom of low blood sugar. It can look like sitting at your desk getting nothing done or wandering around the grocery store not sure what you should be putting in your cart. Our brains need adequate blood sugar to function, and when it’s too low, this “fog” can occur. It may seem like a minor annoyance when it happens once in a while, but long term it can lead to dementia if it is not addressed. This illustrates why it is so important to take action for stabilizing blood sugar. Three steps toward better healthIf you suspect that you may have a problem with sugar handling, be sure to see your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. In the meantime, you can do a few simple things to improve your health – and they are sound habits for anyone to follow. Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are notorious for having added sugar hidden within the ingredients – even for something seemingly not sweet, such as chips or crackers. Processed foods are also loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that can block sugar from entering your cells, which they need to create energy. Other studies have shown PUFAs are also linked to obesity – another great reason to avoid highly processed foods. Moderate or avoid “white” foods. Bread in all its forms (like croissants, pizza and pancakes), plus rice and pasta have two things in common: They are lightly colored (“white”) and are all high on the glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how much “blood sugar stress” a food puts on our bodies. Eating “lower” on the index will help take the glycemic load off of your body. Eat your macros. Macros, or macronutrients, are our main food building blocks: proteins, carbs and fats. Making sure you get some of each in every meal or snack will help even out the blood sugar spikes and dips. Eating enough good fats (think avocados, nuts, coconut and olive oil) is an essential part of the equation, so don’t shy away from them. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet, with its apt acronym SAD, is a huge culprit in the way many of us eat. To revise your eating habits will probably require planning and discipline that you might not be used to. But don’t stress. Stress actually increases the desire reach for the cookies. Instead, think about a few small changes that you’d be willing to make today. Start with those, and see if you start to feel better. To inspire you, check out some past Best Day Ever posts on eating well: Avoiding wheat? Here’s what to eat instead Building a better breakfast Eat more leafy greens The mighty bean!     Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash    

Read more

Sugar handling might not be what you think

Sugar handling? As the old joke goes, “Sure, I've got sugar handling down to a science. In one ha...

Read more

Spring Forward: 5 tips for reviving your forgotten New Year’s goals

Now that you’ve had a couple of weeks to recover from that “spring forward” hangover  losing an hour of sleep, let’s take a minute to reassess where you’re at with the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Spring is traditionally the time of new beginnings – think the first flowers peeking their heads out of the earth and birds building nests for their babies. And if you live in a place that gets a real winter, you may be starting to feel more energized and less like a hibernating bear now that the days beginning to warm up. All this new energy makes it a great time to take a look at your goals. Don’t fear if you’ve faltered, there’s still plenty of time to achieve them. Ready to rekindle the enthusiasm for your goals and actually make them happen? Here are five tips to get you there. 1. Revisit your intentions & set fewer goals What were the themes of the resolutions or goals you set earlier in the year – Health and wellness? Career? Family? Re-evaluate those main themes and see which ones resonate the strongest with you. What really needs change now? It’s been found that multitasking is really a myth – so if you’re trying to multitask bits and pieces of each goal, it may be that none of them are getting done. Try paring down your list and focus on just one or two. The rest can wait. 2. Reframe your thinking Now that you have focused on the goals most important to you, take a look at the “why” that kept you from achieving them. The answers you give can provide valuable feedback. Did you bite off a project bigger than you could chew and you got overwhelmed? Are you making excuses such as “I don’t have time”?  How many of you have thought something along these lines: “I’d like to exercise regularly – but I just can’t because my workdays are too long … or my kids are too young … or I can’t afford a gym membership … or I’m too tired”? Believe me, I’m familiar with all these excuses because I’ve used them all at one time or another! And while I’m thinking them, in that very moment, they seem to make so much sense. Do you see how these stumbling blocks are ones that you’ve put in place – maybe without realizing it? The solution may lie in your “locus of control.” In personality psychology, locus of control defines how much people believe they are ultimately responsible for their own successes and failures. If your sense of what controls your life, your “locus of control,” lies within yourself, then you feel you have personal power over your life, meaning that your actions affect how your day goes. If your locus of control is off kilter, you may be blaming everything and everyone for your lack of success. Evaluate what’s getting in your way then decide how you can reframe your thinking. Don’t be afraid to ask your tribe for help if you need to stay accountable to your new way of thinking. 3. Revisit SMART goals SMART is a mnemonic device that lays out a simple formula to help you achieve your goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. SMART goals offer an easy way to make your goals manageable. No more feeling overwhelmed because now you’ve got a plan that you can execute. Here’s an example from my own life: My dentist told me I had “average” gum health, but I’d read research that associated gum health with overall health (Relevant to my life), and I wanted to do better than “average.” So I systematized my goal of healthier gums by committing to flossing every single day (getting Specific with my goal). I told everyone that I was going to floss every day (Timely); and every day I checked off a simple yes or no (Measurable). The daily goal was so tiny – it takes about a minute to floss your teeth – that I didn’t feel discouraged every time I thought about doing it (Achievable). And the more yeses I could check off, the better I felt about myself. Those small, daily victories gave me momentum to keep going, so that now, years later, I still floss every day. Goal achieved! 4. Set yourself up for success So you’ve just realized the goals you set a couple of months ago fell completely off your radar. Oops! This time, set yourself up for success by scheduling a regular review of your goals into your calendar. I call this creating “systems and frameworks.” These are really usually tiny, doable goals that are easily measured, which makes for little successes that you can build from toward your ultimate goal. Imagine you are planning a big party for your child’s 5th birthday. You want to invite family and friends to your house and have all the traditional birthday party elements – games, balloons, presents and a birthday cake. Sure, it’s all doable – but you’ve got to fit in all the planning around working or school, and your time is minimal. If you put one task on your calendar each day, you have a much better chance of actually getting some sleep the night before the party. When working on your goals, it may also help to get an accountability partner or a coach to help keep you on track. When we know someone is expecting results we often step up to accomplish them more easily. 5. Go for it! What are you waiting for? Now’s the time to take your newly focused goals and start making progress – even if it feels like you’re going at a snail’s pace. I think there’s immense power in what I call the Slow Trudge. By just putting one foot in front of the other, again and again and again, doing the same boring things day in and day out, we can travel incredible distances and do amazing things that we didn’t even think possible.  Before you know it you will have mastered that challenge and moved on to the next step. Celebrate the little successes along the way, and, before you know it, your mission will be accomplished. Your Best Day Ever is waiting for you!     Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Read more

Spring Forward: 5 tips for reviving your forgotten New Year’s goals

Now that you’ve had a couple of weeks to recover from that “spring forward” hangover  losing an h...

Read more

Need to hit the reset button? Your answer maybe be as close as your local tree

Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese concept meaning to “take in the forest atmosphere.” And it can have big benefits for your health and wellbeing. You may have run across reports such as this one from NPR, regaling the benefits of “forest bathing.”  Even if you haven't heard about forest bathing, you may intrinsically know that you feel better after time communing with nature. Best Day Ever is based in the beautiful tree-covered Pacific Northwest, so we have no doubt that forest-bathing benefits are real. Read on to learn how science backs up what we’ve experienced. The idea behind “forest bathing” is not to conquer the trail ahead of you but to simply “be” in your natural surroundings. This may look like a short stroll in a nearby park or sitting and contemplating the world from the banks of a tree-lined stream. It turns out that this respite in a natural setting is particularly good for us. Studies have shown empirical evidence this practice helps lower blood pressure and increase immunity, among other benefits. Another study found that impulsivity was reduced in participants who were exposed to nature. In your everyday life, think of ”reduced impulsivity” as being able to pass up that afternoon mocha or resisting an online spending binge on kitchen gadgets you really don’t need. Along with physiological improvements that come from time in nature, a visit to the great outdoors may give you the boost of inspiration you need to take your work project to the next level or help you refocus on a day that starts out on the wrong foot. Studies have shown spending time outdoors increases concentration and walking outdoors boosts creativity. In one study, hikers who spent four days in the wilderness (without their devices) performed 50% better on a creativity and problem-solving task. The takeaway, say researchers, is that “cognitive advantage [is] to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting.” Another study demonstrates that those who walk in nature, as opposed to those who walk in an urban environment, show a decrease in negative thoughts. Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself: Have you ever noticed you can’t stay mad when you’re walking in nature? Take action nowWhat are you waiting for? Make a list of places near home and work where you could escape for a dose of outdoor inspiration. Then, make it a priority to visit one this week. Happy forest bathing!   Photo by Girma Nigusse on Unsplash

Read more

Need to hit the reset button? Your answer maybe be as close as your local tree

Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese concept meaning to “take in the forest atmosphere....

Read more
View Blog

Or follow our other feeds

Newsletter - Subscribe for news and updates