Thanksgiving and Black Friday are in our rearview mirror. Christmas is right around the corner. Lots of family and friends, traditions and gifts. Trees and stockings and advent calendars, oh my! Unfortunately, there are a few of these traditions and gifts that can be harmful to health, cause inflammation, and lead to illness if done the wrong way. Let’s take a look at some Wellness Way tips that may be helpful in stuffing your stockings.

FROM CHESTNUTS TO NON-SUGAR PLUMS

Anyone who has been around us knows that the Wellness Way advises to steer clear of sugar. This can be hard this time of year, but it isn’t impossible. For example, some of our favorite chocolate is sweetened with stevia, instead of sugar. Stevia is a natural, plant-based sweetener that doesn’t affect your blood glucose levels and isn’t inflammatory.

If chocolate isn’t really your cup of tea, try something like 100% organic fruit leathers or fruit roll-ups. Or, you could take a page from our grandparents’ book and put a fresh orange in the stockings.

Try some xylitol suckers, too! Great for your teeth and a sweet treat that “looks like the other kids’ candy, mom!” Be sure to look for birch or American hardwood xylitol versus ones derived from corn.

Homemade roasted chestnuts are also always a hit this time of year.

Of course, there are lots of other good treats out there. Just remember not to fall in the trap of “easy and convenient” when it comes to holiday treats. Here are a few things to avoid.

  1. Sugar
  2. MSG
  3. Partially hydrogenated oils
  4. Vanillin and other artificial flavors
  5. Gluten
  6. Dairy
  7. Artificial colors
  8. Preservatives

And, as always, remember to steer clear of your specific food allergies.

FROM SANTA’S WORKSHOP

What kid doesn’t love a fun toy in their stocking? Unfortunately, you don’t have to look far to see the evidence that toys can be dangerous. Trouble in Toyland puts out an annual toy safety report. Toysafety.org annually comes out with a “top ten worst toys” list around the time that people start looking for gifts for the holidays.

Does this mean that there aren’t toys that are safe and nontoxic? Absolutely not; they’re just a bit harder to find. The good news? More and more people are looking for nontoxic toys. For some people it’s due to “going green”. For others, it’s simply so our kids are able to explore their toys safely. Who wants a child to get lead poisoning because they had a colorful block in their mouth?

This growing interest is being felt in the toy industry. Companies that have safer, nontoxic toys are likely to share that information. After all, the customers dictate what is bought.

Some other simple keywords to look for are “nontoxic” and “organic.” Also keep an eye out for things saying their toys do not contain any BPA, phthalates, PVC, latex, or toxic materials.

Depending on what the toy is made of, there are a few other things to look for as well.

With wooden toys, you want to look for plant- or water- based paint. This could also show up as natural or vegetable oils for the finish. You also want to look for either organic or non-toxic wood.

For fabric toys, you will again want to stay with “organic” materials. Both the fabric and any dyes they may use should be organic.

As far as plastic toys goes, a good rule of thumb is to just avoid them altogether. Admittedly, that can be very difficult. If you need to get plastic toys, ABS plastic is one of the least-toxic plastics out there.

A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS

How many times have you looked at the ingredients list on your beauty products? If you do, can you pronounce even half of what is written there? Unfortunately, a lot of those unpronounceable words are harmful chemicals or hidden toxins. Your skin is the first line of defense for your body, and the largest organ you have. Not the sort of thing you want to be giving a toxin bath every morning, is it?

This year, try giving the gift of healthy skin-care and beauty products. We have innumerable suggestions for safer products. This includes nail polishes, face scrubs, deodorants, foundations, creams, and lotions. Or, add a personal touch with homemade personal care items. Some of our favorite include this coconut oil body butter, a coffee face mask, and this natural deodorant.

SPREADING COMFORT AND JOY

Unfortunately, you don’t have to look far to recognize that mental health is on a downward spiral, these days. There are ways to help your mental health get better, though. Did you know that gratitude has been shown to improve the way the brain works? This year, try giving the gift of a gratitude journal, and speeding those you love on their way to a happier, healthier mind.

This time of year can be heavy on the hustle and bustle. You can easily end up spending so much time getting gifts for people that you lose out on the time with them. Give the gift of a brain break from the stress of everyday life and the holiday rush. Get movie tickets for the entire family, a board game, or a gift certificate to a restaurant. Whether you put it in the stocking of your loved one or not, this a gift they’ll remember far longer than the treats last or the toys occupy them. Laughter has also been shown to release stress. Find a comedian or comedy show happening around you and laugh together as a family. You’ll be amazed how much closer and more peaceful you feel.

Whatever gifts you give this year, don’t underestimate the effect they have on those around you. Be it treats or toys or together time, there are plenty of ways to stuff your stockings in a healthier way.