We know the holidays are busy, from shopping for presents, to kids’ parties, to big dinners with all the trimmings. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to make the season healthier for your whole family. The holiday season centers on tradition, home, and family-it’s what makes this time of year so special. Unfortunately, holiday festivities can also introduce greater toxic exposures-from traditional recipes we rely on to how we adorn our homes. This season, consider the simple tips below to reduce toxic exposures for you and your family.
1. Detox Decorations For many, the season begins when the decorations go up. However, few of us know that they can pose health risks. String lights, a popular holiday favorite, are usually made with PVC, which can contaminate your dust with lead. This makes them especially dangerous in homes with young children, who are prone to putting things in their mouths. Instead, skip string lights, or use lead-free ones. Wearing gloves can help protect you when handling both old strands and also artificial Christmas trees made of PVC. If shopping for a new artificial tree, look for ones manufactured in the United States, which has stricter regulations than other countries. If you prefer live trees, look for an organic tree to reduce exposure to pesticides. Regardless, vacuum the area surrounding the tree often.
2. Fortify Holiday Foods with Nutrients Traditional holiday foods can be made of unhealthy processed ingredients. This year, consider a few simple changes to help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Start and/or end the day with drinking organic tea, which is soothing and can help with sleep. Certain teas-like green, white, and black-are loaded with antioxidants, which help immunity. Also, increasing the amount of naturally colorful foods you eat – like sweet potatoes, red cabbage, broccoli, or beets – introduces a myriad of vitamins and minerals to your diet. For instance, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin K, which helps to prevent inflammation and fight illness. Orange foods in particular contain an abundance of vitamin C and beta-carotene, which also helps ward of illness. Consider soups with lots of carrots or sweet potatoes.
3. Enhance Ambiance Naturally Certain sights and smells-such as candlelight and scents, like cinnamon and vanilla-enhance our holiday experiences. Burning conventional candles, however, can release toxic fumes, and candles with artificial fragrance contain even more pollutants. Furthermore, most air fresheners- whether sprayed or plugged-in-are made with petrochemicals, including hormone-disrupting phthalates. For healthier ways to make your home festive, buy pure, unscented beeswax candles; and boil cinnamon, cloves, and oranges on the stove.
These quick, simple changes to your holiday traditions will keep yourself and your family healthier this season – and health is the greatest gift of all!