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Health Promoting Holiday Gift Ideas

Christmas is fast approaching which can bring the challenge and stress of trying to finding the right gift for people on your list. Here are some ideas with an emphasis on health and well-being - the greatest gift of all, in my opinion.

This is an elongated version of my most recent column for My Kawartha newspaper, where their word count prevented me from going all out.

1. Blue-Light Blocking Glasses – Blue light is emitted from LED light bulbs, phones, computer screens, TVs (aka everywhere) and it suppresses melatonin production in our brain, which is required for regulating our circadian rhythm. Too much exposure, especially at night, can disrupt sleep, mood, bowel movements, and brain development in children/young adults. For those who aren’t willing to decrease screen time at night, throwing on a pair of these glasses can help. Nerdy? Yes. Practical? Yes. Ask local eyewear stores or check out swanwick.com. Swannies have both day and night glasses for both adults and children.

2. Pass for Fitness Classes – Yoga, Pilates, Spin classes, etc. Lindsay is full of amazing studios and instructors. Give the gift of exercise. If you buy the pass for yourself and someone else, you give the added gift of providing accountability and quality time together.

3. Donation – For that person who has everything, give a donation in their name to a cause or charity that means something to them.

4. New experience – Millennial style- spend time together doing something new and fun. Ex. plan an excursion, get outside and try something like cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, downhill skiing, etc.

Idea: Bala isn’t too far away and the Cranberry Marsh has a skating track, winery and gift shop on site.

5. Kitchenware – Perhaps not the most exciting, but there are a few key pieces in a kitchen that make such a difference for meal planning and creating healthy meals. For example, having a good blender, slow cooker/Instapot, spiralizer, and food processor.

6. Cookbooks – Despite all the online blogs out there, it’s still nice (in my opinion) to follow a recipe from a book you can physically hold. Two of my favourites are Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker, but there are tons of different choices out there!

7. Gift Card to Health Clinic – Again, there are tons of great options in our community, all striving to promote health in their own way. Perfect for someone who has said, 'I've always wanted to see a personal trainer,' or 'I've never had a massage,' or better yet, 'I really want to try cupping and see a Naturopath.' ;) Couldn't resist that last one.

8. Pillow – We don’t change these as often as we should and this can be a major contributor to neck pain and headaches. Certain sleep positions require a certain type of pillow. This was on my wish list this year and I asked for Mediflow pillow where you can fill pillow with water to modify firmness. They are backed by clinical research for preventing neck pain and improving sleep. Check them out: https://www.mediflow.ca/

9. Protein Powder - Make sure you know the brand/type that they like, but this is a great gift for the smoothie-maker, since buying a tub of protein powder always hurts a little bit with the upfront cost.

10. Workout Clothes - There's something about new workout clothes that bring a little excitement and motivation for hitting the gym.

11. New Running Shoes -There's no black and white time frame on when you need to replace your runners. It depends on factors like how often you wear them, how much you weigh, what you're doing in them (running vs. weight training) but the average recommendation is to replace runners every 6months - 1 year.

12. Herbal Tea - I'm talking the real stuff - with actual health benefits vs. the ones that contain 'added flavours.' A treat for any tea lover is organic, loose leaf, and including accessories like a good steeping mug.

Hormone Health

13. Menstrual Cup - Besides the Diva cup, there are other brands out there that may better suited for your body. Take the quiz at: https://putacupinit.com/quiz/ to find out. Menstrual cups are a great option for environmental-conscious ladies looking to limit their waste. Since they're made of silicon, they're also healthier options since they're low risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome and don't contain artifical scents and bleach that can disrupt our vaginal microbiome.

14. Menstrual Underwear - Check out brands online like Thinx or Knix. They provide same benefits of above - reducing environmental waste and promoting vaginal health.

15. Clean Body Products: I often talk to my patients about considering the products that they're using in the home and on their body. Our endocrine system is sensitive to all the crappy ingredients in common products - known as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, that get absorbed through our skin, scalp, inhaled, and consumed. EWG.org is a great resource for finding non-toxic products. Resist stores like The Body Shop and support your loved one's hormones.

I could probably go on and on, but have to stop somewhere. Happy shopping and don't lose sight of the meaning of Christmas (spending time with friends and family.) For that reason, I think idea #4 is the best. Happy Holidays!