The holiday season is quickly approaching, which means many of us have a lot of shopping and preparation to do. This issue of Start Healthy magazine is here to help make this often-busy season a little easier with tips on how to shop for more eco-friendly decorations and gifts, a list of inexpensive home products perfect for gifting to loved ones, a closer look at the health benefits of antioxidants, and advice for managing caregiving responsibilities during the holidays.
Between getting our homes decorated for the holidays and shopping for every person on our lists, we tend to buy and spend more this time of year. The tips in this issue can help you reduce your ecological footprint by shopping more sustainably.
If you’re looking to give your home an update this season or are searching for the perfect gift for a loved one, be sure to read the enclosed list of home products under $100 to help make shopping a little easier.
You’ve probably heard that antioxidants are good for you, but you may not know why. The informative article inside offers a closer look at the health benefits of antioxidants and tips for incorporating them into your diet.
Being a full-time caregiver to a loved one comes with its own challenges. If you find yourself balancing your needs while caring for someone else, be sure to read the guide in this issue to help make the holidays less stressful as you balance your responsibilities.
Here’s to having a happy, healthy holiday season. As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
The holidays are a busy shopping season for many of us. From spending weeks perfecting our homes’ holiday decor to searching for gifts for every person on our lists, there’s often a lot to buy. But through all this shopping, the amount of trash we create grows faster than it does in other seasons. Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Delivery boxes, unwanted gifts, decorations, and gift wrap all add up to twenty-five million more pounds of waste in just a few weeks. So to help reduce your ecological footprint this season, try implementing more eco-friendly options for the holidays.
Repurpose what you already have
Before buying new holiday decorations, look at everything you already have and consider how you can repurpose it. There are many ways to bring new life to your existing decorations, so get creative and see how you can update your things. For example, if you no longer like the color of your ornaments, you could give them a fresh coat of paint to match your current holiday decor style. And if you have a relative who goes all out with decorating for the holidays, consider borrowing from their collection.
Use nature’s decor
Instead of buying imitation garland, wreaths, and trees, opt for the real deal. Found at farms and garden stores, fresh greenery is recyclable and often renewable, making it better for the environment than its faux counterparts. As a bonus, it will also bring a wonderful, authentic holiday scent to your home. Citrus fruits are another great option for your home decor since you can create your own ornaments and add a pop of color to your tree, garland, and even gift wrapping with a natural item.
Shopping for resold products at thrift stores and antique stores is a great way of reducing waste since it saves items from landfills and gives new purpose to existing products. While you can find unique decorations that won’t be available elsewhere, you can often find the perfect gifts for your loved ones when you shop used. According to ecommerce company Mercari’s Secondhand Holiday Report, clothing, toys and games, home decor, electronics, and handbags are the most popular gifts to buy at resale. You never know what you’ll find when you shop secondhand, but the perfect item is waiting for you if you’re willing to look for it.
Gift experiences or consumable goods
Instead of rolling the dice on gifts that could just end up stored in closets somewhere, consider gifting experiences or consumable goods. Experiences can range from zoo memberships to tickets to a local theater performance to massage certificates. Think about what that person enjoys doing, and see if there’s something you could give them that they could do rather than put away.
Consumable gifts are another great option to consider this holiday season. If you’re a baker, make a sweet treat for your loved ones. Or, if you’re not a gifted baker, you could buy them a few treats from a local bakery. Consumable gifts reduce the amount of waste since they’ll be, well, consumed.
When shopping for new gifts, we tend to think about what is unique or perfect for a specific person, but it’s also worth considering what is most eco-friendly. There’s nothing wrong with buying something new when you shop around for more sustainable products. The key is to look for items that are ethically sourced, certified fair trade, or made from recycled materials. You can find earth-friendly gifts for every age and interest available online, including home decor, jewelry, travel essentials, and toys. For the final eco-friendly touch, be sure to properly recycle the delivery boxes that they come in.
Say goodbye to wrapping paper
Wrapping paper may look pretty, but it’s often a single-use item that is immediately added to your trash since it’s not easily reusable or recyclable. Instead of turning to traditional wrapping paper, opt for bags and tissue paper, which can be saved and reused by the gift recipient. You can also wrap your gifts in different materials, including burlap, hand towels, and fabric that you can decorate with paint and a holiday-themed stamp, adding a touch of personalization and festiveness to the gift wrapping.
With some patience and creativity, you can find the perfect gifts and decorations this holiday season while also being more eco-friendly. Just a little effort goes a long way when it comes to taking care of our environment.
This holiday season, sprucing up your home and buying beautiful gifts for loved ones may be on your to-do list. These stylish and practical home items under $100 might offer the perfect solutions for your entertaining and gifting needs.
There’s a good reason the Instant Pot is such a popular home appliance. It performs the functions of several appliances, including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice maker, steamer, and food warmer, without taking up much room on your kitchen counter.
A rolling kitchen cart is perfect for storing extra kitchen gadgets and can even double as a kitchen island. This attractive industrial-style cart has three shelves, can be utilized as an additional food-prep surface, and would be perfect for creating a coffee-bar area or providing a place for your guests to place their food and drinks.
If you are crazy about charcuterie boards, then a meat-and-cheese tray might be for you. This bamboo serving platter set will provide everything you could want for serving holiday appetizers like baked brie, nuts, and cured meats. This set also includes a round bamboo fruit tray, a ceramic sauce bowl, and slide-out drawers to hold the included cheese knives, appetizer forks, wine opener, black-slate labels, and white markers.
Living room decor
A luxurious sofa throw will add a touch of glam to your space and be a cozy addition on cool days or nights. This reversible blanket is available in a variety of colors and has faux fur on one side and a cuddly fabric on the other.
This console table is a beautiful multitasker that can be used in a living room, family room, or entryway. Its top surface is perfect for displaying family photos or seasonal decor, while its bottom shelf has room for baskets to hold shoes and other items.
Nesting end tables
When you don’t have enough room at the holiday table for all your guests, this set of three staggered-height stacking end tables can serve as tray tables. If not being used for entertaining, these dark-wood-and-metal tables can be put at the ends of a sofa to hold beverages, books, or magazines.
A classic round wall mirror can brighten up a room and make a space look larger. For example, this mirror is available in several sizes, has a black or gold frame, and complements farmhouse, transitional, and modern designs.
For the ultimate in bedroom luxury, you could dress your beds in these silky-soft microfiber sheets. They come in multiple colors and sizes, from twin to California king, so they can match any decor and will be suitable for both you and your overnight guests.
A white-noise machine can help you and your holiday guests get a good night’s sleep by blocking distracting noises and providing a backdrop of relaxing sounds. This machine has twenty-four comforting noises, including birdsong, a rumbling thunderstorm, and a babbling brook. Its volume can be adjusted, and it also includes a helpful timer that turns the device off.
Rainfall showerheads are larger and wider than standard shower heads and can provide a full cover of relaxing water spray, perfect for creating a respite from a busy day. Five spray modes and an extra handheld shower make this rainfall showerhead extra luxurious.
If you’d like to give your bathroom a spa-like vibe, consider this adjustable and water-resistant bamboo bathtub tray, which includes a cellphone or tablet holder and a place to set down a scented candle and a beverage to enjoy during a relaxing soak.
Multifunctionality is also a strength of this tempered-glass shelf, which not only boasts a double-towel bar for hanging fluffy towels but also offers a place to put toiletries, a box of tissues, a plant, or other decor.
If you need to free up a coat or guest-room closet for your guests, this heavy-duty steel wheeled garment rack has an extendable rod to create more space to hang your clothes, and it can be pushed out of the way or to another room if needed.
A decorative wood and metal coat tree, which can be placed anywhere, provides a suitable place for your guests’ coats, hats, and umbrellas if your entryway lacks a coat closet or if the one you have is full.
Stackable storage containers
You could simplify organizing your home for the holidays with this set of six zippered fabric storage containers. They are available in three colors, can hold a heavy comforter, and can be stacked on a closet shelf to conserve space.
You may have heard the suggestion to “eat plenty of antioxidants” or certain superfoods being described as “rich in antioxidants.” But is this a good thing? And, if so, what does it mean?
Antioxidants are extremely helpful to your body and can help prevent several types of serious health complications. Take a closer look at just what these substances are and where to find them.
At the microscopic level, the human body is a series of cells constantly at work, performing different functions based on their location, like the skin or eyes. As these cells process oxygen and other necessary chemicals, they occasionally release free radicals, or reactive and potentially dangerous atoms with missing electrons.
When large amounts of free radicals build up and spread through your body, it is known as oxidative stress. This set of chemical reactions in the body can lead to cell mutation, DNA destruction, cell degeneration, and even cell death. These processes are attributed to diseases like cancer, autoimmune disorders, and arthritis. Though normal cell actions release free radicals, factors such as smoking cigarettes, inhaling pollution, and maintaining a high-fat diet can cause cells to release more free radicals than normal.
Antioxidants to the rescue
That’s where antioxidants come in. These microscopic molecules fight free radicals and balance their quantity in the body, reducing your risk of oxidative stress. Think of antioxidants as being “antioxidative stress.”
While your body has its own antioxidant defenses to keep free radicals under control, you need the help of antioxidants from food to boost these defenses. Therefore, it’s essential to get a healthy amount of antioxidants from your diet. Doing so can help you stay healthy for a long time.
Where to get antioxidants
More so than supplements, sourcing antioxidants directly from foods is a healthier way to live.Start by filling your grocery cart with foods high in antioxidant compounds—which, thankfully, are easy to come by. Just about all foods that are considered healthy, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, are reliable sources of antioxidants. However, beans, herbs, spices, and even some beverages like teas also provide antioxidants.
The most antioxidant-rich foods, though, provide maximum benefits per ounce. The USDA compiled a list of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world. Surprisingly, the top foods were beans, including small red, red kidney, and pinto varieties. Blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries also neared the top of the list. Other colorful fruits, like sweet cherries, apples, and plums, made the cut too. If you’re interested in adding more antioxidants to your diet, just remember that blue, red, green, and purple produce are rich in antioxidants.
Vegetables high in antioxidants include artichokes and russet potatoes. (Potatoes usually aren’t regarded for their health benefits; however, when prepared well—baked with herbs and light seasonings, for example—russet potatoes can be a healthy addition to any meal.) Leafy green vegetables, which are excellent sources of many vital nutrients, are also high in antioxidants.
Antioxidants serve many purposes. In fact, because antioxidants preserve cell life, many food companies use these substances to increase the shelf life of their products.
The number one source of antioxidants for many people is coffee. Although coffee isn’t actually rich in antioxidants, it is one of the few sources of them that’s a regular part of the average person’s diet.
Chocolate lovers, rejoice: the world’s favorite indulgent food is a great source of antioxidants. However, to prevent consuming too much sugar or fat, eat a small serving of natural dark chocolate.
Too many antioxidants can be bad for you. In fact, this can lead to even more oxidative stress. However, most Americans don’t get enough antioxidants from their diet, so this usually isn’t a concern.
Three common and well-known antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
Don’t stress too much about adding antioxidants alone to your diet, especially if you’re focused on getting more vitamins, increasing your fiber intake, decreasing your sugar intake, or other dietary measures. Just try to add more colorful produce to every meal you eat. By doing that one simple step, you’ll get more antioxidants alongside a host of other health benefits.
*Be sure to discuss any major dietary changes with your doctor.
With Thanksgiving knocking on your door and ushering in the holiday season, the stress of juggling work, family commitments, holiday shopping, and hosting preparation can take its toll. Although you may be thankful for having the opportunity to create more holiday memories with your friends and family, you may also experience mixed emotions if you are the caregiver of an elderly relative during the busiest time of year.
Since your days are likely to be filled with more commitments than usual, it may take some additional thought to manage your schedule. If you are one of the almost 60 percent of caregivers who work outside the home and are also the primary source of care for an elderly parent or another loved one, now is the perfect time to start planning. It’s important to be as flexible as possible as you manage both your and their needs.
Preplan for their holiday visit
The ways you have celebrated in the past may no longer be viable if there has been a change in your loved one’s physical or mental health. For example, they may be uncomfortable being in the company of a lot of people or have difficulty ambulating up the stairs or to the bathroom. Your concerns and preparations needed for an older relative may differ this year, so consider the following tips to help make your holiday celebration easier and more enjoyable.
If you’re hosting the main holiday meal, determine what time of day is best for your loved one to fully enjoy the festivities.
Ask a family member to help watch them during the holiday celebration while you’re busy hosting.
If your relative needs transportation to and from your home, plan well in advance. Be sure to make provisions for them should they need to leave early if they begin to feel anxious or overtired.
Find ways to keep them occupied as you prepare, such as wrapping presents, making holiday cards for the grandchildren, listening to holiday music, or watching an entertaining movie.
If they are able, ask them if they want to make their favorite holiday dish, which can help to lift their spirits because they will be contributing to the holiday meal.
Consider asking your guests to bring their favorite dishes if you’re feeling the pressure of having to do it all: decorate, cook, serve, and clean.
Determine what’s best for you as the host and caregiver. Maybe skip some of the traditional customs and only pick the ones most important to you and your family.
If you have decided that it’s not feasible to host a big family celebration this year, consider recreating the holiday by scaling back to a smaller group.
Recognize the signs of caregiver stress
If you are the primary caregiver, it’s important to periodically do a self-care check to assess how you’re feeling mentally and physically. If you’re experiencing any of the following caregiver stress symptoms, it may be time to reevaluate your expectations and shift gears.
Short-tempered and easily irritated
Depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, or worried
Questioning your caregiving capabilities
Focused on negative thoughts rather than positive ones
Lack of sleep or exhausted
Not exercising as usual or engaging in poor eating habits
Loss of focus and motivation
Persistent aches, pains, and headaches
Balancing family caregiving responsibilities with the busy holiday season may leave you feeling overwhelmed, but you can minimize this stress and anxiety by being flexible and managing your time wisely. Doing so can help you maintain control in an often-challenging situation and help you and your family to have a happier holiday season.