December is almost here. Black Friday has come and gone and holiday shopping is in full effect. In my family, there are some very specific traditions we celebrate each year. On my mom’s side, Grandma bakes each of our families a collection of her best Christmas cookies. And on my dad’s side, we have given and received See’s Candies for years. On Christmas morning as kids we always got to pick at our big bags of candies that were at the bottom of our stockings.  Giving the gift of sweets and treats has been around for centuries but I believe it is time to make it a thing of the past.  Unfortunately, people have gone overboard with the enjoyment of sugary sweets and diabetes is quickly becoming an epidemic in our nation.

A recent study claims that diabetes costs the US more than our wars and it is the seventh leading cause of death in our country.  I don’t mean to rain on your cookie parade, but clearly the intake of sugar in our country is a serious problem. I know that as much as I love cookies and candies on Christmas, I certainly don’t want that stuff haunting me in my cupboard after the holiday is over! (Sorry Grandma, they are delicious though!) I will save the details of why sugar is poison for your body for another post but for some quick facts, click here.

Ok, you get it.  So rather than passing out cookies to family members as a holiday favor, why not give something a little more heart-healthy like a beautiful box of tea? Or how about something else homemade like jam? (Try sweetening with honey or agave instead of sugar). For Thanksgiving I gave out homemade pumpkin butter, which can be used on just about anything and has a high level of Vitamin A, C and iron, just to name a few. It was a big hit! (Click here for more nutrition of pumpkin).

Now that we have come up with some gift ideas that would be healthier for our bodies, how about giving gifts that will be healthier for our ill planet? This year I am trying to cut back on giving material items and instead giving gifts of experiences. Who doesn’t love a great massage, a night out at the movies or taking a cooking class? How about a photo session with your family or friends, a mani pedi or weekend away? There are so many gifts that won’t add to the material things on our planet but are sure to enrich our lives.

If you do insist on giving a physical gift, these days there are so many websites that are making beautiful, environmentally friendlier gifts. Here are some great sites that provide ideas on everything from wrapping your gifts in fabric or recycled paper to how to make your celebration greener. I have also included two fabulous sites – one with eco-friendly fashion and the other with natural cosmetics. For more gift ideas:

Whatever your traditions this holiday season, make them a little healthier  for you and the planet in some way, and may it be a delightful month of stress-free celebrations!