December 20th, 2011 | by Pam Stuppy
Printed in Seacoast Online
Still looking for some last-minute ideas for people on your holiday gift list? What better way to tell them how much you care, than to give them a gift of health! This might mean products or services related to healthy eating, fun physical activities, or ideas related to stress reduction and relaxation.
Studies indicate that families who have meals together more often at home are more likely to eat healthier. Consider gifts related to preparing healthy foods. This might be cookbooks or magazines with ideas for healthy foods. It could be kitchen equipment like a blender, air popcorn popper, counter grill, food processor, or others.
Be creative and think of a theme basket you could put together with a collection of items. To get you started, some theme ideas might be smoothies, healthy muffins, pasta-related gifts, fruit or vegetable-related, cultural specific (like Asian, Indian, etc.), soups, a gift assortment for children helping to prepare food — the list can go on and on …;.
Speaking of children, when children help to grow food in a garden, they are more likely to eat it. How about child-sized garden tools and a little garden seat? You can include some colorful books or catalogs featuring fruits and vegetables.
For the person on your list who likes to seek out information on health topics, create a folder of Web site links to credible nutrition e-newsletters, healthy recipes, specific fruit/vegetable/bean/nut/seeds/whole grain organization Web sites, government health information sites, or other sites containing nutrition or cooking information. This costs you nothing but the time it takes to type it up.
Maybe you have a friend or family member who does not know how to cook. Give them a gift certificate for a cooking class or tell them you will schedule time to teach them how to cook. This would be a fun gift for a grandparent to give to a grandchild — time together plus a sharing of favorite family recipes.
House-bound older adults often love having food prepared and brought to their home. A gift certificate for the services of a personal chef can be a welcome gift for families with a new baby or someone with special medical concerns who has difficulty preparing food.
Another gift that costs nothing is to type up a set of your favorite healthy recipes to share. This can be a sentimental and useful gift for children leaving the family nest to live on their own. It is also a great way to pass family favorites on to the next generation.
When it comes to gifts related to physical activity, a trip to your local athletic store or outdoor activities store can provide a huge list of ideas. This can mean bats, balls, nets, rackets, paddles, helmets and other protective gear, boards, skates, scooters, bikes, specialty boots, bike trainers, a pedometer, exercise bands or gadgets, a bike trip calculator, skis, snowshoes, sleds, exercise mats, jump rope, swimming or skiing goggles, hand/ankle weights, backpack, sleeping bag, tent or other camping/hiking equipment, and numerous others.
Larger gifts could be a treadmill, weight lifting machine, elliptical machine, stair stepper, stationary bike, a kayak/rowing shell/canoe, and many other exercise enhancers. It could also be the gift of a family weekend away that includes physical activity — like a skiing, biking, or hiking trip. A gift that continues beyond the holidays is paying for membership to a fitness center, gym, or pool. It could also be paying for a series of exercise or dance classes.
Books and videos about how to do specific activities can be fun as well. These could be on a wide range of topics. Examples might be a DVD on yoga or strength training, or a book on kayaking. It could be a book on walking trails or scenic bike routes.
Technology can also help to make physical activity more fun. Consider some of the interactive games and gadgets. How about walking tapes, books on tape, or educational DVDs to use while exercising.
Then there are the gifts that allow you to look the part when you are exercising. Consider both indoor and outdoor activities. Ideas might include clothes for doing yoga, running shorts or tops, biking clothes, a ski jacket and warm accessories, etc.
Maybe there is a friend or family member who wants to improve their health or weight by adding more exercise, but they are having trouble self-motivating. How about giving them a personalized gift card that says you will join them on weekly walks or go to the gym/pool with them.
Gift ideas related to stress reduction and relaxation could include a gift certificate for classes in yoga or meditation, or for a massage. It could be CDs of relaxing music or a promise to baby sit.
As you can see, holiday gifts related to healthy eating and physical activity are appropriate for all age groups and can run the gamut from no cost to more expensive — something for everyone on your gift list! Plus you are sending the message that you care about them beyond just the idea of giving them a gift.
Pam Stuppy, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, is a registered, licensed dietitian with nutrition counseling offices in York, Maine, and Portsmouth. She is also the nutritionist for Phillips Exeter Academy. Visit www.pamstuppynutrition.com for nutrition information, some healthy cooking tips, and recipe ideas.