By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Uterus1
As the holidays draw near, the halls are decked and the shelves are lined – often with gift ideas that provide instant gratification in exchange for health risks that outlast the season of giving. Throughout the holiday season, health-conscious women and mothers must perform a delicate balancing act between pleasure and pragmatism: chocolate, candy, alcohol, and coffee are popular staples of holiday giving, and the tempting technologies of video games, entertainment systems and other sedentary pastimes are increasingly popular on wish lists of kids and adults alike. So how to celebrate the holidays in a way that promotes healthy living for friends and loved ones without skimping on the fun and excitement of gift exchange?.
|Healthy Gifts: Quick Reference|
Nutcracker and walnuts
Healthy cooking classes
Nutritional counseling sessions
Exercise and Active Lifestyles
Workout clothes and accessories
Gardening materials and accessories
Ballroom dancing classes
Yoga or massage coupons
Family Health and Wellbeing
“Family night” activities: board games, videos and other group activities that will appeal to all ages
Visits to museums, libraries and family-friendly classes and activities
Gifts that promote kids’ interest in physical activity: dance, martial arts, sports activities and themes.
While the idea of health-conscious giving may at first call to mind images of the aunt who always gave the “sensible” wool socks and the rolled eyes and dutiful thank-yous, there are many gift options that are as fun as they are healthy. Here are some tips to help you get started.
When shopping for food, go for options that are at once delicious and healthy. Limited intake of red wine is thought to have benefits for heart health, and dark chocolate was recently found to be helpful in lowering blood pressure and for its antioxidant benefits. Naturally preserved dried fruits have many of the benefits of their fresh counterparts but last longer and are traditional holiday delicacies. A nutcracker and some organic walnuts provides a whimsical (and pesticide-free!) way for recipients to play with their food and get a plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, known for their vascular health benefits. Cooking classes can help the food-enthused take control of their dietary habits in a positive, fun, life-affirming way, while offering the additional mental health benefits of group activities and new friends. And nutritional counseling sessions can be a great help to those hoping to learn more about how to eat well.
Get Moving, Stay Moving
Sleek new workout clothes for a friend or loved one who has expressed excitement about a new exercise regimen shows your support of this healthy decision and can give a much-needed boost of excitement on low-energy days. Similarly, a thoughtfully made workout CD or even an MP3 player stocked with energetic tunes can help to motivate new gym-goers through the busy holiday season and post-season blues. Couples can consider trading “workout coupons,” promises to exercise together and support one another when the going gets tough. For those who don’t lead very active lifestyles, gardening accessories, ballroom dancing classes, and gift certificates for massage or beginning yoga classes can encourage recipients to pay more attention to the needs and condition of their bodies while having fun in the process.
Family Health and Togetherness
Consider giving gifts that support a healthy theme relating to family activities, such as nonviolent board games and videos for a weekly family night and plans to go on outings to museums, libraries or all-ages classes. Enroll the kids in those martial arts, dance, or sports lessons they’ve been clamoring for, or reward participation with colorful books and movies about martial arts, dance or sports heroes that captivate their minds. and remind them how great it is to have healthy bodies. Finally, research has suggested families who know how to support each other emotionally are less prone to various health problems, both mental and physical. So remember that one of the most valuable things you have to give your family is your love, caring, and support. If you keep in mind what really counts as the holidays draw near, the love and joy of the season will last all year round and translate into healthy habits and behaviors that can last a lifetime.
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