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Friday, December 2, 2011

Healthy Holiday Gifts That Won’t Land You in the Doghouse

By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD

‘Tis the season to be giving! And when you’re trying to find the perfect gift for loved ones, hopefully their health is on your mind. But there’s a very thin line between giving a healthy, motivating gift and being completely offensive. I would be thrilled if my husband (he’s imaginary) gave me the snowboard I have been asking for forever, but he would be in the doghouse if he gave me a gym membership instead.

It doesn’t matter how well intentioned or fancy the gym is, if your significant other or child/parent/friend didn’t ask for it, DON’T! The same goes with giving unexpected nutrition consultations. Of course I would love to see your husband or wife, but no one is going to enjoy annual Christmas pancakes after “lose some weight, hone” was implied.

Some other potentially offensive-when-unrequested health gifts: diet books, expensive meal plans, and even personal trainers. Now that we’ve gotten what not to give out of the way, here are a few great, subtly healthy gifts for anyone on your list.

For the one who’s “too busy to eat healthy” or has a chronically empty fridge: Almost any local store offers grocery delivery services. This is the foodie’s personal shopper. Set it up and have a store specialist work with them to choose a list of healthy staples. First few deliveries are on you.

For the video game junkie: Get your couch potatoes moving with “exergames.” Now every major console (Wii fit, Xbox 360’s Kinect, Playstation Move) offers fun and super active options – so get your fam in shape without blatant exercise by having a dance off or a tennis tournament. If possible, make it a weekly event.

For the soda addict: Help them curb that soda habit by giving them a DIY soda/seltzer machine. There are several on the market, along with natural, less-sugary soda flavors. Buy a few and have a flavor-experiment day.

žFor the cook: Take them to a cooking class. It doesn’t necessarily have to say it’s “healthy;” try a generally good-for-you cuisine like Mediterranean or Japanese.

žFor the one who needs motivation, or the one you just want to spend time with: Give the gift of an activity together. Go on a walking tour of the city, a bike tour through vineyards, a ski trip or a trapeze class. I’m a real nerd, but memories actually are the best presents (shoes are a close second, of course).

žFor the person who stresses, or the holiday party host: Help them unwind with something new, like acupuncture, reflexology, reiki or massage sessions.

Better yet, have your family include three or four healthy gifts on their wish lists. That way Santa doesn’t have to do all the guesswork and you can avoid the awkward stare-downs at your family holiday dinner. Most importantly, no expensive “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to call you fat, sweetie” make up gifts required. Although, guys, diamonds are great problem solvers…

Have you ever given or received a well-intentioned but offensive gift? What healthy gifts are you giving or hoping to get this year? Any other subtly healthy gift ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our Diet Community.


Posted by: Carolyn Brown, MS, RD at 8:58 am


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