I love and appreciate health, don’t you? And, I love seeing people pursue health. It’s a wonderful thing, and it warms my soul. Particularly since “health seekers” are almost always successful, at least when they are empowered with effective tools and strategies. It turns out that improved health is not that hard to achieve for most people, most of the time. The human body is an amazing creation, with a remarkable ability to heal and be healthy even if ill or abused or neglected for a season.
Let’s agree to make this holiday season one of pursuing health, rather than putting our bodies in a position of neglect (stress, irregular sleep hours, too much sugar and alcohol, and “too busy” for fitness are some likely possibilities that come to mind!). Pursuing health during the holidays can be a fun challenge, and during the season of gift-giving, we have some special opportunities. I’ve put together a list of 9 gift ideas that will encourage and empower people towards health. See what you think. By giving health promoting gifts, you can show those around you that you really do care for them, that you want to keep them around and at their “best”, and your gifts for them prove it!
Gift Idea # 1: A Mediterranean Foods Gift Basket
I’m convinced that the traditional Mediterranean diet (with a few minor “tweaks”) is the healthiest diet on the planet. And, the foods are typically colorful, full of flavor, and anything but boring. Think gourmet olives, some extra virgin olive oil (in an impressive bottle of course), flavored or traditional balsamic vinegar, mixed nuts (flavored options), fresh or dried fruits, hard cheeses, smoked salmon, canned sardines in olive oil or mustard sauce. And, for wine drinkers (non-alcoholic varieties are available), a rich red variety such as Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon to capture the powerful antioxidants and anti-aging, heart protective phytonutrients like resveratrol. There are lots of options, all guilt free! Remember, the traditional Mediterranean foods slash heart disease risk, stroke risk, and cancer risk! Your family and friends will know you care!
Gift Idea # 2: Coffee and Tea
This is the perfect time of year for warm beverages and these are two health-promoting options that appeal to almost everyone. Recent research on coffee shows benefits in lowering the risk of diabetes. Tea, especially green tea, seems to lower the risk of multiple types of cancer. Coffee and tea make great gifts that will get consumed and will be appreciated, while promoting health.
Gift Idea # 3: An Insulated Quality Mug or Thermos
We all need to be more mindful of staying well hydrated with healthy beverages. But how often are we in our vehicles or at our desks, feeling thirsty, and nothing is convenient, so we postpone drinking (or end up drinking out of plastic!)? Shame on us. Well, here is a very practical way to encourage and empower loved ones to stay hydrated. And, since our bodies already have residues of plastic and styrofoam, drinking from metal, glass or ceramic is a healthy alternative for daily use. And if we take our own filtered water, tea or coffee from home, we can save hundreds of dollars a year on purchasing beverages, while protecting our planet from more debris. On workdays you will find me with one steel Thermos of ice water and another of my personal coffee recipe (see below). I make it a goal to bring them both home empty. Check out www.thermos.com for their insulated metal options that keep liquids hot or ice cold for hours.
Gift Idea # 4: Cocoa and Dark Chocolate.
Plain Hershey’s Cocoa powder is a staple in our home. My morning cup of coffee has two spoonfuls of cocoa powder, along with some vanilla soy milk. It is a simple, health-promoting, warm beverage and simple to prepare. Cocoa is full of antioxidants. The problem with cocoa and chocolate is that it is too often prepared with loads of sugar and fat to enhance flavor and make it addictive. That is not necessary. Dark chocolate may require some adaptation to the taste, but 70-85% varieties can be very healthy in small portions and make a nice, inexpensive gift. Cocoa powder is readily available and can be added to many recipes for added flavor and health benefits.
Gift Idea # 5: Health Inspiring Apparel and Accessories.
These can be personalized for the individual’s interests, age, and abilities. Kathy, my wife, loves taking her cell phone while jogging. A phone can be life saving if we sustain an injury while out “pushing our personal limits”. She has a stretchy Spibelt brand cell phone belt that keeps the phone safe and available and not distracting while jogging. I went shopping this week for a replacement for my favorite (but “full of holes”) 12 year old sweatshirt. After searching for something comfortable and just the right weight, I found a North Face jacket that now helps me look forward to my run. I like to buy higher quality items, and then replace only when worn out. Having quality fitness apparel helps me stay active. Staying dry, warm (or cool), comfortable, and safe are priorities that will help keep your loved ones consistent with their fitness plan.
Gift Idea # 6: Health Inspiring Books.
I’m a certified bibliophile (“book lover”). Every time I enter a bookstore, I am drawn to the health sections. There are lots of book categories that can inspire health. Health involves not only physical health (nutrition and fitness), but relational health, emotional health, sexual health, and, very importantly, spiritual health. Nurturing health in these vital aspects of life is necessary to prevent limitations and pain from creeping into one or more areas. Staying well-nourished, fit, trim, happy, energetic, guilt-free, peaceful, joyful, rested, loving, and self-disciplined are health goals we should all embrace with passion. Having the insights and wisdom of others through their books to guide us can inspire and empower towards health. The right book might inspire and empower your loved one to the next level of fulfillment and health.
Gift Idea # 7: Love On Their Feet.
Our feet are literally our foundation for living and moving. They are precious, and how often do your feet let you know that they’ve been abused or overused and under appreciated? After suffering from a bout of plantar fasciitis a few years ago, my podiatrist recommended wearing Crocs as house shoes (you know, those not so attractive $20 sandal-like shoes that make you feel like you are walking on air). I now am a Croc addict. Walking in them is like a foot massage. They are not recommended for walking outside due to instability issues. However, in a level home, they are comfortable and therapeutic and the price is right. A great pair of running shoes is another option. Maybe it’s a gift certificate so they can get just the right size and design. I love my Montrail running shoes made with Gortex to make them waterproof. I dislike getting my feet wet when running in wet grass, mud, snow, or bad weather. I get a new pair every 350 miles or so of running, so twice a year for me. A great pair of shoes may be just the inspiration to get someone moving up to their next level of fitness.
Gift Idea # 8: Empower with Vitamins and Nutrients.
Research has confirmed that it is not possible to consume the recommended essential nutrients from American foods. Typical side effects of nutrient deficiencies are fatigue, mild depression, and food cravings, all very common. Metabolism Essentials Multi has the “optimum” amounts of essential vitamins and minerals (at 6 tablets per day) and is a great stocking stuffer or simple gift. Another idea is our new Metabolism Energy. Each capsule costs less than 10% of a typical “energy drink”, is scientifically formulated, and has a synergistic blend of natural components that have been shown to increase alertness, mood, physical energy, and fat and calorie burning. Also, the green tea component has impressive cancer fighting research behind it. A bottle of each of the above will likely perk up those who did not take the greatest care of their bodies in 2012, and will help them get off to a healthy, more energetic start in 2013. Nutrition is a great way to show you care. Click here to see how to order an attractive gift pack, delivery included.
Gift Idea # 9: The Gift of Time and TLC.
How about a gift certificate for a “coffee date” or a back rub or a foot massage? A home made card, perhaps with a memorable photo of you and the loved one, will often stir warm emotions and fond memories and inspire relational experiences going forward. Sometimes the simple things in life are the most cherished and remembered. You and your time are precious. Sharing yourself with your loved ones is perhaps the greatest gift of all.
Finally, don’t forget yourself this holiday season. You are indeed precious and valuable. Buy yourself at least one or two of the above gifts or something else that will promote your health and well-being. You will have more to give others during 2013 as you are healthier and energized and inspired during the coming year. You are always a good investment!
May you and your loved ones be richly blessed with Optimum Health this Christmas season!
Rick Tague, MD, MPH & TM