Happy, Healthy Holidays

By Simone Slykhous

October 24, 2016 6 min read

The chestnuts are roasting, the sugarplums are dancing and the cookies are baking in anticipation of Santa Claus' arrival. The Christmas season evokes images of decadent, delicious meals and cozy, comfy sweaters. Rarely are the holidays considered an especially healthy time of year. There's a reason Santa's belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly. Yet only a few days after Christmas, many people try to shift their focus to health improvement. According to Time, the No. 1 broken New Year's resolution is to lose weight and get fit. This year, consider helping your loved ones start that healthy journey early with gifts that will prime them for success.

At first glance, giving healthy presents might seem like an expensive endeavor; health and fitness tend to be thought of as luxuries. However, there are tons of inexpensive gifts that will let your friends and family know you care for them and their health.

*Food

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." -- Virginia Woolfe

Helping replenish your loved ones' cabinets with fresh, healthy food and drink will benefit all aspects of their lives. For those looking to lose weight or reduce sodium in their diets, mealtime can be a bland affair. Help your loved ones add flavor to their lives with fresh herbs. Your local grocery or nursery should carry basic herbs, such as basil, rosemary, thyme or mint. Easy to care for and easy to cook with, herbs contain important vitamins and nutrients. Whether they remain indoors or are planted outside, herbs will be nearby for a quick addition to every meal.

Superfoods, such as acai, goji berries, chia seeds and hemp seeds, are routinely touted for their health benefits. However, they can be pricey to buy on a routine basis, which discourages some from buying them at all. This makes them a great gift. Buy a bag or two won't cost more than $20.

Homemade granola makes a thoughtful and healthful gift. If you're a fan of baking, consider making multiple batches with different recipes -- vanilla, various nut and fruit combinations, pumpkin, peanut butter, etc. -- to satisfy different taste buds. Granola makes a great addition to many healthful meals, from yogurt to smoothies to ice cream. If you'd like to skip using the oven, craft your own trail mix, a great power snack for those on the go. Play around with ingredients and find which combinations will tempt which person on your Christmas list. If your nieces and nephews enjoy it, perhaps include some chocolate chips or dried cranberries. For hiking or camping enthusiasts, include fibrous walnuts, dried coconut and candied ginger to help sustain their energy. The great thing about these foods is your ability to control ingredients to accommodate dietary restrictions. With your custom-made gift, Aunt Lisa can enjoy a delicious snack without worrying about her tree nut allergy, and your friend can snack freely without fear of gluten intolerance. Plus, you may inspire them with clever new recipes.

Any pasta lovers on your list? Consider purchasing them a spiralizer, which creates spiral noodles out of some of your favorite vegetables. Some spiralizers cost less than $20. These cheap and useful tools turn squash, beets, zucchini, sweet potatoes and other veggies into spiral noodles. Substituting these veggie noodles for your typical carb-heavy pastas could save hundreds of calories at one meal.

*Workout Tools

"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity." -- John F. Kennedy

These days, gym memberships cost enough to break the bank. Building an adequate workout space at home is much easier than you might think. Smaller weights -- 3 to 10 pounds -- can be found at any sporting goods store or big retail store and will cost less than $15 each. Foam rollers are important tools for any serious -- and not-so-serious -- athlete. They're an affordable means of self-myofascial release, a form of rehabilitation that's like giving yourself a deep tissue massage, which eases muscle tension. Regardless of whether you're beginning an exercise regiment or have been following one for years, foam rollers are incredibly beneficial.

To have your loved ones looking and feeling their best while working out, consider giving them a gift that helps others, too. Bombas ankle socks are less than $10, and for every pair sold another pair is donated to people in need. Smaller clothing outlets such as Alterative Apparel and ChewyLou carry simple and cute tees and tanks that are made using environmentally friendly manufacturing methods. These companies also donate large portions of their profits to charities.

According to John Ruhlin, author of "Giftology" and professional gift-giver, it is easier than you think to turn a gift into an artifact that has real lifetime value. Giving the gift of health and fitness will leave your loved ones living well.

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