Healthier for the Holidays Series: Giving the Gift of Health – By Leah Whigham Posted on December 18, 2017 by Victoria Bruce This article was first published in the El Paso Inc. on December 18, 2017 This is the time of year we find ourselves wanting to show those around us how much we appreciate them, but are you stuck for ideas for those last few people on your holiday gift list? Is the pile of holiday cookies and candies making it hard for you to stick to your health goals? In this final article of our series called Healthier for the Holidays, we will consider some new holiday traditions that can refresh your gift giving and help you and your loved ones enjoy the gift of a healthier new year. Consider these gift ideas: The gift of healthy eating. For those who show their love through baking, there is no need to throw out this tradition, but consider the amount and mix of goodies you give. Keep the sweets small and mix in some fresh fruit or flowers. Alternatively, instead of giving deserts, prepare a meal that the receiving family can sit down and enjoy during the hectic holiday season. For the gift that keeps on giving, consider giving cooking lessons. El Paso Community College Culinary Arts program has continuing education classes that include many options such as cooking basics, grilling and barbecuing, French cuisine, and others. Just look in their Spring continuing education catalog under Personal Enrichment. For those who already love cooking, give a new kitchen gadget or some unique spice mixes. I have enjoyed giving Fox Point blend and Sandwich Sprinkle mix from www.penzeys.com. The gift of active living. Are you a grandparent who would prefer not to give another toy that ends up at the bottom of the closet? How about giving your grandchild registration for a new sports team or fitness class this year? Whether it is swimming lessons, basketball, volleyball, or soccer, kids gain not only fitness, but self-confidence, leadership, and team building skills from participating in sports and other activities. Just check out www.elpasoymca.org or any number of other sports clubs online. The same goes for the adults in your life – give a yoga pass, a fitness club membership, or some new fitness equipment they can use in the home or office, such as this buoy stool, like the ones we use at the IHL. The gift of time. This is one of the busiest times of year. The gift of time can be one of the most meaningful. Hire, or offer your own, cleaning services to help a friend get ready for the holidays. Provide babysitting for a few hours for that busy parent on your list. Or, give the gift of your time by spending a couple of hours with your loved one. This idea can be especially impactful for children – a one-on-one outing with a parent, grandparent, or special adult lets that child feel valued and is a great way to spend time during the holiday break from school. Image Courtesy of the OAC The gift of relaxation. Managing stress is one of the most overlooked aspects to healthy living, and the holidays are notorious for adding stress to our lives. Gifts of relaxation can include something as simple as a scented candle or bubble bath, some relaxing music, a book or class on meditation or yoga, or a gift certificate to a spa. Our office has started a fun tradition – arranging through a locally owned spa, Unknot Thai Spa, for massages during our end-of-year celebration. They send two therapists with massage chairs to our office. We all enjoy a healthy meal together and take turns receiving a chair massage. Leah Whigham is a nutrition and obesity scientist. She is Executive Director of the Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living and an Associate Professor at UTEP. The Institute for Healthy Living provides leadership through innovative and sustainable approaches to promote healthy eating and active living in the Paso del Norte Region.