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Holiday Tips and Healthy Gifts

Whether it’s preparing holiday meals, decorating the house, entertaining guests, or even navigating a crowded parking lot at a local store, extra responsibilities at this time of year can be stressful for many people. Reducing stress and living healthy lives is always important, but even more so during the holidays. The good news is that there is help out there!

MedlinePlus Magazine

The Fall 2009 issue of the MedlinePlus Magazine includes an article titled “The Holidays Are Coming! Time to Start Planning for Healthy Holiday Meals”. The article offers helpful tips for maintaining good eating habits and a link to the DASH guide, (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). A simple recipe for a wonderful fresh cranberry relish is provided, plus links to information on food safety and healthy holiday eating for diabetics. To see current or past issues of the MedlinePlus Magazine, click on the link from the MedlinePlus.gov home page. Remember, print subscriptions are free!

MedlinePlus Homepage

NIH News in Health

The National Institutes of Health publishes a monthly newsletter called NIH News in Health. The December 2009 issue included a great article titled “Healthy Gifts for the Holidays: Low-Cost Ideas to Inspire Healthy Living”. The article is reprinted below, and the entire current issue can be found at http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/. It is a good reminder that NIH makes many publications and other items available for free or very low cost, at any time of the year!

Healthy Gifts for the Holidays: Low-Cost Ideas to Inspire Healthy Living

Healthy Gifts

When you think winter holidays, do you envision cookies, pies and high-fat treats? Bulging waistlines and scale-tipping weight gain? Maybe it’s time to rethink what brings joy and happiness to you, your friends and family. Last December, NIH News in Health suggested over a dozen healthy holiday gifts. Here are a few more budget-friendly possibilities to help keep your loved ones active and healthy.

Good food is one of life’s great pleasures, and it doesn’t have to be bad for you. Several kitchen gadgets – like juicers, slow cookers, rice cookers or vegetable steamers – can help you prepare nutritious low-fat foods. You can also encourage loved ones to prepare tasty, healthy dishes by giving them a low-cost cookbook from NIH (see the “Wise Choices” box). Popsicle molds in whimsical shapes can encourage healthful snacking for kids. Fill them with pureed fruit or 100% fruit juice.

Being physically active is one of the best things anyone can do to stay healthy. A pass to a local, state or national park system could be a fun way to encourage walking, biking, hiking, jogging or even kayaking. For the cyclists on your list, consider getting a tune-up with a local bike shop, protective eyewear to protect vision or other bicycle accessories.

Older people might enjoy the book Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging. It helps you get motivated and describes exercises that enhance endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. It also suggests ways to modify activities so people with chronic conditions and disabilities can exercise safely. Request a free copy of this 120-page book by calling 1-800-222-2225, or order online.

On a tight budget? Give a gift of your time. Create coupons that promise to help others with shopping trips or cooking healthy meals. Teens can make coupons for grandparents that offer to help set up their computers, connect to the internet and make bookmarks for web sites that give reliable health information.

Two calendars from NIH can help you keep track of time and keep healthy habits. The colorful 12-month Noisy Planet calendar for 2010 reminds kids to protect their hearing. It’s 5.5 x 8.5 inches, removable and restickable. Order 1 free calendar per household at online, or call 1-800-241-1044; 1-800-241-1055 (TTY).

The 2010 Keep the Beat: Healthy Choices calendar supports a heart-healthy lifestyle (Normally $3, but $2 with promotional code (NIHE1109). Order online, or call 301-592-8573.

Another gift that promotes heart health is the Red Dress pin, designed to raise awareness that heart disease is the number 1 killer of women. Normally $2.50, but just $2 each for up to 24 pins with promotional code (NIHE1109). Order online.

A 12-page booklet from NIH might encourage scientific curiosity in kids. The Rocket Boys of NIH tells the true story of a 9-year-old boy’s plans to build a small rocket ship with his friend in the late 1950s. Published in both English and Spanish, the free booklet can be ordered online.

Wise Choices Wise Choices

Healthy Cookbooks from NIH

NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute offers 3 low-cost cookbooks. Order online, or call 301-592-8573. NIH News in Health readers get a special reduced rate through February 28, 2010. Use the promotional code NIHE1109.

  • Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Dinners. Features 75 recipes influenced by Asian, Latino, Mediterranean and American cuisine. $5 ($3 with promotional code).
  • Delicious Heart Healthy Latino Recipes. Recipes for 26 taste-tested dishes. $4 ($2.80 with promotional code).
  • Heart Healthy Home Cooking African American Style. Recipes for 26 favorite African American dishes. $4 ($2.80 with code).

NIH’s National Diabetes Education Program will send you 1 free copy of Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes and Their Families. This bilingual cookbook, in English and Spanish, has recipes with Latin American flair. Call toll-free at 1-888-693-6337, or order online. You can purchase up to 2 additional copies at $1 each.

Take advantage of the many resources from the NIH that will help you not only survive the holidays, but thrive!

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