Stockings, a Healthy and Humbling Holiday Tradition!

Yesterday morning I celebrated the holidays by opening up my stocking, a great custom that turns out to be one of the few healthy traditions I have practiced over the last few days! Yeah, something I should work on, but the “eggnog” and homemade cookies are hard to pass up!

iStock_000021725524XXXLarge-Stocking-Christmas-Fruit-NutsEach year the toe of my stocking is filled with assorted nuts in their shell and a perfectly ripe navel orange. For me, the tradition of nuts and fruit go back to when my grandparent placed these items in my stocking when I was young. And, each year I would question why I received these healthy snacks instead of more candy, with the annual response that these items brought good luck for the new year.

Well, as I pealed my orange yesterday morning, my curiosity forced me to confirm this answer, or find the truth! What I found was a great history of giving, and a humbling path back to the past that will keep me placing fruit and nuts in the stockings of my loved ones.

Giving fruit and nuts goes back to the 1880’s, as stockings became a popular way to give gifts during the holidays (learn why stockings were originally hung with care). During this time, these items where hard to acquire as times were tough, but the new railway systems made it possible to deliver fresh fruit before it spoiled. Thus, an orange and nuts were considered cherished treats! For all but the wealthy, this Christmas gift was the only fresh fruit and nuts children would enjoy all winter and spring.

So, for those of you looking for healthy traditions during the holiday season, here is a practice that will not only provide good nutrition, but a story that will bring your family to appreciate the gifts received during this season. And, if you still need a little extra reason, I will tell you it brings good luck for the new year!

Looking for more healthy holiday traditions? Try these delicious recipes for Sweet Potato Casserole and Cranberry Apple Crisp! Yum!

Let the Holidays Move You!

iStock_000018006002XLargeThere is a real connection between stress and illness, which is why it’s important to take it easy this holiday season. Don’t get caught up in the stress of finding the perfect gift or creating the ultimate light display. Enjoy the season instead of driving yourself crazy. Use these eight tips to keep you healthy while enjoying the holiday festivities!

  1. Stick to it. Stick to your regular exercise routine as much as possible, especially during the holidays.
  2. Take advantage of layovers. Flying? Don’t sit around waiting to board your flight – walk around the airport.
  3. Let the music move you. Dance or exercise to your favorite holiday music.
  4. Get 15 minutes of sun each day. It peeks out, we promise!
  5. Choose fresh fruit in lieu of fruit cake.
  6. Delegate. Delegate wrapping presents or baking. No one to delegate to? Opt out of the least important tasks.
  7. Just say “Ho Ho No!” to perfectionism. No one expects you to be Martha Stewart.
  8. Carry it over. Make a New Year’s resolution with friends to start a daily walking group.

Give the Gift of Good Health!

Looking for a gift that says “I heart health”? Then look no further. Give the gift of good health by making it easy for your friends and family members to make a healthy choice. The ideas below are great for anyone on your “nice” list that deserves a special gift from the (healthy) heart!

Subscription to Health Magazines

A yearlong subscription to some magazines are often very affordable, so why not extend this gift that keeps on giving to someone you love? Some examples include Cooking Light, Runners World, Natural Health, Fit Pregnancy, and Men’s Health.

Indoor Herb Garden

Adding fresh herbs to a healthy, homemade meal will get the family around the dinner table in no time. A few potted herbs like rosemary, bay leaf tree, and oregano are sure to inspire any cook. These herbs are easy to maintain and are used in many traditional fall and winter meals.

Exercise DVDs

When the weather outside is frightful, that’s no excuse to miss a workout. Evolved from the Richard Simmons era of exercise videos, the DVDs available now include high impact aerobics, boot camp training, yoga, Pilates, and everything in between.

Gym Membership

An annual gym membership can be expensive, but a three-month pass, or even an exercise class pass, can inspire your loved one to get moving in the new year. This will allow them to try out a facility or a few classes to see if they would like to opt for a longer commitment. Sure enough, they will thank you.Fitness dancing

Health and Fitness Apps

Gone are the days where we track our food and workouts on paper. A variety of applications are available to help track of physical activity, count calories, take a meditation break to de-stress, find healthy recipes, manage sleep cycles, and create shopping lists. A few of our favorites are RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, WeightWatchers Mobile, Spark-People, and Epicurious.

Recipe Book

Gather up your favorite healthy recipes, and turn them into a recipe book from the heart. Your friends and family will appreciate the thoughtfulness and personal touch behind this gift.

Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Encourage your loved ones to eat fresh fruits and veggies from your local farms by getting them a membership to a community supported agriculture (CSA). Most CSA programs provide baskets of fresh, seasonal produce that can feed two to four people every week. Prices and selection will vary by farm and season.

Health Coupons

Gifts don’t have to be expensive or even purchased for that matter. Make up a handful of coupons that are good for a back rub, a hike in the foothills, and long walk after dinner, or even family game night. The time spent together with a friend or loved one engaging in a healthy activity will be worth more than any storebought gift.