Festive gifts for your loved ones

Gifts such as a pair of dumb-bells allow your loved ones to work out at home and shed some pounds.
Gifts such as a pair of dumb-bells allow your loved ones to work out at home and shed some pounds.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
A glass baby bottle (left) for new parents and a multi-tier steamer (right) to cook healthier food.
A glass baby bottle (left) for new parents and a multi-tier steamer (right) to cook healthier food.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
Elastic bands come in a range of resistance levels, and some come with handles and loops. They make for a good workout at home.
Elastic bands come in a range of resistance levels, and some come with handles and loops. They make for a good workout at home.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Give the gift of health and the gift of your time

What do you give the health nuts in your life for Christmas?

Here are some ideas for gifts that will help your loved ones shed some pounds or at least set them on the right track to fulfilling their New Year resolution of living a much healthier life.

FOR FOODIES

If you have a Christmas party coming up, why not take along organic treats such as candy canes and chocolates (from $5) or organic sparkling wine ($10 to $12)?

These are better than the conventional varieties because they do not contain artificial colouring and preservatives, and are not loaded with added sugar, said nutritionist Christine Rubi-Cruz.

"Sparkling juices are a non- alcoholic alternative to wine and are great to share, even with kids," said Ms Rubi-Cruz, who is a wellness and lifestyle manager at Cold Storage Singapore.

BOND OVER A MEAL

It can be a simple gesture like taking your loved one out for a meal - and it doesn't have to be fancy - where you can talk and connect.

MS LEOW LILYN, principal clinical psychologist at IMH, on giving a gift of your time.

For colleagues who claim to be too busy to eat healthy, get them a healthy meal delivery subscription (between $8 and $15 a meal), said Ms Mah Wai Yee, a principal dietitian at Farrer Park Hospital Nutrition Services.

"A subscription like this would be the perfect solution to help them get healthy meals daily," she said.

Alternatively, you could get them some plant-based munchies such as roasted chickpeas, popped edamame, kale chips or quinoa chips ($5 to $8).

Ms Rubi-Cruz said: "These are healthier than potato chips and not the usual nibbles like popcorn or roasted peanuts."

She said they are great appetisers for a potluck, or as a standby for when you get hungry at work.

Otherwise, there are fair-trade organic teas ($4 to $15), which come in different blends. You can get artisan blends, loose leaf tea or tea packaged in woven tea bags.

Organic teas are free of pesticides, while the fair-trade label indicates that tea is grown in a sustainable way and farmers are not exploited.

Ms Rubi-Cruz said: "Teas are naturally healthy as they have antioxidants and certain variants may have functional benefits, for example, chamomile tea for relaxation."

FOR HOME OWNERS

For aspiring chefs, buy a steamer ($50 to $150) or an air fryer ($100 to $300), which help you cook food more healthily.

Many steamers come with several tiers so you can cook different dishes at the same time, while air fryers help to cut down on the amount of fat you consume.

"A steamer is easy to use and prepares healthy meals without oil or with less oil, thus reducing your overall calorie and fat intake," said Ms Seow Vi Vien, a dietitian at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

"Cutting down on fat intake can help prevent weight gain and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

For someone who works from home, an ergonomic chair ($200 upwards) might be an ideal gift. A saddle chair, for example, helps to align your spine in the most natural position, said Ms Nina Kao, director of Jace Physio Pilates Centre at Farrer Park Medical Centre.

"Saddle chairs keep our centre of gravity slightly forward in the centre of the pelvis, which is correct," she said.

"With the pelvis well-supported by the chair, the whole spine will be properly aligned."

FOR FITNESS BUFFS

The simplest thing you can get someone who wants to get started on fitness is an exercise mat ($10 to $30) or a simple skipping rope ($15 to $20), said Mr Chung Tze Khit, managing director of Gold's Gym.

You can use an exercise mat to cushion your back when you do sit-ups or when you are doing exercises such as planks.

Skipping, on the other hand, is a great cardiovascular workout.

For someone who wants to do a full-body workout at home, he said, get him a suspension trainer ($100 to $200). This comprises thick elastic bands with handles, which can be used for various exercises.

"You can hang them over the door and do different movements for a full-body workout," Mr Chung said.

FOR NEW PARENTS

Glass or stainless steel baby bottles ($25 to $35) are now popular because, unlike plastic ones, they do not contain bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical which has been linked to cancer.

However, parents should not fill such steel bottles with acidic juices as this may dissolve the material to a certain degree, said Dr Ang Poon Liat, a consultant paediatrician at Thomson Medical Centre.

"Avoid aluminium bottles altogether because they are more vulnerable to acid corrosion," he added.

Baby clothes or blankets made of organic cotton ($15 to $40) are also not a bad idea as a gift as they are unlikely to contain chemical contaminants that are harmful.

"The weaving of baby blankets should be loose and porous to avoid suffocating the baby if his face is accidentally covered," Dr Ang said.

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE EVERYTHING

For people who seem to need nothing more, give them the gift of your time.

Principal clinical psychologist Leow Lilyn suggested making your own "gift certificate" that entitles the receiver to two hours of bonding time with you.

"It can be a simple gesture like taking your loved one out for a meal - and it doesn't have to be fancy - where you can talk and connect," said Ms Leow, who is with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

Spending time in nature is also a good idea, said Ms Jackki Yim, a senior clinical psychologist at IMH.

"Venturing into the natural world and embracing new experiences is a tonic for stress and can do wonders for a person's immune system and cognitive functioning," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2016, with the headline 'Festive gifts for your loved ones'. Print Edition | Subscribe