Giving the gift of good health

Everyone is always looking for an easy way to live better and to stay fit. So instead of picking out another scarf set or candle holder, why not spoil your loved ones with the gift of good health.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of, recently sat down with Shape magazine’s editor-at-large, Bahar Takhtehchian to talk about some of this year’s hottest gifts to keep you fit and healthy.

Healthy eating gifts:

The holidays are often the one time of year when people overindulge. With all the big meals and cocktail parties, managing your food intake can be tricky. But now there are some tools that can help.

Livliga, a line of portion-controlled dinnerware and glassware; give diners a visual guide for measuring correct portion sizes.

For example, in the Livliga dinner plate, four small circles are designed to show you recommended serving sizes for food groups like grains, proteins, fruit/vegetables and side sauces.

“It tells you how to kind of keep your portions in check,” Takhtehchian told “I also love the glassware because if you like to drink wine, it has a line [around the rim] that is the suggested pouring size for a glass.”

Livliga also offers dinnerware made for kids to help teach them how to eat a well-balanced meal.

Livliga: Available at; Prices range from $17.95 to $198.95.

Americans are busier than ever, and between work, family and social obligations, grocery shopping for fresh vegetables may not make the top of your to-do list. So, to keep your family’s eating habits healthy, a subscription based service called Farmbox Direct can deliver 100-percent USDA certified organic seasonal and pesticide-free produce to your home.

“You can get weekly shipments of organic fruits and veggies- and you can even get organic teas and coffees delivered right to your home, so it’s a fantastic healthy gift for people who love to eat good food,” Takhtehchian said.

Farmbox Direct: Available nationwide at; Prices range from $36.95 - $58.95.

Exercise & fitness gifts:

Whether you’re shopping for the ‘fitness guru’ in your life or want to give someone a gift that encourages a more active lifestyle, fitness trackers are a popular choice.

Fitbit Charge, the company's newest product, displays real-time activity stats in a sleek and sporty watch-like band. It counts steps, distance, calories burned and floors climbed. And in addition to showing the time, you can also connect it to your phone to get caller ID right on your wrist.

“This also helps track and monitor your sleep as well,” Takhtehchian said. “And it has a function that wakes you up by vibration. So if you like to get up a little bit earlier and perhaps your spouse has a later time, they’re not going to be disturbed.”

Fitbit Charge: Available on; Price: $129.95

Activity trackers can help get kids moving too.

LeapBand was created to encourage active play and healthy eating habits for kids. It’s the only wearable activity trackers where kids earn points by how active they are.

The tracker comes with eight different virtual pets– a cat, dog, dragon, monkey, panda, penguin, robot and unicorn – that kids can interact with and play preloaded activities and challenges with.

“It has these little pets, virtual pets, to encourage your kids to skip or hop or wiggle like a worm—it’s just a fun way for them to get moving,” Takhtehchian said.

In one of the mini-games called “Pet Chef”, players are asked to fill a virtual plate with healthy snacks so they can learn about nutrition and other facts.

LeapBand: Available at; Price: $39.99

For the family member or friend who can’t stand to miss a day at the gym, the Briefcase Fitness Center is a perfect solution.

It looks like a briefcase, but acts like a portable gym. It unfolds into a raised platform for weight and cardio exercises and comes with 40 polyurethane bands for weight resistance training from 5 to 75 lbs. The briefcase also includes four workout DVD’s to teach all the different exercises that can be done with it.

“I love this for the holidays because it’s an excuse for people to work out as they travel,” Takhtehchian said. “In fact, it’s small enough that if you’re traveling on an airplane you can bring it right on the plane without having to check it.”

Briefcase Fitness Center: Available at; Price: $299.95.  

Healthy living gifts:

Living a healthier lifestyle is more than just counting your steps. Lumo Lift is a new kind of activity tracker that measures your steps taken —but also tracks and corrects your posture.
Having good posture can reduce back pain, increase circulation in the body, and even make you appear thinner.

The small square-size tracker is worn on your clothing and is held in place by a magnetic sensor. While standing in a straight and proper posture (your shoulders back and head lifted), a simple tap on the device will allow it to calibrate a ‘good posture’—then it can follow your posture positions all day long. You can also set a coaching session which programs the device to lightly vibrate when you slouch to remind you to keep a good posture.

Lumo Lift: Available at; Price: $99

Finding gifts for a loved one that enjoys a healthy- and toxic free life doesn’t have to be a struggle. Thanks to the brand, The Honest Company, you can send a monthly bundle of premium natural, non-toxic personal care and home cleaning essentials to anyone on your shopping list.

“Every month you can pick five different items, whether it’s dishwasher liquid, diapers, or detergent for clothing-- and you can give this on a monthly basis or for three, six or 12 months.” Takhtehchian said.

“Jessica Alba is the woman behind this brand and she’s very passionate about eco-friendly living, it’s a fun gift.”

The Honest Co. Gift box: Available at; Price: one month, $41.90

A great unique and practical gift is a guide for those who want to be medically prepared for any situation-- “The Survival Medicine Handbook”.

Written by a doctor and his nurse-wife, this second edition gives step-by-step instructions on how to identify and treat over 100 different medical issues.

“You’re going to find these incredible tips of what to do if some sort of catastrophe happens and there’s no hospital, no medical help around. It tells everything from what to do if you have a blister, if you have a urinary tract infection, it’s very helpful,” Takhtehchian said.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: Available; Price: $30.79