For some time-saving, stress-reducing Christmas gifts, or to jump-start your own New Year's resolutions, head for the nutrition section of your favorite bookstore.
Several registered dietitians, experts at translating nutrition science into daily food choices, have published exciting new books to help you eat well and stay healthy, no matter how busy you are.
These are not boring old "four food groups" recitals, but innovative approaches to making better food choices, whatever your lifestyle.
* "Eating on the Run" by Evelyn Tribole is slam-dunk nutrition for people really in a hurry. The text is streamlined and information-dense. It could almost be subtitled "The book of food lists."
For folks who want to eat quickly without cooking, there is an entire section of one-minute meals, a week's worth of non-cook menus with a grocery list, plus lists of leanest meats, high-fiber foods, high carbohydrate foods and high-in-hidden-fat foods.
Ms. Tribole offers specific advice to executives, athletes and kids on the run "from airline meals to microwave zapping." For instant solutions to daily food problems, this is the book to choose.
* If you like a little more "why" with your nutrition information, try "The Real Life Nutrition Book: Making the Right Food Choices Without Changing Your Life-Style" by Susan Finn and Linda Stern Kass.
Case studies of busy people and their real-life nutrition solutions set the stage for information on recent food myths, diet mania, cholesterol-lowering, nutrition and stress-reduction.
Ms. Finn, president of the American Dietetic Association, takes a wonderfully relaxed attitude toward helping people improve their food choices without feeling they must be perfect in every way.
* "Quick and Healthy Recipes and Ideas" by Brenda Ponichtera is a wonderful cookbook for folks who are willing to cook a little.
Along with 200 pages of easy recipes, many with both microwave and conventional directions, you get calories per serving and diabetic exchanges. This book also provides concise nutrition information, ideas to reduce kitchen time, a list of products worth trying, quick-meal ideas and 50 simple dinner menus.
* "Eating Expectantly" by Bridget Swinney begins with a "before baby diet" and ends with "losing that baby fat," comprehensively covering all the stages of pregnancy in between.
Problems peculiar to each trimester, proper weight gain, vegetarian diets, gestational diabetes, food safety, environmental hazards and breast-feeding considerations are addressed.
You've just got to love a book that includes "Don't Feel Like Cooking or Eating" and "Feel Like Staying in Bed, But Can't" among its 200 menus and 80 recipes.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.