12 Ideas for Healthy Holiday Gifts
Thinking of giving cookies, fudge or a box of
chocolates as a holiday gift? That's so 2005.
This year, think about giving something healthy
to your loved ones, co-workers, neighbors and friends. Dr. Caroline
R. Richardson, a family medicine specialist at the University
of Michigan Medical School, offers these ideas:
For healthier eating:
• Olive oil and vinegar.
Richardson is a big fan of giving high-quality balsamic vinegar
and olive oil as a gift. If someone is trying to lose weight
by eating salads, some aged balsamic vinegar and a dash or two
of good olive oil can make the difference between a boring salad
and a nice treat.
• Sessions with a nutritionist.
Lots of people have tried to go low-fat or low-carb, or have
ridden the wave of the latest fad diet, but what works for individual
people can vary dramatically.
A nutritionist can help tailor a weight-loss
and healthy-eating plan to a person's individual likes and dislikes,
and can come up with something the person is more likely
to stick to, Richardson says.
• A healthy cooking class.
Stores, such as Whole Foods, and community organizations offer
classes on how to cook healthy foods.
• A healthy-eating book.
One option is Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical
School Guide to Healthy Eating by Walter C. Willett and
P. J. Skerrett. And given the popularity of the book You:
On a Diet, it seems some people are already following this
• A crock pot, rice cooker
or steamer. These will help the gift recipient prepare
food in a healthier way. Throw in a few recipes for a tasty
soup or a meal that includes steamed vegetables.
For getting and staying active:
• Clothes for winter outdoor
sports. Get someone silk long underwear or furry, soft
gloves or a good hat, and they will be more inclined to get
outside and exercise. This not only helps with physical health,
but also can improve people's mental well-being and reduce cabin
• A massage gift certificate.
Relaxation and stress relief are important for overall good
health, Richardson notes.
• A fun exercise class.
Will the gift recipients get bored easily and have trouble sticking
to some types of fitness routines? Try signing them up for a
dance class or yoga, Tae Kwon Do, water aerobics, indoor rock-climbing
• A pass to the local park system.
Then, the gift recipients can go bicycling through the trails
in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. Other
areas of the country also have excellent park systems that can
encourage people to exercise in the great outdoors.
• A session with a personal
trainer. Do you know someone who can't stay motivated
to exercise? A personal trainer is a great way to get people
on track with workouts that help them build muscle tone and
endurance, Richardson says.
• A tune-up for a bicycle.
That bicycle with the broken chain isn't doing anybody any good
rusting away in the garage. Pay for the tune-up of a friend's
bike, and throw in an offer to go on some rides together.
• A pedometer.
Richardson is a huge fan of pedometers and often gives them
to people as presents. Make sure it's a good one because some
pedometers don't count steps accurately, she says.
Richardson says during this time of year, people
fear weight gain the most, but they're tempted with plates of
fudge and cookies at their offices.
"Food is everywhere, and most of it is not
good for you," she says. "Everyone thinks it is their
own personal struggle to stay healthy, and that it is their own
failure that they can't keep their weight under control or stay
"But this is something almost everyone struggles
with. Helping out by getting people gifts that will help them
eat healthier or become more active is a wonderful thing to do
during the holidays."