Food and nutrition gift ideas

not endorsing any particular brands, just giving ideas

not endorsing any particular brands, just giving ideas

Stressing about gifts?  If someone on your list is on board with a healthy lifestyle, trying to eat better, control weight or exercise more, here are some gift ideas that might help.  Keep in mind, buying health-oriented gifts for the uncommitted might not be a good use of your money.  Be sure your gifts will be appreciated, or will at least sow the seeds of better choices in 2014, rather than being seen as an insult.

Sauce gift basket

If you don’t want to buy a pre-packaged food gift basket, you can put together a healthy food gift basket using items available at your local grocery store.  But if you’re tired of the same old choices, here’s another thought: lower calorie sauces.

Why sauces?  People are busy, and cooking elaborate low calorie recipes after a long day at work can be a chore.  Easy low calorie diet dinners can be boring: the same old grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables over and over.  But adding a dash or two of flavorful prepared sauces can make that boring dinner into something more interesting.  Plus, when a sauce has a strong flavor, you don’t need to use much, which saves even more on calories.  Grocery and speciality food stores offer a wealth of ready-to-use sauces that spice up simple meats, vegetables and even tofu.  Choose from Korean, Teriyaki, Chinese, tamari, mustards, BBQ, wasabi, Thai or Indian curry pastes, hot sauces, chili garlic paste, salsas, balsamic vinegars and other flavorful sauces that aren’t oil-based.

Exercise gadgets

  • All manner of step counting, calorie computing, nudging exercise gadgets are available this year.  Wristbands are increasingly popular: Fitbit’s new Flex, Jawbone, Nike Fuel Band.  But a simple and reliable pedometer can be just as good.
  • Gym or rec center membership.  This is for someone who would be able to make good use of it, because the facility is nearby and the person has time to go there.
  • Exercise clothes.  If working out in darkness or cold winter weather is an issue, clothes can be reflective, or you can add warm gloves or a hat to the mix.

Mail order healthy foods

Again, I’m not endorsing any particular company or product.  There are lots of online companies selling these products, so search for the one that suits your needs best.

  • Ruby red grapefruit or oranges (NOTE: don’t send a giant box of fruit to a single person)
  • Smoked salmon
  • fruit of the month
  • nuts (stick to unsalted plain nuts if possible)


  • Bento boxes: originating in Japan, these are great portion control tools for calorie-conscious people who take meals to work or school.  Plus they’re available in pretty colors and make packing lunches more fun.
  • Calorie counting app: many calorie trackers have free versions, but users get more helpful details from of paid memberships.
  • A calendar with pretty pictures (photos or artwork) of fruits and vegetables.  I’m a big believer in the power of visual images to influence behavior, such as remembering to include those foods in meals.

What about…

  • NutriBullet?  This high power blender is touted as something special, but it’s really just another powerful blender with bullet shape.  Grinding up stems and seeds doesn’t necessarily improve the nutritional profile of vegetables and fruits, although it might increase the indigestible fiber content (for better or worse).  A good blender doesn’t leave big chunks, so if you want to encourage someone to drink their veggies and fruits, you aren’t limited to buying this particular product.
  • Diet books?  Just, no.
  • Sports nutrition book?  If the recipient is active in a sport and would benefit from reliable advice on nutrition for sports performance.  But pick a book written by a sports nutrition professional, not some self-appointed “expert” with an axe to grind about food.
  • Cookbooks: only if the recipient is a cook and has expressed interest in a particular book or type of cookbook.
  • Gift certificate to a weight control program, like Weight Watchers.  Again, only if the person has expressed interest.  Group programs don’t work for everyone.  Men are especially unlikely to appreciate them.
  • Gift certificate for nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian nutritionist?  Maybe.  For simple weight loss, this might be seen as nagging, unless the person has expressed an interest in getting individual help.  For specific medical conditions that have a nutrition component, it might be helpful and appreciated.  Management of diabetes, cancer recovery and hypertension have significant nutrition components.  If you do this, be sure you choose a professional who has experience in that particular speciality.
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