Healthy Gift Do’s and Don’ts

Give a gift that encourages healthy eating or physical fitness or less stress? It’s a great idea, but there are some issues. You don’t want to give a gift that is not used, or worse, is taken as an insult. Here are some thoughts on picking the most appropriate health-promoting gift.


  1. A sedentary person with type 2 diabetes might benefit from a gym membership. But that doesn’t mean they want, or will use, a gym membership. Your money might end up wasted, plus the gift recipient ends up feeling guilty for not using it, and perhaps vaguely annoyed about feeling guilty. Don’t give those sorts of presents unless they are requested.
  2. Don’t buy someone exercise equipment that wasn’t asked for. As with #1, you might be wasting your money if your well-meaning gift is never used. With the added annoyance of having a large piece of bulky equipment taking up space in the home. Again, check first.
  3. Exercise clothes and shoes can be multi-purpose. Some people might even wear them to work. So if your intent is to inspire a sedentary person to be more active, think again. The jogging tights and matching hoodie might be worn more often for trips to the grocery store or the car pool than for exercise.
  4. A person who does not cook is not going to make much use of healthy food cookbooks.
  5. Likewise, health-promoting kitchen equipment might be equally unappreciated by a person who just does not cook, or is unconvinced about the need to change eating habits. Juicers, air fryers, water carbonation systems and sous vide cookers may just end up as more countertop clutter.

Healthy Food Do’s

Everyone has to eat, and even if someone is less than enthusiastic about healthy eating, they might appreciate gifts of healthful foods or ingredients. Many of these can be purchased at the local grocery store, making it easy for you to put together a personalized gift basket with a variety of different items.

  1. Olive oils. Particularly boutique single-origin varieties.
  2. Fresh seasonal fruit. But avoid giving too much. A single person isn’t likely to use up a huge box of grapefruit in a timely fashion.
  3. An assortment of nuts or nut butters.
  4. A collection of sauces or spice mixes: Korean, Thai, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, etc.
  5. Coffee beans and black or herbal teas. How about a pretty tea pot?
  6. Smoked salmon or other smoked fish, turkey or ham
  7. Speciality cheese
  8. Boutique cereals, such as granola or Irish oatmeal.
  9. Fermented foods like pickles or kimchi (for the adventurous eater)
  10. Dark chocolate
  11. Dried fruit other than raisins: pineapple, apples, pears, apricots, cherries, mango, figs
  12. Different snack foods like dried kale or seaweed

Exercise Gift Do’s

Simple exercise-oriented gifts are more likely to be welcome by anyone:

  • A step counter. Watches are increasing the more popular option for step counting. Added benefit: watches have lots of other functions.
  • Water bottle. Consider a fanny pack to make carrying water bottles easier.
  • Fun exercise-friendly clothes, even if they’re worn to the grocery store sometimes: pants, shorts, T-shirts or athletic tops, socks, headbands, jackets, gloves and hats.
  • Exercise-friendly ear buds (or headphones)

Cookbooks? A great choice for people who actually cook. Same goes for kitchen equipment. Not so much for the busy non-cook.

Diet books? For the holidays? Just… NO!

Supplements? No, wouldn’t go there. Especially not weight loss, herbal or muscle building supplements.

Finally, as a calendar lover, I’d suggest a colorful healthy-food themed wall calendar. Nothing like visuals to reinforce the healthy eating message. Happy shopping!

Copyright: All content © 2020 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.