January 23, 2019
5 Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

5 Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

by Ben Cosgrove  

Every fall and winter when the holidays roll around, most of us indulge in far more food and drink than we normally do, while operating on too little sleep and dealing with the myriad traditional stressors of the season (travel, family gatherings, end-of-year budget woes). This year, in light of those annual realities, why not consider giving your loved ones—or yourself—presents that are actually healthy? Here are five suggestions for gifts that may pay off through improved health, whether physical, mental, or both.

1. Yoga Classes

It's hardly a mystery why people have been engaging in yoga for the past 2,000 years: It works. Reducing stress, building strength, improving balance, increasing flexibility—the benefits of this mind-body practice are as varied as they are dramatic. Buy a friend or family member a gift certificate for classes at a local studio, or spring for a private session with an experienced instructor.

2. Massage

It’s hard to scientifically prove all of the benefits claimed for this ancient practice, from reducing arthritis pain to easing migraines. But there’s no question that massage feels good and can help you relax. And there’s some research showing that it can help with the very common problem of low-back pain. Many licensed massage therapists, as well as physical therapists and osteopaths, offer multiple-session gift certificates. (Hint: Purchase a session for yourself, too. In the midst of the holidays, you'll be glad you did.)

3. The Gift of Eating Local

A diet rich in plant foods can benefit your health. And fruits and vegetables that are in season and grown locally are most flavorful. Help your friend or family member take advantage of the changing abundance of produce from season to season with a membership to a food co-op or a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Or see if the local farmers’ market in their area will let you purchase a gift certificate or credits.

4. A Better Night’s Sleep

Shakespeare had it right when he wrote that sleep "knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care," that it is "great nature's second course" and the "chief nourisher in life's feast." Research increasingly shows that how much and how well we sleep has a huge bearing on our overall health. Most of us know someone who doesn't get enough sleep—or, worse, who seems to regard the bags under his or her eyes as marks of productivity. A light-blocking eye mask (some companies even make hot-cold versions of these) or noise-neutralizing sound machine may help your tired friend get more or better ZZZs—and with a lot less risk than sleeping pills.

5. An Anatomically Correct Barbie Doll

At a time when children are bombarded with unhealthy media portrayals of what women are "supposed" to look like, and when many kids—including girls as young as 9, 10 and 11 years old—are already struggling with body-image issues, a doll with an "average woman's body" might just be what the child on your gift list needs. Meet Lammily, aka the “Normal Barbie,” a doll created by a graphic designer-turned-toymaker who designed it with an average 19-year-old woman's body, based on Centers for Disease Control data. Lammily has brown hair, decidedly healthy curves, and even comes with stickers that simulate cellulite, acne and freckles.