Whole Foods + Mandy Gill: Healthy Options Heading into the Holidays


Thank you to everyone who joined us at Whole Foods Vancouver for an interactive session about how simple it is to choose healthy options heading into the holiday season. Missed a few tips? Find them for reference at any point here! 

1. Relax, but don’t let your guard down

  • “What the heck, it’s Christmas!” – it’s a tempting excuse but one that won’t lead you anywhere healthy!

  • There are just too many opportunities to overeat and pile on those pounds that so many people never lose the following year. It’s about the COMPANY not the food at functions!

  • With buffets and nibbles a common occurrence at family and social gatherings, it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much you’ve eaten

  • Be conscious when you’re eating, sit down and eat if possible rather than chatting without regard to how much you’re consuming. Avoid overloading your plate because you’re probably drinking extra sugar and calories from alcohol too, and resist the temptation to load up for seconds or more.

2. Keep active

  • If you have a fitness regime, stick with it.

  • Even just a daily walk will help to prevent your already over-burdened digestive system from becoming sluggish.

  • Not only will walking help you work off the extra calories, but it’s great for mood.

  • We live in beautiful BC! Put snowshoes on, hit the mountains!

3. Make lunch or dinner light

  • If you know you’ll be having a heavy lunch or dinner, switch one of them for light, healthy snacks.

  • Examples (hummus, veggies)

4. Seek out vitamin- & mineral-rich foods

  • Many of the commonly consumed festive treats are nutrient-depleting, so try to include some foods rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron, which are vital for keeping energy levels high.

  • Good sources you could include at Christmas include dried fruit, raw nuts such as brazil nuts and walnuts, Christmas pudding, fish, turkey, eggs and sprouts.

  • Vitamins are essential to enzyme processes in the body; a quick and easy way to get plenty of vitamins is to blend fruit and make smoothies, cook vegetables ‘al dente ‘, and eat a variety of lean meat and fish.

5. Keep breakfast healthy

  • You’ll need plenty of energy in reserve so start your day with a healthy breakfast that won’t spike your blood sugar levels and send you into an energy slump or knock your mood off balance. Use breakfast as an opportunity to eat plenty of fruit and top up with immune-boosting antioxidants.  

  • Smoked salmon and eggs make the perfect breakfast; the healthy fats and protein keep you full longer than sugary cereal and provide essential vitamins and minerals – start your day the right way!

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates such as sugary cereals, toast or croissants and opt instead for slow-release carbohydrates such as porridge

6. Drink responsibly

  • Okay, so there had to be a boring tip in here somewhere!

  • There’s no way to disguise the fact that more than moderate amounts of alcohol can overload the body with toxins, deplete us of important nutrients, suppress the immune system (making us vulnerable to picking up colds or flu), disrupt sleep, and upset digestion… the list goes on.

  • If you’re going to be drinking regularly at Christmas, alternate between alcoholic drinks and water and make sure you keep hydrated.

  • AVOID SUGARY drinks (vodka, soda, lime)

  • DO NOT drink on an empty stomach

7. Sleep more

  • Many of us reach Christmas fatigued because we don’t prioritise sleep

  • Avoid over-committing yourself.  

  • Alcohol, rich food and too much refined carbohydrate can wreak havoc on sleep patterns and leave you sleepless.

  • Control your intake of these festive extras and aim for 8 hours of good sleep.

8. Switch bad foods for good

  • Ditch the sausage rolls and choose hummus and dip, swap the southern-fried coated chicken for chicken drumsticks… look around and there are, almost always, healthier choices to be found.

  • If you can avoid the milk chocolate and opt instead for dark chocolate, you won’t just be reducing your sugar intake but you’ll benefit from important antioxidants – if you choose chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or above.

9. Switch off the TV! (CUE POSITIVE MINDSET!)

  • Christmas is a great time to catch up and have quality time with family. Except…the TV all too often dominates and turns a family ‘holiday’ into an unsatisfying TV marathon with little conversation.

  • Turn it off now and again, get out the playing cards or board games, take a walk in the countryside – do something that involves quality interaction.

10. It’s okay to say “no”!

  • We tend not to enjoy those things we feel obliged to do. Do you really need to say yes to every invite or attend all the Christmas parties ?

  • Slow down, take in your surroundings, observe and listen. Have some “me” time. Rest and relax.

11. Resolutions and goals

  • These do work for some people, but for others they can be yet another source of pressure. Try to see the New Year as an opportunity for re-evaluating where you are in life, and where you’re headed.

Health is Happiness!

Mandy Gill

Mandy Gill