Tips and tricks to make Christmas dinner healthier

The VITL Nutrition Team / 15 Dec 2017

Christmas should be a time to let loose and indulge. But if you find yourself on your 5th Christmas dinner of the season and feeling more stuffed than the turkey, then you might be wondering how to make it a little bit healthier...


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Ingredients

Meat

If there’s one time of the year to splash on good quality, organic meat, it’s now. Source a locally farmed, organic turkey and if you’re watching your fat intake, avoid the skin.  

Gravy

Use real bone broth in your gravy. Both broth is made from boiling bones for several hours until all the collagen and minerals have been released from them, leaving a rich, nutritious stock. It’s a great way to use up bones from chicken, pork and/or beef, or you can ask your local butcher for some. Make it ahead of time and leave it in the freezer until the big day to save you time.  

Sugar and salt

Watch out for salt! Be mindful of how many times you add salt to different ingredients and think twice about topping off your dinner with table salt when it’s finally served. Shop-made cranberry sauce is usually loaded with sugar so why not try making your own ahead of time instead?

Prep 

Don’t boil your veggies. Boiling vegetables draws all the nutrients out. Steam, roast or fry them instead. Shredded, fried Brussel sprouts and roast carrots are much tastier anyway.

Before dinner

Breakfast

Have a light, healthy breakfast so you’re not starving by lunch and therefore less likely to over-stuff yourself. A couple of scrambled eggs and a slice of smoked salmon will be enough to fill you until lunch and it’s super low on carbohydrates so you can save your carb-loading for lunch.

Canapes

“Watch out for unhealthy canapes. Instead, prepare lots of veggie crudities, smoked salmon with dill, for example, rather than too many crisps and sausage rolls.” - Alli Godbold, Nutritionist

At the table

Portion sizes

Be mindful of portion sizes. If you’re getting out the fancy plates, there’s a good chance they’re bigger than the normal ones, which means you’ll be more likely to dish up a larger portion.

“I would specify that at least half the plate should be made up of non-starchy veggies - limit roast potatoes, parsnips and stuffing to a fist-sized portion. Enjoy some sausages wrapped in bacon, but go easy on these!” - Alli Godbold, Nutritionist

Take a breather

Take your time. It’s not a race! Put your knife and fork down between bites and heat the plates before serving so your food will stay warmer for longer, leaving you more time to enjoy it at a leisurely pace. 

Drinking

“Enjoy a few drinks but remember that the liver is only able to process around one unit of alcohol per hour so alternate wine or champagne with water to reduce alcohol intake.” - Alli Godbold, Nutritionist

Dessert

Go for a healthier pudding. Why not try some wine-poached pears instead? Stuff the halves with cheese and nuts and you’ve got an easy, delicious and relatively healthy festive dessert.

Take a breather

Take your time. It’s not a race! Put your knife and fork down between bites and heat the plates before serving so your food will stay warmer for longer, leaving you more time to enjoy it at a leisurely pace.  

(And if you over-do the merriness, you might want to take a look at these natural hangover cures)


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