If you’ve been striving towards a healthier lifestyle this year, why not consider some healthier options for the Christmas dinner table?
Christmas is a time to relax, celebrate and enjoy quality time spent with good friends and family. As this year comes to a close, Christmas is also a time to reflect on our goals and achievements. Having a healthy relationship with food means allowing yourself to indulge and eat without abandon every once in a while. The holiday season is certainly a common occasion to indulge, but if you’ve been putting in the work all year, you understandably might have reservations about undoing it all in a matter of a month.
Having some healthy food options at Christmas dinner helps those who are trying to stay focused on their health goals have more options that suit them. In fact, those who are trying to eat healthily will feel less stressed and more relaxed at Christmas dinner if healthy options are on the table for them to choose from.
There are plenty of tips to keep in mind when it comes to making healthier choices this holiday season, and fortunately, no shortage of healthy recipes to replace some of the traditional fares that tend to be overloaded with sugar and fat.
Whether you’re hosting Christmas dinner or bringing a dish to a relative’s house this year, consider some of the below healthier alternatives. Below are a few healthy options for appetizers, the Christmas dinner table, and the cocktail bar.
Healthy Holiday Appetizers
Snacking is almost synonymous with the holiday season. At office parties, friends’ parties and family potlucks, there are always appetizers and snacks being passed around. Most of us end up snacking a little here and there, before a dinner or at an event, often not paying much attention to what we’re nibbling on.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little over the holidays, but it’s important to be mindful of how much you’re snacking to avoid picking up bad habits that can follow you into the new year.
At a social event or family dinner, it’s not easy to resist temptation. Some people are beyond pleased when a healthy appetizer is being passed around.
Try making this antipasto Christmas wreath or these radish puff pastries for your next party as a savoury, healthier holiday appetizer option.
Healthier Options at the Christmas Dinner Table
If there’s one meal out of the year that’s worth the splurge, it’s Christmas dinner, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t make plenty of healthy choices at dinner.
Fortunately, the star of the Christmas dinner table is lean, heart-healthy turkey; be sure to stick with the white meat to get the leanest source of protein (while both white and dark meat are good options, white meat has fewer calories and no saturated fat).
However, if you don’t want leftover turkey for weeks on end, this might be the perfect year to try some other healthy protein options, like this roast venison.
Other healthy options to include on the Christmas dinner table include this roasted salmon or a roasted pork loin that comes together with veggies in one dish. The vegan take on a beef Wellington will even impress your meat-eating guests.
Start the meal off with this surprisingly cream-free, healthy pumpkin and sage soup.
For side dishes, you’ll want to stick with light, fresh vegetable dishes like a brussel sprout and chestnut salad or these simple orange and almond infused green beans. To lose half the fat while hanging onto the flavour, sub in half a cauliflower for these roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
Let’s face it, dessert is a separate compartment and nobody wants to end a Christmas feast with a plate of fruit (unless it’s this upgraded poached pear or these grilled apricots). If you can’t enjoy dessert at Christmas, when can you?
Fruit cake, pie and shortbread are the traditional holiday desserts, but they tend to be loaded with butter and excess sugar.
A lighter (but still delicious) option is this savoury gingerbread cake or this light and creamy banana pudding.
For smaller bites, try this chocolate covered almost clusters, a scoop of this apple cranberry crisp or simple dark chocolate dipped bananas.
All the effort put into consciously making healthy food choices can easily be undone by consuming liquid calories in the form of high-sugar Christmas cocktails. These cocktails are often loaded with added sugars. For example, a popular holiday drink we know as rum-and-eggnog is practically a meal in a glass. One cup of this cocktail contains a whopping 450 calories and up to 30 grams of fat, and that number only gets higher if you add in more rum.
While some wines can carry a significant calorie count, most tend to have fewer than traditional cocktails. Rieslings, a type of white wine, contain the fewest calories, around 120 calories per 5 ounces glass. Champagne is another light choice, clocking in at around 124 calories in a standard 5-ounce glass.
But if you want to show off your cocktail making skills, stick to recipes that skimp on the sugar. A few options for healthier holiday cocktails include:
- A festive winter Sea Breeze
- This gin fizz with accented with a sprig of rosemary
- This 100 calorie take on a Moscow Mule
- This lighter version of sangria that skips the simple syrup and is instead flavoured with apple cider.
And to warm up after a winter’s day, try this toasty mulled cider or this ginger hot toddy.
The Bottom Line
While making healthy food and drink choices is a fantastic goal to have, it’s important to keep in mind that the holidays come around once a year. Don’t worry too much if you overdo it a couple of times and indulge. The key here is striking a balance between indulgence and restraint.
If you struggle with overeating during the holidays, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- At dinner time, fill half of your plate with vegetables.
- It’s easy to graze absent-mindedly while mingling with friends at a party, but whenever possible, practice eating mindfully.
- Don’t skip the fibre. Fibre keeps your digestive system running in top form and helps you feel fuller longer. Fibre is seriously lacking in most Christmas-theme treats, so consider supplementing if you find your system is running a bit on the slow side.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Incorporating movement into your daily routine will help improve digestion.
- Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Aim to drink one glass of water after every alcoholic drink, instead of consuming back-to-back cocktails.
It’s always nice to have at least some healthy options at the Christmas dinner table, so when you’re shopping for your dinner, keep this in mind.