Christmas Food Swaps – how to cut the calories during the festive season

Christmas food swaps

Peta Bee, author of the The Food Swap Diet, gives us some welcome advice on how to eat deliciously during Christmas, while still staying healthy . . .


For all its joys, Christmas can be a calorific and fat-laden nightmare, especially if you cannot resist temptation of its plentiful treats. All those nibbles, all those servings of stuffing and Christmas pudding mount up to present a feast that leaves waistbands bursting and spirits deflated. But there are ways that you can survive the festive season without piling on the pounds. Simple food swaps can cut calories where they matter:




Christmas pudding is relatively low in fat and packed with fibre – just make sure you stick to a small-ish slice as it also contains a lot of sugar. Add a dollop of brandy butter, however, and you pile on around 58 calories and 4.4 grams of fat as well as 3.8 grams of sugar per spoonful.



Christmas pudding is sweet in itself and by swapping to the same amount of crème fraiche on top, you can extra cut calories to 30, fat to 3.1 grams and sugars to 0.2 grams. It also supplies a useful source of calcium.





Sausage meat is high in fat so extra servings of stuffing made with it can send the calorific value of your Christmas meal soaring. A traditional stuffing like this contains 120 calories per small serving (50 grams), but also 4.5 grams of fat and 4 grams of sugar. Ready made stuffing tends to have sugars added.



Chestnuts are low in fat and a good source of potassium, which we need for healthy kidneys, so make a much better base for stuffing than sausage meat. With this swap, you cut calories per small 50 gram serving to 100, fat to 0.5g and sugars to 3.9g. There is also a salt saving although at 2.9 grams per serving it is still high.





In their natural state, parsnips are virtually fat-free. Roasted in oil or fat from the bird, a serving of 3-4 parsnips contributes significantly to the fat content of your Christmas dinner. If you want them, serve steamed or mashed with carrots. Calories: 102; Fat: 6.0g;



Sprouts contain the B vitamin folate, vitamin C, which may help to protect against heart disease and cancer and fibre, which helps to keep the digestive system healthy. Avoiding adding butter which bumps the calories up by almost 40 calories per spoonful.





Christmas isn’t Christmas without the Quality Street tin making an appearance. But, as tempting as they are, it is wise to resist. Just three sweets provide 132 calories, a whopping 16.6 grams of sugar and 5.5 grams of fat.



Brazil nuts are not known for being low in calories, but they contain significantly less than chocolates and have a host of health benefits. Make this swap and you cut calories to 85 and sugars to a negligible amount. Fat remains fairly high at around 8 grams but with it comes a rich source of the anti-oxidant selenium that supports the immune system (helping ward off disease and protecting the heart and cardiovascular system).



The Food Swap Diet covers everything from store cupboard and fridge staples, such as breakfast cereals and dairy products, to lunches, ready-meals, drinks, snacks and eating out. You’ll also find plenty of guidance on the healthiest choices – they aren’t always the ones you think! – and how to make your diet really work for you so that you also gain health as you lose weight.


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