by Anne Finch, Accredited Practising Dietitian for LiveLighter


I’m not here to tell you to eat celery sticks for Christmas lunch.

One blow-out day is not the end of the world if that’s what you want to do! But I do want to push back against the idea that Christmas has to be a time of over-indulgence. And that providing healthy options makes you a Grinch. So here are a few ways to lighten your Christmas lunch that will fly under the radar.

1. Appetisers

Hummus four ways

These are the little bowls of things that I always fill up on by accident. Try these tips to make sure your guests save tummy room for the main event!

  • Make vegie, bean or yoghurt based dips – we’ve got some lovely recipes here
  • Add some colour to your trays. Add vegie sticks, olives and cherry tomatoes to your antipasto platters
  • Bowls of fancy flavoured popcorn are great to nibble on

 2. Drinks

Pineapple sparkler recipe

There’s a surprising number of kilojoules in your favourite Christmas tipple. Just two bottles of cider has about the same number of kilojoules as a cheeseburger! Less alcohol = less kilojoules and a clearer head the next day.

  • Offer lower-alcohol options like light beer, reduced-alcohol wine/sparkling and punch with plenty of sparkling water and ice
  • Put bottles of water in the same esky as the booze – it’ll remind people to take a break and hydrate
  • Make a fancy non-alcoholic drink. We’ve got some beautiful ideas here, including the festive pineapple sparkler

More tips from our dietitian Ali on what to drink when you’re not drinking.

3. Salads

Walnut lentil salad

I’m not talking about sad and soggy lettuce that people put on their plate out of a sense of duty. I’m talking about big, bold, colourful and satisfying salads that will have people coming back for more.

  • Roast vegies are crazy good in salads. Use roast pumpkin, onion and zucchini tossed in your favourite spice mix, add some feta and baby spinach and boom. Terrific with roast beef!
  • Add some fruit. Currants are nice in a rice salad, green apple is great in a coleslaw and mango goes a treat in a salsa
  • Dress(ing) it up. Swap half the mayo for yoghurt in a creamy dressing, and use less oil and more citrus in vinaigrettes. Remember to wait until the last minute to add the dressing to make sure you don’t end up with a soggy mess

Want more tips on how to “hero” your vegies? Click here.

4. Sweets

Coconut mango chia pudding

Dessert is often the thing that pushes us over the edge into food coma territory. Try taking a good break (and even a gentle stroll!) before dessert to let your lunch settle and improve your digestion. There’s also loads of ways to take the sting out of sweets.

  • Feature fruit. Cherries, mangoes, nectarines, melon and peaches are all at their best at Christmas! Make a lovely fruit platter, or feature these fruits in your dessert
  • Instead of double cream, use whipped cream, vanilla yoghurt or even ice cream for a lighter option
  • Portion control. Mini fruit mince pies and small pieces of cake give people the option of having just a little taste
  • Looking for something refreshing, but not so traditional? Check out our lovely popsicles and sorbets

 Can’t get enough of our holiday hints? Check out our Healthier Holiday Hub.


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