by Anne Finch, Accredited Practising Dietitian for LiveLighter

Christmas bauble

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’s a few ways to lighten your Christmas lunch that will fly under the radar.

1. Appetisers

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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 antipasti platters
  • Bowls of fancy flavoured popcorn are great to nibble on

 2. Drinks

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There’s a surprising number of kilojoules in your favourite Christmas tipple. A standard drink of wine or beer is roughly equivalent to a donut! And when you keep in mind that most drinks we pour are more like 2 standard drinks… you can see how it all adds up. Less booze = 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 juice 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-coloured strawberry and mint sparkling drink.

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

3. Salads

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I’m not talking about a 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. Roast pumpkin, onion and zucchini in your favourite spice mix, add some feta and baby spinach and boom. Terrific with roast beef.
  • Add some fruit. Currants in a rice salad, green apple in a coleslaw, mango 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 till the last minute 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

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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 the 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 last year’s piece on avoiding the Christmas bulge.