Top 10 healthy Christmas dinner food swaps

We all look forward to the delicious food at Christmas, but not so much the sluggish, bloated state we are in after we’ve consumed a little too much! Here are 10 healthy swaps to keep you in top form this Christmas…

 Top 10 healthy Christmas dinner food swaps

1. Roasted potatoes in goose fat to roasted parsnips with paprika

Potatoes are classed as root vegetables, but they don’t count towards your five-a-day as they mainly contribute starch to the diet.

Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist from Superfood UK (, explains: “With this part of your Christmas meal you are taking in a whole heap of calories with not many nutritional benefits. Swap your potatoes to parsnips as they are also a starchy vegetable. However, they still count towards your five-a-day because they are a source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folate and potassium. Adding paprika gives an extra nutritional boost, as well as making them delicious. Paprika is high in Beta Carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A.”

2. Christmas pudding to clementine sorbet

Christmas pudding is a staple dessert on Christmas day, but why not make a tasty swap to something that can freshen your palette?

Shona says: “These puddings are full of sugar as they are made with dried fruit. The fruit almost always has sugar added to it and often the pudding mixture also calls for sugar to be added. Swapping it for clementine sorbet reduces the sugar intake and the calories, and can make a refreshing swap.”

Orange sorbet served on a plate with slices of orange

3. Pigs in blankets to Parma ham and asparagus

Although they’re a Christmas favourite, we all know in our hearts that pigs in blankets aren’t that healthy.

Shona says: “Pigs in blankets are sausages wrapped in bacon. They are then generally fried, making their fat content quite high. Why not swap this unhealthy dish for Parma ham wrapped in asparagus? The fibre content of the asparagus helps support healthy digestion, which can help avoid the dreaded post-dinner bloat!”

Fresh asparagus wrapped in Parma ham on a cutting board

4. Mince pies to pavlova

You might think that mince pies are the healthier option as they are based on fruit, however one mince pie can have up to 20 grams of sugar!

Adding Irish cream to your mince pies only increases the calories. Shona says: Avoid mince pies! A pavlova with fruit and cream is slightly less in calories, it is however much higher in sugar, so my suggestion would be to ask for the fresh fruit with a little bit of cream as the majority of the sugar is coming from the pavlova base.”

5. Stilton and port to goats’ cheese and grapes

Cheese boards are a central part of Christmas entertaining – make sure you make the healthy choice when you are next handed one!

Shona says: “Stilton cheese has a high fat and calorie content. Adding a glass of port only bumps up the calories! Swap for goats’ cheese, which has slightly less calories and less fat, and add some grapes instead of the port. This is also the kinder option for your liver, as alcohol takes its toll on this vital organ.”

Cheese platter

6. Eggnog to Prosecco

Avoid the eggnog on Christmas Eve and swap it to the healthier option of  a glass of prosecco.

Shona says: “Eggnog is high in calories and sugar, per glass. Prosecco has almost half the calories and only about 1 gram of sugar.”

If you are not a fan of bubbles, clear spirits are another option to help you cut the calories.

7. Vol au vents to filo tartlets

Could you say no to a vol au vent? Stay strong and pick one with filo pastry!

Shona says: “The main difference here is the type of pastry.  Vol au vents are made with puff pastry, which is higher in calories and fat.  On the other hand, filo pastry is lower in both, so if a tray floats your way, keep an eye out for the ones with filo!

Mediterranean Filo Pastry Canapes

8. Honey-glazed ham to smoked salmon

A popular dinner party extra at Christmas, honey-glazed ham can be a tempting option.

Shona says that although similar in calories, you can still make a healthy swap to smoked salmon: “The calories and fat content are similar between these two products, however smoked salmon is the better choice based on its nutritional content. Salmon is an oily fish, rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids that we need to get through our diet.”

9. Stollen to roasted chestnuts

Stop snacking on stollen this Christmas and swap to the healthier alternative of roasted chestnuts or a handful of nuts.

Dr Marilyn Glenville, leading UK nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, says: “Nuts are packed with goodness, high in essential nutrients – especially minerals and vitamins. They are also protein-rich so are broken down more slowly and therefore stay in the stomach longer, making us feel fuller and hopefully snack less.

They also help to balance your blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is an essential part of healthy weight loss and management. Nuts are high in calories, so don’t gorge on them, but allow yourself a healthy decent handful a day. Make sure they’re raw and unsalted to get the maximum benefit from the delicate oils.

Roasting chestnuts

10. Christmas yule log to panettone

Everyone’s favourite dessert, the yule log is sadly not so healthy. Why not keep your chocolate kick and swap to a piece of panettone.

Shona says: “Christmas yule is a very calorie-laden dessert and has a lot of sugar and fat. Swap to panettone as it has less calories, fat and sugar, and is an all-round a healthier option.”