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Christmas Food Swaps

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Hello fellow foodies,

The Christmas season is upon us, with only 6 sleeps until Santa arrives! This time is considered the most chaotic time of the year, with everyone flocking in masses to the shops in the hope of snagging a bargain for their loved ones. If shopping isn’t your thing (like me) I’m sure you still can find comfort in the array of foods available around this time- from fruit pies to shortbread, gingerbread houses to advent calendars or turkey to ham,  there is never a shortage of tasty treats on offer.

Yes, you’re probably thinking how on earth can I resist another slice of fruit cake and keep the kilos from stacking on? Well my friends, it’s all about balance! Christmas shouldn’t be about dieting, it should be about enjoying the festivities with friends and family. This column is all about eating smart over Christmas. Making swaps in your diet can make all the difference, and it is about time Australia and the rest of the world adopt a non-diet approach to eating and weight-loss.

So stick around and read on as these tips and tricks might just save you from Christmas food traps and leave you feeling a bit lighter.

Step 1: Make smart food swaps

Swap this For this Benefit
2 Tbs (30mLs) double cream ¼  cup  low fat custard. Custard is higher in calcium and lower in kilojoules and saturated fat.
½ cup Potato chips ½ cup Air popped popcorn Both common staples on a party table, but cut down on kilojoules, fat and sodium by serving guests popcorn. Flavour with various herbs and spices and you’ve got yourself a yummy healthy treat!
6 oysters Kilpatrick 6 oysters with a squeeze of lemon Oysters are a very good source of zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Cut down on saturated fat and sodium by omitting bacon and replacing with lemon.
Milk chocolate advent calendar Homemade Advent calendar Invest in an advent calendar where you can choose the treats! Opt for dark chocolate to get an antioxidant boost or non-food items!
Large fruit mince pie Small fruit mince pie Mince pies are indulgent but are a necessity at Christmas. Instead of avoiding them all together, opt for a small mince pie and you will save on kilojoules, fat and sugar, whilst not missing out on the delicious taste!
Salted Roasted Nuts Unsalted raw nuts Roasted nuts often have added oils, whilst already being high in (good) oils. In order to cut down of fat look for raw nuts and roast them yourself. It’s easy and takes no time at all! Choose unsalted varieties to cut down on sodium.
Desserts made from white flour, sugar, cream etc… Desserts based on fruit or a fruit platter or fruit Christmas tree! You can’t go past fresh cherries, mangoes, apricots and other fruits in season at this time of year! Enjoy feeling lighter and healthier by basing sweets on fruit instead of processed flours and heavy dairy products.

Step 2: Enjoy the festivities!

Don’t let food bring stress to your Christmas (or any time!), just tune in to your body to know what it needs (and when it is full). Be aware of our tendency to eat food when it is in front of us and keep checking in with your tummy to see if you really do need another bite, or would you feel better waiting till you’re hungry for that second helping or dessert?

Most of all – relax and take pleasure in the yummy delights made with love at this time of year!

Want to see any more smart food swaps? Comment below and I can make that happen.


By Olivia Vanderzwan, student dietitian

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Joey is an Accredited Practising Dietitian committed to holistic nutrition counselling. Her mission is to inspire, educate and assist people from all walks of life to achieve health and wellbeing through healthy eating habits and a positive relationship with food; to empower people to take control over their health by supporting self-efficacy; and to support a sustainable food supply by promoting consumption of local, seasonal and fresh foods and minimising waste.

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