If you are looking for some delicious but not deadly Christmas menu ideas, here are some that balance light and healthy with rich and satisfying. You can have the best of both worlds and not end Christmas day feeling like a beached whale.

[This is a guest post by Wendy Hodge, founder of Wendy’s Way to Health. Wendy is a nutrition coach and healthy lifestyle blogger, promoting moderation and a common sense approach to diet and exercise. You’ll find lots of delicious, healthy recipes on her website. Wendy has more Christmas tips here.]

I’d like to start by reassuring you that this post is actually about enjoying the Festive Season, without it making too much of an impact on your waistline. I’m going to make a few suggestions about how you can eat, drink and be merry whilst keeping weight gain to a minimum, that’s all!

Start your planning by thinking about alcohol consumption

The party season is now well and truly under way, so let’s deal with the easiest over indulgence first; alcohol. I’m not going to tell you not to drink because alcohol (along with food) is a big part of how we celebrate when we get together with family and friends.

The good intentions we have before a night out though, often go out the window once we’ve had a drink and start to relax and enjoy ourselves. Not to mention the “go on, just have one more” encouragement from our friends.

The best thing you can do if you are really worried about having too many champagnes, is make sure you have also lots of water. You’ll drink less, it’ll keep you hydrated and make sure you feel okay the morning after too!

Being the designated driver is probably the best way to remove the temptation of alcohol, but don’t replace it with fizzy drinks. Try mineral water flavoured with fruit slices instead.

Christmas menu ideas that keep you feeling healthy

christmas-crostini
Christmas Crostini – try sweet potato instead of bread for a healthy swap

Now let’s move on to food! There are a lot of foods we eat at Christmas time that we don’t usually eat throughout the year. I think this is one of the biggest reasons that people over indulge and it’s actually not that difficult to overcome, once you know how.

My number 1 tip for Christmas Day: ditch the all-you-can-eat buffet mentality. You know what I mean – where people pile their plates sky high and go back for seconds and thirds, not because they’re hungry, but to ‘get their money’s worth’.

Christmas is a great time to indulge in special, once-a-year foods. When you think about it though, is overeating to the point of feeling sick really the best way to truly appreciate them?

The trick here is simple – just eat a little bit less. Don’t over fill your plate, chew each mouthful slowly and take the time to savour and really enjoy the flavours. When you eat slowly you give your body time to let you know when you’re truly full. You’ll be able to naturally stop when you’ve had enough.

There are lots of other little things you can do to make sure you’re eating the best quality food. Cooking your own food is always preferable to buying packaged convenience foods and junk food, we all know that. We just need to plan ahead.

Try these ideas when planning your Christmas dishes

I’ve listed some easy examples below:

  1. Crackers – you can make your own crackers to go with cheeses and dips. They’re really easy and these ones are gluten free as well. 
  2. Dips – make your dips, they’re really easy too. Try these ideas 
  3. Crostini – I make crostini from sweet potato slices and top them with red onion, avocado & tomato. They’re so yum!
  4. Veggie chips – again, it’s really easy to make your own chips. Forget kale, I’m talking about potato, sweet potato, zucchini, beetroot, whatever you like. Try these vegetable chip recipes
  5. Buy raw nuts. Nuts are full of healthy fats and are really good for us (think small handfuls) but not so great when they’re roasted with vegetable oils and sprinkled with cheap salt.
  6. Make your own puddings, cakes, biscuits, tarts, etc and use good quality, wholesome ingredients. Try Retiring not Shy’s Pinterest Board for ideas.

Keep room for some favourite treats when planning your Christmas dishes

christmas-shortbread
Your Christmas menu can include soeme treats

As I said earlier, I think you should be able to indulge a little bit at Christmas, it’s just a matter of using some common sense to not go overboard.

I live a pretty healthy lifestyle and I think I eat really well. However, I’ve learned from my own trial and error that some things just shouldn’t be tampered with. Like traditional shortbread. A couple of years ago, I tried making it with Stevia, but we really didn’t like the Stevia aftertaste.

And my Mum’s trifle. It’s one of my favourite things, ever. Mum’s no longer with us, so my sister continues to make the trifle for us at Christmas. Because its full of cream and custard, it’s very rich, so I can’t eat very much of it. I have a small portion and I think I enjoy the memories it brings as much as anything.

christmas trifle
Trifle – a traditional and delicious special treat

So thank you for allowing me to share my ideas about enjoying the Festive Season. I hope you all have a great Christmas with your loved ones and a safe and Happy New Year.

Read this post for some great Christmas gift ideas 

What strategies do you have to avoid excesses at Christmas time? Do you have some tips to share or do you just enjoy the day and deal with the consequences (if any) later?