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Best and Worst Christmas Foods for Weight Loss

The Christmas season means good food - often too much of it. You can avoid weight gain during this time with careful menu planning and sensible eating.

Check out this guide for your holiday foods. Learn to make wiser choices and jump-start a healthier, trimmer you for the New Year.

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Appetizers and Snacks

Appetizers and pre-dinner nibbles can add many calories to your holiday calorie intake. If you choose higher-calorie, higher-fat foods, remember to limit the portion size.

Better choices
  • Vegetable sticks and non-fat/low-fat dip
  • Pita slices and low-fat hummus
  • Low-fat/non-fat cheese on light crackers

Poorer choices
  • Oil-roasted nuts
  • Potato crisps
  • Corn crisps

Turkey, Duck and Ham


Better choice: Light meat (breast, back) without skin

Poorer choice: Dark meat (leg, thigh) with skin

Did you know that if you choose a portion of turkey breast without the skin, you save yourself up to 110 calories and 9 grams of fat?
Tips for keeping your turkey trim:
  • Remove the skin before serving
  • Don't choose a self-basting bird
  • Use a non-stick cooking spray to grease the pan when cooking or baking
  • Instead of using the fatty drippings for basting, try using fat-free ingredients such as wine or soup stock


Duck can be a festive holiday variation from the traditional turkey. Higher in calories and fat than turkey, duck is best eaten skin-less.


Commonly served during the holidays, ham is available in different forms, such as whole ham, boneless, honey-cured and canned.
Fat and sodium/salt content are two things you need to check with this meat. Select leaner hams when available.
  • Trim all visible fat
  • Avoid regular ham if you are on a sodium-restricted diet

To Stuff or Not to Stuff?

Better choice: Whole-grain stuffing with extra herbs, fruit and vegetables, cooked on the stovetop

Poorer choice: Traditional stuffing cooked inside the bird

On average, half a cup of traditional stuffing has approximately 180 calories and 9 grams of fat. You can reduce this by trying some of the following tips.

Rather than stuff your bird with traditional bread stuffing, try this idea instead. Boil some lemons and spike them with a skewer to release the liquid. Stuff the bird with the lemons. As the turkey cooks, it absorbs the juicy lemon marinade.
  • If you can't live without bread stuffing, cook it on the hotplate instead of in the bird. Stuffing inside your bird absorbs extra fat during cooking.
  • Use fresh bread crumbs instead of packaged stuffing mixes or cubes.
  • Use whole-grain bread for extra fibre.
  • Chop up plenty of herbs (such as sage, parsley, thyme and marjoram) with onions, celery, carrots and capsicum. Add dried fruit such as raisins, dates or apples for fat-free flavour.

Staying Sweet with Potatoes

Better choice: Mashed potatoes, mashed pumpkin and/or mashed sweet potato with reduced-fat milk, non-fat milk or low-fat buttermilk. Don’t add butter.

Poorer choice: Mashed potatoes, mashed pumpkin and/or mashed sweet potato with cream butter and/or full-fat milk.
Garnish with parsley or other herbs. Sprinkle with chopped apples or cranberries for a sweeter touch.

Gravy and Cranberry Sauce


Better choice:
Fat-free homemade or canned gravy
Poorer choice: High-fat, thick gravy made with pan juices

It wouldn't be a holiday meal without gravy. Try these fat-saving tips:
  • Use a powdered gravy product with water or a fat-free, low-sodium broth to make gravy.
  • Refrigerate the turkey juice. Skim the hardened fat off the top and add the remaining juices to the gravy.
  • Use a gravy cup that skims off the fat.

Cranberry Sauce
If you're a fan of cranberry sauce, keep in mind that it's high in sugar and calories. Try a homemade sauce made from fresh, mashed cranberries with a generous splash of balsamic vinegar or apple juice concentrate.

Delicious Desserts

Better choice: Fresh fruit, with a scoop of low fat or fat free ice cream for indulgence.

Poorer choice: Pies and cookies.

Last updated: November 23rd, 2012

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