Healthy Christmas dinner

Find out how you can cut 500kcal from your traditional Christmas dinner without sacrificing the taste.


Turkey is a good source of protein and, without the skin, is low in fat. It provides B vitamins, which you need for energy production.

The skin on a turkey, or any other roasted poultry, is where most of the fat is. If you remove the skin you can save around 40kcal per portion. Light meat also has slightly fewer calories than dark meat, so choose breast instead of leg or thigh.

Before you cook your bird, prick the skin to allow the fat to drain out. Cook it on a trivet or upturned ovenproof plate so it’s not sitting in the fat.

Stop: 100g of butter-basted turkey, with the skin on, has 146kcal, 4.9g fat (2g saturates).

Swap: 100g of skinless turkey has 104kcal, 2g fat (0.2g saturates).

Save: 42kcal.


Chestnuts are low in fat and a good source of potassium, which we need for healthy kidneys. Choose a chestnut or fruit-based stuffing instead of sausage meat.

Stop: 100g of sausage meat stuffing has 252kcal, 16g fat (7g saturates).

Swap: 100g of cranberry, orange and roast chestnut stuffing has 162kcal, 0.8g fat (0.1g saturates).

Calorie saving: 90kcal.

Roast potatoes

Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrate and are almost fat free (before they're roasted in oil or fat). Baked potatoes are just as tasty but much better for you.

Stop: 100g of potatoes roasted in oil have 149kcal, 4.5g fat (0.5g saturates).

Swap: 100g of baked potato has 109kcal, 0.1g fat (0g saturates).

Calorie saving: 40kcal.


To make low-fat gravy, pour the turkey juices into a jug and wait for the fat to rise to the surface. Then carefully pour or spoon off the fat before using the juices to make gravy.

Gravy can be high in salt. Too much salt may increase blood pressure. If you have gravy, try not to add salt to your meal.

Bread sauce

Use semi-skimmed milk to make your sauce, and add a clove of garlic to the milk to add flavour.

Stop: 100g of luxury bread sauce mix has 355kcal, 6.4g fat (3.3g saturates).

Swap: 100g of bread sauce made with semi-skimmed milk has 93kcal, 3.1g fat (1.4g saturates).

Calorie saving: 262kcal.


Brussels sprouts are a good source of folate (a B vitamin) and vitamin C, which may help to protect against heart disease and cancer. They contain fibre, which helps to keep the digestive system healthy.

Serve plenty of vegetables as they're low in calories and fat, but don’t smother them in butter.

Stop: one teaspoon (5g) of butter adds 37kcal, 4.1g fat (2.8g saturates).

Swap: use chopped fresh herbs or lemon zest to add flavour. They have almost no calories.

Calorie saving: 37kcal.

Christmas pudding

Christmas pudding is fairly low in fat and high in carbohydrate. It provides some fibre, B vitamins, potassium, iron and calcium. But have just one small portion after lunch as it's high in sugar.

You can boost your calcium intake by eating it with low-fat custard, made from semi-skimmed milk. Or have fat-free Greek yoghurt instead of brandy butter or double cream.

Stop: 1tbsp (15g) of brandy butter has 81kcal, 5.8g fat (3.9g saturates). 2tbsp (30g) of double cream has 133kcal, 14.2g fat (8.9g saturates).

Swap: 3tbsp (45g) of low-fat custard has 27kcal, 0.6g fat (0.54g saturates). 2tbsp (30g) of 0% fat Greek yoghurt has 16kcal, 0g fat.

Calorie saving: 117kcal.

If you make all these food swaps, you can save more than 500kcal and cut down your fat intake, which will help to stop the festive weight gain.

All calorie amounts are approximate and depend on the brand chosen. For more detailed information about calorie and nutritional content, check the label of the product.

How much is 5 A DAY?

Exactly how much is one portion of fruit or vegetables? Dietitian Azmina Govindji explains

Media last reviewed: 25/10/2013

Next review due: 25/10/2015

Page last reviewed: 03/12/2012

Next review due: 03/12/2014


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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

ozangus said on 01 December 2013

Xmas is traditionally a time for excess - however for those of us who have just been diagnosed with gallstones and therefore have to avoid fats of any sort there is a need to look for alternatives and the above provides those alternatives... Xmas dinner is back on the menu albeit no skin on the meat, no roasties but baked potato alternative sounds good, boiled veg but no butter, no stuffing or pigs in blankets (not the end of the world) and I can still have xmas pudding albeit with low fat custard and not brandy cream. So all is good with the world again :-)

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Camels Toe said on 26 November 2013

Still going on about low fat...a lot of the fat in poultry is mono which even mainstream people agree is healthy.

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soxer said on 18 December 2012

Speaking as someone who's lost over 4 stone in 2 yrs now with small economies like written about above, I can highly recommend that spray oil which delivers approx 1 calorie a squirt.

It is especially useful when making roast potatoes, as you are only adding 1 - 2 calories to the potato and it helps get them really crisp. Also use it on your Yorkshire pudding dish to keep the calories from oil or dripping down to a minimum without losing out on taste. The olive oil flavour one is especially nice.

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nonki_73 said on 11 December 2012

I think at Christmas a little of what you like does you good. Baked potato? Surely if you are changing all other things to reduce your fat content then a small roast potato wouldnt hurt. It's Christmas, lighten up :-)

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