Healthy Eating

7 Secretly Unhealthy Christmas Foods

  • Eggnog

    This classic Christmas drink is one of the worst culprits for hidden calories. The combination of sugar, eggs and whipped cream is already unhealthy, but add to this the necessary serving of bourbon and you have a drink that comes to a massive 343 calories. That’s nearly an entire day’s recommended daily sugar intake!

    Swap it for…

    While it’s difficult to change much about eggnog, there are ways to make it lighter. Try finding a recipe that replaces cream with either almond milk or yogurt and swap half the sugar content for vanilla extract or a touch of nutmeg or cinnamon, which will enhance the sweetness without using as much sugar.

  • Creamy soups

    In the cold winter months, a hot, creamy soup often becomes our go-to comfort food and while we tend to assume that these are a fairly healthy food option, they actually use a large quantity of cream, making them a high calorie option.

    Swap it for…

    Rather than avoiding soups altogether, opt for a broth-based soup that contains pasta and vegetables. These provide a great source of nutrition and energy without the high calorie intake of creamier versions.

  • Fruitcake

    We might like to pretend, based on its name, that fruitcake isn’t too indulgent, but it’s laden with calories. Fruitcake tends to have high butter, sugar and syrup content, making it high in fat. The same goes for Panettone – an Italian bread that has become a festive favourite.

    Swap it for…

    If you’re making your own fruit cake this year, then look for a recipe that substitutes butter for Greek yoghurt -– this will cut the fat and calorie content dramatically.

  • Cranberry sauce

    Although these little red berries are known for its health benefits, cranberry sauce comes with a great deal of sugar. Typical canned cranberry sauce can contain as much as 105g of sugar per serving, which adds roughly 400 calories to your plate.

    Swap it for…

    Rather than sacrifice this tradition altogether, try creating your own sauce by using frozen or fresh fruit with less sugar.

  • Gingerbread

    They may look cute and delicious, but many of us don’t realise the effect gingerbread can have on our waistline.

    Swap it for…

    Stick to eating gingerbread cake or biscuits in small amounts and although they look impressive, stay clear of gingerbread houses!

  • Gravy

    Gravy is the finishing touch to the big Christmas dinner, but we rarely stop to think what it actually is. Homemade gravy is often thickened by adding white flour or cornstarch which adds carbohydrates and sugar to the recipe, while the traditional addition of fat drippings adds considerable amounts of fat and salt.

    Swap it for…

    To make healthier gravy, try making it from scratch using a stock cube, as it adds flavour but not fat and substitute the white flour for whole wheat flour, which is a low carbohydrate option.

  • Mulled wine

    The health benefits of red wine have long been debated, but it has been concluded that small quantities of red wine may in fact be good for the heart. Sadly, this isn’t the same for mulled wine, as it usually contains huge amounts of added sugar, designed to sweeten it.

    Swap it for…

    A healthy substitute is to simply make your own! This way you can control the amount of sugar you are adding and a good tip for great flavour is to increase the cinnamon, orange and cloves content in the drink instead.