Christmas Survival Guide: How to Stay Healthy This Christmas

Christmas is the one time of year where all of the family gets together to give and receive gifts and enjoy a few days of parties, festivities, food and drink. Usually, Christmas food is very heavy and can be full of calories and fat, meaning that if you’re on a diet, are trying to lose stomach fat or if you’re watching what you eat, you may find it difficult to avoid putting on weight over the Christmas period.

Keeping your weight stable is all about making the right choices and substituting fatty foods for non-fatty foods, but keep in mind that you should allow yourself a treat at least once over the Christmas period – after all, it’s Christmas!

How to Cook Ham, Turkey and Chicken

The three meats mentioned above are the most popular meats to be eaten at Christmastime, and although chicken and turkey are relatively low in fat anyway, if they’re cooked in fat or prepared with high-calorie cream or butter, eating them will really derail your weight loss plans. We’ve come up with a few low-fat ways of preparing ham, turkey and chicken so that you can enjoy all of the flavours of Christmas with less of the fat.

Baked Ham

If you’re a big fan of traditional baked ham but not the calories that come from covering it in sugar and mustard, try using pineapple juice to cook the ham in instead.

Pineapple Ham Ingredients:

  • 1 3.6kg whole ham joint, boneless

  • 5 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

  • 5 tbsp. pineapple juice + extra if needed

  • 30 whole cloves

  • 2 tbsp. grainy mustard


  1. Boil the ham in boiling water, skimming the scum from the top of the joint, for about an hour. This just speeds up the cooking time.

  2. Allow the ham to cool enough so that you can handle it. Meanwhile, mix together the balsamic, pineapple juice and grainy mustard.

  3. Score the ham with a sharp knife one way and then score it in the opposite direction to create diamond shapes on the flesh of the meat. Poke a clove onto the points of each diamond.

  4. Pour the balsamic mixture over the ham and place into a 170C oven. Cook for half an hour, then scoop up any mixture that has ran off the ham and baste the ham. Cook for another two hours, basting every twenty minutes, and if you need more liquid add more pineapple juice. Leave to rest for 20 minutes under foil before serving.

BBQ Turkey

This simple turkey recipe is a great, low-fat way of cooking turkey. BBQs are a fantastic cooking tool as you get a heck of a lot of flavour for little to no fat. Don’t faff around cooking a whole turkey – buy breasts, as these have the least amount of fat, and whack them on the barbie.


  • 4 x turkey breasts

  • Juice of two lemons

  • 2 x garlic cloves

  • 1 tsp. dried mixed herbs

  • ½ tsp. paprika

  • Pinch salt

  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Crush the garlic cloves and mix with the lemon juice, mixed herbs, paprika, salt and olive oil.

  2. Rinse the turkey breasts and place them into the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

  3. Heat the BBQ and when ready to cook, remove excess marinade and cook on the BBQ for half an hour, turning once through cooking. Check that they are cooked all the way through before serving.

Roast Chicken

This wonderfully moist chicken dish uses low-fat spread instead of traditional butter, still giving a wonderfully moist texture and flavour but without the usual calorie content found in real butter. Low-fat spread is just as tasty and flavourful when cooked, but make sure you go for a decent version rather than a cheap version for the best flavour. Cook the chicken in its skin to keep the flavour in, and then remove the skin for your serving.


  • 1 whole chicken

  • 250g low-fat spread

  • 1 whole head of garlic

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 tsp. paprika

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary


  1. Zest the lemon and crush all of the garlic cloves from the head of garlic. Mix together the low-fat spread, lemon zest, paprika, rosemary and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

  2. Slide your hand between the skin and flesh of the bird and rub ¾ of the butter mixture all over the breasts, legs and wings. Rub the other ¼ of the butter inside the cavity and season well. Cut the lemon into quarters and pop into the cavity and then bind the legs with kitchen string and tuck the wings into the leg joints.

  3. Cook in an 180C oven breast side up for around 50 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Instead of serving your meats with the usual fat-roasted potatoes and honey-glazed vegetables, try a few simple Christmassy side salads. Cutting back on the calories and fat in your side dishes also means that you could splurge a little on the dessert or on having some chocolate as a treat. Take a look at these side dishes and dessert ideas for inspiration.