Christmas Foods to Avoid – Healthier Swaps For Christmas

christmasdinnerWith Christmas just around the corner, most of us are planning a day of feasting and festivity. Let’s face it, even the fittest and healthiest among us binge at Christmas time.

But does that have to mean that we poison ourselves in the name of festivity?

Here are some traditional Christmas foods that won’t be on my table this year. Instead I have much tastier and healthier substitutes planned.

The Turkey

Our first culprit is the traditional turkey. Up to 20 % of Turkey meat harbours dangerous chemicals and diseases. This is according to research done at the University of Kentucky , published in the Elsevier Journal Science of the Total Environment.   The three worst of these chemicals are: Arsenate (a metabolite of arsenic), Roxarsone and antibiotics.

Arsenic causes a horrific list of problems. These include: memory defects, cancer, miscarriage, still-birth, kidney damage and sores on the skin. If you don’t want to give your family health risks for Christmas, then you shouldn’t feed them supermarket turkey!

Regular Turkey is full of antibiotics. These antibiotics are supposed to keep animals healthy and make them bulk up faster. The problem is that when we misuse antibiotics viruses evolve. By treating our food with them we are creating a strain of antibiotic resistant super bugs. These viruses affect the humans eating the turkey too and can make you ill. Even if you don’t catch a cold from the meat itself, you will compromise your immune system.

Substitute store Turkey with:

Birds from a reputable, organic and free-range source.

If you are ready for something entirely new, what about going vegan this Christmas?

The Stuffing

So you managed to find an organic, healthy turkey for Christmas. But what are you serving it with?

Let’s take a look at what’s inside your stuffing. Most pre-packaged stuffing is made with bad news ingredients. These include bleached flour; high fructose corn syrup (or HFSCs); and a lot of preservatives. Sugars and corn syrup are a big contributing factor to obesity. Preservatives, as we know, have a plethora of associated health risks. Depending on what preservatives are in your brand of stuffing, these can cause: Increased risk of cancer; hyperactivity in children; Kidney and respiratory problems and skin conditions.

Substitute pre-mixed stuffing with:

Homemade corn bread or stuffing that you have made from scratch from bread or potatoes. It’s easier than you think and so much tastier! The best thing about cooking from scratch is that you know exactly what you are eating.

Use fresh herbs and organic spices to flavour your homemade stuffing. And don’t forget the salt and pepper!

Casserole and Side dishes

Now that your Turkey and stuffing are sorted out, what about those side dishes?

Traditionally, we eat large, creamy (and fattening) casseroles and mashed potatoes with this meal. Don’t buy any side dishes (or any of the ingredients in them) in a pre-packaged container at the supermarket. Most canned and pre-packaged foods will be made with preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients.

So you may think you are serving healthy vegetables,  but they actually contain sugar, MSG, modified starch, palm oil, saturated fat, preservatives and too much salt.

Many of these pre-packaged dishes also contain cream, a well-known artery blocker. Cream may seem wholesome because it’s dairy – but it’s one of the most unhealthy natural products.

As for dehydrated potatoes! Stay away from them at all costs.  Dehydrated potatoes contain all kinds of sugars, flavorings and preservatives. They have very little in common with potatoes. The worst of the common ingredients in them is BHA. This preservative has been linked to kidney problems, low fertility and cancer.

Side Dish Substitutes:

This year why not show your family your love and concern by cooking from scratch! Most of the dishes you buy are really easy to make.

Side dish substitutes:

Instead of Canned Yams: make home cooked sweet potato.

Instead of Green bean casserole: make home cooked green beans.

Instead of full fat gravy: make homemade gravy using turkey broth, flour and herbs.

Instead of pre-packed dips: use organic or homemade humus or yoghurt dips.

Instead of potatoes: cook cauliflower (or make them half and half).

Instead of candied nuts: Try Raw nuts.


Alcohol: the Hidden Calories

When you talk about gaining holiday weight most people think of food. One of the hidden contributors to holiday weight gain is alcoholic drinks. No-one thinks about the calories in the beer they are holding.

Instead of overloading on drink calories there are a few alternatives you can try below.

Substitute Holiday drinks with:

Spritzers. Substitute half  soda in your glass of wine (or beer). You are automatically cutting your drinks calorie count in half.

Instead of Egg Nog drink spiced ciders. Cider has less fat, fewer calories and is less likely to be full of preservatives than something egg based that comes in a box.


Just Deserts

You have made it all through Christmas dinner! Now what about dessert?

As tempting as the traditional puddings may be they are full of deadly ingredients.  Your Yule log, Christmas cake and festive sweets are all packed with sugar, syrup and flavouring. Too much sugar can upset your Insulin levels. This can cause diabetes, kidney dysfunction and skin problems. They may also contain palm oil and bleached white flour (trans-fats, preservatives and carcinogens).

Don’t be fooled by seemingly innocuous items either. Gingerbread houses have very little ginger in them and are mostly made up of baked wheat, fat and sugar.

Candy canes contain no real peppermint and are made almost entirely of sugar.

Christmas Dessert Substitutes:

Some great pudding substitutes include:

Roasted nuts (un-salted and un-candied),

Low fat yoghurt desserts such as low fat cheese cake,

Homemade stewed fruit with homemade custard;

Homemade apple pie or pumpkin pie,

Low fat frozen coffee shakes.


Cutting Down on the Binge

Another problem with Christmas eating is that we just eat so much! Even though you will probably only put on a few pounds over the festive season, You may never lose them again! They have an accumulative effect. That means that over a few years you will end up getting bigger and bigger. Over eating can, and does, lead to obesity, putting your health at risk.

It can cause many digestion problems like gas, bloating, indigestion and burping which can be very uncomfortable for many people after Christmas.

If you often overeat during Christmas, you might want to protect your digestive system by following the 3 digestion tips on the next page –




About the Author:

Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.

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5 responses to “Christmas Foods to Avoid – Healthier Swaps For Christmas”

  1. Cathy Avatar

    C’mon, Christmas only comes once a year. It’s only 1 day. It’s OK to splurge just for one day instead of making a big stink about the food to your family and friends. So what if you have a little turkey with mashed potatoes loaded with butter and gravy and some pie loaded with whip cream for dessert. Christmas is a time to be happy and enjoy the great tasting food that your families put out for the holidays. Don’t ruin it by bitching about the unhealthiness of the food or insulting the cooks by bringing your own. It doesn’t hurt to eat unhealthy just for one day, even if you have health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes. I have those conditions and still EAT just about all of the goodies at the table. We have the other 364 days to practice healthy eating habits.

    1. Avatar

      -eating foods which help reduce free radicals is essential
      Emma gives wise information (eating unhealthy foods is critical, being/getting overweight causes many issues). Take some time reading adult/children’s brain and entire body health depends on life long changes. I feel we must give family/friends healthy choices which give them sustainable revitalizing energy, rather than giving our guests MIGRAINS, creating couch potatoes, hyper kids,resulting in cancers heart health…..

  2. Jacklyn Avatar

    Merry Christmas! Thank you for the encouragement and advice on keeping it ‘good for you’. Healthy living should be for every day of the year. Why muck up the fuel for your body any day? It is first and foremost a mindset for living. I, hopefully would like to be around to enjoy pain and disease free time with my family for many years to come. And never fall into that cycle of doctor visits and prescription drugs for life. I will be making some of these ‘ swaps’ I haven’t already made. We fish, hunt, and grow some of our own foods here in the great northwest, as climate/ weather allows. I shop the outer perimeter of the store, an check for articles on healthy living. Thanks again for yours.

  3. Linda Avatar

    I had a fairly healthy Thanksgiving meal of fresh vegetables, squashes, a little Turkey (unknown origin) but when it came time for dessert I completely lost it. I had a serving each of three pies with large dollops of whipped cream, and then had to dilute that all with coffee. I also stayed up hours past my normal bedtime. A month later I’m still suffering from a weight gain, body aches, and miserable cough.
    That was my lesson I’ll try not to forget next feast.

  4. Katy Jones Avatar
    Katy Jones

    I have to agree. I eat really clean all year, and during holidays I make good substitutes a lot, but let the rest go. Cancer is caused over a lifestyle, jot a couple of meals.

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