Does making small swaps really make a big difference?
No one wants to miss out on their traditional Christmas feast. So what do you do if you want to watch your weight or avoid overindulging on high fat/ sugar/ sodium foods? This day is only once a year and some indulging will likely be inevitable (we need to be realistic here), keeping that in mind, I have calculated some swaps that together can really add up over the course of the day in terms of the energy/fat/sugar/sodium you can save!
Small changes can make a BIG difference but will also mean that you do not need to miss out….
…… however, it is important to keep Christmas to one day of the year and not let it trail on for days after.
The figures in this article were based on nutrient information sourced from Calorie King  and were accurate at the time of publishing.
Swap: Heavily oiled baked vegetables for dry roasted/ lightly oiled vegetables
Many people don’t consider themselves to be using a significant amount of oil but if we were to measure it out and work out the energy content, it is normally enough to make a considerable impact on our intake! Therefore it can be an easy place to cut back on some kilojoules without missing out on the food.
The values below are based on one serve of baked potato (1/2 medium potato), 150g of baked pumpkin and one serve of baked carrot (1/2 cup).
Swap: Salted nuts for plain nuts
It’s easy to consume excessive amounts of salt so why not make a small cut to your intake by opting for unsalted nuts on the snack plate.
Swap: Jatz biscuits with full fat cheese for rice crackers with fat reduced cheese
Cheese and biscuits are a common snack leading up to the Christmas lunch and dinner. Many people graze between the meals and unfortunately do not realise how much they’ve actually consumed! Cheese will always be high in fat and energy so making the swap to a fat reduced cheese can really save you some kilojoules. Even making a swap from Jatz to rice crackers can save you 505kJ! Figures below are based on 10 biscuits with 40g of cheese.
Swap: Baked chicken with skin for skinless baked chicken
This swap is always a good way to reduce your fat consumption.
Swap: Go without the pork crackling!
This may be tough for some people BUT it is not without its rewards. Even a very small 30g serve of crackling is laden with fat, sodium and kilojoules. If you only choose one thing to cut out this Christmas and you want a lot of bang for your buck – look no further than the crackling.
Swap: Traditional gravy for low fat gravy
Making gravy using pan juices really bumps up the kilojoules and fat! When there are so many delicious foods to be eating, you don’t want to waste your energy intake on gravy, right? Try to make gravy using a powdered mix e.g. Gravox Traditional – this will cut the kilojoules and fat. The below is based on ½ a cup of gravy.
*Remember though, it is best to go without the gravy all together and flavour food with herbs and spices instead. Packaged gravy is low in energy but high in sodium and other additives. This point is of special importance for individuals with high blood pressure or those needing to watch their sodium intake. Natural alternatives are always preferred.
Swap: Prawn cocktail for plain prawns with lemon juice
Swap the cocktail sauce for lemon juice and you can afford to eat many more prawns! Prawns by themselves are very lean. The below figures are based on 100g of prawn cocktail and 100g of fresh prawns with lemon juice.
Swap: Full fat custard for light custard
Many people have their Christmas cake or pudding with custard – instead of having a full fat version, swap to the reduced fat variety which also saves on sugar. The below values are based on 125g of custard (1/2 a cup).
Swap: Fruit cake with full fat custard for fruit salad with light custard (or better yet, yoghurt)
The values below are based on 100g of fruit salad with ½ a cup of light custard and 100g fruit cake with ½ a cup of full fat custard. Fruit can alternatively be served with yoghurt, a small scoop of ice cream or by itself.
- Try and keep portion control in mind
- Serve your meals on a smaller plate to avoid over-filling
- Don’t be influenced by others serving sizes or pressure to eat more
- Take what you consider to be an appropriate serving and don’t go back for seconds
- Try to stick with wholefoods and avoid packaged/ pre-made options
- Don’t graze all throughout the day in addition to having big meals
- Avoid the heavily processed meats e.g. salami, cabanossi, ham
- Enjoy the company more than the food!
- Borushek, A. Calorie king Australia [internet]. [cites 2014 Nov 26].
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.