weight loss

2 minute read

How to build a balanced Christmas dinner plate

By Joe Young | Medically reviewed by Lauren Sien
christmas dinner

A balanced plate is key for health. But who can resist a proper roast, fiery Christmas pudding, and tasty mince pies? Good news - you can still enjoy these things without sacrificing your health goals. 

Let’s see how. 

1. Eating out

Some meals are difficult to avoid over the festive period. Whilst it’s fine to indulge occasionally, here’s how to make more nutritious choices when you’re out and about this Christmas.


Look for options like grilled chicken or turkey, as well as veggie or vegan options such as tofu or tempeh. Grilled fish is another excellent choice that’s lower in saturated fat. Watch out for fried and breaded food, as they’re often higher in fats and carbs.


As with home dining, opt for whole grains such as brown rice, pasta, quinoa, couscous, and sweet potato where possible. If you're craving roast potatoes, enjoy them in moderation - aim for around a small handful. Remember, it's about balance, not deprivation.


Seek meals that offer colourful roast vegetables. These not only brighten your plate but elevate your dining experience with their nutrient-packed goodness.

Watch the sauce

Gravy and cream-based sauces are flavoursome but full of unhealthy fats. Ask for yours on the side to limit your intake.

Dessert choices

If you fancy something sweet, consider yoghurt or fruity options. If you can’t resist a Christmas pudding, go for a small portion or share it with a mate. Add some fruit for a nutrient boost.

2. Cooking at home

When creating your festive feast, try to get all these elements on your plate:

Protein: ¼ of your plate

Protein should make up a quarter of your festive feast. Opt for lean options like turkey, chicken, or goose. These aren’t just tasty, they’re also rich in essential nutrients. The skin contains most of the fat, so it's better removed to cut down on saturated fat.

Carbohydrates: ¼ of your plate

Another quarter of your plate should be carbohydrates. While whole grains are ideal for their fibre content, you don't have to skip the roast potatoes. Keep the skin on for extra fibre and that crispy crunch. Usually, roast potatoes are cooked in animal fats like lard or goose fat. Switching to olive oil can reduce saturated fats and increase unsaturated fats (a healthier option). 

Vegetables: ½ of your plate

Half of your plate should be filled with colourful vegetables. These are often overshadowed, yet they should be the star of the show. Jazz up your veggies by roasting them with herbs and spices. A diverse array of vegetables like carrots, green beans, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts adds colour to your plate. Plus, they’re packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and fibres.

Healthy fats: A small serving

Don’t forget to include some healthy fats. The roasting process in most Christmas foods allows you to add a drizzle of olive oil, incorporating heart-healthy monounsaturated fats into your meal. Plus, it tastes good. 

Foods that are best kept to a minimum include:

Traditional Yorkshire puddings

Yorkshire puddings are high in refined flour and saturated fats. Enjoy them in moderation or explore healthier alternatives.

Cream-based sauces

Creamy sauces are rich in flavour - and rich in fat. Consider lighter alternatives such as yoghurt-based sauces or herb-infused olive oil.

Sugar-rich cocktails

Festive cocktails can often be high in sugars and fats. Seek out lighter alternatives and be mindful of portion sizes.

Mindless snacking

All those appetisers and treats on offer can easily lead to mindless snacking. When possible, try healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, or vegetable sticks.

Multiple servings

Listen to your body’s cues and stop eating when you’re satisfied.

Post-dinner: A gentle walk

Consider going for a walk after dinner. It's a great way to get some fresh air and aid digestion.

The numan take

Challenge yourself to a healthy plate wherever you dine. The occasional treat won't derail your goals but keep an eye out for the chance to boost your festive meals with healthy nutrition.