How To Food Optimise Your Christmas Dinner

When I looked at the main meal itself I started to get quite excited about how easy it would be to have an on-plan delicious and filling Christmas dinner. 

I’m Tracey! I am a Slimming World Consultant in Tallaght but most importantly I am a Slimming World member. I have lost five stone following the plan and words cannot convey just how much it has changed my life in every single way. I was a comfort eater, a secret eater and miserably unhappy for all of my teenage life. Since becoming a parent something clicked for me. I want to be around for my son for as long as I can be. I don’t want him to grow up seeing food as the enemy and as a reason to hide his emotions. Slimming World has changed everything for me and I want to help others do the same.

Christmas can certainly feel like a challenging time for a person who is trying to make healthier lifestyle choices. I remember as a slimmer it was one of the times of year that filled me with the most anxiety. I wanted to enjoy myself and live in the moment but at the same time, my weight loss goal meant so much to me. I didn’t want to gain weight that I would have to then lose all over again. I also feared that a couple of social occasions and letting my hair down would send me back down the path I was actively trying to change. I didn’t want to return to comfort eating, secret eating and the burden of guilt that consumed me as a result of both.

In the end, I had a very honest chat with myself. I asked myself what I was OK with and what would really affect me. It is such a personal decision but on one particular year, I just couldn’t face a big gain. I was so close to another huge award and milestone and it wouldn’t have been worth it for me. In the end, I decided that food optimising throughout December was my best option. I could have all of my favourite homemade meals, fake-aways and syns and it would be no big deal if I had a couple of extra syns on a few occasions because 95% of the time I was food optimising 100%.

One meal that I found surprisingly easy to food optimise was my actual Christmas dinner. This really surprised me. I knew I wanted to enjoy the starter and dessert and kept my syns for those things. When I looked at the main meal itself I started to get quite excited about how easy it would be to have an on-plan delicious and filling Christmas dinner. It would work out really well for other guests too as I ended up offering to make a couple of the sides. It meant that I knew exactly what was in the meal I was eating.

If you are hoping to food optimise your Christmas dinner these tips might just help you along the way. It will make for a huge plate piled high with filling free foods, delicious speedy vegetables and all of the trimmings. I honestly wish Slimming World had come into my life years before it did!

1. The Turkey
The centrepiece of Christmas dinner tends to be the actual meat itself. This is really easy to food optimise. Have the turkey on offer but avoid the skin, only eat the meat and try to stay away from the stuffing that may have come with it or has been made in a calorie-loaded way. Pile lots of filling meat on to your plate and remember that it is a glorious free food.

2. The Vegetables
Pick your favourite vegetables and make LOTS of them. I love roasting carrots and parsnips in a teaspoon of honey (1 syn). It takes them up a notch and adds so much flavour. I also cook the Brussel's sprouts (yes, I love them) in the same water that I boiled the ham in. It is so tasty. I include at least four different vegetables so that I’m having a nice variety of colours and flavours while still getting that all-important one-third speed food in.

3. The Potatoes
Christmas dinner wouldn’t be the same without some roast and mashed potatoes. Have you tried making roast potatoes using stock? Simply wash and peel your potatoes, place in a baking tray and half fill the tray with beef stock so that the potatoes are 50% submerged in the liquid. Spray the top with fry light and cook in a medium oven for about 45 minutes. The potatoes will absorb the stock and they should be fluffy inside and crispy on the outside. They have a gorgeous flavour. As for the mash? Swap the butter, milk and cream for a couple of beaten eggs. Simply take off the heat, mash, add seasoning and when it is off the heat mix through two beaten eggs. This one usually comes with a look of shock but I promise you once you’ve tried it you will never look back. Creamy mash without the syns and the egg is cooked via the hot potatoes, don’t worry. Adding it while the potatoes are on the heat will result in the egg scrambling!

4. The Stuffing
There are so many delicious recipes for Food Optimised stuffing balls or portions using your healthy extra B high fibre bread. Adding free foods like onion, mixed herbs and egg to bind it will keep it super low in syns or even free if the bread is that day’s healthy extra B. Here is just one recipe!

5. And finally, The Gravy
If you are using gravy granules or a gravy paste the gravy will work out at 1.5 syns per 100ml so that’s a definite option. There are also some brilliant syn free gravy recipes using sautéed onion, beef stock pots and quark to make it creamy. I really like this one.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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