Everyday life provides plenty of sugary temptations – from the ones that are easy to spot, like sodas and candy bars, to the more insidious kinds of hidden sugar, like in flavored yogurts, spaghetti sauce, crackers, and salad dressings. But once we hit Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, holiday parties, and New Year’s celebrations, it can be one long descent into the belly of the sugar beast.
So how can you arm yourself for the upcoming sugar season?
- Drink plenty of water. Sometimes when we think we’re hungry (for sugar), we’re actually just thirsty. Staying hydrated can help keep cravings at bay. Try adding a squeeze of lime or lemon to your water to add a bit of flavor.
- Bring your own dessert. Here’s a clinic favorite: a Paleo dessert called squash custard.
- At a holiday gathering, choose different foods. Try higher fat foods like nuts or olives to curb hunger cravings. Still feel like munching as you mingle? Grab some veggies.
- Or eat before the party. When you want to be sure your have had a reliable, balanced meal, eat before heading out to holiday parties. The last thing you want is to be out and about with just a Snickers available. Because you will most likely eat it out of desperation.
- Be aware of your alcohol consumption. Yes, alcohol is sugar. Just like holidays come with more baked goods, they usually bring more beverages into our lives at the same time. If you choose to drink, always drink mindfully.
- Get rest. When you’re tired and/or stressed, you may be more likely to reach for sugar to buoy your energy or get you through an afternoon slump. Make sleep and relaxation as much of a priority as crafting Halloween costumes and attending seasonal parties.
- Recruit allies. Find at least one person who shares your interest in making holidays sweet – with less added sugar. Support each other when the going gets tough. Exchange meals to keep your fridge stocked. And if you do cave and eat more sugar than you intended, encourage each other that not all hope is lost. It’s a marathon, after all – not a sprint – and you’ll find that holidays can be just as enjoyable, if not more, with less of the processed powder.
The tricky part of the holidays is that the increased quantity of sugar available to us (think fun-size candy bars to pumpkin pie to Christmas cookies) increases our chances of consuming more sugar than usual. Sugar in and of itself is not the worst thing on the planet. It’s in even the “healthiest” foods, like fruits. What we’re talking about is processed sugar – white, raw, brown, turbinado. And we all know there is no shortage of it this time of year. Upping our intake of processed sugars can promote inflammation and lead to weight gain, mood swings, cravings, insulin problems, tooth decay, and a whole slew of potentially negative health effects.
Without a doubt, sugar is tempting at any time of the year. But at this time of year in particular, a little extra mindfulness and planning ahead can help you steer clear of the oncoming sugar tsunami.
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