The holiday season is all about fun and feasts. From family gatherings that involve indulging in traditional dishes and treats prepared by grandma to attending a whirlwind of office dinner parties that come full-on with tasty holiday cocktails.
All the cookies, candies, cupcakes, and beverages can be tempting, which makes it hard to keep your healthy eating habits in check. And if you’re diabetic, or you simply want to control your sugar intake, this season may be quite challenging. The sugar in these treats can add up quickly, leading to a spike in blood sugar levels.
The good news is you don’t have to push away your favorite pecan pie or a glass of eggnog. Here are six tips to help you indulge your sweet tooth while balancing sugar intake during the holidays.
Make smart substitutions.
Choosing to enjoy healthier meals is no reason to give up the tasty holiday treats. You can always switch up ingredients to create healthier and delicious alternatives to your favorites. Substitute sugary foods and other unhealthy options for more nutrient-dense ingredients, so you can enjoy traditional meals that leave you feeling much better.
A simple way to help you adapt recipes is to — Identify the “problem” ingredient that makes your recipe high in sugar. Then find a low sugar substitute to replace the ingredient. If you can’t find a better substitute, reduce the amount of the sugary ingredient or completely eliminate it.
Here are a few tips to help you swap out sugar and still satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season:
- Use dried fruits like cherries and cranberries when baking instead of chocolate chips.
- Use whole-grain bread and pasta instead of the white options
- Swap a few dessert options for fruits such as dried grapes
- Instead of adding white sugar to mixed drinks, use fruit juice concentrates or other natural sweeteners like stevia and honey.
- Use fruits and spices such as cranberries, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and stevia instead of sugar to sweeten cider.
The never-ending dinner parties, traditional office luncheons, family gatherings, and more are what make the holiday season fun and festive. With all your favorite holiday treats at your disposal, it’s very tempting to throw away your healthy eating habits and simply enjoy the moment with family and friends.
There is no need to deny yourself your favorite pumpkin pie, mocha poke cake, or gingerbread cookies. However, paying attention to portion sizes is crucial. Be selective and only choose the foods you really want to enjoy. Use a small-sized plate, about 8 inches. This may trick your brain into thinking the food is a lot, and thus you won’t overeat.
Pair sugary treats with foods high in healthy fats and fiber like whole grains, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. The fiber helps you feel full and slows the absorption of sugars. Also, focus on nutrients instead of calories. It’ll inadvertently help you avoid unhealthy treats.
Politely decline a second or third helping, so you’re not tempted to overeat. Be mindful when eating, listen to your body, and put down the fork when you feel full. While it’s good manners to “clean your plate”, you don’t have to finish up everything on the plate.
Cut back on holiday beverages.
Drinks are such a traditional part of the holiday season. From cozying up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate to enjoying a glass of delicious eggnog with family. However, many holiday beverages are chock full of hidden sugars and calories.
A simple trick to help you cut down on beverage sugars during a holiday party is to follow each alcoholic drink with a glass of water, sparkling water, or a non-alcoholic beverage. This quickly fills your stomach, giving you less room to overindulge.
Choose non-alcoholic versions of your favorite holiday cocktails. When shopping for cocktail mixers, read nutritional labels because some alcohol-free products contain loads of added sugars.
Here are other tips to help you cut down sugars from your favorite holiday beverages:
- If you want to enjoy a glass of eggnog, pass on the whipped cream to avoid the extra sugar and calories.
- For hot chocolate, drink it without the whipped cream. And if you’d love to have the whipped cream, stick to less than one tablespoon.
- When buying apple cider at the grocery store, choose low sugar or sugar–free options.
- And if you’re making apple cider at home, use low sugar apple juice and a variety of fruits and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cranberries. To keep the flavor while cutting down on the sugar.
- Swap fancy cocktails and mixed drink for a glass of wine — it’s a lighter alcoholic option.
- Swap alcoholic beverages for festive flavored teas like apple spiced tea, cinnamon tea, or peppermint tea.
Make smart choices at holiday parties.
Starving yourself right before a party increases your chances of overindulging in sugary treats at the event. Always have a light meal before showing up. If the party is during lunch, have a healthy breakfast containing high-fiber foods and a lean protein, followed by a midday snack such as a fruit or nuts.
If you’re having a holiday party at work, offer to bring a healthy dish to the party. It could be an appetizer, dessert, or salads. This way, you’ll somehow be in control of what’s being served. Find a friend to sample with different treats, so you can enjoy occasional desserts without overindulging. For example, you can have one bite of a pumpkin pie, half a cookie, or a small square of chocolate fudge, and share the remaining portion with your friend.
Holiday parties often involve take-home food gifts like a tin of cookies, candies, or left-over food. Avoid carrying these back home as you’ll be tempted to binge eat them. Pass the food gifts over for others to enjoy, or you can share them with your neighbor.
In case you overindulge at a party, don’t beat yourself up. Plan to regain control the next day by opting for a “no sugar day” and choose lean proteins, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Stay physically active
During holidays, it’s quite challenging to eat healthy meals and keep your workout routine on track, especially if you have family gatherings and work parties to attend. And so, you’re more likely to add a few extra pounds to your waistline.
Consider the extra hours of family time as an opportunity to bond and do some fun physical activities together. Go for an evening walk or run around your neighborhood, shovel the snow, go sledding, or take up ice skating as the family’s winter fitness routine.
If you plan on traveling during the holidays, search out for walking parks nearby. Find out if the hotel you’re staying at has a fitness room. Or, you can prepare a simple workout plan that requires no equipment.
Engaging in physical activities during the holiday season will help you cut down the extra calories consumed and control your blood sugar levels. This will leave you feeling better and lowers the risk of other health problems.
Remember to get adequate rest at the end of the day so you don’t wreak havoc on your physical and mental health during the holidays.
Consider adding supplements to your holiday routine.
Your diet and activity level are less than stellar during the holiday season. The delicious treats and dishes mainly load your body with extra calories and sugars, but less of the vital nutrients. Which, eventually, leaves you feeling sluggish, grumpy, and cranky.
There is no better time of the year to up your supplements game than the holiday season. Taking supplements may provide you with the extra nutrients that you may not otherwise consume sufficiently in your diet. They may also help improve your blood sugar levels, support digestion, and improve your overall well being.
Adding our metabolic vibrance supplement to your holiday routine is a great way to balance your blood sugars. Packed with natural foods high in fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants, metabolic vibrance may aid in reducing your blood glucose levels, curb sugar cravings, and suppress appetite.
Balancing your sugar intake during the holiday season is no simple task. Family gatherings, office dinners, and cocktail parties come full-on with sugary treats and dishes. Making it harder to stick to your dietary goals, or better yet, stay away from the occasional sweets.
However, with all the temptations before you, it’s possible to balance your sugar intake during the holiday season. The key is to indulge wisely, create healthier alternatives to your holiday favorites, control your portion sizes, and remember to stay physically active.
Finally, if you’re diabetic, talk to your doctor and determine if you need to adjust your medication dosage during the holidays. This will lower the risk of high blood sugar emergencies that may arise during the season.