Sugar Season is Here! (6 Tips to Help You Navigate)
Okay, we’ve already established that we Americans eat A LOT of sugar, right? Well, it seems to me that Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day has got to be the peak time for consumption of the white stuff. Those attractive little red & green foil wrappers are just the beginning…
So what will you do? Are you already resigned to give in, knowing you’ll feel awful come January 2nd? Perhaps you’ll exert your utmost willpower as you go from one holiday event to the next; but then lose your resolve with the first concession: “Well, maybe just ONE Santa cookie.” If you have come up with a strategy that actually gets you through the month feeling terrific, I think you should write a book!
One thing I learned during the last couple of years is that having food sensitivities can be a real advantage, if I approach it the right way. Two years ago, I “cheated” a little. A few cookies, a piece of pie, some stuffing with my turkey. By the end of the holidays, I was pretty miserable. Wheat & gluten do NOT like me, even a tiny bit. So, last year, it was easier. Every time I was offered an offending food, I said “no thank you,” without a trace of regret. It was so nice to feel so much better! And a bonus of all that was that I also had substantially less sugar.
I often hear people trying to motivate themselves to resist sugar. “I know I shouldn’t eat this. I’t’s so bad for me.” This does not work! Everyone’s a little different, but here are some suggestions for keeping things a little better balanced this December:
1) Watch your blood sugar. How? Eat a little protein at each meal. Eat whole grains & vegetables. In fact, try to fill up mostly on these things. Don’t wait til you feel starved to eat, but do wait til you feel a little hungry. I’m personally not a fan of eating lots of “small meals” instead of 2 or 3 main meals. But if that’s how you need to do it to keep your blood sugar level, do it (for now).
2) Be active. Just a brisk walk around the neighborhood is enough for me to feel energized, & it also inspires me to eat better. Or get together with a friend or two for racket ball or a little hike. Maybe do your shopping where you can do a lot of walking between stores. Schedule in a zumba or spin class. Whatever works for you!
3) Plan good foods for yourself wherever you are. Pack baby carrots & peanut butter or dressing to take with you. Put a small container of almonds & raisins in your purse, or an apple in your bag. Make a big pot of soup on the weekend, then bring it for lunch a couple of times during the week. Instead of thinking so much about the holiday treats you’ll make, plan the delicious savory vegetable dishes you can serve with a nice piece of fish or pot of beans. Add raw veggies everywhere you can think of.
4) Eat before you go to the party. (I know you’ve heard this one before!) If I am already full of good food when I arrive, it’s so much easier to grab a cup of tea or coffee, or sparkling water, & just enjoy the company, instead of heaping up a plate of “goodies,” or drinking the cocoa or hot cider.
5) Drink water. I tend to become dehydrated when I’m frantically busy with holiday activity. Then I think I’m hungry, when all I actually need is a big drink of water. Staying hydrated helps your immune system work more efficiently, and helps prevent headaches, too. Especially if you live in a dry climate, like I do. Best of all, you won’t be as tempted by sugary drinks– one of the biggest sources of seasonal calories.
6) Choose your favorite sweet treats now & then, and really ENJOY! Don’t deny yourself til you just can’t stand it. Tell yourself ahead of time, “when the pecan pie is served, I’m going to savor every bite!” Chew slowly so you can really appreciate your indulgence (and digest it!)
The bottom line here is: be intentional. Take a few minutes to set an intention for the next 6 weeks. Just this simple step will empower you to face the holidays with more optimism, and hopefully, feel better & healthier in the long run.