Three Simple Steps to Step back From Sugar at the Holidays

The holidays are a great time for relaxing with family and friends, as well as taking time to participate in festive activities, such as holiday parties and celebrations. Typically, these types of holiday activities include lots of food and drink. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?! Yes, but perhaps not so much for our bodies.

Anytime we consume more sugar than we’re used to, our bodies can become fatigued and overwrought with cravings for more. Sugar has been proven to be more addictive than cocaine. And it’s in so many of the food-like products that are available today, including pre-packaged holiday desserts.

Many online recommendations for staying away from sweets during the holidays simply say “just say no” or “go for a walk.” Or one of my favorites, “weigh yourself everyday.” I’m not sure how those suggestions are helpful because when I was addicted to sugar, walking away from cookies and cake was near impossible! And the temptations around the holidays are everywhere. From the coworkers who bring in donuts or the late afternoon “pick me ups” when you’re approaching dinner time and really want to eat something nutritious.

So here’s my tried and true secret for waiving off the sugar cravings and making healthier choices during the holidays (or anytime for that matter):

Bulk up on the healthier options at the beginning of the day so the body doesn’t crave the “bad” stuff nearly as much. 

The term I learned when I studied for my certification in health coaching is called “crowding out.” This term was coined by Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. What it means is that instead of focusing on what you “can’t have,” focus on adding more nutritious foods into your daily repertoire. This alone will naturally “crowd out” the non-nutritious options.

Tweetable Waive off cravings for non-nutritious options. Bulk up on healthy options early in the day. @staceycrew

During the holiday season, you may be invited to four or five parties in a week. It may be business obligations or family get togethers. Or, the annual party you really look forward to attending!

Whichever type of party it is, be sure to plan ahead in terms of what you eat, especially on the the day of the party. Begin by cutting back or eliminating the carbonated drinks and drink more water (this is a go-to way to keep your body’s internal systems moving).

If you pre-game with healthier options, once you arrive at the party, you can indulge a little without feeling guilty.

Tweetable Pre-game for holiday parties by eating healthy and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated. @staceycrew #holidays #healthtip

Pre-gaming with healthier options will also help you avoid the holiday food hangover. Remember, too, that alcohol contains a lot of sugar. So having a glass of wine is oftentimes the equivalent of eating a donut. If you do imbibe, have one glass of wine followed by a glass of water to re-hydrate and flush your system.

Planning ahead is key. Here are some simple suggestions that will allow you to enjoy the holiday season:

  1. Pre-game with healthy options — On party day, skip the breakfast donuts, eat a hard-boiled egg and some oatmeal instead. For lunch, eat a clean salad (add some meat or beans for protein) with an olive oil-based dressing (bottled ones contain a lot of sugar so read the label or make your own) and some healthy snacks in between. Go-to healthy snacks include an apple, carrots and hummus, and strawberries. If you’ll be heading to a party directly after work or in the early evening, consider stopping for a fresh juice or a made-from-scratch-smoothie.
  2. Cut-back on carbonated drinks  especially diet ones, which are loaded with chemicals that create inflammation in the body and wreak havoc on our digestive track. One 12-ounce can of diet coke contains 39 grams of sugar. The daily recommended maximum of added sugars per day for women is 25 grams and for men it’s 37.5 grams. So, one 12-OUNCE can (and most people are drinking 16-oz or 32-oz drinks) of diet coke and you’re already blown your daily sugar budget (and keep in mind that’s suggested, not a requirement). Carbonated drinks are one of the main reasons people have trouble losing weight and can’t get rid of the spare tire.
  3. Increase your water intake Again, this is a go-to health booster. Most people are walking around dehydrated and don’t even know it. Better yet, start a warm lemon water routine each morning to lubricate your body’s internal systems. You’ll be amazed at the results by incorporating this one change in your morning routine.

So, choose one of the above and you’ll be way ahead of the game! Now go and enjoy the holiday season!

If you found this post helpful, please share with your friends. Also, please comment below and share your plan for eating healthier throughout the holidays.

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