The holidays are an exciting time filled with cookies, cakes, pies, and cheer. But an increasing number of people are becoming sugar conscious and understanding of the real weight of these sweet treats. From 1990 to 2010, the rate of diabetes in American adults tripled and there are now about 100 million adults with diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes is more than just an inconvenience of limiting sugar intake. Uncontrolled, it can lead to vision loss, amputation of extremities, complications to other health conditions, and it is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Gaining control of your diet can help manage or prevent type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a few tips can help you get through the holidays without overloading on sugar. Whether your holiday goals include limiting sugar or avoiding extra weight gain, everyone can benefit from conscious eating choices.
It’s easy to forget that such easily consumed items can pack a wallop of sugar. Beware of sodas, juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and really anything pre-packaged. Juice is often thought of as a healthy option but 8 ounces of Simply Orange Juice has 23g of sugar. For a woman, that is almost her daily limit of added sugars. Be mindful of mixed drinks and wines that may contain forgotten sugars and be aware that alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels. With cooking and baking, try substituting out sugar in recipes like using unsweetened applesauce or spices instead. Confectioners sugar is popular in a lot of holiday baking and can be switched out with ground sugar substitutes. A little research and label reading can help narrow lower sugar or sugar-free options.
It’s important to maintain a normal eating schedule even during the busy holidays to control blood sugar easier. Keep snacks on hand for unexpected moments and even consider eating before events, especially if you don’t know what the food situation will be like. Before jumping into the buffet line, think about what your eating goals are and make a game plan. Consider smaller portions of each item (you can always go back for more!) and prioritizing vegetables first. Setting some guidelines will help in avoiding over-indulging while still allowing you to enjoy yourself and your food. If bringing a dish to a gathering, volunteer to bring something fresh like fruit. Potlucks sometimes end up with a lot of heavy and sweet dishes, so the other attendees will probably be thanking you for your contribution. Planning can also help alleviate stress, which could lead to poor sleep and bad eating choices.
Gather your friends and family outside for a game of catch or go on a group walk after dinner. Exercise will help counteract some of the extra food everyone ate and will help level off the extra sugar. Plus, activities are more fun with company! Over the course of the whole holiday timeline, try to keep up with your normal exercise routine. It might be hard with extra events but it’ll help with maintaining your goals. If you exercise at night, try switching to the morning to make sure it doesn’t get pushed off your schedule.
It might seem limiting at first to set boundaries and goals but it may prove to actually be liberating. Mindful consumption can lead to a healthier, happier, and more energetic you without sugar crashes or post-eating sleepiness. The holidays are meant for fun and cheer so don’t get bogged down if you do go a little overboard; just jump back in as soon as you realize. Have a happy, safe holiday and yes, do enjoy Aunt Edna’s one-time-a-year pie (even if it’s a small slice).