Now that the holidays are coming into full swing, we thought we would share some of our favorite tips for enjoying the festivities without overdoing it on sugar. As always, our philosophy is one of moderation — it’s important that you and your family enjoy your favourite treats and not feel deprived or restricted. Here are some easy ways to be able to do that and still feel well as you celebrate.
- Update Family Favorite Recipes: Take a look at your favorite family recipes and try lowering the sugar. You can often cut the sugar down by one third or even up to one half and the texture stays the same and the taste is still great. So if a recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, try it out with 1 cup or even 3/4 cups instead. You can also try modifying the recipe by taking out some or all of the added sugar and adding in whole or dried fruits which add fiber and other nutrients as well. You can find out more about this approach to baking in this post and in Sugarproof.
- Mix and Match: Make some healthier holiday treats to have at home for variety and to lower the overall sugar load. We have recipes in our book and on our blog like our Sicilian Almond Cookies, Golden Gingersnaps, or Sweet Potato Pecan Banana Bread, all with zero added sugars.
- Think About Drinks: Liquid forms of sugar are especially harmful to the body as they deliver large doses in short amounts of time. Skipping the sweet drinks also frees up some room to have other holiday treats that might be more important to you. If you do have sweet drinks like hot chocolate, try to make them less sweet –– use half of the sugar/powder or make a warmed up version of our Sugarproof Homemade Chocolate Milk (see recipe in Sugarproof) which has zero added sugars.
- Cut the Pumps: If ordering holiday drinks out at a cafe like at Starbucks, ask for less pumps of sugar. Start with asking for a quarter less pumps and work towards half as many pumps.
- Stick to Healthy Breakfasts: It can be tempting to have leftover sweets that are on the counter, but having those first thing in the morning will likely put you and your kids on the sugar roller coaster and lead to a cycle of cravings for more sugar (and worse food choices in general) that lasts for the whole day. If you start the day with a breakfast that includes protein and fiber and minimal added sugar, you are likely to eat better throughout the day. We have lots of ideas and recipes for healthy breakfasts in Sugarproof that incorporate fiber and protein to minimize the blood glucose roller coaster.
- Time Sweets Wisely: Have sweets after a meal rather than on an empty stomach. This will help you to stick to a smaller portion and will help mitigate some of the effects on your blood sugar levels. Along those same lines, try to avoid having the sweets as a snack – keep them as desserts.
- Eat Before You Go: Have a small meal or balanced snack before going to a party or a relative’s house (for the same reasons in the last tip).
- Pace Yourself: Remind yourself and your kids that the holiday season goes on for many weeks so there will be plenty of chances to have the holiday treats you love. Not everything has to be in your house at once or tried on the same day if at a party or relative’s house. Space out the treats and you and your kids will be able to enjoy them even more.
- Go for Mini Size: Making your favorite treats smaller into mini-sized desserts allows you to still have all of the flavour but less sugar. As an example, see our recipe for No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Bites.
You can find even more tricks for the holidays and any time of the year in Sugarproof.