Cakes and Cookies, and Pies, Oh My! The holidays are upon us and with them come all the marvelous snacks, treats, and desserts that are iconic to the season. Without question, everyone has a favorite sweet treat that they enjoy during this “most wonderful time of the year”. In our family it is fudge, half with nuts and half without. We only have it two times a year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. What is your family favorite? Is it Grandma’s perfect pies, mom’s marvelous red velvet cake, or is it your aunt’s world famous Christmas cookies? How can you say no? When your coworkers bring trays of tempting treats, it would be impolite not to take a few, right? Why not just give in for the whole season? You can cut back on eating fewer sweets in January, right?
America’s top five sources of added sugar are soft drinks(33%), candy and sugar that is added to tea and coffee(16%), cakes and cookies(13%), fruit drinks (10%), and dairy desserts including ice cream and sweet yogurt(9%). It seems that all of these items can be found in some form on our holiday tables. So what are we to do? It’s not easy to resist sweets and set healthy goals during the holidays. But maybe we don’t have to resist every sweet thing that we see but instead we could take small steps to eat less sugar during the holidays (and throughout the year). It’s about making healthy choices as often as possible.
The American Heart Association says an average American eats 77 pounds of sugar per year, that’s like eating 77 chocolate chip cookies a day. Those who consumed 25% or more of their daily calories from added sugar had twice the risk of dying from cardio vascular disease than those whose diet had 7%. Foods high in added sugar send your blood sugar soaring then crashing, leaving you alternately jittery and sluggish.
Taking Small Steps to Eat Less Sugar During the Holidays
So in honor of all those who crave the cookies, cakes, pies, and anything else with sugar during the holidays, here are a few ways to cut back on the sugar and enjoy what you do eat:
Set a goal for the season. Give yourself permission to enjoy some sugary sweets, but set a limit. Allow yourself to have a small piece of candy a day or a small Christmas cookie a day. Save items with more sugar for a special day of the week like a piece of pie on Sunday. Or will your goal be to splurge on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day only? If you decide to splurge be sure to define what “splurge” means. Trying to go cold turkey throughout the whole season will only make you feel frustrated and more prone to binge. Clear goals help you stick to them. If you set goals be sure to share them with others so they can support you with them.
Make Smart Swaps
Sugar can come from foods that you never think about like bread or condiments. It’s easy to swap in low sugar options without missing sweetness. Here are a few tips to help you make the swaps:
1. Make an effort to cut out one or two sugary drinks a day. Try to replace these with water.
2. Instead of flavored options buy plain whole foods and add your own toppings. That way you can control the amount of sugar in the dish.
3. Get your sweet “fix” from eating a piece of fresh fruit instead of cookies or candy.
4. Dial down sugar gradually by making one swap every week and slowly reducing the amount of sugar you add to foods as you retrain your taste buds.
Bring Your Own
Holidays are full of all sorts of party invitations. Invitations equal temptations. Set your goal of what you can have before you go. Eat some fruit or a small snack before you go so you won’t be so hungry. If asked to bring a dish, bring savory foods that you can enjoy so that you can enjoy the social aspect of eating without giving into those sugary temptations.
Be a Role Model
So you’ve decided to cut back on sugar during the holiday season. This is your decision. Be a respectful role model. Think about that pie that you enjoy so much? If you have made it your goal to only have pie on Christmas Day but you are offered a piece of pie before that, politely say no. Explain that you would really enjoy some but you have to turn it down because you have set a goal to limit your sugar intake. If you set a healthy example, other people in your family may be inspired to set their own goal
Enjoy all of your holiday events with friends and family. Don’t focus on what you’re giving up when you set goals to limit your sugar intake – focus on what you’re getting in return! The peace of mind that comes with knowing that how you’re eating now actually goes a long way towards protecting your physical and mental health. www.fbcbixby.og
Author: Mary Covey
Mary Covey is a long time member of Bixby’s First Baptist who volunteers her time to guest write for our blog. Mary is an expert quilter, published author, and proud grandmother.