The holiday season can be a difficult time to avoid the temptations of all the delicious and sugary treats that always seem to be lurking around. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that can make getting through the holiday season a little easier. Avoiding the holiday sugar crash is not impossible. Learn how to stay on track below.
Understanding Hidden Sugars
It’s probably understood by now that excess sugar is harmful for the body and mind for many reasons. What might not be as well known is that there are a lot of hidden sources of sugar in seemingly innocent foods. Condiments, fruit juices, sauces, granola, cereal bars, flavored coffees, and iced teas, as well as low fat products like yogurt and salad dressings can contain added sugars that can quickly add up. By becoming aware of these hidden sugars and making some simple diet adjustments, cutting down on your sugar intake will become less of a challenge. It is recommended to limit calories from added sugar to less than 10% of your total calories per day. For example, if approximately 2,000 calories are consumed daily, that would translate to about 200 calories, or 50 grams of added sugar a day. Learning to read and understand food labels can make this process a lot easier.
Make Use of Healthier Alternatives
It’s no secret that some form of sugar can be found in most foods, but processed foods usually have some of the highest amounts of added sugars. Cutting down on most processed, packaged, and canned foods can make a significant difference when it comes to not only sugar consumption, but also extra salt and preservatives that are extremely unhealthy.
Alternatively, make a habit of filling your pantry with whole foods like oats, nuts, raisins, and seeds. Alternative flours for baking, such as almond and coconut flours, contain higher nutrients while being low in sugars and carbohydrates. Try sweetening holiday baking with natural and unprocessed ingredients like raw honey, 100% maple syrup, molasses, coconut, and date sugar. These substitutes, in moderation, will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but make for healthier overall choices.
There are a number of healthy ingredients that can be used as replacements for your holiday sweet treats. Instead of using the usual flour and chocolate that contains high sugar content for making chocolate mousse, use low-sugar ingredients such as avocado, coconut milk, and real cocoa powder. Serving the dessert with crushed pistachios and raspberries on top will give added color while keeping the delectable sugary flavor in a health-conscious way.
Learning new healthy versions of recipes for holiday favorites can be a fun and inspiring way to enjoy the season without sacrificing health.
Don’t Eliminate Exercise
Skipping out on your regular fitness routine during the holidays is one of the main reasons why weight gain and sugar crashes happen over vacation time. Exercise will release those endorphins needed to help manage mood and fulfillment, making heathy habits seem easier. Make sure to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days a week. Going for a light jog, a walk around the block, or performing other light cardiovascular exercises that are on easy on the joints will contribute to not only your physical, but also your mental health during the busy holiday season.
Participate in Holiday Activities
Overeating during the holidays is unfortunately a common occurrence. While there is no perfect solution, there are ways to substitute holiday eating with other holiday pursuits. Engaging in fun, festive indoor activities like going to concerts or plays, participating in board games, or playing cards with friends and family can provide an enjoyable distraction when it comes to overeating. Outdoor recreation like ice skating, skiing, snow shoeing or simply taking a walk outside in the fresh air, can be a fun and exciting way to enjoy the holidays while keeping your waistline in check. So, rather than sitting on the couch eating unhealthy snacks and watching holiday movies all day long, try participating in some fun activities instead! It may be surprising just how much enjoyment you get from them.
Avoiding the sugar crash and keeping energy levels up through holiday season and throughout the year does not have to be painful. Write these simple reminders on a health checklist and place it in an area of your home where it is clearly visible.
Drinking a lot of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, along with eating protein rich foods that include eggs, nuts and lean meats can be an effective way to sustain energy levels all day long.
Finally, don’t skip meals! Be sure to incorporate plenty of high fiber fruits and vegetables into every meal, this will not only help digestion but help you feel full longer. When your body is fed with quality fuel, it will crave less sugar and junk.
Remember, the holidays are supposed to be fun. Taking the right steps to invest in a healthy lifestyle while stilling enjoying the holiday celebrations can help you feel your best at all times.