When the weather starts to cool off, we quickly go from one holiday to the next. From Halloween, to Thanksgiving, to Christmas, to New Year’s, we are given any excuse to eat, drink, and be merry. And why shouldn’t we?! We work hard each and every day so when the opportunity to relax comes along, we cherish it!
With holidays come lots of hearty foods and drinks. Don’t get us wrong, you should allow yourself to indulge on pumpkin pie, Christmas cookies, and a cocktail, but it’s important to not go overboard, primarily because you will probably not feel so great after you do.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU EAT A LOT OF SUGAR
You Become Addicted
When your sugar intake increases, the first thing you’ll notice is that you crave even more sugar. Research suggests that this is because sugar is an addictive substance and, once consumed, rewires your brain to want more. If you’re ever tried to wean yourself off of sugar, you may have experienced some painful side-effects, similar to those of drug withdrawal.
Sugar Highs, Sugar Lows
You know that burst of energy you get after having some candy or soda? That’s from the simple carbohydrates in the sugar that spike blood sugar levels leading to what’s commonly known as a “sugar high.” We also know all too well the “sugar crash.” Why does this happen? It’s because your body tries to transport that sugar from your bloodstream to your cells for energy. To do this, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. When insulin is released, your blood sugar levels drop, thereby leaving you feeling tired, sluggish, and sometimes even cranky.
WAYS TO LIMIT SUGAR INTAKE DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Before you immediately go back for the serving spoon and get seconds (…ahem, or even thirds, fourths, etc.), take a break. Sit back, be in the moment with your family and friends, drink some water, and take a few deep breaths. Are you already feeling like you need to unbutton your pants or change into loose-fitting clothes because you’re so full and bloated? If so, wait a little while before going back for more. Doing this will allow you to enjoy each bite of food than you maybe wouldn’t have otherwise, plus, you won’t be consuming so much sugar because, even when you don’t realize it, a lot of traditional holiday recipes contain sugary foods (Thanksgiving stuffing, red wine, and meat marinades are just a few of note).
Choose sparkling OR FLAVORED water over a cocktail
We get it. Cocktails taste good and, heck, it’s a holiday and a reason to celebrate! But maybe instead of having three glasses of wine or multiple brandy old fashioneds (can you tell we’re from Wisconsin?), drink a sparkling water with lime, our Rosemary Water, or even just a plain, old glass of water! It will keep you hydrated, more alert, and won’t add on hundreds of extra calories and unnecessary grams of sugar.
Trust us, we get it. Pumpkin pie is the greatest creation known to man. We certainly “live a little” and have a piece of pie on Thanksgiving or (read: “and”) Christmas, but we a) make said pie without added sugar and b) only eat a slice. By doing this we’re not only reducing the amount of sugar we are consuming but we are also so much more grateful for the piece of pie we are eating. It is a treat that we enjoy every bite of. Plus, by lessening your sugar intake over time, you’ll come to find food that doesn’t contain added sugar so much sweeter than you ever have before. For example, remove added sugar from your diet and then eat blueberries or even carrots, and you’ll notice a level of sweetness you never realize existed. We won’t ever say that you need to ward off any added sugar forever and ever, but we will say that by actively lessening your intake of added sugar, you’ll come to find sweetness in naturally sweetened ingredients and you’ll come to enjoy a piece of dessert so much more than you ever have.
If your family is known for having more dessert options than dinner options at holiday gatherings, come prepared! If you’re trying to limit your added sugar intake, bring a few snacks to have on hand so that if there’s nothing else available for you to eat, you’ll be less likely to give up and binge! While we suggest snacks such as grapes, compliant granola bars, or plantain chips, we believe it’s best that you bring whatever food item(s) that will keep you from sticking your hand in the cookie jar (or taking a fourth Christmas cookie).
talk about it!
Your friends and relatives may surprise you with how supportive they can be when you tell them you’re trying to limit your sugar intake. The best advice we can give to you if you’re struggling during the holidays with this lifestyle is to bring the topic up! Tell your family that you’re trying to decrease your sugar consumption. They may be interested in why you’ve decided to do this, it’s a great talking point if there’s ever a lull in conversation, and you may even find a buddy to go on the journey with!
The worst thing you can do is stress about food options in advance of a holiday party. Trust us. You won’t have any fun if all you’re thinking about is how you’re going to explain this choice to your co-workers or relatives. Be in the moment and enjoy yourself, but remember that you don’t need sugar to make you happy.