10 Tips to Enjoy Low-Sugar Holidays
Better Nutrition|December 2020
For weight control and improved health, follow these strategies to keep your sugar intake to a minimum while still relishing the sweetness of the season.
By Melissa Diane Smith

Q I have prediabetes and have mostly avoided sugar in my diet this year. But during the holidays, I know I will likely want to splurge on an occasional seasonal dessert that I can’t get any other time of year. Do you have any advice on how to enjoy a taste of holiday treats but still mostly abstain from eating sugar?

At this time of year, we’re bombarded with the sights and smells of addictive sugary foods and beverages. Candied yams. Gingerbread. Egg nog. Apple pie. Christmas cookies and other home-baked goodies. Chocolates. Pumpkin pie. ... If we aren’t careful, one sugar-loaded indulgence can lead to another and another—then some of us give into sugar for the whole season and end up sicker and heavier before the new year even begins.

More than 50 percent of Americans are estimated to be prediabetic or diabetic, and more than 60 percent of Americans over age 40 are likely to have prediabetes. Insulin resistance, which is at the core of prediabetes, doesn’t just significantly increase your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, but also your risk of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, dementia, and depression. Keeping this information in mind, most of us should limit our sugar intake. Intellectually speaking, we may know this, but practically speaking, it’s not easy to stick to eating low sugar during the holidays.

Guidelines to Keep in Mind

To stay committed, keep reminding yourself that avoiding sugars and other refined and blood-sugar-spiking carbohydrates is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Also know that the more you avoid sugar, the better your energy levels and mood will be—and the better your clothes will fit in January!

While keeping your intention on the health, mood, and weight control benefits you’ll receive, try these ten bottom-line, sugar-smart tips:

1 Consider your alternatives. If you choose to stick to a sugar-free diet during the holidays, your indulgence might be something simple with no added sugar, such as buying fresh berries and topping them with unsweetened whipped cream topped with cinnamon—or preparing pan-fried apples with cinnamon. If you find yourself in a position where you need to say no to desserts at the table, be polite and complementary. Say “I avoid sugar for health reasons,” then focus on the connection and conversation you have with others.

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