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Can You Keep Sugar in Check This Holiday Season?

If the sugar cookies and candy canes don’t draw you in, the special holiday drink at your favorite coffee shop could be your downfall. You know too much sugar isn’t good for your waistline or your general health, but how can you resist?

This year, be ready. Start by knowing the stakes. Eating more sugar than we need has been linked to everything from tooth decay to heart disease.
Try Tasty Alternatives
If you’re the cook, mix things up a little for healthier results:

  • Instead of sweetening cider with sugar, try spices and fruit, such as cinnamon, cloves, and cranberries.
  • Skip the sugar and use vanilla, almond, or peppermint extracts for a flavor boost.
  • Check the nutrition labels carefully before you buy your traditional holiday favorites. You may be shocked at the numbers.

Step Away from the Table
Holiday parties can be a special challenge. Cakes, cookies, candy, pies, and soft drinks are among the top sources of sugar in the American diet, and they’re all right there, on an overflowing buffet table.

Be prepared with these strategies:

  • Avoid the urge to make a beeline for the buffet table by having a healthy snack before you arrive.
  • Change your mindset to focus more on socializing and less on eating.
  • Eat slowly, and choose carefully. If possible, satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit or angel food cake.
  • Don’t forget that drinks can pack a sugary punch, too. Make your own creation to skip the extra sugar, or drink sugar-free soda.
  • Bring a low-sugar treat of your own to share. Boiled shrimp or veggies with dip are good options.

 

 

SOURCES

“Added Sugar: What You Need To Know.” American Academy of Family Physicians. familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/sugar-and-substitutes/added-sugar-what-you-need-to-know.html.
“Caloric Sweetener Consumption and Dyslipidemia Among U.S. Adults.” J.A. Welsh et al. The Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol. 303, No. 15, pp. 1490-97. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20407058.
“Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association.” R. K. Johnson et al. Circulation. Vol. 120, no. 11, pp. 1011-20. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19704096/.
“Helpful Tips for Healthy Holiday Parties.” Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=11644&terms=holiday%20drinks.
“Making Holiday Traditions Healthy.” American Heart Association. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Making-Holiday-Traditions-Healthy_UCM_447130_Article.jsp.
“The Sneaky Side of Sugar.” American Heart Association. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/SimpleCookingwithHeart/The-Sneaky-Side-of-Sugar_UCM_430114_Article.jsp.
“Sugar: Frequently Asked Questions (Consumers).” American Heart Association. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Sugar_UCM_306725_Article.jsp.
“Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: Epidemiologic Evidence.” F. B. Hu and V.S. Malik. Physiology & Behavior. Vol. 26, no. 100, pp. 47-54. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3095502/.
“Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, and Cardiovascular Disease Risk.” V.S. Malik. Circulation. Vol. 121, no. 11, pp. 1356-64. www.circ.ahajournals.org/content/121/11/1356.full.
“Sugar 101.” American Heart Association. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Sugars-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp.