The holidays are here – and for those of us who are trying to eat healthfully, it can feel a bit like a sugar invasion. How do you deal with the overabundance of sugar and refined carbs that comes with the season?
One good place to start is with setting goals. Are you going to stick religiously to your diet? Allow yourself to relax your standards a bit? Having a plan makes it easier to resist momentary temptations to go overboard.
And perhaps you have a friend or loved one who can be your “food ally” when it comes to holiday gatherings. Having an ally with similar health goals can help you feel less alone or singled out for choosing not to indulge.
At the same time, do be polite in declining treats that go outside your bounds. For instance, you can explain that although the treat sounds delicious and you wish you could have some, you must decline for health reasons. By being non-confrontational about your food choices, you might even inspire friends and family to follow your lead – and that’s not a bad thing, at all!
You also have another opportunity to be a role model by contributing your own food to the gatherings you attend, sharing your healthy lifestyle with others.
You could even get a gift for yourself – a new cookbook focused on your preferred way of eating. There’s no shortage of cookbooks based on limiting sugar, whether keto, paleo, or some related diet. There’s Paleo Desserts, for instance, or Paleo Comfort Foods and The Ketogenic Cookbook – to name just a few of the many excellent titles that are out there.
You might be surprised how easy it is to make substitutions that allow you to enjoy your holiday favorites without sabotaging your dietary goals!
Even so, buffets and other grazing opportunities can be especially challenging. Eating a healthful meal beforehand is one good strategy to keep from going overboard. If you arrive starved, you’re sure to overindulge. And when you do eat, be sure to include healthy fats, which will help you feel fuller and be less prone to indulge in too many unhealthy treats.
Also, browse the selections before choosing your food and plan what you’ll enjoy. Otherwise, it can be too easy to overfill your plate when you find dishes you really want after you’ve already made your first choices.
Make it a small plate, at that, and you’re apt to be more mindful of how much you’re taking.
Another option? Drink plenty of water. Like the fats mentioned above, this can help you feel fuller and less apt to overdo it on the sweets.
Including cinnamon in your diet during this season can be especially helpful. Cinnamon is known to help you metabolize the carbohydrates, including sugar, that you do eat. It also helps you feel full, so you don’t continue to overindulge and is known to help moderate spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels after eating.
Since cinnamon is common in many traditional holiday dishes, this is easy advice to follow.
Don’t forget to exercise. Given the hectic pace of the holidays, it’s easy to fall back in this area. But exercising will keep your metabolism up to handle any overindulgences that occur.
And if you screw up and go whole hog for the cookies and fudge, stuffing and potatoes, and other sugary or carb-centric indulgences? Accept that you’re human. Forgive yourself. Resolve to stick to your guns the next time temptation presents itself.
It’s not necessary to risk a sugar coma as we celebrate the holidays. A little mindfulness and preplanning can make all the difference in the world.
Images by j bizzie, via Wikimedia Commons; dennis crowley, via Flickr