Avoiding Sugar During the Holidays

I am very proud of myself. I managed to get through an ENTIRE Halloween season without eating a single piece of candy. For me, that's really big. What's huge, though, is the fact that I didn't even realize it until the day after the holiday. That means I didn't even think about candy for almost all of October. Sure, I had a cupcake when I made my Ghoulishly Gluten Free Halloween Cupcakes - only one. I made a dozen of these gorgeous little buggers, and gave them all away. In fact, I think that I may have only eaten half a cupcake, leaving the rest because it was just too much sugar for me in one sitting.

If you follow my blog, you probably know that I battle a refined sugar addiction. I honestly believe that refined sugar is the most insidious of the white powders. It's so dangerous because it's seems innocuous to people—it is not nearly as taboo as other addictive substances like cocaine and amphetamines, so people consume it daily without a second thought. This has led to an era of serious, nation-wide health problems. Now, we're getting into a really dicey time of year: the holidays. Christmas is notorious for being a sugar-coated holiday, and I'm determined to not feel like crap this year because I fell off the wagon, so to speak. How am I going to make sure I keep an eye on my health and not the platters full of cookies that will inevitably float by? I've got a few key tips:

  • Explain to people what you're doing, and why, early in the game. This way they won't feel offended when you don't take their special Christmas cookies, which they are probably proud of and eager to share.
  • Pack healthy snacks. For me, this means Lara Bars, bananas and organic corn chips.
  • Dried fruits, like apple and mango, make great alternate sweets. Just make sure that they're not artificially sweetened—some varieties, such as cranberries, are often sweetened with sugar.
  • If you're only cutting out refined sugar, consider natural sweeteners for yogurt, coffee, etc. Great alternatives are stevia, honey and agave nectar.
  • Differentiate between crap and worthwhile indulgences. For me, this means that I keep a really nice bar of chocolate around, and when I just want a piece of chocolate, I take a small square off the good stuff and not a Snickers. I don't feel deprived, but I've also created a boundary between me and the junky candy that's always within arm's reach.
  • Avoid fast food joints. Yup, there's sugar in them thar burgers. If you're stuck in the mall, famished from Christmas shopping, look for healthier alternatives, like salad or soup.
  • Avoid drinking. Not only is alcohol high is sugar, but one or two cocktails can really, really weaken your resolve. Plus you'll feel like crap the next day, and isn't the whole point of this avoiding sugar thing to feel better?
  • If you get a mad sugar craving while you're around sweets, try drinking a big glass of water. It will fill you up somewhat, and giving your body a megadose of hydration will make you feel stronger and more in the moment.
  • If you're still new to the low/no-sugar game, pass up making cookies and candies this year. You will probably get to the point that you can make sweets without eating them all, but until then, be kind to yourself and don't put yourself in temptation's way.
  • And finally, don't beat yourself up if you falter. It's not a failure, and it's not a "cheat." You're an adult and you made a decision. Just try to make a different decision next time. :)

What are your tips for not succumbing to sugar? Or do you have a story to share about your experiences?


Stephanie J. Stiavetti | Food & Lifestyle Media Maven 
Writing, Radio, Social Media, Recipe Development
Food blog: TheCulinaryLife.com
Twitter: @sstiavetti 

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