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How to cut back on sweets during the holidays

Sugar might be the world’s most popular addictive substance. We love it, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately, in addition to being addictive, sugar is bad for your health. The more sugar you eat, the more resistant your body becomes to insulin. This puts you at a higher risk for diabetes. High sugar intake has also been implicated as a risk factor for heart disease, high cholesterol, and even dementia.

If these long-term risks aren’t enough to curb your craving, studies have shown that an intake of 75 grams of sugar lowers immune response for several hours. That might sound like a lot, but one can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, and low-fat flavored yogurt can contain 47 grams.

Cutting back on sugar has always been a good health choice, but now it may be more critical than ever. Diabetes and heart problems are risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19, and you don’t want to be impairing your immune system during a pandemic.

The holidays are coming up, and with fewer social gatherings this year, you might still find yourself tempted to sit at home and eat sugary foods. Here’s how to enjoy your holiday season without harming your health:

Make a Plan

And stick to it. Before you go to a holiday gathering (or out to do your shopping for your at-home holiday), think about what foods you have to eat to enjoy the season and which ones you could skip. Maybe you have to have a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving but won’t feel too deprived if you avoid the marshmallow yams. Or instead of thinking about specific foods you can’t live without, you could allow yourself to splurge during a specific time period, like Christmas Day or the second night of Hannuka. It would be best if you also defined what a “splurge” is so you don’t end up making yourself sick during your splurge time.

The next time you attend a holiday gathering (maybe next year), keep in mind that going on a full or partially full tummy might keep you from gorging on sweets. If the event is a potlatch, you could bring a dish that suits your dietary goals, so you know there will be something you can eat. Remember that alcoholic beverages and other drinks like cider and eggnog, are high in sugar and should count against your sugar intake for the night.

Focus on Moderation

Our problems with food often have more to do with how we are eating than with what we are eating. Try cutting out the big problem foods (like soda) and then eating others in smaller portions. It may help to think about why we eat. By this, I mean that we have to eat to get the nutrition and energy that our bodies require. Donuts, pie, cookies, and other sugary treats usually don’t contain much nutrition; we eat them for the flavor. Since that’s the case, you only need enough of that treat to enjoy the flavor. Slow down and be mindful of your eating, and you will realize that three bites of pie can be just as satisfying as a whole piece. Eating like this can also allow you to enjoy a wider variety of sweets during the holidays without overdoing it.

Be especially careful about liquid sugar. Sugary drinks are easy to overdo. They are often flavored with citrus notes that cut the sweet taste and make it impossible to tell that you are taking in several large spoonfuls of sugar. If you must have some cider or soda, have a small glass and drink plenty of water to mitigate the sugar’s effects on your system.

Alcoholic beverages are another sneaky source of sugar. Many flavorings used in mixed drinks are just high fructose corn syrup mixed with flavors and food dye. Straight spirits or small amounts of wine will be better for your sugar goals, and of course, moderation with any kind of alcohol is always important.

Be Open About Your Health Goals

No one wants to feel like the bummer of the party who’s always going on about their diet, but it’s important to let people know why you aren’t eating the dish they brought. Saying that your doctor has told you to be careful about sugar can be helpful. This will avoid giving offense and make it clear that your health is a priority. Many people now know about the harmful effects of sugar, so you might find that your friends and family understand your decision. Some of them might even express a wish to cut back on it themselves.

Remember that no matter how people react to your dietary goals, no one has the right to bully you into eating something you don’t feel is good for you. Be polite, but firm about your need to avoid sugar. Having an ally in your life who is trying to do the same thing can be helpful. You can hold each other accountable, and if they are at your gatherings, a diet buddy can help you feel less like the odd person out.

Aim to Replace Instead of Avoid

Many healthy foods contain sugar. Whole fruit can help to satisfy your sweet tooth while also adding nutrients and fiber to your diet. Dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate and has antioxidants and vitamins. In moderation, foods like these can be part of a healthy, low sugar diet.

Try making your favorite holiday treat using a stevia baking mix instead of regular sugar. This product is a mixture of the sweet extract of the stevia plant and regular sugar. It reduces the amount of sugar in the recipe while providing the sweetness you crave. You could also try recipes that call for naturally sweet foods like dates. Avoid chemical sugar substitutes, and don’t assume that products like coconut sugar or agave are healthier than regular table sugar. Chemical substitutes may cause other health problems if used over time, and sugar is sugar as far as your body is concerned, no matter what plant it’s derived from.

Often homemade versions of your favorite treats will contain less sugar (and fewer chemical additives) than packaged store-bought versions. You may be able to enjoy your holiday favorites in a healthier way by baking them yourself.

Don’t Focus on Perfection

Look at the big picture of your diet. Use an online calculator or consult a nutritionist to determine how many calories you need to maintain a healthy weight. Try to eat a nutritious, well-rounded diet. A sugary treat a few nights a week as part of an otherwise healthy diet is perfectly OK.

Remember that sugar is addictive, and like with any addiction, relapse is a part of recovery. If you’ve been eating a high sugar diet, your first few days or weeks of cutting back will be the hardest part. After that, it will get easier as your body adjusts. Take it one day at a time, and don’t feel like one splurge has wrecked your whole plan. It’s OK to enjoy the special foods of the holidays; try to find a balance between enjoyment and health, so you don’t feel too deprived.

The FDA recommends that men eat no more than 9 grams of added sugar per day and women no more than 6. “Added sugar” means sugar that doesn’t naturally occur in food. These are reasonable goals to aim for, but you may have to get there gradually. Even a decrease from 80 grams a day to 40 grams a day will positively impact your health, so be patient with yourself.

Many people can benefit from professional nutritional counseling. At Allstar Chiropractic, we can help you define and meet your nutritional goals, without ruining your holidays.

So Much Sugar! Tips on How to Cut Back on the Holiday Sweets

” data-image-caption=”” data-medium-file=”https://www.davidrizkdds.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Christmas-Cookies-300×180.jpg” data-large-file=”https://www.davidrizkdds.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Christmas-Cookies.jpg” src=”data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=’http://www.w3.org/2000/svg’%20viewBox=’0%200%20300%20180’%3E%3C/svg%3E” alt=”David M. Rizk, DDS” width=”300″ height=”180″ data-lazy-srcset=”https://www.davidrizkdds.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Christmas-Cookies-300×180.jpg 300w, https://www.davidrizkdds.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Christmas-Cookies.jpg 500w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” data-lazy-src=”https://www.davidrizkdds.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Christmas-Cookies-300×180.jpg” />Happy Holidays from all of your friends at our El Paso dental office ! As we all celebrate and gather again with our loved ones, there tends to be an abundance of something other than love, and that’s sugary sweets. We all know what sugar can do to your smile, but it can be not-so-good for your overall health, too. We all know holiday treats can be truly irresistible to us all, so here are just a few ways you can reduce your sugar intake and still celebrate:

Tip #1 – Don’t Lose Sleep

It might sound strange, but you might be able to cut back on sugar by just getting enough sleep during the holidays and every night of the year. Research says that when someone gets less than five hours of sleep each night, they tend to gravitate towards sugary drinks for an energy boost. If you’re feeling sluggish, try swigging water instead, it will help you feel better without a sugar crash later.

Tip #2 – Don’t Miss Meals

Did you know that sugar cravings are often due to an imbalance in your blood sugar? The key to keeping blood sugar balanced is eating foods rich in proteins and healthy fats. While your El Paso dentist knows this time of year can be busy and hectic, it’s important that you don’t miss or skip meals. This causes your blood sugar to drop dramatically.

Tip #3 – Don’t Cut Sweets

You read that right. We know it’s unrealistic not to expect to have a little dessert at your holiday gatherings. Try to enjoy this part of your meal in moderation, or swap your sweets for low-sugar treats like dark chocolate or yogurt. Are you in charge of the cooking or baking? Try using a natural substitute or cut the sugar in the recipe in half.

Reducing your sugar intake is never a bad idea during the holiday seasons and the rest of the year, and it can help you enjoy improved oral and overall health. If you have questions or would like to schedule a year-end appointment at our dental office in El Paso , don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. We can get you scheduled for a visit, and we look forward to seeing you and your smile!

Posted 16 August 2017 in News

Enjoying a day out with the kids this summer holiday? Feel like you’re surrounded by sugary snacks left, right and centre?

Unfortunately at so many family destinations, sweet temptations are part and parcel of the experience. This also means endless demands for drinks, slushies, ice cream, sweets and chocolate.

But as well as the cost to your wallet, shelling out on sugary snacks will also come at a price for your children’s teeth.

Why are sugary snacks bad for children’s teeth?

High-sugar foods are seen as ‘empty calories’ providing few nutrients but many calories, which can lead to weight gain. The main problem with sugary snacks and teeth is that sugar causes tooth decay.

The more often it is consumed, the more sugar is used to fuel harmful bacteria that lurks in the mouth and attacks the teeth. This eventually leads to cavities.

The daily recommendations for maximum sugar intake are five teaspoons for children aged four to six years old, rising to six teaspoons for children aged seven to 10, then seven for everyone over the age of 11.

A can of fizzy pop can contain as many as seven spoonfuls of sugar – add to that a chocolate bar, which frequently contains upwards of six teaspoons of sugar, and recommended daily allowances are already doubled.

Tips to cut your child’s intake of sugar

Be strict on sweets

Cutting back on sweet treats is the best way to cut sugar consumption. It may not be an easy ride, but a habit is only supposed to take two weeks to break so stay strong! Pre-empt hunger by offering children fruit and vegetable sticks and stock up on sweet fruit such as oranges, strawberries and blueberries.

Save dried fruit for mealtimes

The process of drying fruit alters the naturally occurring sugar to become extremely sticky – and this can stick to teeth raising the risk of decay.

Avoid fizzy drinks

Fizzy drinks have no nutritional part to play in a child’s diet and the damage done to teeth as it is flushed around the mouth is unnecessary. Offer your child unsweetened fruit juice made up with water instead. Ideally get them to drink water and milk.

Read the packaging

Sugar lurks everywhere, particularly in processed food. Cooking from fresh and being ingredient-aware is an easy way to cut sugar from your child’s diet.

Think ahead

If your children find the temptation of sugar too much, pack up a picnic, leave your wallet at home and go to a park or beauty spot where constant demands for sugary snacks won’t spoil the day.

Don’t sugar-coat it: educating your children at an early age on the dangers of too much sugar to their dental health will stand them in good stead for life.

If you have any concerns about tooth decay contact Bhandal Dental Practice today.

Call us now to make an appointment on 024 7668 6690

You know that eating extra sugar can lead to weight gain, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and a whole host of health problems. Yet here you are reaching for the candy jar on your desk or accepting yet another homemade dessert from a co-worker. Before you go beating yourself up about lack of willpower, know that we are born with an innate preference for sweets. Although our preference for nutrient dense foods led to our survival as a species, nowadays our easy access to tasty, energy dense foods have led to an obesity epidemic.

So what can you do to change your behavior? Begin by taking some time to analyze why you are eating sweets and strategize a change.

Rethink your meals

Skipping meals, like breakfast, leaves you vulnerable to getting overly hungry and increases the likelihood of grabbing a sweet pick-me-up. Start planning ahead. Factor in enough time in your day to eat meals. After all, food is fuel and to function optimally you need to fuel-up. If time is a factor, plan some easy meals like Greek yogurt, fruit, and a handful of nuts or a slice of whole grain avocado toast, a hardboiled egg, and a fruit.

Your meal choice can also affect your desire for sweets. When you eat a bowl of cereal, which is highly refined, it spikes your blood sugar and drops it an hour or two later. Then, you’re hungry and reaching for another sugar fix. Time to rethink your breakfast selection. Plan a more balanced breakfast, including three different food groups, one of them being a good protein source and another a good source of fiber. The protein and fiber will provide more staying power, so you’ll be less likely to search for a snack midmorning.

You should plan your snacks, too. If there’s a long time between meals and you have nothing to snack on but the candy jar on your desk or the vending machine down the hall, that’s what you’ll be eating. Get rid of the candy jar – out of sight out of mind! Start bringing in healthier snacks. Plan snacks that have staying power such as a handful of nuts, fresh fruit, a sandwich bag of fresh vegetables, Greek yogurt, or a hardboiled egg.

Brush up on your sugar knowledge

If you have a hard time cutting back on the sweets, another thing to sharpen up is your nutrition IQ and the sugar content in foods. Over the years, food manufactures have added more and more sugar to our food supply. Just to be clear, I am not talking about the sugar that occurs naturally in fruit, milk, sweet potatoes, and carrots. The sugar in these foods are paired with vitamins, minerals, and often fiber; healthy nutrients that we need. These unprocessed foods take longer to digest, have a more blunted rise to our blood sugars, and are more likely to make us feel full.

Obviously, there is a lot of added sugar in pop, candy, and cookies, but when you look at food labels you’ll notice the added sugar in other items, such as spaghetti sauce, granola bars, salad dressings, yogurt, and prepared meals. The newly revised food labels not only tell us how much sugar is in that food, but how much of that sugar is added as opposed to occurring naturally. It may be helpful to visualize that four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar. Seeing that a bottle of sweet tea has 48 grams of sugar or 12 teaspoons of sugar may inspire you to quit sugar sweetened drinks cold turkey. The American Heart Association advises women and children to limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar a day, whereas men should limit their sugar intake to 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar per day.

Give yourself some time as you start to reduce sugar in your diet; change doesn’t happen overnight. You will find that you are more successful working on one aspect of your eating pattern at a time, like eating healthier snacks rather than trying to change everything overnight. As you grow accustomed to eating less processed foods, you will probably find those sugary foods lose their appeal.

Deborah Karl, LD, RD, CDE, is the program coordinator at the ProMedica Diabetes Care Center.

Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies

Throughout the course of a year, you’ll experience stretches of time where sugar and junk food are plentiful, like vacations and holidays. These tips can help you keep tabs on your sugar intake while still enjoying some treats in moderation during these times. These tips guide you through making the best choices out of whatever food is available to help you stay on track.

How to reduce sugar intake on vacations

When you’re on vacation, throwing temperance to the wind is easy, especially if you’re in a situation where high-sugar food is omnipresent, like a cruise ship or a festival. Cutting loose and lightening up on what you allow yourself to eat while on vacation is okay, but if you pull out all the stops and go overboard, you can do a lot of damage in a short period of time.

Vacation should be a time for you to relax, get out of your normal routine, spend some quality time with loved ones, and soak up some special life experiences. Some indulgent cuisine can be part of that, but the focus of your vacation shouldn’t be stuffing yourself with as many carbohydrates as you can find.

Keep your focus on decompressing and on enjoying great experiences, not on seeing how much you can devour from the dessert bar before you make yourself sick.

Beat sugar on holidays

Many people completely shut off any sensibility or moderation around food during holidays. When they give themselves permission to indulge in some holiday sweets, an all-or-nothing mentality takes over.

They go completely overboard, gobbling down every single sugar-filled treat they can lay their hands on — usually with the promise that at the beginning of the new year they’ll start their diet, get back to the gym, or whatever other promise they make to themselves every year. It’s almost like they’re trying to win the award for who can cram the most sugar into themselves before New Year’s.

You should enjoy some goodies during holiday times, but you need to do so in a reasonable fashion. If you’re at a holiday party with a table loaded with desserts as far as the eye can see, pick three things and have two bites of each one. That way you’ll get to enjoy three desserts without overloading yourself with sugar.

During the holidays, you don’t need to splurge at every meal of every day. The holiday season isn’t a pass to eat foolishly for weeks! Do some planning in advance and look for times when it will be easy for you to put together a healthy meal.

Be on the lookout for situations in which you’ll want to overindulge, and be judicious about which ones you allow to become major deviations from your healthy, low-sugar lifestyle. Pick your battles and make conscious, sensible decisions about when you have a treat and how much of it you eat.

During the holiday season, don’t lose sight of the big picture of a healthy nutrition plan — things like vegetables, protein, water, and portion control. Consider junk food as extra, not as a substitute for real food. Be sure to apportion your treat before you start eating so you can keep the amount of sugar you consume in check. You don’t have to eat all the cookies to enjoy them!

Sugar temptations at birthdays and other special occasions

The fact that you’re celebrating a special occasion such as a birthday or an anniversary doesn’t mean that you must eat foolishly. Don’t feel obligated to eat dessert or drink too much to get the most out of your celebration. Focus on the special people around you instead of the junk food that’s available.

Past conditioning may have led you to believe that it’s okay to eat all bad foods on special occasions. This unhealthy mind-set reinforces sugar as a reward or as a necessary part of special times.

A good strategy to help you stay sugar-free during special occasions is to distinguish between tummy hungry and yummy hungry. Tummy hungry is when you want to eat because you listen to the cues that your body gives you, and you’re actually hungry. Yummy hungry is when you want to eat because you see something that looks enticing.

Stay mindful by paying attention to what your body tells you, and don’t allow your eyes to dictate your mouth’s behavior. The next time you get a craving to eat something, pause for a moment to assess whether you’re truly tummy hungry or just piqued by a yummy hungry prospect.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Dan DeFigio is one of the most respected names in the fitness and nutrition industry. His articles have appeared in numerous professional journals, and his workshops have been presented in many cities across the United States. He has appeared on the Dr. Phil show and was featured in SELF Magazine, MD News, Personal Fitness Professional, and a host of other publications.

The holidays are in full swing, and for most, these few weeks are marked by celebrations of faith, get-togethers with family and friends, and indulging in holiday food and drink.

With the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s all too easy to forget about your heath. Not coincidentally, the holidays also are peak times for weight gain, food-borne illness, and cold and flu.

Here are some simple measures you and your family can take to stay healthy throughout the holidays.

Pack Presents, Not Pounds

The average American gains two pounds during the holidays. It’s easy to see how. First, it’s harder to make time to prepare healthy meals when you’re busy buying gifts and attending holiday get-togethers (plus, that plate of sugar cookies is right there). Who would want to be on a diet during the holidays anyway?

Unfortunately, most end of the year weight gain stays there. In fact, weight loss is the number one New Year’s Resolution that people make–then break. By choosing healthier alternatives you can still enjoy all your favorite holiday fare without gaining a pound. Here are a few examples:

Eggnog: One cup of regular eggnog has 439 calories, but minus alcohol it’s down to 342 calories. You can drop that number even further by making your eggnog with low fat or skim milk instead of whole milk. Or skip eggnog altogether and opt for sparkling apple cider which contains only 117 calories.

Smart sides: Opt for sides that are less likely to be loaded with salt and sugar, which can add even more calories than flavor. For example, a cup of glazed carrots contains 217 calories, but a cup of steamed carrots, which are naturally sweet, contains just 27 calories and is just as filling. If you can’t part with your traditional sides, like green bean casserole or mashed potatoes, make smart substitutions to cut back on calories. Substitute reduced sodium, low-fat cream of mushroom soup for the casserole, and make your mashed potatoes with skim milk or chicken broth instead of cream.

Turkey: Save calories by sticking to white meat and skipping the skin. A 4-ounce serving of skinless white meat has 158 calories, while the same portion of dark meat weighs in at 183. Keeping the skin adds another 30 calories. Don’t forget to hold or cut back on the gravy, either. Just two tablespoons of home-made gravy (traditionally made from pan drippings) contains a whopping 45 calories.

Dessert: A slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream contains 530. Skip the whipped cream and you’re down to just 323 calories. A slice of apple pie made with sugar will set you back 630 calories. But substitute the sugar with Splenda® and save 200 calories (for a total of 430 calories). For an even healthier option, try sweet potato pie which is just as yummy and contains just 295 calories.

For more ideas for holiday food makeovers including cultural and international traditions, read Merry Makeovers: Healthy Holiday Foods by WebMD.

Prevent Food-borne Illness

With busy holiday schedules it can be tempting to cut corners in the kitchen. But if you want to avoid an unexpected illness it’s important to make sure you practice safe food prep. Here are a few tips to keep your guests safe from food poisoning:

Make dressing, not stuffing. If you’re making a turkey, cook the stuffing outside the bird. That warm, moist stuffing is inviting to salmonella and other food-borne microbes, which can easily get in from the bird itself or come from other ingredients in the stuffing. Sure, you could cook it long enough to kill the bacteria, but by the time the inside of the turkey reaches a safe 165°, you’ve got a turkey that’s dry, unappealing, and overcooked. To give dressing the inviting flavor of traditional stuffing, use a turkey bouillon. Better Than Bouillon Turkey Base® (available at grocery stores) has no fat and 1/3 less sodium than other turkey bouillons, and packs a serious flavor punch.

Don’t let food sit. A major buffet spread looks great–and who doesn’t want to go back later for seconds? It’s important to put leftovers away promptly if you want to avoid food contamination. In its blog on food safety, the Food and Drug Administration recommends refrigerating foods within two hours of cooking. Bacteria grow rapidly at warm temperatures, so the germs you eliminated from your food by cooking it will just be replaced with new germs if food is left out too long. Tip: take out your Tupperware® containers as part of your meal prep, so it’s easier to promptly pack up leftovers.

Sanitize cutting boards: Hospitality is one of the hallmarks of the holidays, but those nicks and scratches in your cutting board can also be hospitable to food-borne microbes. As you’re preparing a new dish, always start with a clean board and wash it with hot, soapy water before you move on to cutting something else. If you’ve been slicing into raw meat, poultry, or seafood, follow the same cleaning instructions, then disinfect all surfaces with a chlorine bleach solution made with 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. Cover the cutting surface of a cleaned board with your bleach solution, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly and let dry. To avoid cross contamination try using separate cutting boards for cooked food versus uncooked, especially when it comes to meat, and keep a separate one for veggies. An easy way to keep track of what’s what is to get a set of cutting boards in different colors so you know, for example, that red means meat and green means vegetables.

Stave Off Colds and Flu

Winter is the peak season for cold and flu outbreaks. Seasonal changes in air humidity are a likely culprit–cold and flu viruses can survive longer indoors when air humidity is low. At the same time, during colder temperatures people to stay indoors and in close proximity to each other longer, making it easier for the cold and flu virus to spread.

As we stated in an earlier blog on flu prevention, you can do a lot to prevent the spread of cold and flu by 1) washing your hands properly (for 20 seconds or more using soap and warm water and drying them with a clean towel), 2) regularly cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, and 3) boosting your immune system through a balanced diet, adequate rest, and regular exercise.

Nobody wants to miss the celebrations, vacations, and joy of the season. Make sure your holidays are as healthy as they are happy!

Managing your diabetes can be difficult in the best of times, but it can be especially tricky during the holiday season. The foods that can wreck your carefully balanced blood sugar levels are everywhere. From pumpkin spice lattes to Christmas cookies, the temptations are endless.

Fortunately, with a little bit of thought and planning, it’s possible for diabetics to make it through the holiday season unscathed. Here are five tips for managing your diabetes, brought to you by the expert team at Sulkowski Family Medicine in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Plan ahead

Staying at a stable blood sugar level is all about your plan. Look ahead to see what each day is going to hold food-wise, and plan accordingly. You don’t have to deny yourself all of those special treats — just do everything in moderation.

If you plan to have a couple of sweets at a family party, for example, cut back on the carbs during the meal. Also, it’s a bad idea to skip meals to save up for a big, festive dinner. If you don’t eat regularly, your blood sugar goes wild, so keep to your normal schedule as much as possible.

Take the focus off food

That said, it’s also a good idea to engage in activities that don’t involve food. When your family is sitting around eating extra dessert, head outside with the kids for a game of football. Plan an outing to a corn maze or a fall festival where you don’t have to eat. Be creative!

Don’t forget to exercise

The holidays are a time when it’s easy to get out of your normal exercise routine, and that’s why it’s so important to stick with it. Not only can physical activity help keep your weight down, it can also help you manage your blood sugar levels.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just grab a friend or a sibling at a family gathering and head outside for a walk. You can catch up while you get moving.

Test yourself

Because your blood sugar can get off track quickly, stick to your regular schedule of testing. You may have a good idea where your levels are during your normal routine, but the holidays are anything but normal.

When there are so many foods around that you don’t normally consume, it’s especially important to keep track of your levels. This helps you adjust quickly if things begin to head south.

Get your sleep

Another blood sugar killer? Lack of sleep. You’re going out more and staying out later during the holidays, but you still have to get up in the morning. If your sleep suffers, it’s more difficult to manage your blood sugar and more likely you’ll mindlessly eat high-fat, high-sugar food.

To help keep your blood sugar stable, shoot for seven or eight hours of sleep a night.

If you need help managing your diabetes, contact Sulkowski Family Medicine by phone or with our convenient online scheduler . We’re with you every step of the way!

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The holiday season is a wonderful time of year for many reasons! Food plays an important role in the festivities and helps bring people together. Unfortunately for many, however, the food and drink they will be partaking in this time of year can have unintended consequences. Those with chronic health conditions may need to follow special diets and the following common ingredients may need to be modified:

Salt- An easy way to lower the salt in your recipes is to prepare holiday meals at home. If a recipe calls for salt, try using cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg instead. Herbs and spices such as rosemary, cloves, and basil can also be used as a salt substitute. Try to avoid using canned foods when possible- for example, use fresh or frozen green beans for your casserole instead of canned. If canned foods must be used, lower sodium or salt-free options are available. Put salt shakers away while your family visits and offer other toppings such as freshly ground black pepper, Mrs. Dash, or lemon slices. Also use low-sodium or sodium free broths.

Saturated fats- This fat is easy to overdo with all of the meats, butter and pies available for the holidays. Instead of the butter in baked goods, try using unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe bananas. Choose leaner meats such as turkey, roast beef, fresh ham, or even fish such as cod or flounder, instead of fattier meats, including steak, beef ribs or brisket, ground beef, pork shoulder, salami, and sausage. Regardless of the meat, make sure to trim any fat before cooking. For vegetarian options, try beans and legumes in place of the meats, such as chickpeas, split peas, black beans, and kidney beans. You can also use heart healthy cooking oils such as olive or canola to cut back on the saturated fats. Offering healthier dessert options such as fresh fruit with light whipped cream will help to avoid the fat content of the pies. Provide skim or 1% milk instead of 2% or whole. Instead of frying, consider baking, grilling, or steaming.

Sugar- Everyone has a favorite dessert they must have during the holidays! Fortunately there are easy ways to cut back on the amount of sugar while still maintaining deliciousness. Instead of sugar, try a lower-calorie or no-calorie sugar substitute in your desserts. Offer low-calorie and sugar-free drinks, while avoiding regular sodas, juices or sweet tea. Water with infused herbs and cut fruits will add a better alternative. Be sure to serve plenty of simple sides using veggies such as squash, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, and brussel sprouts.

These tips can help your loved ones with chronic conditions stay healthy during a tempting time of year. You do not necessarily need to make “special dishes” for them, as cooking for a particular diet can be just as appetizing as a regular diet. Be supportive of your family member and do not push them to eat more food than needed. If they get off track, gently and privately encourage them to stick with their diet. That way you can ensure you and your family have a happy and healthy holiday this year.

Tis’ the season to by jolly and indulge — just a bit — in your favorite foods and drinks, said area nutritional experts.

Tis’ the season to by jolly and indulge — just a bit — in your favorite foods and drinks, said area nutritional experts.

Having balance in your choices is key, said Lizzy Traxler, University Hospitals Digestive Health Institute clinical outpatient dietitian.

“The holiday season can be a time of change in our routines with shorter days, causing less daylight hours and sometimes added stress with holiday preparation,” Traxler said. “We may find ourselves craving sugary foods to help cope with the stressors we encounter during this time of year.”

Making sure to take care of your bodies by aiming for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night and doing 30 minutes of physical activity as many days per week as possible are two ways to manage stress, according to Traxler and other experts.

Traxler said a balanced diet should still be emphasized even during the holiday months.

“Skipping meals to save room for holiday treats is not a good idea as we tend to overeat later in the day on high calorie foods like sweets,” she said.

Hunger catches up after skipped meals and the best decisions aren’t made on an empty stomach, she added.

There are solutions for a lingering sweet tooth. Traxler suggested low calorie or artificial sweeteners can provide sweetness without adding the same calories as regular sugar.

“They are safe to use in moderation and can be used in baking or added to foods for sweetness in place of sugar,” Traxler said. ”Though, be aware that in recipes, you will not use equal portions of low calorie or artificial sweeteners in place of table sugar.”

Many experts suggest adding fruit — which contain natural sources of sugar — to sweeten desserts, such as low-glycemic fruits like berries.

Other suggestions include:

  • Consider reducing white or brown sugar by ¼ to 1/3 cup in recipes if fruit is being added, such as in a cobbler filling;
  • Use fruit preserves instead of jellies or jams for fillings in cookies or rolls to make sure fruit is only being used to sweeten without added sugars. You can puree certain fruits like bananas, figs and dates with water and use this in place of sugar in some baked goods. This would work best for quick breads, brownies and muffins.

“It’s okay to allow yourself sugar, but add other foods that will help you feel full and satisfied when enjoying sweet treats,” Traxler said. “Strive to make your sweet snacks more filling with protein, fiber and healthy fat foods. For example, instead of eating a whole chocolate bar, use ¼ of the chocolate bar and add it to plain low fat or Greek yogurt for protein.”

Other expert suggestions are to add other toppings like fruit for fiber and healthy fats like chopped nuts or natural nut butter.

“A healthy parfait will leave you feeling much more satisfied than a chocolate bar, and you can still enjoy the chocolate flavor. If enjoying holiday cookies, then pair one to two holiday cookies with a glass of milk for protein,” Traxler said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends holiday proofing your plan, adding, “If you have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbs (like potatoes and bread) during the meal.”

It can be challenging to avoid sweets during the holiday season, as many companies come out with products that cater to it. One of the most popular items is sugar sweetened coffee drinks with holiday flavors like pumpkin spice or peppermint.

Regular drinking of these specialty coffee drinks makeup almost 40% of Americans’ intake of added sugars, Traxler said.

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting daily added sugars to 50 grams or less,” she said. “Review the food label on the product at the supermarket, or look up nutrition facts online for a coffee shop to become aware of the amount of added sugar that is in a beverage before you consider drinking it.”

Traxler says avoiding flavored coffees or other sugar sweetened beverages can help reduce sugar intake.

“Consider asking for less pumps of regular syrups or getting a smaller coffee size if you do order these types of drinks,” Traxler said.

“Deprivation leads to backlash, so, if we’re always about what we can’t do, then we lash out,” added Sarah Coomer, a Mayo-Clinic and national board certified health coach and Forbes Health columnist in “Healthy Holidays are Possible – The Key to Finding Your Balance.” “It’s not the size of the indulgence that matters, but the intention — be present and enjoy it to the fullest.”

Having a solidly balanced nutritional plan can be a good start for a happy holiday leading into the new year.

“If you do slip up, get back to healthy eating with your next meal,” the CDC added.

The holidays may be celebrated with fewer loved ones this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix up your favorite festive beverages for your social bubble.

While we live for the sweet, creamy drinks that make us think of mistletoe and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, it’s no secret they’re loaded with added sugars. Thankfully, Kelli McGrane MS, RD and Lose It! consultant, has a few tricks up her sleeve on how to cut down the sugar content in five of your favorite holiday drinks. And don’t worry, they’ll still keep their nostalgia-inducing flavors.

Homemade hot chocolate

There’s nothing quite like curling up on the couch with a piping hot mug of hot cocoa on a frigid winter evening. Unfortunately, hot chocolate can be an extremely caloric beverage—and one that’s especially high in added sugars. However, McGrane assures us that hot chocolate is actually one of the easiest holiday drinks to make healthier, without sacrificing the flavor.

“First, I recommend using milk, rather than water, as it’ll make your drink creamier and lend a natural sweetness. In particular, I like to use unsweetened vanilla almond milk for an added vanilla flavor,” she says.

McGrane also adds that the type of sugar you choose to sweeten your beverage with matters.

“I find that maple syrup has a stronger flavor than white sugar, so you can get away with using less,” she says. “And finally, an additional ingredients, like a splash of vanilla extract, cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, or cardamom can also add a great flavor to your cocoa.”

Peppermint mocha

A peppermint mocha may just be the most festive drink of them all. What better way to ring in the holiday cheer than with a minty-fresh yet creamy espresso beverage in hand? And McGrane has just the trick to dial back on the sugar.

Combine unsweetened almond milk with brewed coffee or espresso, unsweetened cocoa powder, about one tablespoon of maple syrup (per cup), and peppermint extract. For an easier peppermint flavor infusion, she recommends using Nutpods Peppermint Mocha creamer, as it doesn’t contain any sugar and only boasts natural flavors. She even has a few tips on how to slim down that peppermint mocha from the coffee shop.

“If you can’t say no to ordering a peppermint mocha when out and about, ask your barista if it’s possible to use just one or two pumps of the peppermint syrup, which will save you around 5 grams of sugar for every pump that you leave out,” she adds. “Also make sure that if you’re ordering plant-based milk, like almond or coconut, the coffee shop uses an unsweetened variety.”

Gingerbread latte

What happens when you’re in the mood for gingerbread cookies and a latte, but don’t have the time to make a whole batch of cookies from scratch? You make a hybrid of the two, of course!

“The key to making a gingerbread latte with less sugar is leaning into the spices of gingerbread,” says McGrane. “To make your own latte at home, combine your milk or unsweetened milk alternative of choice, brewed espresso, 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger, and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.”

For a slightly sweeter beverage, McGrane recommends adding one teaspoon of pure maple syrup or, for a more authentic gingerbread flavor, “use 1/2 teaspoon of molasses, which is less sweet than traditional sugars,” she says.

Eggnog

Eggnog can rack up the calories, fat, and sugar—all of which are key factors in making you sluggish. To avoid the midday crash this holiday season, try opting for a lower-fat milk option or milk alternative and rely on warming spices to deliver the flavor, as opposed to dousing the creamy drink in sugar. 6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e

“To do this, I recommend adding whole spices, like cinnamon sticks and cloves to your milk while it cooks on the stove,” says McGrane. “After your eggnog has come to the appropriate temperature, remove it from the stove and stir in one teaspoon of vanilla extract for every three cups of milk used. Or, for a stronger flavor, add fresh vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste.”

Winter sangria

Last but certainly not least, if you’re looking for a boozy, refreshing beverage to sip on as you indulge in your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, winter sangria is an excellent pairing. However, as McGrane points out, the sugar content in sangria can add up very quickly if you’re not cognizant of everything you’re pouring into it.

“Skip the added sugar altogether and use fresh fruit, homemade fruit purees, and unsweetened fruit juices to lend the sweetness,” says McGrane. “For a winter sangria, I particularly like to use a little POM concentrated pomegranate juice and a squeeze of citrus from fresh orange slices.”

Another helpful hack? Substitute a sweet red wine for a dry one, and then mix the sangria with sparkling water or seltzer rather than soda.

For more helpful tips on how to host small gatherings this year, read up on CDC Recommends Following These Guidelines Over the Holidays.