“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.” -Buddy the Elf
There’s no question about it – Christmas means candy, and an increase in all forms of sugar, even at our house. I’ve been brainstorming this month about ways to reduce our sugar intake without completely sacrificing all those tasty holiday traditions. Here’s some of my ideas…
1. Find Nourishing Ingredients!
Make your treats as good for you as possible. Use a natural form of sugar, rather than ultra-refined, bleached white sugar. Use real butter over crisco or margarine. (Trust me, this does not negatively affect most recipes!) Use dark cocoa and quality chocolate. Shop your health food store for the ingredients for fresher, more nourishing ingredients. Nuts and flours go rancid so quickly – find sources for the best quality you can afford. If it costs extra, it will be just one more reason not to over-indulge! I’m using sucanat in all my baking, coconut oil and butter for fats, and avoiding food coloring all together.
2. Bake Cookies
I’m serious – just deciding not to make cookies yourself means you will be in complete withdrawal and subject to uncontrollable cravings when you visit others or receive plates of cookies from friends! Make your own treats so you can have something yummy along with everyone else. Don’t be ashamed to bring your own plate of treats to the Christmas party, even if it’s a little different than the other choices on the buffet. You’re doing what’s right for your family.
3. Exercise Moderation
Just because there are piles and stacks and bins of cookies all around you does not mean YOU have to keep them from going stale! Decide ahead of time what your favorite treats are, and what forms are sugar just aren’t worth it (For me, it’s chocolate over candy every time!) Limit yourself to one treat a day. Savor it. And share your goodies with others so you don’t have so much lying around!
4. Save the Sugar for Dessert
Try to keep sugar to a minimum in the other meals you make. Choose savory over sweet for your breakfast menus. Traditional Christmas Breakfast is usually sweet rolls or coffee cake. This year try making a yummy breakfast casserole the main course, and skip the hot chocolate. I’m planning lots of nourishing oatmeal for breakfasts this month – it’s easy and gives your body an nice break after over-indulging.
Sugar puts a strain on your body and weakens your immune system. So often, when I over-indulge on sugar, I can feel it – either a general sluggishness, or succumbing to a head cold when it’s the least convenient. Keep your family’s Christmas joyful and healthy – nourish them with good cooking between all the sweet treats, and make sure the goodies you make are natural as well as tasty!
For more ideas, see last year’s post on Guilt-Free Holidays.
This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday!
How do you make healthier choices during this season of sweet temptation?
Yep, I use natural sugars when I can and try to focus on foods with redeeming value. For instance, apple pie over chocolate pie, almond meal cookies over sugar cookies, buckwheat cakes over traditional pancakes. Yeah, they're a splurge, but it's manageable.
And if you slip up just remember that Lent is coming soon enough and is an excellent time for practicing restraint 🙂
I think the biggest thing for me is to focus on eating well at home, then I don't end up feeling too sick or bring on a “crash” when I eat out or at a gathering. I also focus on flavor. There are so many seasonings and spices that are a part of these winter celebrations. Focus on these flavors, not so much on the forms you are used to them coming in. Example: one of my favorite drinks this time of year is eggnog. By adding some nutmeg to my apple fennel salad, I get that flavor I like. So..I'm not saying salad is a substitute for eggnog, 🙂 just that the more I get of the flavor I like, the less I'm stuck getting it from one source. Hope that makes sense. 🙂
I'm trying to really limit how much stuff I'm making…sticking only to the favorites. Being home all day the temptation to eat them is just too much, better to keep only a few things around.