Don't Fall Off the Wellness Sleigh this Holiday Season

Find sweetness in places other than sugar this holiday season

Ah, the holiday season - time to enjoy loved ones, buy presents, and also, deal with being surrounded by endless amounts of baked goods and sweets. Christmas is notorious for being a sugar-coated holiday. Offices and homes this time of year are quickly filled with guilty pleasures.

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Added sugar from cupcakes, cookies, candy-canes, cakes and pies might taste good, but won’t contribute to your wellness quotient. Added sugar can lead to inflammation, reducing immune health, and can also create unhealthy fat. Plus, there are long-term consequences sugar has on our bodies that correlate to disease.

So you might be wondering: how can I enjoy the holidays without suffering sugar shock for the next few months? Consider these ten tips on how to minimize your sugar intake over the holidays to ensure you don’t fall off the wellness sleigh this year.

1. Read labels.  Check out the nutrition facts but the ingredients too — and look for words such as “cane syrup” and “fruit concentrate,” dextrose, maltose, glucose and fructose. These are all sources of added sugar you'll want to cut out. Read more on sugar here.

2. Make sleep a priority. Sleeping an adequate number of hours at night is ideal. Research has shown that lack of sleep affects appetite, which increases the “hunger hormone” signal to the brain which can ultimately lead to overeating and weight gain.

3. Reduce caffeine intake. The rollercoaster of energy and hydration levels stemming from drinking caffeine in the morning can make people more susceptible to sugar cravings. Caffeine also dehydrates, so being mindful of your caffeine intake helps control the desire for sweets.

4. Drink more water. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip, since dehydration can sometimes manifest itself in sugar cravings. This will especially help when temptation strikes. If you find yourself staring down a plate of sweets, try drinking a tall glass of water and wait 15 minutes, and your craving should subside. Hydration in the moment will make you feel stronger.

5. Eat plenty of fruit and sweet vegetables. The natural sugars in whole foods such as berries, apples, bananas, grapes, pineapple, beans and sweet potatoes can help satisfy your sweet tooth, and the high fiber content helps increase that sensation of feeling full.

6. Differentiate between junk and worthwhile indulgences. Ask yourself, is it worth eating? If it is, do it, don’t deprive yourself. Perhaps this year, instead of having a whole piece, you take 1/3 of what you would have normally had. This way you still get the satisfaction without overindulging. And don’t eat sweets that you don’t enjoy 110 percent; those aren’t worth it.

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7. Hit the gym, trail, or yoga class. Continued physical activity helps balance blood sugar levels, reduces tension, and boosts energy. All of this will help reduce the desire for sugar and keep you on track during the holidays. It’s nice in AZ this time of year; go walk around the block after dinner at night!

8. Find sweetness in your life. No joke! Cravings are not always a sign that your body needs sugar or sweets. Cravings sometimes have psychological components, so take some time to look introspectively and make adjustments accordingly. Finding balance in your life might help balance out your desire for sugar.

9. Explain to people what you’re doing. Do this early in the game. This way they won’t feel offended when you don’t take their special holiday cookies, which they are probably proud of and eager to share.

10. Avoid fast food joints. Yup, there’s sugar in this food. If you’re stuck in the mall, famished from holiday shopping and look for healthier alternatives, like salad or soup, carry nuts or fruit for a quick fix.

Those “tasty treats” are an obvious sugar bomb, but you also need to watch out for yogurt, coffee drinks, bread, and salad dressings ¾ these are often sneaky sources that contain added sugars.

Don’t beat yourself up if you falter. Enjoy the holidays and your loved ones.

But do remember, sugar consumed during the holidays can affect your wellness for months to follow. Less is more this holiday season!

For more information on overcoming cravings and creating healthier habits for life, schedule your free health evaluation with Crystal at 602.722.5627 or cjarvie@healthstyles4you.com.

by Crystal Jarvie  

Crystal Jarvie is certified integrative health coach for HealthStyles 4 You. She focuses not only on nutrition ¾ but also on relationships, physical activity, career and spirituality ¾ and how those five things are connected to your health and vitality. She’ll help you take your health to the next level. For more information, please visit www.healthstyles4you.com.

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