It’s that time of year again. Snow is falling, Christmas decorations are everywhere, and uh oh… what’s this? Sugar is everywhere as well! Actually, this isn’t something to panic about. Eating healthy during the holidays can be a stressful thing to even consider when everyone is offering delicious confectioneries, beverages, and snacks. Fortunately, I have several helpful pointers for maintaining your healthy habits.
Many Canadians look at the holidays as a time to let their nutrition stray with thoughts like, “I’ll eat what I want now, and make it up in the new year…”. It turns out that this is flawed thinking. 1 in every 5 Canadians suffer from a metabolic syndrome that include:
-Low HDL Cholesterol
Eating too much sugar can permanently damage your metabolism, and the more often you indulge your bad eating habits, the quicker insulin resistance builds in your body. This has gotten to the point where greater than 50% of the American population suffers from a metabolic syndrome due to overconsumption of sugar [1.]. Of these, insulin resistance is one of the most powerful risk factors for cancer, heart attacks, and neurodegenerative diseases like alzheimer’s and dementia [2.]. No matter what point in your fitness journey you’re at, your age, weight, medical or psychological history, limiting sugar intake is important. Keep in mind though, it’s not about perfection. It’s only about making healthy choices and ensuring that you don’t judge yourself or others. It’s hard, but we have some great suggestions that can help you over the holidays.
1. Set Your Goals for the Holiday Season:
-Maybe consume sugar only at parties. You can limit yourself to just work parties, just at a New Year’s Eve party, or only when you’re spending time with a certain loved one.
-Are you going to aim to go the distance over the holidays and stay low sugar?
-Will you decide to take a break from your diet? Do you have rules? Are you going to take part in specific indulgences? Or will it be an all out free for all? (I don’t suggest this last one)
-Make your goals specific. Specific goals are much more likely to be stuck to and followed.
2. This Shouldn’t be a Solo Mission:
-Commitments are always easier to stick to when you have support. If you have at least one other person on your side avoiding sugar with you, it doesn’t seem like such a daunting task.
-You can share your struggles together, your recipes you like, moments of triumph. It all seems simpler with a comrade.
-The journey can be made much more fun with an ally on your side. Hanging out with this non-sugar friend (whether it’s at parties where sugar is present, or at home without the temptation) is a great way to achieve your goal.
-Support is especially important if you’re the only person in your household that’s avoiding sugar. If your family members are going all out, it can be especially difficult to stick to your guns and tough it out.
3. Bring Your Own Food to Parties, or Eat Before You Go:
-Parties often have many delicious, sugary foods that can make meeting your holiday low sugar goals difficult. Arriving with a full or partially full belly can help you to avoid these temptations.
-You can also bring foods that are fine for you, and others, to enjoy like: spiced nuts, gourmet olives, charcuterie, smoked salmon, or deviled eggs.
4. Be a Respectful Role Model
If your Grandma were to make a sweet apple pie, when she offered you a piece you wouldn’t be rude. You’d be respectful and complimentary, stating how much you’d love to have a piece, but also how committed you are to your health. Explain that you love pie, but must refuse because of health reasons. This is a great policy to bring to events where you may have to say no to sugary foods. Practice setting a healthy example for others. Your family members may be prompted to change their diet in the future and to follow in the footsteps of the many people who have committed to their personal health in the past. (Especially if they notice the positive changes that you experience.)
5. You’re Not a Machine, You’re Human:
Humans make mistakes, or slip up every now and again. It’s important that you don’t beat yourself up. Sugar is an addictive substance that sometimes slips under the radar, and most peoples’ formative years are spent indulging in sugary foods (they’re well loved). Trying not to eat them can be difficult, as we’re constantly having advertisements, social media campaigns, social messaging, and convenient sugary foods and drinks everywhere we go. Do your best, and let the mistakes go, this is the best advice I can give.
Make a commitment to your health this holiday season. If it’s a small commitment that’s fine, next year you can aim even higher. It’s a continuous journey to optimizing your health. But, as long as we support one another and focus on the improvements we can make, as opposed to our shortcomings, we’ll get to a healthier lifestyle. One step at a time. Happy Holidays from all of us at GoGet.Fit!
1. About Metabolic Syndrome
2. Tips for Limiting Sugar