I love Christmas time – it’s a fantastic opportunity for meeting up with friends and family, exchanging presents, and having a break from work; and I love all the yummy food too!
Unfortunately, Christmas is also a time for sweet temptations; there is sugar everywhere!
While I do think it’s okay to relax your diet a little during Christmas, I don’t believe that it should be an excuse to binge on junk, but that’s exactly what a lot of people do. It’s no wonder then that so many people then make weight loss their resolution for the New Year.
Here are my top tips for enjoying Christmas while avoiding too much unhealthy sugar.
1. Make your own sauces and condiments
Many Christmas meals are accompanied by sauces and condiments like cranberry sauce and apple sauce. Store-bought versions of these products are often very high in refined and added sugar and may contain as much as ten grams per serving.
Avoid all this added sugar by making your own sauces and condiments. It’s easy – all you need is a blender or food processor, and I know you have one of those, right? You’ll probably find that your homemade sauces taste much better than the store-bought version too!
Homemade Ketchup and Mayonnaise Recipes using your Immersion Blender.
Homemade Peanut Butter and Pesto recipes using your Food Processor.
2. Don’t buy huge tins of sweets
Many of my friends buy a big tin of sweets and candies at Christmas that weigh in at around two pounds or more. That’s a huge amount of sugar and unwanted calories. They buy this tin of sweets to offer to any unexpected guests that pop round and for the kids but, inevitably, they eat a lot of those sweets themselves too. Having sweets on hand 24/7 means that it’s very easy to keep on munching them mindlessly and only realize how many you have eaten when you notice all the discarded wrappers.
Instead of buying big tins of sugary sweets, purchase raw nuts that are still in their shell. Nuts in their shells last a long time and because you must take the time to crack the shells to remove the nut, you won’t eat as many. Nuts are naturally sugar-free and high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, so this is a win-win strategy.
3. Tell your friends not to buy you candy
Friends often buy friends candy for Christmas. It’s an easy choice because most people enjoy sugary sweets. And if you have a lot of friends, that means you’re going to get a lot of candy. If you are anything like me, that means you’re going to eat a lot of candy too!
To avoid this problem, politely tell your friends that, this year, you won’t be eating candy and could they buy you something else instead. Give them some similarly-priced suggestions such as sports socks or a box of protein bars.
If you still get candy for a present, wrap it up again and give it to someone else – preferably someone who isn’t trying to cut down on sugar.
4. Enjoy high-quality treats
You don’t need to quit sugar altogether during the holidays, but it’s a good idea to focus on quality and not quantity. For example, instead of eating lots of cheap candy that contains a ton of sugar, buy yourself some high-quality artisan chocolates made with dark cocoa. Yes, they are more expensive, but as you won’t have to buy as much, the cost is similar.
Now, when you decide you want a sweet treat, rather than just mindlessly stuffing yourself with junk, take the time to savor a good quality chocolate. Some chocolatiers also make sugar-free chocolates for diabetics which are sweetened with stevia. This is another good way to avoid sugar this Christmas.
5. Make your own desserts
Cakes, puddings, and sweet pies are all traditional ends to Christmas meals but are all loaded with sugar – especially when you buy them from the store. If you look at the ingredients list, you’ll soon see just how much sugar is in each serving.
While you could skip dessert altogether, you could do the next best thing and make your own desserts using natural sweeteners in place of all that refined, unhealthy sugar. Good options are stevia, coconut sugar, agave nectar, and raw honey.
My special Sugar Free Christmas desserts recipes for this holiday, all listed here.
6. Set yourself daily limits and stick to them
If the idea of going sugar-free is utterly inconceivable to you, set yourself daily limits instead. For example, you might ration yourself to two ounces of chocolate per day, or one three-ounce slice of Christmas cake. That way, you will limit the damage these foods can cause you but still indulge your sweet tooth.
Also, make sure you only allow yourself sweet treats for a short period e.g. Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and Boxing Day only. After that, once the 27th of December rolls around, go back to your regular low sugar diet.
Don’t let too much sugar make your Christmas unhealthy and fattening! That’ll only make your New Year’s diet even harder than it needs to be. Instead, enjoy a little sugar but make sure you avoid eating so much that you undo all the good work of the year.