I understand… it’s tempting. Tempting to reach for the desserts that everyone has made for Christmas dinner, or that box of chocolates that have been gifted to you by a loved one. But, do you really want to go through the festive season feeling sluggish, tired, irritable, moody or even sick?
Christmas is a time when we want to be feeling confident, vibrant, energetic and happy. We often put in the hard work to look and feel our best leading up to Christmas, and then undo all our work in the festive season.
By the time January rolls around, I find consultations with clients sky-rocket. While it is great that people are re-inspired to create change, imagine finishing the festive season feeling just as fabulous as when you started!
Instead of saying, “I will implement some good habits after the festive season”, why not start some simple changes now, to prepare yourself for what’s ahead – or at least continue the basic good habits you’ve created? Real food habits do not need to be difficult, overwhelming or leave you feeling deprived. You can reduce or eliminate sugar now and maintain those habits during the festive season.
Healthier alternatives to sugar
Sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine, so the addiction is real and is a serious problem for many people. If you’re making or eating a dessert, use natural sweeteners like honey, rapadura sugar, maple syrup, dates or other fruits. As well as satisfying your sweet tooth, they contain the nutrients required to nourish your body. However, remember that sugar addictions can also start with natural sweeteners so be careful here. Try to limit natural sweets to just a couple of times a week – it is something to aim for, but may take time depending on where you are in your journey.
Be aware too, that sugar can be found in the most unexpected products – here is a blog that explains the different kinds of sugars and where they might be hiding.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy a sugar-free festive season:
- Avoid soft drinks and sweetened alcoholic drinks
Espresso Martinis may be wildly popular at the moment, but they can contain around 30g of sugar per serve, which is a whopping 6 teaspoons of sugar. One can of Coca-Cola contains 8 teaspoons of sugar and this is similar with most other soft drinks. These sugars are in the form of refined, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup or pure glucose. They are extremely damaging to your liver, gut, mood, hormones, energy, skin and much, much more.
Choose sparkling water, lime and your chosen spirit, or ask for no added sweetener or sugar in your cocktail. Most cocktails are made with sugar syrup, which can easily be omitted.
- Be strong when you are offered something sugar-laden
Kindly and politely say, “Thank you, but I’m okay with what I have”. Continue to stay strong – each social occasion is a good lesson for the next one, and soon you will be full of confidence and go home feeling great, always. You never know, you may even inspire the people around you by setting an example.
- Keep up your nutrient intake
Nutrient deficiencies can lead to sugar cravings, as particular nutrients are required to regulate your blood sugar levels efficiently. If your blood sugar levels are irregular or you’re stressed, you may find yourself craving carbohydrates. Nutrients to consider are chromium, magnesium and zinc. These all play a critical part in regulating your blood sugar levels, so consume foods rich in these nutrients like organic eggs for chromium and chicken liver pate or liquid zinc for zinc. Take Epsom salt baths to help boost your magnesium levels. I also suggest continuing to consume sufficient amounts of proteins and fats with your meals to stabilise your blood sugar levels and provide you with satiety.
When the amounts of essential nutrients fall, you can quickly feel hungry, tired, irritable and moody, and start craving sugar and carbohydrates to pick you up. If I’m going to an event where I know real food won’t be available, I have a meal right before I go to avoid temptation and ensure I’m feeling my best.
- Have sugar free or wholefood treats available in your fridge or freezer – always!
I cannot stress how important this tip is. If you are worried about what food will be on offer at a social event, take your own treats. It is also important to stock up on these healthier treats even when you aren’t going anywhere! Have something ready to eat for when you get a hankering for sugar and you don’t want to make something. You will have no excuses to reach for the unhealthy snacks, plus, you will never be deprived! Myself and Jordan Pie have recently released our Sugarless Sweets eBook that has over 30 sweet recipes which are completely free of any forms of sugar – but taste sensational! It may give you some inspiration for Christmas treats for you and your family, so you can keep feeling fabulous.
- Opt for savoury foods or fruits
If there are no healthy sweet treats available, then reach for the savoury options or fruits instead and avoid the sweets completely. You could try pesto, guacamole, olives, veggie sticks, seed crackers, protein, salad, vegetables and fruits.
- Don’t start the addiction cycle – once you do, you (usually) can’t stop
Avoid sugar to eliminate vicious craving cycles. As sugar is more addictive than cocaine, once you are in this craving cycle it can be really hard to get out of it. I have been there myself. Follow the above guidelines to stay sugar-free.
There are some great recipes for healthier versions of sweet treats to have at home or to take to events. Try these:
How do you think you will do in the festive season? What experiences in the past have you had? Do you think you will follow through with some good habits?
Nutritionist and Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner
I am a qualified holistic Nutritionist and a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) practitioner. I’ve been working with Cyndi since 2012 and consulting for Changing Habits since late 2014. I have an overwhelming passion to help, inspire, research and do everything possible to assist in providing a better life to those that need it, and particularly for those people that have been told there is nothing they can do about their debilitating symptoms. It is my honour to encourage individuals to believe that they can live their best life possible, and to continue creating the best version of themselves.
Years ago I was addicted to sugar, processed foods, was taking antihistamines like lollies and antibiotics were always a part of my life. I had ongoing gut pain, reoccurring sinus and chest infections, rashes, extreme fatigue, a foggy brain and the list continues. While suffering from these symptoms for almost all my life, not one person told me that there was something I could do to resolve them. After studying and doing my own extensive research, I became fanatical about nutrition and the power of food, and my health is the best it has ever been and will only continue to improve. I am constantly learning and relaying the latest research to my clients. I have a specific interest in gut health and its ability to impact our overall health, and it is with great pleasure that I assist you in becoming the best version of you with real, delicious and nourishing food, love and happiness.