Christmas and sugar seem to go hand in hand. Everywhere we turn, someone is offering us a mince pie, a festive biscuit or creamy hot chocolate. It can be hard to keep up with our good intentions when sweet temptations are around every corner. But you don’t need to become a total grinch to enjoy the season of goodwill with a little less sugar. Here are some of our top tips:
1. Choose drinks wisely
It isn’t just alcohol that’s full of sugar. Fizzy drinks and sweetened hot drinks are just as guilty of containing too much. Alcohol-free beers and wine have much less sugar or you could lower the sugar content of your favourite tipple by making spritzers (white wine and soda water) or spirits with diet mixers. If your weakness is speciality coffees and hot chocolates, avoid the high-street and make your own instead or avoid the optional extra sweet toppings.
2. Keep your cupboards clear
If there’s no sugar in the house, you can’t eat it. Only buy the food you actually plan to eat, ask people not to buy you or your family chocolate and get creative with advent calendars. There are lots of alternative options available which don’t contain chocolate, or you could have fun with the kids and create your own.
3. Experiment with puddings
You can achieve the same flavours as a Black Forest gateau by combining mixed berries with Greek yoghurt. Or why not recreate that festive favourite chocolate orange by dipping satsumas in melted dark chocolate? A top tip for mince pies is to bake them without a lid or make them using Filo pastry instead to cut down on the sugar content.
4. Stay off the sauce
A traditional turkey Christmas dinner is actually relatively healthy before you add all the trimmings. Some brands of shop bought cranberry sauce have as much as 5 grams of sugar in one teaspoon! Have a go at making your own, switch to low sugar varieties or swap them completely for sugar-free sauces such as mustard and low-fat mayonnaise.
5. Find something else rewarding
When we eat sugar our brains release dopamine, which makes us feel happy. That’s why it’s so addictive! But Christmas is full of all of our favourite things anyway, so take your mind off the chocolates by doing something else. You could watch a festive family film, go for a woodland walk or do some Christmas crafts. They’ll all give you that warm fuzzy feeling without harming your health.