Intermountain Health logo

Please enter the city or town where you'd like to find care.

Get care nowSign in

Health news and blog

How to Avoid Excess Sugar During the Holidays

How to Avoid Excess Sugar During the Holidays

How to Avoid Excess Sugar During the Holidays

The season of sugar is upon us. During the holidays, it seems sweets are everywhere we look. While it may be tempting to ride the sugar wave until spring, our bodies won’t appreciate the constant barrage of extra sugar. Here are some tips to enjoy the holidays while eating less sugar.

Set a goal

You’ll have more motivation to make healthy choices this holiday season when you make a commitment to yourself. Take some time to think about and write down your health goals this season. Be sure to make your goals specific and choose ones that fit your lifestyle. If you talk about your goal with your loved ones, they’ll also be less likely to pressure you into eating Aunt Susan’s pumpkin pie.

Allow small indulgences

What if your mom only makes your favorite holiday treat once a year and you’re worried you’ll miss it if you choose to avoid the sugar? Don’t deny yourself the fun and flavors of the holiday. This could make it more difficult to stick to your goals for the entire season. Instead, decide ahead of time what indulgences you’ll allow yourself. Consider making a list of your top five favorite holiday treats. When faced with temptations, you’ll have decided beforehand which treats you’ll eat. Or set a treat budget for yourself each day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar (100 calories) a day for women, and no more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men. Be intentional about how much, what, and when you’ll eat sweets to allow for careful indulgence.

Choose "no sugar days"

If you know you’ll be spoiled by extra treats on a certain day or at a holiday party, set a goal to have a “no sugar day” the day after. This can be an effective way to reset yourself, your taste buds, and stay focused on your normal healthy lifestyle. On your no sugar day, choose lean meats, complex carbs, vegetables, and healthy fats.

Focus on whole body health

Are you more likely to devour a plate of cookies after a stressful day? Most of us are. Finding alternative ways to care for yourself can help you cut back on excess sugary foods.

Stick to the basics: Get enough sleep. Drink enough water. Exercise consistently. Take care of your mental and emotional health. When you focus on caring for your whole body (not just cutting sugar), you’ll have more ability to withstand the temptation of extra sweets.

Skip liquid sugar

Unless eggnog or hot chocolate are your favorite part of the holidays, you may want to consider skipping added sugars that come in liquid form. It’s easy to overdo it with sugary beverages, especially if you’re thirsty. Consider drinking a big glass of water before meals/treats. Watch portions carefully, sip drinks slowly, find a healthier version, or pass up them up completely. Other sugary beverages may include hot drinks, alcoholic beverages, or soda. Save your added sugars for something you really want (like Aunt Susan’s pumpkin pie).

Recruit a friend

It’s easy to feel alone when you’re trying to eat healthy during the holidays. Instead of doing it by yourself this season, recruit a friend to do it with you. Set a challenge together. Make yourself accountable to one another. Ask supportive people in your life to help you reach your goals.

Kick it to the curb

Although we’d all love to have perfect self-control, most of us don’t have the ability to avoid the warm, velvety chocolate brownies sitting on the kitchen counter. Especially during the holidays, it’s a good idea to keep sweets out of your house. If you decide to make cookies with the kids, pile the extras on a plate and share them with a neighbor.

Try going out for a piece of pie rather than bringing a whole pie home. It may seem more expensive, but there won’t be a second or third piece around to tempt you later. If you do choose to have something sweet, buy a single serving and savor each bite.

Despite the abundance of extra sugar surrounding everything during the holidays, we can make healthy choices! Make a goal to eat less added sugar, be intentional about your commitment and you will be ready to start the new year off on the right foot. Happy Holidays!