Parents, are you and/or your children trying to lose weight? The holidays are the hardest time, aren’t they? Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies, holiday baked goods and desserts, Hanukkah treats, Three King Cake–from Halloween to Epiphany, the Christmas season equals sweets. And it’s so hard on the poor kids–so many goodies, so little time! So here are Christmas diet tips to curb sugar cravings and holiday recipes for sweet tooth tamers.
Avoid going into deprivation mode. Moms and kids, this one’s for you. In many families it’s mothers and children who do the bulk of the holiday baking and cooking. Family traditions center on special Christmas treats. If you were to deny your sweet tooth all season long, you’d feel left out and resentful. So as odd as it sounds, indulge your sweet tooth in order to curb sugar cravings. The best holiday diet tips are to partake but do it mindfully. Here’s how.
Diet tips to control portions. Prepare holiday recipes in smaller serving sizes. Make candies smaller. Instead of 2×2 bars, cut them bite-size. Cut fudge in littler pieces. Cut cookies in thinner slices. This will work better if you’re making desserts and holiday recipes to share with others. A batch of candy will go further and serve more people. Children can sample bite-size cookies and candies and still indulge the sweet tooth without the massive calorie overload.
Pick and choose indulgences. Save calories and don’t taste batter and ingredients while baking. Monitor what goes in your mouth and encourage children to do likewise. Wait till holiday desserts are done to sample. Enjoy one cookie instead six. Or take single bites only. Space it out–have one cookie and then try another kind a few hours later. Set aside one cookie and nibble away at it little by little. Model for children that you can enjoy one bite as if it was an entire cookie.
Diet tips to budget calories. Have each child list favorite holiday goodies and prioritize them in order. Teach kids to curb sugar cravings by focusing on favorites and skipping desserts they don’t like as well. Maybe you’re not a pie lover, so don’t eat pie during the holidays. Maybe you like seven layer bars alright, but you love homemade marzipan. So have a tiny bite of the ones you can take or leave and an indulge moderately in the marzipan.
Use artificial sweeteners sparingly. The jury is out on using artificial sweeteners especially in holiday recipes. The calories savings are wasted because you eat more desserts thinking they’re diet. You get more fat, salt, carbs, etc. Plus, dietetic alternatives generally taste fake, so they don’t feel like treats or curb sugar cravings. Some taste so bad that they ruin holiday recipes. Most artificial sweeteners are just plain unhealthy. Monkfruit and Splenda are probably the healthiest artificial sweeteners. Possible exceptions where you could substitute Splenda are in fruit pies and highly-spiced desserts, like pumpkin pie and gingerbread. Splenda tastes great in homemade diabetic berry jam.
Diet tips and food swaps: Swap sugar for healthier sugar alternatives in holiday recipes. For confectioners’ sugar or white sugar, substitute raw sugar or evaporated cane juice (Florida Crystals or Sucanat). Replace corn syrup with pure maple syrup, blue agave syrup or molasses. Sweeten with 100 percent fruit juice, no added sugar canned fruit, dried fruit or fresh fruit. Cut sugar, oil and fat in half in Christmas recipes. You won’t miss the difference. Swap brown sugar and butter for flax seed, avocado and applesauce. Raisins and cranberries make great sweet tooth tamers.
Keep low-calorie sweets on-hand to tame the sweet tooth and curb sugar cravings. Fresh or frozen fruit, high protein, high fiber snack bars like South Beach, hot cocoa (100 calories per serving), sugarfree flavored coffee creamers, 70 percent or higher cacao dark chocolate, dried fruit–all these provide a low-impact sugar boost. Be sure to read labels on calorie count, though. Some “low sugar” foods are deceptively high in calories.