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How to Navigate the Season of Sweets!

12.04.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN; Washington Redskins Team Dietitian

I met with an athlete this week who leans heavily on sugar for boosts of energy throughout the day. It made me think about how in this season of sweet treats, many of us experience the same roller coaster highs and lows due to the abundance of confectioneries we are exposed to with holiday parties, baked good gifts, cookie baking marathons and candy canes at every turn.

If you go through the next 6 weeks unconsciously picking up every cookie, candy and piece of pie that lands in your path, it will be a disaster. 

Some of the side effects of eating too much sugar or sugary foods in the place of nutritious foods include energy crashes, irritability, moodiness, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating and unwanted weight gain.

I love my sweets and am the first to admit I have a huge sweet tooth. Enjoying sweets at this time of year is not a bad thing if you do it strategically. 

Tips to enjoy your treats and maintain a festive holiday mood:

Maintain a 3-balanced-meal foundation. This may seem simple but is often neglected during this busy time of year. We skip meals or eat more of them on the run (shopping mall food court). To read more on balanced meals: click here.

Avoid consuming sugar on an empty stomach. Sugar hitting an empty stomach will cause a sharp spike in blood sugar followed by a sharper crash. This crash does not feel good; irritability, moodiness and exhaustion are the price you pay for indulging on an empty stomach.

Enjoy sweets at the end of a meal or nutritious snack. To avoid this crash, consume sweets as a desert or eat a nutritious snack before diving into the candy bowl. Choose a protein rich food to help keep your blood sugar stabilized. Protein foods include hardboiled egg, yogurt, low fat milk, cheese, lean meats/fish, edamame, beans, peanut butter, or handful of nuts/seeds.

Practice portion control. By enjoying sweets with something else in your stomach you set yourself up for success to consume sweets in moderation. This will help give you the strength to choose a small slice of pie, 2-3 cookies or a small handful of M&Ms verses filling a whole dinner plate with sweets. Speaking of plates, a sure fire strategy to portion control is selecting a small plate and eating from that plate verses straight from the platter or buffet.

Freeze left over baked goods. Having sweets around the kitchen, in plain sight, is too tempting and will set you up for unconscious indulgence. Put extra sweets in the freezer because it will cause you to plan ahead for a sweet treats and allow you to defrost just the amount you wish to enjoy.

I believe holiday treats are an important part of experiencing this season to its fullest. I hope the tips above allow you to do so and feel good about your holiday delights. I would love to hear how WOW members navigate the sugar environment during the holidays. 

Happy and Healthy Holidays,

Jane

Share your own strategies in the comment boxes below!

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