Sugar Free Holidays

You may have gasped when you read those words “Sugar Free Holidays.” Although sugar and spice and everything nice is a holiday tradition in many families, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can keep the spice, and ditch the sugar for the holidays. Your family may even thank you for it.

Giving Up Sugar

We’ve written before about cutting back on sugar and about healthy dessert options. If you’d like to take those ideas one step further, you can give up sugar altogether. When you give up sugar – which includes all artificial sweeteners – it’s like you are giving your palate a re-boot and are resetting your taste buds to their factory settings. It’s easier than you think.
The Mayo Clinic has a two-week sugar-free plan.
  • Choose foods that have five grams of sugar or less a serving. You can find this information on the Nutrition Facts label.
  • Limit natural sweeteners, such as agave, honey and molasses, to 5 grams or less a serving.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
  • Add fruits — fresh, frozen or dried — to foods to add flavor and nutrition. Fruits, vegetables and milk have natural sugars. Those are OK.
Remember that sugar fuels every cell in the brain. Your brain also sees sugar as a reward, which makes you keep wanting more of it. If you often eat a lot of sugar, you’re reinforcing that reward, which can make it tough to break the habit.

If you decide to go sugar-free, keep in mind, you’re not giving up all sweetness. You’re only giving up refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you decide to try this sugar free 2-week plan, here’s what you might notice.
  • Day 1 might be easy.
  • Day 2-4 could feature grogginess, headache and intense craving for sweets.
  • Day 5-8 will see the lifting of the fog, and your taste buds will begin to register “normal” foods as sweet. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, pasta sauce, reduced-fat salad dressings, bread and baked beans might taste sweet for example.
  • Day 9-14 could see an increase in energy and mental focus. Your taste buds should be fully recalibrated. Insulin levels would be functioning at optimum levels.

Sugar Free Holiday Options

If your family is on this journey with you, there are several options for holiday sweetness that everyone can enjoy. During the holidays, or any time, try these substitutions:
  • Unsweetened applesauce for sugar. One cup of unsweetened applesauce contains only about 100 calories, whereas a cup of sugar can have more than 770 calories.
  • Vanilla for sugar. You can cut sugar in half and add a teaspoon of vanilla as a replacement. You’ll have just as much flavor with significantly fewer calories.
  • Plain yogurt with fresh fruit instead of flavored yogurt.
  • Frozen or fresh fruits instead of canned fruit.
  • Banana ice cream for ice cream. It’s simple: freeze peeled bananas, then puree.

You can search out sugar-free recipes for holiday desserts, such as:

How much sugar do you really need?

According to the American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons daily for women and nine teaspoons for men. Most people in the U.S. have 19 teaspoons or more of added sugar a day, which is 285 calories. So, cut back on your sugar. Your taste buds, and waistline, will thank you for it.


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