6 Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake and STILL Enjoy The Holiday Season

Sweetish Hill


Don’t Worry! This post is not aimed to encourage you and your family to drop sugar during the PEAK of the holiday season! Some of these extra sweet and savory treats only come around once a year! So I say Enjoy them! {Plus-my kids would def put me on the naughty list if I asked them to drop sugar in December!!}

I’m all about enjoying life and loving every minute of Christmas.  If that includes indulging and enjoying your favorite treat with family and friends. I say, Go for it! If you are more of a salty fan, and don’t reach for sugar over the holidays. Teach me your ways! (ha!).

These tips are all about avoiding guilt and treating yourself thoughtfully and mindfully. Keep reading if you are looking for easy, practical swaps that allow holiday indulging without a sugar overloaded setback come January. I bet you and your kids won’t even notice! 

Christmas Treat Recipes



    Your kids probably don’t even consider a sweet drink like soda a “treat”, and for that reason I ask our children to choose between a sweet drink or a treat. Not both!! A soda has 39 grams of sugar y’all!!! Lemonade has 25 grams! Gatorade has a whopping 34 grams of sugar. Meanwhile a chocolate chip cookie or a glazed donut has about 12 grams of sugar. Which option do you think will hold more weight in the eyes of your kids?
    The same rule goes for me! If I’m eating dessert, I’m not having a sweet alcoholic beverage as well! If I’d rather enjoy a Kir Royale with friends, then I’m skipping dessert…Or maybe having ONE or TWO bites!–Which is typically the most enjoyable part of indulging anyway!  It’s not about deprivation, it’s about making conscious decisions based on your cravings in a given moment. 
    **Don’t forget to drink extra water post party to flush the body!! At least one glass of extra water for every drink or treat!


  2. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING {Especially when it’s a treat!}
    Try to make it a habit to reinforce a relaxed dining experience with your children at meal time. Sit and give thanks for your meal, {or appreciate your treat}, eat slowly without distractions and listen for your hunger cues. Most children are naturally good at listening to their own hunger cues! When I ask Zander to sit at the table to enjoy his treat, he almost never finishes his cupcake or a cookie. On the flip side, if I hand him a cookie as he’s hopping on his bike outside–he will mindlessly eat it without really noticing. The brain/body connection is real folks. Tune in and listen!


    Eating clean throughout the day and particularly before a holiday party will help keep the night’s indulgences at bay. Whole fruit and vegetables contain water and fiber, which will help you are your kids full. Aim to eat 5-9 servings of produce per day!
    If you are attending a holiday pot luck offer to bring a bright, colorful, veggie side dish or a lean protein! This way you can be sure to hit that fresh veggie/fruit serving quota!


    Creating appropriate portion sizes for you and your family makes a huge difference in caloric intake! When serving your plate(s), use the “hand method”.
    Be sure to use your child’s hand when measuring his/her portion. 
    1. Palm = Protein
    2. Fist = Complex Carbs or Starchy Veggies
    3. Open Hand = Green Veggies or Salad
    4. Thumb = Healthy fat
    No FOMO, no guilt! Just pure enjoyment of the season’s favorite dishes in perfect proportion!

    boy (6-7), close-up of hand, holding up 5 fingers : Stock Photo

    You can easily remake your favorite recipes from childhood into a grain-free/dairy-free version. Danielle Walker has done a fabulous job with this in her book Celebrations. I highly recommend it!! 
    When baking, swap butter with coconut oil, applesauce or a banana. Use almond flour, coconut flour or Tiger Nut flour when baking cookies! Use coconut sugar, vanilla extract and/or maple syrup instead of table sugar or brown sugar. 
    When cooking, flavor dishes with herbs, spices and ghee instead of excess oil. Bake, broil, roast or steam instead of frying. For your drinks, use sparkling water in place of sweet beverages. Festively flavor drinks with cinnamon, mint, citrus, cranberry, and pomegranate rather than sugar. In dairy based drinks, use coconut milk instead of heavy cream. These are simple swaps that don’t effect enjoyment!



    Want to know how many names food scientists have created to name SUGAR? Nearly 60!!! Manufactures often use several different versions of engineered sugar so they can hide the real amount of grams in a given product! Get familiar with reading labels and try to stick to natural forms of sweetener like Cane Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave, Coconut Sugar.
    Image result for 60 names for sugar

    We also limit our consumption of artificial dyes. Particularly Red 40. This can be challenging during the Red/Green Christmas themed holiday season.  BUT I promise it’s worth it. There are so many organic options that mimic the look and taste of “mainstream” chocolate and candy. The Natural Candy Store has a one stop Christmas shop. We are loving the moo free, organic chocolate advent calendar!

    Moo Free Advent Calendar

    Artificial dyes are man-made in a lab with chemicals derived from petroleum (a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar). Artificial dyes require a warning label in other countries outside the US. Interested in exploring more about the harmful effects of artificial food dyes and how you can reduce marketing to our children. Check out this post by Food Babe. 

I hope y’all have a magical holiday season! There are so many ways to enjoy the season that don’t include sugar. Like running a holiday 5k or caroling with your neighbors or making holiday crafts. When you do choose to indulge, Remember….One night will not ruin the efforts of the week, month or year. Please don’t let the power of guilt take the pleasure of the season a way! Enjoy every minute of this month, because it all goes so fast!

What are your favorite ways to mindfully enjoy the treats of the season? Share them here!

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Welcome to Happy Dinner! I’m Cortney, a Holistic Health Coach, wellness entrepreneur, wife and Mama of two, here to make holistic health simple and engaging!

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