With the start of the Holiday Season upon us, it can be difficult to partake in the festivities without drooling over cakes, candies and cookies that surround us this time of year. But, how do you indulge without packing on the pounds or compromising your health?
Most treats today are highly processed, containing dangerous amounts of insulin-spiking refined carbs (sugar, flour), “franken” fats (canola, soybean oil), and other harfmul ingredients. Devoid of the vital nutrients your body needs to perform well, these junk foods contribute to weight gain, inflammation, weakened immunity, and other health problems.
Now that we’ve covered why you want to avoid most treats at the market, let’s go over how to stay healthy and indulge without feeling deprived!
1. Choose Whole Foods
Select smarter sweets by choosing more natural, whole foods. Read food labels or avoid processed goods when possible. You can even make your own sweets. Not only do you know exactly what ingredients are used in homemade goodies, but they’re made with love too. Trust me, you won’t be asking for “Twinkies” and “Ho Hos” when grandma puts a slice of freshly baked apple pie on your plate!
2. Don’t Forget The Fat
Healthy fats, such as nuts, coconut oil, and pastured butter, can help lower the glycemic load of the carbs you’re eating, meaning those carbs are broken down into glucose at a slower rate than if they were eaten alone. Providing many essential nutrients, fat also increases your satiation, which helps your body say “I’m full” so you’re less likely to overeat. Lastly, fat provides a tremendous amount of flavor to enjoy.
3. Add Your Own Sweetener
Adding a sweetener to a tasty treat can be an easy way to add a lot of sugar. However, there are healthier options without skimping on sweetness. Cinnamon is a great sugar-free ingredient that has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. The next best choice is Stevia. This unique herb is extremely sweet in flavor, but doesn’t contain any sugar. The next best choices are raw honey, maple syrup, dried fruit and Xylitol.
4. Plan Cheat Meals
Plan one to two times a week to indulge. The goal is to savor each bite without feeling guilty. Although nutrition is important for health, so is nourishing yourself with a drool-worthy treat. Feeling deprived and restricted only creates stress in your life, which can be a real killer. No matter what you indulge in, make it special. Lastly, make sure you stick to your planned cheat meals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by baking an entire chocolate cake that remains on your countertop taunting you every day. Keep tempting food out of sight (or out of your house), so it’s out of your mind.