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Work parties, end of year wrap up, endless family gatherings – the festive season is upon us. As is the mountain of sugar it can supply.

While a little added sugar is okay, we don’t want to go overboard!

Here are a few ways to manage added sugar intake and avoid the extreme blood glucose fluctuations during these celebratory times.

Don’t drink sugar
Whether on it’s own or as an alcoholic mixer, sugar-sweetened beverages provide a quick hit of added sugar to the body but no nutritional value.

Instead, choose plain, soda or sparkling water infused with slices of fresh fruit and herbs, and if drinking alcohol, low or no sugar options include dry wine or white spirits.

Keep in mind that too much alcohol can be just as, if not more, detrimental than added sugar – so drink wisely.

Sustain energy
Between the festivities, schedule in time to eat healthy and homemade real food, and get good quality sleep.

By eating real, whole food packed with fibre, protein and healthy fats, we stabilize blood glucose levels and avoid the blood glucose crash one gets after a gorging on cheap sweets. This crash leads to low energy and brain function, resulting in us reaching for a quick energy hit often in the form of more sugar.

Having a good breakfast is especially important to keep you powering on and resist the endless offerings of office pavola! Try these quick brekkie ideas.

Sleep is also important to maintain energy, manage blood glucose and limit the desire to reach for a sugary something. When party season is in full swing, it is important to get as much as you can!

Have healthy options on hand
If you anticipate a sugar-feast at tonight’s event, then have a few snacks before to fill the belly with nourishing food and reduce the risk for overdoing the not-so-healthy offerings.

If you are going to a potluck style occasion, take a no added sugar, real food dish so your and other guests can partake in a deliciously wholesome option. A platter of fruit or this Moroccan Vegetable Platter would do the trick!

Choose fibre, protein and healthy fats
Presented with a selection of foodstuffs, opt for those as close to their original state as possible that are also great sources of fibre, protein or healthy fats. These foods will keep you fuller for longer, meaning you are less likely to fill up on the sweet stuff.

Think nuts, eggs, salads or roast veg with meat, fish or legumes, olives, fruit, and cheese.

If having something sweet, choose well
There may be a plethora of sweet things on offer around the festive season, and if you wish to partake, choose to enjoy a bit of the good quality stuff over the cheap and nasty. A piece of homemade cake or dark chocolate will satisfy far sooner than the stuff out of a box of Cadbury Favourites.

Say thanks, but no thanks (politely)
Nan wants to dish you a third helping of pudding? Say thank you, but let her know that you are satisfied and do not need another serving, though it was totally delicious!

Be kind to yourself
If you go overboard on the sweet stuff, don’t go down the road of guilt and beat yourself up. Enjoy it for what it was and know that next meal, whenever that may be, can be full of healthy, nourishing, no added sugar foods!

Happy holidays!

By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med)