We all know eating less sugar is a good idea. We all know cutting sugar can improve our mood, reduce our risk of diabetes and cancer, improve heart health, mellow out cravings, and more. And yet, it is seriously hard to star down that doughnut, cookie, or slice of cake without giving in. This is especially true at this time of year, when temptation is literally everywhere.
We asked experts for their best tips on avoiding this most sugary of seasons without being a total Grinch. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Don’t let yourself get really, really hungry.
“My best suggestion is to not allow yourself to get very hungry,” says registered dietitian Skylar Griggs. When your blood sugar is low, your brain knows that the easiest way to raise it back up are sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates. “Try to eat something every 3 to 4 hours to avoid blood sugar spikes and nose dives,” she says. “Feeling satisfied will decrease the chances of making an impulse bite.”
2. Do have healthy snacks on hand.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you’re suddenly ravenous, it’s helpful to healthy snacks that you can turn to, says registered dietician Nicole Hinckley. She always keeps whole-grain peanut butter crackers, KIND bars, and green pea snaps on hand.
3. Do check in with yourself.
“Many times the thing that’s tempting us isn’t actually all that tempting, but we’re hungry from not enough lunch or we’re stressed out and reach for food to manage that stress,” says nutritionist Aynsley Kirshenbaum. “Check in with yourself and see what you’re really hungry for.”
4. Do give in sometimes.
“I think it’s important to allow yourself to have an indulgence from time to time,” Griggs says. “I tell people it’s the 80/20 rule: If you eat healthy 80% of the time, then 20% of the time you have got to live.” When you do indulge, choose your treat carefully, then savor and enjoy it, Kirshenbaum says.