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Mouth: Tips for a Sweet Season

Mouth: Tips for a Sweet Season

Pleasing our tastebuds and maintaining our health goals can be challenging this time of year. From Visions of Sugar Plums to candy canes Decking the Halls and the tree it seems like the world is a very sweet, sweet place.

Rather than eating everything in sight, going into a sugar-coma and vowing to start fresh on January 1, you can actually help your mouth by having some healthy and tasty alternatives around. Look, I’m not going to say you shouldn’t eat the traditional treats, but one thing I’ve learned is that when I include healthy snacks and dishes that I enjoy (that’s an important point here!) then I happily consume less of the super sweets and actually enjoy them more!

Have lots of snack sized pieces of fresh fruit available:

Clementine oranges are often available this time of year. My grocery store ad this morning shows them at 5 pounds for $4.99. I love Clementines—the combination of sweet and sometimes tart flavors, and the cool juice. Yum.

Fuji and Gala apples are higher in sugar than some other varieties…and that natural sweetness is great this time of year when eaten raw.

Hot beverages that feel festive and keep you hydrated are another great trick.

This time of year I like to use a special mug—whether it was a gift or the decoration on it is seasonal, by using a “holiday” mug it just feels all that more special for me.

Sometimes during the winter a cold glass of water just doesn’t cut it, so try adding a splash of apple juice, warm it up and add a cinnamon stick for an apple cider flavor. Heck, have more than a splash…but try cutting apple juice with water at least half and half or you get a big sugar jolt fast in your system that could start you craving more sugar!

Teas and coffees come in all sorts of flavors. To stay hydrated avoid caffeinated ones and go for spicy or fruity teas or decaffeinated hazelnut coffee for example. Not only are they zero calories they can make your house smell fantastic!. If the flavor isn’t sweet enough try adding a little Stevia—it is super sweet, natural and no cal! Another option is to add a bit of honey, yes it has calories but your body will process it better than processed sugar and it is less apt to start the craving engine. If possible, choose a local honey and make sure you read the label—some of those “honey bears” are actually sugar water. Your honey should be 100% pure.

Meal time gives you an opportunity to enjoy some simple cooking.

There is so much heavy food this time of year, save some time, calories and give your tastebuds a break by keeping it simple at most meals. This is not the time for most of us to do too much experimenting—the fear of a failed recipe can be enough stress to put even a calm chef heading for the Merlot! Follow a chef you trust if you want or just broil, grill and bake as a rule of thumb and you’ll be doing pretty well.

Yum, desserts.

This is my favorite part of the meal. Whether it is cookies or cakes or pies, I love sweets. I always have and I suspect I always will. What I’ve learned is that it is okay to have a bit of a sweet tooth. Because I follow these other tips I can have dessert and not gain weight. One of the big flaws in the system my family had when I was growing up is we would have dessert later because we were too full after the meal. In theory that sounds great, but actually having dessert when you are a little full will help you feel satisfied with a smaller portion. If that doesn’t work with your family, or if you really have eaten so much that you can’t enjoy even a bite, then be sure to have a little nibble of protein before you have your dessert. This will help keep your blood sugar level so you don’t have a big crash later. I keep raw almonds on hand for this type of snack—about 6 is plenty to do the trick.

Ah, Alcohol

I personally enjoy a little glass of wine now and then, but if I drink more than a small glass the sugar in the drink kicks in (and the alcohol, too) and I get cravings AND I have a relaxed resolve. You don’t have to cut out your favorite beverage, but be aware of how much you are drinking so that you can maintain your awareness about your eating.

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