Now that the festive season has well and truly started, it’s time to get down to business. Because no one ever starts eating Christmas-ey foods on Christmas day. Am I right? Work parties, annual dinners and special editions of your favourite brand names (Cheeselets have become Treelets. How can I resist?) are almost guaranteed to get you in the festive mood way before it’s time!
So, what’s your commitment this year? Is it to stay sugar-free? It totally should be, I promise it is SO much fun. And yes, more than once there has been
a lot of cheese involved. Sorry not sorry.
Whatever your motivation, I can promise you that you won’t feel left out. It’s all about that mindset, after all. But really, this year will be my 21st Christmas without any sugar whatsoever, and I’m still standing!
A few people around me have either deliberately decided to reduce their sugar consumption this year (due to cravings and brain fog, mostly), and some for health reasons, too. The BIGGEST TIP OF ALL is not to sweat it. Really, think of all the cheesy/buttery/meaty/vegetabley/bready things that are on offer over Christmas! We are spoiled for choice!
So, this post of you, peeps. Here are my top 5 tips on how you can survive your first (or millionth) sugar-free Christmas!
Big up the appetisers
In practice, going no-sugar can be a lot of fun; you have to think outside the box. And appetisers are the perfect time to do so. Think of the variety you can add to your appetiser tray by adding various different cheeses, cured meats, vegetables, homemade dips and dippers… Forget about salmon and blinis! You’ll be surprised at how many flavours you can bring to the table by switching up the way you start the night – setting a different tone will also help you stick to your new habits and discouraging you to slip back into old ones when the main course arrives. Assuming you aren’t stuffed full of roasted garlic hummus, of course.
Emphasise the essence of your favourite flavours
The two things I really wish I could eat at Christmas are spiced nuts and spiced coffees. Cakes, pies and über sweet treats don’t really do it for me. But dem spiced nuts. Yas. So I finally pinned down the perfect combination of spices to create my own version of gingerbread spiced nuts (coming soon to my instagram!). And when it comes to gingerbread lattes, the recreation could not be easier (yes, a post will come soon, too!). Don’t forget that the less sugar you eat, the less your taste buds will enjoy being exposed to very sweet things. So a sprinkle of ginger and cinnamon does the trick to echo those winter flavours on pretty much anything. Even on a plain, unsweetened soy latte. So think about the essence of the flavours you’ll miss rather than their sweetness. Obsessed with peppermint, orange or chocolate? The answer is simpler than you think – go find yourself some natural sources!
Don’t rely on others
This relates to the social aspect of choosing to avoid sugar when others aren’t. Make your choices known to however many people you choose to. You are bound to be met with ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ because who can’t resist a piece of Christmas pudding. And this is precisely why it is much less stressful to rely on your own foods and cooking to make your Christmas a success. Cook for yourself, help during the cooking process or bring your own dishes. I’m lucky to have a supportive and understanding family, who has always fed me quiche instead of cake (lol, for real!). But if your decision comes as a shock to your family and friends, don’t make it stressful for yourself by ‘crossing your fingers’ that they won’t have forgotten you didn’t want dessert. They still love you! But out of all habits, traditions are the hardest to challenge or break.
And to all you lovely people who accommodate us weirdos, thank you!
So the French don’t eat cheese at the end of a meal, but rather before, as an apéritif. The English eat cheese at the end of a meal, generally after dessert. So why not do both? And I’m being serious, here. Having a restriction over Christmas, whatever it may be, does not mean you should restrict yourself on everything else. The more you enjoy yourself, the more you will forget sugar isn’t on your diet. Especially if there are more savoury options on offer than not (oh how many times have I raided the sausage roll tray? ). Sweetness often accompanies a dish to punctuate or accentuate a flavour in fine European cuisine rather than to overpower it, which it often tends to do in processed/other Western foods. So just keep in mind how much more flavourful a savoury Christmas will be!
Stand up for your decision!
This speaks for itself, but you really have to commit. I know it’s difficult, because I’ve ‘committed’ to about a billion different diet experiments and really only stuck to 2. One, my fructose intolerance, because I have to unless I want to seriously shorten my life expectancy. And two, the whole30 (which you can read about here). I stuck to the whole30 because I had the blog to keep me accountable – people knew about my experiment, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I wanted to follow through, I owed it to myself. Think about these motivations. Social eating is hard when you initially make the decision. But with enough prior planning and enough confidence, your decision will become a habit, not a chore. And once it’s second nature, there is really no stopping you!
Until next time,