Candy canes. Cookies. Fruitcake. Fudge. Mulled cider or wine. Egg nog. All of the most conspicuous traditional holiday treats seem to be sugar bombs. Yet who can imagine the holiday season without them?
It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas – or any of the other winter holidays and observations – without the traditional foods we associate with them.
For food is about more than just delivering nutrients to our bodies. What we eat is also an expression of who we are. It’s a way of honoring and passing down the stuff of our cultural and ancestral heritage. It’s a way of connecting with other people, of sustaining a sense of community and belonging.
It’s not for nothing that feasts are routinely part of our holiday celebrations – whether it’s the roast beef dinner at Christmas, ham at Easter, hot dogs and burgers on the Fourth of July. When we celebrate, friends and family gather around the table, sharing more than just food. We share stories, jokes, memories.
Around the table, we feel connected.
But is there some way to enjoy indulgent holiday treats and not make your dentist scowl?
In a word, yes. Enjoy them as dessert.
One pitfall for those who are trying to control how much sugar they eat is that they’ve often become accustomed to snacking on sweets or other refined carbs between meals. These simple carbs are absorbed very quickly, leading to spikes in blood sugar and energy crashes shortly after. This leads to more noshing and, thus, a greater overall intake of sugar.
This vicious cycle also means that conditions in the mouth are more often acidic, making the teeth more vulnerable to decay.
This is avoidable by eating only at mealtimes and practicing good hygiene afterwards – flossing first, then brushing, then rinsing. And by eating sweets as dessert, the proteins and fats you’re already digesting effectively blunt the blood glucose spike.
However you choose to celebrate, we hope you have a wonderful and joyous holiday season!
We’ll be taking a short break from this blog to enjoy the holidays fully ourselves. Regular posts will resume on Thursday, January 7.
Image by Meal Makeover Moms, via Flickr