Reducing Sugar Intake While Enjoying Fall Drinks and Treats

Melissa Martin, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Certified Pilates Instructor |

Fall is in the air and so is everything pumpkin flavored. You may have seen fall decor popping up everywhere, such as pumpkins, scented candles, and festive seasonal drinks and treats at your local coffee shop. I jokingly like to say that Starbucks gives us the official start to fall with the release of their pumpkin spice lattes (PSL) and cold brews. As much as I love a good PSL, they are jam-packed with sugar which wreaks havoc on our systems. Not surprisingly, we are also headed into cold and flu season. The lack of sunlight (vitamin D) coupled with the increased consumption of sugar both in the fall and winter, have been long identified to contribute to a decrease in immune function as well as inflammation. Having our blood sugar out of balance causes a cascade of problems that negatively impacts our health and well-being.

Refined added sugars, such as the kind found in holiday coffee drinks and baked treats, is a big contributor to declining health. Just to name a few, it can lead to low energy throughout the day, weight gain, gut health issues, hormone imbalance, decreased immunity, and even contribute to the growth of cancer cells. Research has shown that the average American gains at least 1-2 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I would imagine that figure is more on the conservative side, and excess sugar is a huge factor in that. If youd like to keep your immunity and weight in better shape this holiday season, an excellent place to start is by modifying your sugar intake.

The American Heart Association recommends a max of 24 grams of sugar per day. Simply paying attention to your sugar intake is about 90% of the solution. What are some strategies to decrease sugar consumption? Lets look at some simple ways to get started.

  1. Aim for 30 grams of protein at every meal. Yes, every meal! Protein not only makes you feel satiated for longer, but also helps reduce sugar cravings. It also helps build lean muscle mass and burn fat. Make sure to couple this with a high-quality fat- such as butter, ghee, avocado, tallow, or olive oil.
  2. Reduce as much added sugar as possible and use the allotted 24 grams per day where you will most enjoy it- whether thats your morning coffee or a dessert.
  3. Use stevia and monkfruit as a sweetener. These are naturally derived and wont spike your blood sugar.         

Favorite Low-Sugar Coffee Recipes:

  1. Iced or hot coffee or latte with stevia-sweetened syrups. I like the NuNaturals brand and some of my favorite flavors are vanilla, pumpkin, salted caramel, and chocolate. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, chocolate, or vanilla powders.
  2. Add 1 pump pumpkin, 1-2 pumps sugar-free vanilla to coffee with milk of choice (or in a latte) and sprinkle with powder of choice (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla).

You can absolutely be festive and partake in the seasonal treats and drinks while also being mindful of your health. Your waistline and immunity will thank you in the coming new year!