Congratulations, you’re in recovery! And the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to spend time with all the friends and family who supported your journey. When you’re in recovery, spending time with your support system can help give you a little extra motivation to keep moving forward.
But the holiday season is also loaded with sugar. In fact, the average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, twice the suggested amount. From homemade cookies to desserts and office treats, sugar can be hard to avoid this time of year. You might think you can let a little extra sugar go during the holidays, but did you that sugar can cause problems for people in recovery?
Luckily, we’ve got you covered. We’ll start by explaining why you should avoid sugar if you’re in recovery. From there, you’ll learn some helpful tips on how you can avoid during the sugar the holidays and focus more of your attention on what the season is really about – meaningful connections.
Why Should You Avoid Sugar While in Recovery?
There’s a direct link between sugar and addiction. This is because the effect that sugar has on the reward pathways of the brain is similar to the effects of drugs and alcohol. Sugar triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, which is the same reward chemical triggered by drugs and alcohol. While sugar by itself isn’t as dangerous as substance abuse, giving into the dopamine response can lead to relapse.
That’s why people in the early stages of recovery can experience intense sugar cravings. Your brain is trying to use sugar to get back to the high dopamine levels caused when you used to drink or get high. With the right nutrition plan in place, you can overcome sugar cravings in recovery. But what should you do during the holidays when sugar and sweets are around every corner?
How to Avoid Sugar During the Holidays
1. Practice Makes Perfect
Sticking to a diet or health goals can be challenging. But one trick that can help you avoid sugar during holidays is to practice making healthy decisions. After all, healthy choices are one of the pillars of sobriety. Each day you’re sober, you’re making the choice to stay healthy.
Despite the headline, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about practicing healthy diet choices leading up to the holidays. You can start by cooking one fresh meal a week. Then, once family gatherings roll around, treat it as just another diet choice. Remember that you control what you eat and you have the power to make a positive impact.
2. Try Bringing Your Own Food
It can be hard to limit your sugar intake when there’s a tray of desserts waiting for you at a holiday get together. A good way to help you resist the temptation of sugar is by bringing your own food or snacks. Natural granola bars, fresh fruit, nuts and deviled eggs are great substitutes you can use to curb your appetite for sugar.
In fact, foods with a savory flavor profile can help reduce sugar cravings. You can make your own savory dishes to bring to holiday gatherings. If you don’t want to bring your own food, try eating beforehand. Having a full stomach going into a party can help you manage sugar cravings, too.
3. Don’t Go Through It Alone
You had a support system on your journey to recovery. Whether you attended residential or outpatient treatment, you know there’s strength in numbers. Talk to your family and friends and see if any of them are also trying to avoid sugar during the holidays. Just like in treatment, you’ll be able to share successes, struggles and work together.
By having someone to support you, sugar temptations during the holidays can become much less intimidating. You and your sugar-free partner will be able to share and learn from each other’s experiences. While they might be avoiding sugar for a different reason, it doesn’t change the support you can give each other to overcome the temptation to overindulge in sweets.
4. Be Prepared to Explain Why
Social pressure can be a big motivator to indulge in holiday sweets. Think about it – you don’t want to turn away from the fresh baked cookies your mom is offering. Sometimes that guilt or desire to be part of the group contributes to us eating too many sweets. So, what can you do?
It all starts with having a healthy way to explain why you’re avoiding sugar. An example could be: “I’d love to try the cookies you made, but right now I have to avoid added sugars for health reasons.” Your family and friends will be more likely to not pressure you to eat sweets if you give them a thoughtful reason.
Find Support and Healing at Silver Maple Recovery
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or maintaining their recovery, we can help. Silver Maple Recovery offers expert addiction recovery in Lorain, Ohio through a continuum of care that includes residential treatment and outpatient treatment. With a team that has 25 years of local experience, it’s our goal to help you in your journey to lasting recovery.
At Silver Maple Recovery, our foundation is a person-centered approach. That’s why we have a professional caregiver available 24/7 to answer your call when you’re ready to take the first step towards recovery. Together, you can break free from the hold addiction has on your life. Contact our team today.