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Healthy Homemade Treats For The Holidays

December 5, 2015

The holidays are approaching, which also means a plethora of candies, sugar cookies, candy canes and chocolates at parties and gatherings. There's nothing wrong with a few indulgences around the holidays, but it can be much harder to limit sugar intake for you and your kids with so many sweets around. However, now more than ever is a good time to be conscious of your sugar intake, especially if you've read about this recent study on what cutting sugar does to children's health.

Cutting Sugar Can Improve Children's Health In As Little As 10 Days

According to a recent study published in the journal Obesity, children's metabolic health improved dramatically after cutting out all added sugars. The study included 43 children between the ages of 9 and 18 who were at a high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and other conditions. Prior to the study, an average of 27 percent of the children's daily calories came from sugar. For perspective, dietary guidelines recommend that only 10 percent of one's daily calories should come from sugar. 

Despite only lasting 10 days, the study saw drastic improvements in the children's health after they cut out added sugars. Added sugar includes sweeteners that food companies add to their products, not naturally occurring sugar in fruits. This study also was structured to address one of the main questions in the sugar debate: Is sugar to blame for health issues, or is it the body fat that's caused by eating excess sugar?

Rather than cutting calories for the participants, the study kept the children's carbohydrate intake consistent with what they were eating before. Since their calorie intake remained the same, the children saw little to no weight loss during the study. This allowed the researchers to see the effects that added sugar itself had on the children's health.

The study showed that, on average, the children's LDL cholesterol (associated with heart disease) fell by 10 points. Their triglyceride levels, which also contribute to heart disease, fell by 33 points. Their diastolic blood pressure also fell by 5 points. Cutting back on sugar also improved their blood sugar and insulin levels, which would reduce the risk of diabetes over time.

This is an important study because it helps show the relationship between added sugar and health problems. Since it's estimated that 80 percent of all supermarket foods contain added sugar, studies like these can make people more aware of hidden sugars in many popular processed foods.

Make The Holidays Healthier For Your Family This Year

With all that in mind, you may be looking for ways to reduce your kids' sugar intake during the holidays, when sugary foods can be found everywhere. Luckily it's easy to find delicious alternatives to added sugar without sacrificing any of the fun the holidays bring! Here are 5 ways to cut back on sugar in your holiday treats:

  • Instead of buying pre-made cookies or using a full-sugar recipe for cookies, try a recipe for sugar-free cookies on Pinterest, cookbooks such as the Sugar Free Mom Cookbook or a diabetic cookbook. Aim for recipes that use natural sweeteners such as honey, stevia or no-sugar-added fruit juice.
  • Go sugar free with a homemade hot chocolate recipe such as this one. Using ingredients such as almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder and just a bit of stevia can give you the same delicious flavor without all the sugar. Popular brands can contain up to 20 grams of sugar or more per serving!
  • Skip the store bought truffles and go with some healthy homemade ones such as these. They substitute sugar with stevia and use just 6 ingredients. 
  • Make sugar free frosting such as this recipe. Rather than using cups of powdered sugar like many other homemade recipes, this one uses a natural sweetener derived from fruits and vegetables.
  • Skip the sugary treats altogether. If you're bringing food to a gathering, bring cut vegetables instead of cookies or candy since there will likely be an abundance of sweets already.  Keep in mind that some store bought vegetable dips can have added sugars, so it can be much healthier to make dip from scratch.

Make A Difference In Kids' Lives With A Car Donation

In addition to treats and holiday parties, December is a great time to think about giving back to your community. An easy way to make a big difference is by donating your car to Wheels For Wishes benefiting Make-A-Wish. Our car donation program give you a tax deduction and free towing, but better yet the proceeds from your donation go to your local chapter of Make-A-Wish and help them grant more wishes.

Consider donating your car today and call 1-855-278-9474 or fill out an online car donation form. Your car donation can make a big difference this holiday season!

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