Today’s post comes courtesty of girlaboutOtown’s newest contributor Dr. Sarah Vadeboncoeur, N.D.  Starting this month, Sarah will share ‘Just One Thing’ we can do to make a difference in our overall well-being.   Having been a devotee of Dr. Vadeboncoeur for over a year, I speak from experience when I say that the accumulation of small, simple changes have made a significant difference in my health.  Drastic goals and disruptive alterations in behaviour don’t ever seem to work, so here at girlaboutOtown, we’re playing it smart by going slow.

December is no different.  No big bold moves this month!  Instead, Dr. Sarah suggests we be selective about what we choose to drink, and substitute something less sugary whenever possible.  When faced with endless sweet treats over the coming week or two, why add to the mix with a sugary drink?   While this girlaboutotown makes no guarantees about what I end up eating over the holiday season, I will definitely try to be mindful of the non-alcoholic liquids I let in.  Here’s more from Dr. Sarah about why…with a few editor’s notes added!


With the holiday season in full swing, many of us will be reaching for a sugary beverage to get though a marathon day of last minute shopping or yet another holiday party.  Have you ever stopped to think about what that peppermint mocha, can of soda, or mimosa might be doing to your health? Or how much sugar it contains?

Adults should consume no more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugars (excluding fruit) each day, but start paying attention to the sugar content of your favorite foods.  You’ll quickly see how easy it is to consume 25 grams by mid-morning!  In fact, adults consume an average of 22 to 28 teaspoons (350 to 440 calories) of added sugars each day, and beverages make up 35% of the calories we consume from added sugars.

We all know that sugar is bad for our health, yet many of us are still addicted to the white stuff.  It’s hard to shake the habit, but here are a just a few convincing reasons to cut back, especially during the days ahead:

  • Consuming sugar triggers a cascade of events in the body sending you on a roller coaster of highs and lows all day long leading to cravings, low energy, and mood swings.  (Hardly sounds like a holiday!- ed. )  
  • The majority of added sugars are made up of fructose, which has been found to be quickly and directly stored as fat.  (Had to be said. Sorry! -ed.)
  • Consuming sugar raises levels of insulin- a fat storage hormone that loves our mid-section.  Weight gain in the abdomen is most dangerous, due to its proximity to vital organs.  (Repeat: vital organs! – ed.)


So, you’re not optimistic you’ll be able to cut out sugar completely?  Fair enough. But, there is one small thing you can do to stay slightly healthier this holiday season.  Choose your beverages wisely!  Simple.  Just consider the sugar content.

Here’s a few tips to help you make less decadent decisions:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8-10 glasses of pure, filtered water – and 1 glass of water for each caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you consume. (This helps in more ways than one. Wink, wink!  -ed.)  
  • Do your best to avoid drinks that sound and taste like dessert.  (You know the ones! -ed.)
  • Stay away from sugar saturated beverages likes fruit juice, flavoured milk, soda, and sports/energy drinks.
  • Learn to recognize sugar in all its forms (code word: glucose, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup/HFCS, brown sugar, molasses, evaporated cane juice, honey, agave, brown rice syrup).
  • Ditch artificial sweeteners too (code word: sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and saccharin).


Before you revert entirely to booze, rest assured, there are alternatives!  To quench your thirst, to sip along socially, or to even feel downright festive, try these options instead:

  • Drink a glass of sparkling water in between alcoholic beverages.  Bonus – staying well hydrated also helps prevent sugar cravings!  Better yet, add fresh fruit such as grapefruit, oranges, or berries for a little festive flavour.
  • Choose a cup of organic coffee or naturally-flavoured herbal tea.
  • Make your own hot chocolate with raw cocoa powder, unpasteurized honey or maple syrup and low-fat milk (or dairy alternative like almond milk).
  • Drink alcohol responsibly (ie: no more than 2-3 servings alcohol servings per day). FYI: dry red wine or hard liquor (mixed with soda water and fresh lemon or lime) have fewer calories.
  • If you really need to sweeten, try stevia, a zero-calorie plant-based sweetener.



Additional Resources:


Dr. Sarah Vadeboncoeur is a Naturopathic Doctor with a passion for nutrition, health and natural medicine. Sarah enjoys educating and empowering individuals to become active participants in their journey to healthier living. She works with patients to help them make gradual lifestyle changes that contribute to a lifetime of health and well-being, and is currently accepting new patients at the Ottawa Integrative Health Centre.  Sarah strives to lead by example by living a balanced life that includes healthful cooking, reading, running, and yoga.  Learn more about Sarah by visiting www.truehealthND.com.



 Image via SkinnyMs.  
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