How to Incorporate Seasonal Sweet Treats Into Your Diet in a Way That Feels Good

December 12, 2023

An influx of sweets—pumpkin pies, cozy drinks, holiday cookies—is the norm this time of year. Winter festivities often involve larger meals with foods that might be richer than what you’re used to, and trying to navigate the seasonal sugar rush can be overwhelming.  

Let’s be clear: There’s always room for sweets in a dancer’s diet. Avoiding sugar altogether can drive a challenging relationship with food. Instead, incorporate sweets regularly into your meal plan by identifying inclusive patterns of eating that leave you feeling good, both physically and mentally.

Don’t Make It All or Nothing

The mere suggestion to eat sweets “in moderation” implies the need for avoidance—setting the stage for experiences like overeating and food guilt. The more you attempt to control your intake of these foods, the more out of control you’re likely to feel. Instead, strive for unconditional permission, removing any potential consequences—a calorie count, an extra workout—that might be attached to your treat. With this sense of permission comes a deeper sense of self-trust, a feeling of “I know I can enjoy this again, soon.” Ultimately, that will make you more inclined to honor feelings of fullness.

Strike a Balance

To keep your blood sugar stable, consider your treat as one part of a balanced meal or snack. When you eat sugary foods alongside (or shortly after eating) a mixture of foods rich in protein, fat, and fibrous carbohydrates, the non-sugary food will help stabilize blood-sugar levels, preventing an energy crash later. You’ll also experience a greater degree of fullness alongside satisfaction. Try pairing your favorite holiday cookie with a turkey-and-avocado sandwich, sliced veggies, and fruit, or sprinkling your yogurt with crushed candy cane, granola, and chopped nuts.

Reconsider the Novelty

It’s often presumed that your favorite holiday treats only come around once a year, creating a sense of urgency: “If I don’t eat it now, when will I get the chance again?” But the truth is most of these sweets can be enjoyed on any regular day, whether you’re sampling leftovers in the New Year or re-creating­ your favorite recipe in the spring. Reconsi­dering the supposed novelty of these foods also sets you up to practice mindful-eating techniques, like powering down your screens and focus­ing on the flavors and aromas of your treat.