Easy Steps to Lowering Your Holiday Glycemic Load

Health Professional

Weight gain during the holiday season is not inevitable, like taxes in April.   If you embrace a new approach to festive meals, you can lower your glycemic load and possibly even lose a few pounds just in time for the New Year.

Glycemic load  is a measurement that accounts for how much sugar or carbohydrates you consume. The glycemic load also takes into account the  glycemic index. Sugar is the primary cause of weight gain during the holidays. Sugar tells the brain to open up the fat banks to save the excess in the times of plenty. Furthermore, a high sugar load also leads to more inflammation and pain during the holidays. Based on popular food items during the season of plenty, here are many ways to help you lower your holiday glycemic load.

_Apple Cider:ix the apple cider with hot tea. This dilution will reduce the amount of sugar consumed in one drink.** Substitute** the apple cider with a baked cinnamon apple (See Alton Brown's recipe). Whole apples have a much lower glycemic index and glycemic load than apple juice (Check out this glycemic index and load list from Harvard). This substitution will allow you to be satisfied with the apple taste, minus much of the sugar load.

Skip  the apple cider altogether and drink sparkling water instead, which is just as festive for your holiday party.

_Mashed Potato:ix the potatoes with cauliflower (Try Raley's Veggie Mashed Potatoes). Trust me; no one will notice that you have reduced the amount of potatoes by mixing them with less sugary cauliflower.

Substitute mashed potatoes for a cauliflower mash. Those who still need a potato dish should eat a sweet potato casserole. Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than russet potatoes (Check out the glycemic load/index list from Harvard).

Skip  the mashed potatoes and move on to the green bean casserole.


Mix the cranberries with less sugar when making them from scratch. Try adding diced apples into the mix for some sweetness.

Substitute  the cranberry dish with a roasted fruit medley utilizing the sweetness of whole fruits without the added sugar.

Skip  the cranberries completely and just pour on the gravy.

_Stuffing:ix the traditional stuffing with wild rice (Try My favorite Wild Rice Stuffing but I add dried cranberries too). Bread has a much higher glycemic index than brown or wild rice; thus, by using less bread in your stuffing mix, you will lower your glycemic load.

Substitute  the bread stuffing with a quinoa and roasted vegetable dish. You can even pour gravy over this quinoa dish to fully satisfy this holiday craving.

Skip  to the protein-rich turkey.

Apple Pie:

You can easily lower the glycemic load of apple pie that your make yourself by using less sugar and adding more whole fruit, like pears.

Pumpkin Pie:

This traditional holiday desert can be healthier if made with less sugar and adding sweet potato.

Or"  skip to the dark chocolate or try ** Alton Brown's baked apple desert instead**.

Sugar adds up quickly during the holidays. But this load can be reduced with smart glycemic-lowering strategies that can still help you satisfy your cravings for traditional dishes. So mix, substitute, and skip your way to a much healthier holiday meal.