The holidays are a time of celebrating, gathering with family and friends, sharing meals and of course, no shortage of sweet treats everywhere you turn. In a year that has already been off-the-charts stressful and maintaining healthy habits has been difficult, many of us are looking for ways to not completely blow our fitness and weight loss goals as the holidays are upon us.

I have pulled together 5 simple tips that I use all year long to reduce the amounts of added sugar my kids (and myself) consume in our regular meals so that we can enjoy the occasional treats that are a regular part of celebrations without experiencing sky-high sugar-spikes and crashes or unnecessary guilt-trips for days after the holiday has ended.

Tip #1 Use fruit in place of sugar, syrup or honey to add natural sweetness to oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt, and more.

Protein pancakes with no-sugar-added berry compote (recipe found in the 7-Day Jumpstart)

Tip #2 Avoid packaged versions of foods and make your own from scratch. Making your own unsweetened yogurt at home, or whole rolled oats instead of the instant flavored packets are just two simple ways to drastically reduce the amount of sugar in two popular breakfast and snack options. In addition to controlling the amount of sugar that is in a serving, there is also a cost savings when you buy a large tub of plain yogurt, or bag of oats and stir in your own add-ins.

Try this banana nut oatmeal recipe, for a delicious sweet and healthy breakfast!

Tip #3 Read food labels when you do buy packaged and opt for versions that have reduced or no sugar added. Foods like peanut butter often contain added sugar or honey but are just as good in their natural form.

Tip #4 Ditch the coffee shop coffees and store-bought coffee creamers and instead make and flavor your coffee yourself. You can use sugar-free flavored almond milk, or even half and half and sugar. By making your own you are aware and in control of how much you add in you are able to monitor and reduce the amount of sugar you are consuming.

Tip #5 Drink water. This may seem obvious, but increasing our water intake and opting for water instead of juice or soda, massively reduces the amount of added sugar we are consuming. If you have water as your beverage of choice, than you have freed up more sugar intake for those special pies or cookies you really want without completely inundating your body with unnecessary added sugars. Also, an increase in water intake keeps dehydration at bay, which in turn reduces sugar cravings and will help to control the urge to binge on sweets when you do decide to partake.