18 December 2018

Christmas is such a magical time of year and many of us use the opportunity to spend time with the family, catch up with friends, and indulge in some Christmas cheer. These are just some of the things that help make the holiday season so special. But amongst the day trips out, get-togethers, parties and binge-watching television, there is another pastime that we should be very wary of. Christmas is a time where we are more likely to consume large amounts of festive treats, all the while being blissfully unaware of just how much sugar we are having.

Recent figures show that in the two weeks leading up to Christmas, Brits spend an astonishing £52.8 million on chocolate alone. In total, the UK spends an estimated £256 million on confectionary during the holidays. It will come as no surprise that the biggest culprit here is the classic selection box.

A medium-sized selection box contains a whopping 81 grams of sugar. This equates to 270% of adults’ recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 30g. Other major culprits are Christmas pudding and the Yuletide log, with the average servings containing 139% and 43% of your sugar RDA, respectively.

Many of our favourite Christmas treats contain alarmingly high amounts of sugar

However, it’s not just what we eat at Christmas that we should also be keeping tabs of. What we drink can also contain alarmingly high amounts of sugar. Take the Grande Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks which contains 39.3g of sugar, 130% of your daily sugar intake! Unfortunately, the winter warmer classic mulled wine is no exception either coming in at three and half teaspoons of sugar per glass.

Now, before you start binning all the selection boxes you stockpiled for your nieces and nephews or tipping your mulled wine down the kitchen sink, there is a silver lining. Cutting down your sugar intake isn’t as hard as you might think with just a few simple changes.
Some of you might be wondering how you go about cutting down on sugar. While addiction can a be a strong word, reducing the amount of sugar in your diet can prove very difficult. From Christmas treats to cranberry juice many foods contain high amounts of sugar.

Here are five top tips on how to cut down on your sugar intake during this festive season:

1. Drinking like a fish - Alcoholic drinks account for 11% of the UK population's daily intake of added sugar. Whether it's a glass of mulled wine or a glass of sherry the sugar in them can have a huge impact on our oral health. Try to moderate the amount of alcoholic drinks you have and have some water nearby to help wash down your tipple of choice. It helps wash some of the sugar from the mouth and your head will thank you the next day too.

2. Snack happy - It's 10:30 and we get that urge. It's a little too far away from lunch and we need something to tide us over. Don't reach for the biscuit barrel, a handful of nuts will provide that energy boost you need. Remember it's not only about how much sugar we eat when it comes to your teeth it's also about how often, so try opting for a sugar free alternative whenever possible.

3. Set a quota - When it comes to our teeth it's not only about how much sugar you eat it's how often you have it. It takes an hour for our mouth to return to a neutral state after eating or drinking and every time we have another mouthful that time starts again. Constant grazing can leave us with a toothless grin so if we do need a sugar fix, keep it to mealtimes and give our mouth a break.

4. Sugar by any other name is still sugar -- When we think of sugar we probably picture the white stuff you pop in our tea. But there are many ‘hidden' sugars in lots of things we would not even think of. Sugar can go by many names and recognising them is the first step to avoiding them. There are too many to list but some to look out for are; sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, molasses, hydrolysed starch and corn syrup.

5. Start 2019 right – Why not book a dental check-up for the start of 2019 and get the year off to a great start! By visiting your local dentist any damage done over the festive period can be spotted and treated early. Also, your dentist will be able to give you advice on how to stay on top of your oral health throughout 2019.

Don’t feel like you have to completely abstain from Christmas treats this year but do spare a thought for your teeth when you have “just one more” Quality Street. Get your teeth the Christmas present they deserve this year and cut down on sugar!

For more information about how our diet affect our oral health check out our ‘Diet and my teeth’ page.

Alternatively, call our Dental Helpline for free and impartial advice on 01788 539780.