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Managing your Blood Sugar Over the Holidays

Terrain Integrative Medicine

We are officially in the thick of the holiday season, which also means the season of holiday parties complete with all the holiday goodies. If you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar around this time can be a little challenging. Don’t worry though, here are some tips that will help you keep your blood sugar under control without feeling deprived of all the holiday goodies.

Don’t forget the veggies (or other fiber)

Go ahead and load up on that green bean casserole and any other veggies that make an appearance at your holiday party. When you add fiber to your meal it is not only going to make you feel full faster, but it is also going help you keep your blood sugar under control. Fiber slows down the rate in which sugar is absorbed into the blood stream, which helps avoid a blood sugar spike. Keeping your blood sugar from spiking will also help it from crashing. The crash in blood sugar can lead to a sweet tooth later in the day. Sources of fiber include veggies, beans, lentils and whole grains.

Nutrition label highlighting dietary fiber and total carbs

Note: Remember that fiber is a long, indigestible chain of sugar molecules, so on nutrition labels it is counted as a carbohydrate which can be confusing. If you are carb counting, you can subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrates. In this example, subtract 4g of fiber from the 37g of total carbs. this means only count 33g of carbs towards your meal total.

Don’t let your eyes bully your stomach

Awkward yeti comic with the eyeballs bullying the stomach

You’ve been waiting all day for the wonderful food and it all looks so good! It is easy for your eyes to become bigger than your stomach. Often, we put way too much food on our plates and then even though we’re full we proceed to finish what is on our plates. Start with smaller portions and remember that if you aren’t feeling satisfied you can always get seconds. This will also most likely cause you to pause before getting more food and can allow time for hormones to reach your brain telling you, “I’m full”. Slowing down the rate you are eating also helps give your body more time process any sugar you consumed, again helping to avoid that blood sugar spike.

Add nuts to your desserts

Passing up dessert is difficult, especially over the holiday season. By adding nuts to your dessert, you are adding protein (and fiber). Protein causes the stomach to empty more slowly, which will decrease the rate in which sugar is absorbed into the blood stream. Therefore, adding protein will help you feel full faster, and will help keep your blood sugar from spiking. As stated above, with spiking blood sugar will also lead to crashing blood sugar, which may lead to you to grabbing that midnight piece of pumpkin pie to satisfy your sweet tooth. So, add some walnuts to your pumpkin pie, or opt for the pecan pie.

Alcohol in moderation

With all the spiked eggnog and hot buttered rum around it is easy to put the drinks back a little faster than you intended to. Try to remember to have some water and small handful nuts in between drinks. Alcohol blocks your body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar levels and can lead to blood sugar going too low.* This low blood sugar can cause late night cravings and is what is responsible for the hangover in the morning. Guidelines tell us to limit it to 2 drinks/day for women and 3 drinks/day for men.

Take a “cake walk”

You’ve added veggies and nuts to your meal, but let’s be honest, there is still a good amount of sugar making its way to your bloodstream. Take a leisurely walk after eating to help your body use up some of that sugar. Get your friends and family involved as well. Maybe it could even become a holiday tradition. When you walk, the muscles in your legs act like sponges and suck up the sugar in your blood for energy, helping lower your blood sugar.

Hopefully these tips will help you keep your blood sugar under control without leaving you feeling deprived of all the holiday treats! Happy holidays!

*Note: Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) caused by alcohol can be especially worrisome for those taking anti-diabetic drugs that can also cause low blood sugar including sulfonylureas and insulin. If blood sugar level drop too low it can cause coma and even death. If you are diabetic and begin experience shaking, nervousness, sweating, confusion or other symptoms of hypoglycemia, check your blood sugar. If you get a reading below 70. eat 15 grams of simple carbs, such as hard candy or juice, and recheck you blood sugar in 15 minutes. Repeat this until your blood sugar is above 70. Click here to learn more. 

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