The holiday season can be a minefield for people trying to keep their blood sugar levels in check. After all, festive get-togethers are often centered around sweets and other decadent foods.
From office parties to baking cookies with family and friends, the season is filled with ample opportunities to overindulge in carbohydrates that can cause blood sugar levels to spike. This isn’t to say that you need to totally forego the foods you love during the holidays. There are some simple ways you can satisfy your cravings and enjoy the season while controlling your blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar, which is technically called glucose, is the body’s main source of energy. The term blood sugar refers to the amount of energy (sugar) present in your bloodstream at any one given time. This sugar is produced when your digestive tract breaks down any carbohydrate-rich food, from a piece of fruit to a bowl of oatmeal. This sugar is then absorbed into your bloodstream to be used as a source of energy for your body. Your blood sugar can also dictate your hunger and cravings. Simply put, you feel your best when your blood sugar is balanced. When it’s out of balance, you can experience sugar cravings, irritability, poor sleep, anxiety, and in the long term, even diabetes.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can keep your blood sugar in check this holiday season:
Plan ahead. Heading to a restaurant for a holiday party? Try checking out the menu beforehand, which can be a good way to help lower your calorie and sugar intake. If the party is at a friend or family member’s house, on the other hand, try asking what they are planning on serving. You can always offer to bring a healthier dish that complements their meal.
Add in a powdered green drink mix. Powdered green drink mixes typically contain a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrients. Some green drink mixes also include prebiotic fiber. Brimming with antioxidants, these drink mixes can help you get more greens into your diet. If you find it difficult to eat the recommended number of veggies throughout the day, a quality powdered green drink mix can fill in the gaps while helping to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.1
Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can negatively impact your nutrient intake and blood glucose levels. If you are too busy to sit down for a meal, try “meal prepping” a few easy meals or hearty snacks in advance. This can really help you out on those crazy-busy days. Also, the day of a big party, make sure to eat a healthy, filling meal prior to the festivities. Because the body becomes more insulin resistant as the day goes on, a late night meal—especially one filled with sugar and refined carbohydrates—may cause a greater spike in blood sugar.2
Stay hydrated. Drinking water helps your kidneys flush out excess blood sugar through your urine. A study found that people who drank more water had a lower risk of developing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).3 Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces per day.
Be mindful of your diet. What you eat plays a critical role in preventing, managing, or even reversing diabetes. The most important thing to know is that diets high in starchy or sugary foods and sugar-sweetened drinks promote high fasting blood sugar and can lead to insulin resistance. Opt instead of whole foods and, if possible, follow a Mediterranean-type diet filled with colorful fruits and veggies.
Try a supplement. There are certain nutrients you can add to your routine that can help keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. Look for a supplement containing nutrients like salacia, chromium, and bitter melon. You might not have heard of some of these ingredients but they each play an important role in balancing blood sugar. Bitter melon, for example, is a fruit that contains several substances that encourage the body to use carbohydrates for energy, the way nature intended. Chromium is a trace mineral necessary for the efficient metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. In addition, chromium helps cells respond as they should to insulin, and this helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Salacia is a traditional Ayurvedic treatment for obesity and diabetes due to compounds shown to stabilize blood sugar, even after a high-carb meal.
A probiotic can also be of some help, especially one that contains enzymes. Enzymes break down proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and dairy into absorbable nutritional elements the body can use. Taking a probiotic can also support healthy digestion by helping to regulate the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Simply put, a few lifestyle changes can help stabilize your blood sugar levels throughout the holidays. Just remember, it’s always wise to talk with your doctor before adding new supplements to your regimen or making any dietary changes.
- Akhtar S, Layla A, Sestili P, et al. Glycemic and insulinemic responses of vegetables and beans powders supplemented chapattis in healthy humans: a randomized crossover trial. Biomed Research. 2019: 7425367.
- Yoshino J, Almeda-Valdes P, Patterson B, et al. Diurnal variation in insulin sensitivity of glucose metabolism is associated with diurnal variations in whole body and cellular fatty acid metabolism in metabolically normal women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2014: Vol 99; E1666-E1670.
- Roussel R, Fezeu L, Bouby N, et al. Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia. Diabetes Care. 2011: 34(12):2551-4.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.