For any person with diabetes or pre-diabetes, the holidays can be a trying time. The season presents many opportunities to eat outside of a typical low-glycemic diet plan, and blood sugar levels can soar. However, there are ways to enjoy your holiday celebrations while maintaining your health, weight, and blood sugar levels.
Dietary Choices The best way to approach eating over the holidays is to pre-plan your day. When attending a party or dinner, consider how to optimize your daily intake prior to the event. Eat a breakfast and lunch high in protein, greens and good fats low in carbohydrates; avoid any unnecessary and excess sugar and carbs. This sets you in a lower blood sugar range prior to any temptations to indulge in carbs, sugar, and alcohol which will spike your blood sugar and increase your weight. By pre-planning, you have ‘saved’ some of your daily carb intake for the evening. But remember, maintaining blood sugar is about combining foods properly at each meal and not eating them all in one sitting.
The rule of thumb for holiday eating is protein, protein, protein! Look first for protein choices such as meat, fish, nuts, cheese, or bean dips and any type of vegetable dish. By filling up on protein first, the more enticing carb, sugar, and alcohol will be less tempting with a fuller, more satiated stomach. If you do indulge in higher glycemic foods, remember to balance with more protein and stay hydrated with water.
During the holidays, alcohol can be one of the biggest culprits of weight gain and higher blood sugar. As always, the key is moderation! Enjoy alcoholic drinks slowly over the evening to space out your blood sugar intake; avoid drinking for multiple, consecutive days; and limit yourself to two alcoholic drinks at holiday events.
Exercise The best method to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels, other than reducing carb consumption, is to exercise. Exercise is very important to maintain weight and blood sugar levels over the holidays. You can burn off excess blood sugar by maintaining a daily workout schedule. In addition to pre-planning your daily diet, also pre-plan your exercise prior to parties, and take a short walk when coming home to burn off the extra blood sugar. Exercise is the best way to reduce blood sugar, burn off extra calories, and maintain weight during the holidays.
Nutritional Supplements Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels can be managed by the addition of certain nutritional supplements. Incorporating nutrients such as chromium picolinate, vanadium, vitamins B12/B6, and magnesium can assist the body in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Herbs such as gymnema sylvestre, bitter melon, cinnamon bark, and fenugreek are also great choices for keeping blood sugar levels optimal. There are many great formulas with a combination of the above constituents which can safely be used for diabetes, and pre-diabetes support.
The healthy choice of all is to enjoy celebratory events with a heavy dose of moderation. Abnormal blood sugar levels are hard enough to maintain without adding dietary and lifestyle choices that challenge the body’s ability to cope. Enjoy, celebrate, and above all, take care of your body by being cognizant of how the choices you make can affect your body.
Dr. Sinsheimer is Optimal Health Center’s naturopathic doctor and can be reached at (760) 568.2598.