Sugar Shock: Maintaining Healthy Blood Glucose During the Holidays

By Emily Dickerson, ND

As we enter the holiday season we are bombarded with challenges to our diet and to maintaining healthy blood glucose control. In celebration of Diabetes Awareness Month this November, we would love to help you develop strategies for maintaining excellent blood glucose control this holiday season.

Diabetes Basics:

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are higher than normal. Food that we eat is converted into glucose, which is the main source of energy that our bodies use. In response to glucose, the pancreas produces insulin which allows glucose to enter the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin (Type I; autoimmune), or is unable to use its insulin the way that it should (Type II; insulin resistant). This causes glucose to not enter cells sufficiently, and as a result glucose levels increase in the blood.

High sugar or high carbohydrate foods, those that we consider “high glycemic index foods” cause blood sugar to elevate. If these foods are eaten frequently, blood glucose may remain elevated over time, increasing the risk for insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. Eating blood glucose “unfriendly” foods can make you experience fatigue, brain fog, emotional instability, and cravings.

Diet and lifestyle play a major part in controlling blood sugar levels. Below are some ideas for helping to manage blood sugar more effectively.

Eating patterns that support blood sugar balance:

  • Small meals and snacks eaten at regular intervals (avoid skipping meals
  • Avoid eating large portions of simple carbohydrates (high glycemic index foods) such as sugar, juice, dried fruit, white flour, white potatoes, baked goods
  • Balance meals with vegetables (complex carbohydrates), healthy fats, and protein
  • Plan ahead for healthy meals and snacks
  • Always carry a healthy snack with you

Maintain a Healthy Weight

  • Make it your goal this season to feel great, look fabulous, and be extremely healthy!

Exercise: Sneak it in!

  • After Meals: Walking after dinner promotes glucose utilization and stabilization.
  • Daily is Best: 30 minutes per day, heart rate elevated, sweating.
  • Any time: Move your body! Find a fun physical activity!

Stress

  • Take a break: Don’t let stress catch up with you. Stress elevates cortisol.
  • Cortisol impairs healthy blood sugar levels and causes us to gain weight.
  • Laugh, play, breathe

Holiday Cocktails

  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and make sure to have it with a meal.