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6 Tips for Regulating Blood Sugar During the Holidays

written by Skye Sherman - Jan 23, 2023
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Oct 10, 2023

Photo Credit: by Gustavo Fring,
Photo Credit: by Gustavo Fring,

Holidays got your diet down and out? You’re not alone! Most people struggle to get through the holidays while sticking to their healthy-eating regimen. One of the biggest challenges can be all the readily available sweets and treats, which may make it especially difficult to properly regulate your blood sugar. You may feel the effects of unregulated blood sugar as intestinal discomfort, fatigue, increased thirst, headaches, and more.

Whether you have diabetes or not, it’s important to be aware of your blood sugar levels and keep them in a healthy rhythm.

Want some tips for keeping your blood sugar in check all season long? Read on for helpful ways to monitor your blood sugar and keep it at a manageable level no matter what your next holiday party presents to tempt you.

1. Stay hydrated

Even though it might seem irrelevant, drinking water is key to keeping your blood sugar levels stable! If you drink more water, you’ll eat less and give into cravings less often. You’ll end up with less sugar and salt in your diet because you don’t grab the first bag of chips or cookie you see. Plus, staying hydrated is essential for all kinds of bodily processes.

2. Choose your carbs wisely

Carbs sometimes get a bad reputation, but you should note that carbs are not the enemy. They provide a lot of great nutrients and energy! However, foods that are high in carbs have the biggest impact on blood sugar when compared to fats and protein.

When you eat carbs this holiday season, choose wisely. Simple carbs don’t do as much for you as complex carbs. Your best bet is whole grains and foods with a low glycemic index. These have less of an impact on your blood sugar and will keep your levels stable overall. Foods with a high glycemic index, also called a high glycemic load, cause your blood sugar to spike rapidly, which is not ideal for your health. Limit refined, processed carbs and opt instead for fiber-rich whole foods. Some good examples include apples, carrots, beans, and cashews.

Ultimately, don’t dive into the bread basket without considering all your options first!

3. Control your portion size and make smart switches

Sometimes the issue isn’t what you eat, it’s how much of it you consume. Limit your portions to a healthy levels and avoid gorging or stuffing yourself. Not only does it not feel good, it has a negative impact on your overall health.

Another health-conscious thing you can do to enjoy all the holiday foods with less of the problems is making simple substitutions. They won’t make the food taste worse, but they will make it more healthy for you! For example, swap in some cauliflower when you’re making rice or mashed potatoes or potato pancakes. Even doing half of the recipe with cauliflower can greatly improve the food’s interactions with your body!

When a recipe calls for high-fat sour cream, use Greek yogurt instead, and opt for roasted sweet potatoes instead of the usual sweet potato casserole coated in marshmallows. Maybe add some pomegranate to your dessert for a little fruity tartness instead of candy. By making these simple swaps, you can continue to enjoy holiday foods without paying for it later. Studies have also shown that waiting to eat a sweet treat after a savory one might help you avoid glucose and insulin spikes.

4. Go on a walk together

After a big holiday feast, you might want to laze around on the couch. But if you can get moving, it will make a big difference in how you feel and how your body responds to having to metabolize all that delicious food. This is because when you get moving right after a meal, your body is forced to increase supply to your muscles, hence utilizing the glucose in your food more efficiently.

Eat slowly then go for a simple family walk together after the meal. Collapse on the couch immediately afterwards and you’ll be amazed how much better you feel if you just incorporate a short physical activity, even if it’s a silly game of hide and seek.

5. Always eat a balanced meal

Some people with diabetes have to take prescription medications such as Rybelsus, Jardiance, Januvia, and Farxiga. If you’re diabetic, you may be more aware than most people of the importance of a balanced meal. Squeezing in sugary snacks at random points of the day just won’t cut it!

As Dignity Health recommends, “Remember to balance carbohydrates with protein and non-starchy vegetables to provide complete nutrition and maintain good glucose control. A good rule of thumb, according to the American Diabetes Association, is to limit starchy foods to 25 percent of your meal. Creating a healthy plate is how you balance blood sugar levels throughout the day.”

Lehigh Valley Health Network recommends that half of your plate should be vegetables. “They provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that help manage your blood sugar. … You should enjoy the holidays and the seasonal foods they bring. Instead of overly limiting what you eat, be aware of your portion sizes and balance things out with larger servings of vegetables.”

As you can see, what’s important is that you achieve balance in each and every meal you consume. Make sure there’s multiple colors and types of food on each plate so you get a good balance of protein, healthy fats, carbs, fiber, and a whole range of nutrients.

6. Should I skip breakfast?

Don’t restrict yourself from eating meals just because you’ve been eating a lot lately. Intermittent fasting can actually throw off your body’s metabolism because it’s not getting a steady, reliable stream of nutrient-dense calories.

According to Abbott, skipping meals is a bad idea for more than one reason. “Skipping breakfast can negatively impact your nutrient intake and blood glucose, and increase the risk for type 2 diabetes … adults who skipped breakfast ate more snacks, increasing the intake of refined carbohydrates and added sugars.”

So does this mean that you should have breakfast as soon as you wake up? No not at all, the term breakfast literally just means “breaking a fast." Yes, you can have breakfast, just don’t eat it as soon as you arise. What you break your fast on also makes a difference, so make sure to have a nutritious and savory breakfast instead of a sugar laden one like cereal. Eating mindfully and with intention is the key. Eat what you feel hungry for, and nothing more and nothing less.

It’s always important to speak to your doctor about finding the right foods for you so while these tips should be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle eating plan, always check with your doctor too.



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