4 min|Dr. Maya Kuczma

4 Easy Tips for Balancing Your Blood Sugar During the Holidays

Wellness, Health
On one hand, trying to stay healthy during the holiday season can feel overwhelming, especially if you feel like prioritizing your health means depriving yourself . On the other hand, we all know that overindulgence can leave us feeling heavier, tired, and more stressed than before the holidays.

At Integrative, we believe in celebrating in a way that feels joyful, and healthy. Merry, and bright. With these tips, it’s easy to indulge in a way that keeps your blood sugar on track, which can lead to better weight and stress management during the holidays, while still enjoying yourself:

Don’t Eat Naked (Carbohydrates)

When we eat, our bodies release a hormone called Insulin. This hormone is responsible for fat storage and managing blood sugar levels. Large amounts of insulin are released when we eat carbohydrates, such as cookies, bread, and pasta. ‘Naked’ carbohydrates, such as a snack, dessert, or meal that is almost entirely carbohydrates, have a particularly strong effect on spiking insulin levels.

We can decrease the amount of insulin released by combining carbohydrates with protein, fat, and fiber when we eat. This can be done by ‘front-loading’: that means eating fiber, protein and fat before having a carb-rich snack, drink, or meal. Here are some examples:
  • Eating veggies (fiber) and a hard-boiled egg (protein) with a drizzle of olive oil (fat) before a cocktail party.
  • Ordering a protein-fat-fiber appetizer prior to a carb-heavy meal, such as a nicoise salad, or side-serving of veggies and salmon.
  • Enjoying a few protein-fat-fiber hors d'oeuvres to stabilize blood sugar prior to cocktails and/or desserts (great options include deviled eggs, prawn cocktail, veggie sticks, olives, kielbasa, and bacon-wrapped scallops).

Drop Acetic Acid

The acetic acid found in vinegar reduces the amount of insulin our body releases in response to a meal. It is unclear exactly how this works - it may slow our digestion, leading to a slower rise in blood sugar, or actively prevent carbohydrate absorption. (1) Either way, including a small amount of vinegar before eating carbohydrates can minimize their effect on our blood sugar. Having a salad with a splash of vinegar and olive oil at the start of a meal combines the helpful effects of vinegar, along with the balancing effects of fiber and fat. In a pinch, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (alone, or in water) can be taken before a carbohydrate-rich meal to improve our blood sugar and insulin response.

Choose Your Booze, Carefully

If you’re going to drink alcohol, there are a few things you can do to limit the negative impact of alcohol on your blood sugar:

• Sugar-laden cocktails (margaritas, sangria, Moscow mule, etc)? Skip ‘em.

• Spirits? Have them on the rocks, or with soda instead of tonic.

• Beer and seltzers? Look for low-carb and unsweetened options.

• Wines? A good choice, especially if they’re dry wines.

As a general rule, be sure that you’ve loaded up with protein, fat, and fiber before drinking. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can cause blood sugar to drop to an unhealthy level. Alcohol also impairs fat-burning. These effects are difficult to negate entirely, and are a couple of the many reasons why moderation is key when consuming alcohol.

Dance it Out

Dessert happens, especially during the holidays. When it does, get moving! That can be a brisk 20-minute walk, dance, or a few rounds of squats and wall push-ups. Glucose is a simple sugar commonly found in carbohydrates. When you are active following dessert, the glucose in your dessert will be soaked up by your muscles to power their activity. More glucose in the muscles means less glucose in your blood, and a smaller spike in insulin. (3) Cookie and a conga line? Donut, and a walk with friends to check out Christmas lights? Sounds like we figured out this health thing, just in the (Saint) Nick of time.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438142/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28292654/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27747394/
Popup disabled