Whether or not you are diabetic, it is important to maintain healthy blood sugar, especially during the holidays.
Blood sugar is one of those things that people rarely think about until it is a problem. Unhealthy blood sugar regulation can lead to a slew of problems such as diabetes, liver problems, and heart disease. In general, spikes can make you feel jittery while dips in blood sugar can make you feel sick, tired, and lightheaded. It’s always a good idea to be mindful about what you are eating and how you can manage you’re the glucose (aka sugar) levels in your blood but this can be even more challenging around the holidays when there is an abundance of delicious sugar-rich foods. Here are some tips to help you navigate this sweet season!
1. Eat Balanced Meals
This might seem like a no brainer, but with all of the holiday stress it is easy to justify a bagel for breakfast and nibble the cookies your coworker brought for lunch. The problem with this is that there is very little nutritional substance in these choices. The carbohydrates and sugars are quickly broken down to create a rapid blood sugar spike that will leave you running on fumes in three hours’ time.
It is important to understand that when your blood sugar rises, your pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin. What insulin does is bring your blood sugar back down to normal levels. However, if your body is constantly secreting insulin to equalize an excess of glucose, not only does your pancreas become exhausted, but your body begins to become resistant to insulin. When that happens, you are no longer able to regulate your own blood sugar and you become diabetic. Therefore, it is always important to eat a balanced meal that includes protein, a vegetable and a small serving of carbohydrates to avoid chronic blood sugar spikes. If you are still looking for a quick fix, you can use a high efficacy nutritional powder like our Vitality Formula to help you maintain your blood sugar.
2. Choose Vegetables First
Dove tailing with the above, filling your belly with vegetables and washing them down with a glass of water goes a long way when you are trying to maintain healthy blood sugar. Vegetables do very little to affect glucose levels but they can curb your hunger and provide you with a plethora of healthy nutrients. That’s great news, right?
In addition, we tend to develop cravings for things when our body lacks an essential vitamin or mineral. This our brain telling us that it’s time to fill up on said nutrient. Unfortunately, the sweet tooth that might have driven our ancestors to forage for antioxidant rich berries now has a tendency to lead us to a bowl of ice cream smothered in sundae sauce. Guess which one I’m going to recommend.
3. Move Your Body
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body and in turn your blood sugar levels. When you get active, your muscles begin to utilize the excess glucose in your blood stream. It also makes insulin more effective which in turn lowers your blood sugar and helps you work off your cookie binge.
Just be careful not to over do it. Listen to your body and know your limits.
4. Sleep In
Yes, I am giving you full license to take a long winters’ nap. According to the Annals of Epidemiology, if you average less than six hours of sleep a night, your chances of high blood sugar are increased three fold. Dutch researchers found that even just one night of poor sleep can disrupt proper glucose regulation. Bad sleep habits are also related to obesity and other health problems.
Make sure you tuck in at a decent hour. Avoid caffeine after lunch and put the leftovers away after dinner to prevent indigestion related insomnia. If you still have trouble falling asleep, mix a few drops of lavender essential oil with water and spritz it on your sheets. The natural calming effect of lavender will have you dozing off in no time.
5. Take It Easy on the Alcohol
Office parties, spiked eggnog, and mulled wine. The opportunities to indulge in adult beverages are endless this time of year. Not quite ready to put down the booze? Here is a scoop of science for you.
We have already talked about insulin and how it works to lower your blood sugar. Glycogen, another hormone, is released when your blood sugar levels need to rise. When you are drinking alcohol, your blood sugar rises abnormally fast so your pancreas rapidly secretes insulin to lower those levels. Now, your blood sugar is dipping from the insulin, so your body tries to balance everything by releasing glycogen.
But wait! Alcohol inhibits the mechanism your body uses to release glycogen so your blood sugar continues to fall until the alcohol works its way out of your system. Be mindful of how much you are drinking while trying to maintain your blood sugar levels.
6. Use a Healthy Sugar Substitute
No, I don’t mean sucralose-based artificial sweeteners or aspartame. Although these contain no calories and do not spike blood sugar, they are terrible for you. The reason why your body doesn’t recognize them as sugar is because they were never meant to be consumed in the first place. Is homemade apple pie the same if you make it with ingredients that aren’t actually food?
Instead, opt for a sweetener that will satisfy your cravings and offer you an abundance of health benefits. Our Xyli-Glucan is a great option for those seeking a healthful alternative. Packed with the healing properties of xylitol and beta-glucan, you can indulge knowing you are doing something super good for your body. Xyli-Glucan does not raise your blood sugar like traditional sugar does, has significantly less calories and carbohydrates than other sweeteners, and has anti-bacterial properties. Plus, it’s great for your teeth.
We hope you have a Happy and Healthy Holiday from all of us at Physicians' Standard!