Big meals, buffets, pie – oh my. During the holidays, it can be challenging to maintain normal blood sugar levels. But have no fear, with a strategic plan, you can both enjoy your holiday meals and feel your best. Try these tips for balancing blood sugar at your next holiday meal.
Start your meal with vegetables first.
The fiber in low-carbohydrate vegetables slows down digestion and prevents blood sugar from spiking after eating starches or sweets at the end of the meal. Fiber in vegetables is very effective in helping control blood sugar. Always think to yourself “vegetables first.” When attending a holiday gathering, offer to bring a vegetable-based dish to share to ensure there will be at least one vegetable option to start your meal. When setting up the holiday food buffet line, purposefully place vegetable dishes at the start of the line and aim to fill a quarter to half of your plate with vegetables. When out to eat with friends or family over the holidays, order a vegetable side to enjoy first before the rest of your meal. If you keep a positive association with vegetables and really focus on how beneficial they are for blood sugar, eating them first at meals will become one of the easiest yet most effective lifestyle changes to help improve your blood sugar.
Enjoy dessert and find ways to move that feel good for your body.
Especially during the holidays, it’s helpful to find a style of eating that is both for health and for pleasure. The best time to enjoy something sweet for dessert is at the end of a balanced meal. The fiber and protein from the meal helps slow down digestion and will help prevent blood sugar from spiking as high. Plus, we know stress about eating or being too restrictive can often backfire and be worse for blood sugar in the long run. Timing dessert after a balanced meal will allow you to become satiated with a smaller portion, and by balancing blood sugar, cravings will also be diminished. Next, it can be helpful after a big meal with dessert, to find a way to move that feels good for your body. By moving your body after eating, your muscles start to utilize some of the sugar from your blood, lowering blood sugar and decreasing the level of insulin needed in the body to bring blood sugar back down following the meal. Try going for a walk, playing an active game with your family, getting up to do the dishes, or enjoying some stretching or light resistance exercises. Even just a few minutes of movement can help your blood sugar numbers, promote digestion, and better energy levels.
Have smart snacks on hand for when things don’t go as planned.
Over the holidays, many people are traveling and staying with family, and eating routines are often thrown off by different mealtimes and various factors. For times when things are somewhat out of your control, come prepared with smarter snacks on hand for any emergency hunger situations that arise while traveling. Choose shelf-stable items that will have a minimal effect on blood sugar but will satisfy a hunger craving by providing some fiber and protein.
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