Christmas is around the corner and in my house that means lots of baking is going to be done! It’s easy to let yourself get caught up in the holiday festivities and overindulge in treats and alcohol. A little indulgence is not only fine, but necessary in my medical opinion. However, it’s important not to get carried away. Too much sugar is detrimental to your body, and overindulgence leaves you feeling sluggish and grumpy. Here are some tips for enjoying the holiday season while controlling your blood sugar naturally.
Regular exercise is a great way to get your endorphins flowing for a mood boost. It also pumps up your metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity means that your body can better process the sugar that you are ingesting. If you’re not currently on an exercise regimen, don’t feel like you have to start something crazy. A brisk walk or a morning yoga session a few days a week is a great place to start. Don’t feel like you need to wait until the New Year to set a resolution for exercising. There’s no time like the present!
Increase foods with a low glycemic index
What is Glycemic index? The glycemic index is a measurement of how a food source is going to affect your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index will cause your blood sugar to spike quickly whereas foods with a low glycemic index will cause a slower and more steady release of glucose into your bloodstream. Examples of foods with a high glycemic index include white bread products, alcohol, soda, and cookies. Low glycemic index foods are things like nuts, legumes, and dark berries. You don’t have to completely eliminate foods with a high glycemic index, just make sure you are keeping things balanced. For example, if you know you are going to be making cookies and want to try a few, then keep your lunch rich in foods with a lower glycemic index. If you are going out to dinner and want to celebrate the season with a glass of bubbly, maybe skip the pre-dinner bread. This website has a good explanation for glycemic index and includes examples of common foods that we eat.
Don’t let stress get the best of you
Stress is one of those things that can creep up on us so easily during the holiday season. This time of the year is supposed to be a time full of joy and love. Unfortunately, stress often plays a big role in the making of our holiday plans, meeting end of the year deadlines, and just overall life. In times of stress our bodies secrete cortisol, which in turn increases our blood sugar. By keeping our stress levels to a minimum we make it easier for our bodies to control blood sugar. Some things that I do to keep my mood up during stressful times are:
- · Spend time with loved ones (there’s nothing that gets rid of stress quicker than hearing toddler giggles).
- · Take time in the morning to set your intentions. You can write them down or just think about them while you are drinking your morning coffee. Pick a time that is right for you and be consistent with it daily.
- · Breathe. Whenever you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a second and allow yourself to breathe. This might mean spending a few minutes before bed doing a breathing meditation, or it might just mean closing your office door for a few minutes while you take some time to breathe.
Get those herbs in
Herbs can have a profound effect on regulating blood sugar and lowering it naturally. The following herbs have been shown to have positive effects on blood sugar:
- Cinnamon– cinnamon is one of those herbs that does not get enough recognition for it’s medicinal properties in my opinion. This herb is so delicious and can be incorporated into so many foods. I add it to oatmeal, baked goods, and I even add a pinch to my morning coffee.
- Ginseng– not only does this lower blood sugar, but it can also improve your mood and reduce stress.
- Fenugreek– this is a yummy herb that is often added as a seasoning in things like curries. If you haven’t tried this one before, I suggest you do!
- Garlic– this one is so easy to incorporate into your diet. Just swap your powdered garlic for a garlic press and some fresh garlic cloves and you’ve got a delicious addition to just about any meal.
Chromium is a supplement that upregulates insulin receptors, which in turn, allows us to utilize glucose the way that we need to. It also helps to stabilize our energy so that we don’t experience that sugar crash after a meal high in glucose. Ask your doctor if adding a chromium supplement to your medicine cabinet this holiday season is right for you.
***Always consult with your physician before taking any herbs or supplements as they may interact with other medications that you are currently taking. Herbs and supplements may be considered unsafe for pregnancy, lactation, or infants.