Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, is a three-time author, speaker, TV commentator, blogger, and creator of Positive Nutrition. She is also the designer of Healthy Apparel and the mother of two.
Delicious foods are set in front of you in quantities fit for a king, queen, and their kingdom—succulent roasts, creamy mashed potatoes, freshly baked bread, loads of stuffing, cakes, cookies, and chocolate! Is your mouth watering yet? Mine sure is! So how do you navigate the holiday season without sending your blood sugar through the chimney? Check out my sweet strategy for balancing blood sugar.
1. Breathe. Your first step is to breathe deeply before and after meals. Separate the chaos of the holidays from the experience of eating. Sit down without your screens and take five deep breaths. If you feel ready for a bit more, you can try a guided meditation. There are apps such as HeadSpace and Calm that can guide you through meditations of various lengths.
2. Test your blood sugar. Count your carb grams to make sure you can fit your favorite foods in. Surprised? Yes, you can eat all foods, even ones with sugar. My philosophy is that all foods fit. Per the Diabetes Comfort Food Diet, you can eat up to 35 percent of your daily intake as pure sugar without negatively affecting your blood sugar management. Of course, this can’t be at one time during the day, so spread out your favorite sweets and/or carbs, while mixing them with proteins and fats. Think eggs with a breakfast biscuit, mac and cheese with collard greens, and turkey with stuffing. Yum!
3. Eat mindfully. Eat with the intention of tasting your food, letting it nourish your body, and being grateful for its nutritional qualities. Use all five senses—taste, touch, look at, listen to, and smell your food. While it is extremely hard to be mindful during social meals, especially if alcohol is being served, make a pact to check in with yourself a third of the way through your meal. Do this twice by taking a few mouthfuls of food in silence. When you feel both physically sated and psychologically satisfied, take a few more breaths to just notice, without judgment, how you feel, what you are thinking, and if you have any sensations. Check your blood sugar two hours after your meal to identify if it is within your personal range. If drinks are being served after dinner, pace yourself and remember the body breaks alcohol down as a fat. Be mindful that you don’t wake with low blood sugar the next morning.
4. Test and treat. After you eat your favorite foods, don’t fret if your blood sugar is higher than you would like. You can take a brisk walk, but not too fast as the movement needs to be aerobic. Hydrate with water! And meditate. It works! Research shows improved glycemic response for individuals who practice mindfulness regularly and have diabetes.
5. Experience eating and enjoyment. Remain present and aware this holiday season so that you can stay within a reasonable blood sugar range!
What are your personal strategies for a healthy holiday season?