The winter holidays can be daunting for diabetics and other folks looking to maintain control over their blood glucose levels. Everywhere you look are cookies, sweets, and pies. And perhaps worst of all, there’s the overwhelming sense of social obligation to partake in each and every dish someone puts in front of you regardless of the impact it will have on your health.
Read More: Indulging Sugar Season is Killing the Body
Fear not! I’ve got you covered with some easy strategies you can use to lower your blood sugar and get back on track before your next A1C report. Bookmark this page or commit these ideas to memory so you can lower your blood sugar and enjoy good blood glucose control all year round.
Go For a Walk–No, Seriously
Most everyone knows that regular physical exercise can help you regulate and lower your blood sugar, but scheduling the time to do it is often the most difficult part of the equation, especially when you’re partaking in sweet foods with other people.
Solve this by stepping into the role of party planner. Get excited about walking to see something after you know you’re going to be overeating sugary foods. If you’re with family, pick somewhere with sentimental or local value. If you’re out with friends, get pumped about going out window shopping anywhere you can walk around for a good thirty minutes or so.
This is another obvious answer but it’s also one we don’t think of until we’re already thirsty. Keeping hydrated throughout the day helps cut the sugar levels in our bodies, and in a pinch, drinking a glass of water can help balance sugar levels back out if you discover you’re higher than you anticipated being after eating.
Your mileage may vary, but in my own experience, a single glass of water has helped to lower my blood sugar by 40 or more points within an hour. If I’m out with family who overindulge on carbs, this is my go-to strategy to reset after eating.
Surround Yourself With Friends Who Get It
This is probably the most challenging idea because it requires a lot of boundary negotiation on your part. If friends and family can’t respect that you have a medical need to regulate your body’s blood sugar through diet and lifestyle, then you may need to assert some new dynamics in those relationships.
I know firsthand that it’s usually the opposite way around—we feel guilty for not being able to live in the lifestyle they want or expect—but their expectations and projections of what we should be able to do are nothing short of toxic body talk we don’t need, which brings me to my next strategy.
Usually when we talk about lifestyle changes for managing diabetes, we’re talking about exercise. However, the importance of stress management as a lifestyle strategy for diabetes regulation cannot be understated.
When we’re stressed out, our bodies release cortisol and other chemicals which raise our blood sugar levels. (As a side note, if you’re meticulously counting carbs and still getting high readings over the holidays, it might just be the other people you’re around). We can reset this increase using any of the strategies already discussed above, but perhaps the best solution is to get out of the stressful situation as soon as possible.
Take your health seriously, even (and especially) if others don’t understand the problem. And that brings me to my last strategy….
Stop Eating So Much Terrible Crap
If you want to get serious about ways to lower your blood sugar, it’s not just candy or sweets you need to look out for. Added sugars to products ranging from sauces to snack foods and drinks have been shown to account for up to 17% of the total calorie intake for adults in the U.S.
When you’re first diagnosed with diabetes, it can be overwhelming just trying to make basic changes to your diet and lifestyle. I get that. Focus there first. But as you continue to improve your health, allow the goalposts you set to reach further out. In some ways, diabetes, as terrible as it can be, can also serve as a wake-up call to the kind of culture we live in.
You have the freedom to make healthier choices.
You have the power to put your health back in your hands. Take it one step at a time, one meal plan at a time, and one ingredient at a time.