Help for the Holidays

Holiday meals are like an Olympic boxing match: Each has three rounds.

Round 1 Try not to start the big meal with an outsized appetite. You can start with a breakfast that’s heavy in protein – like eggs and meats. This will digest slowly and leave you with less hunger than carbs will. Staying hydrated also helps because thirst sometimes seems like hunger and the fluids will also help you feel fuller.

Round 2 Dinner is usually loaded with food choices and they’re not all equal. Lots of them have low or moderate amounts of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates have the same impact on blood glucose levels as sugar (1 gram of carbohydrate = 1 gram of sugar). You can eat whatever you want, including tasty high carb foods, but you should limit those and fill up on lower carb choices. Here’s a comparison of typical holiday foods with their carb content per 1/2 cup:

  • Cheddar cheese 0
  • Turkey, ham, beef, fish 0
  • Garden salad (no dressing) 0
  • Dressings (from oil & vinegar to 1000 Island 0
  • Asparagus 3
  • Broccoli 3
  • Green beans 3
  • Squash 3
  • Spinach 4
  • Zucchini 4
  • Cauliflower “mashed potato” 4
  • Carrots 6
  • Broccoli casserole (no bread/cracker topping ) 10
  • Stuffing 11
  • Creamed onions 15
  • Egg nog 17
  • White or sweet potato 20
  • Yams 20
  • White pasta 20
  • Peas 21
  • Brown rice 22
  • Dinner roll 22
  • Macaroni & cheese 23
  • Gravy (from thin to thick) 24-36
  • Croissant 26
  • White rice 30
  • Cranberry sauce 53 Butter, margarine and olive oil have no carbs. Spices are zero to low carbohydrate.
  • Fruit pie (1/8 of 9″ pie) 44
  • Ice cream (1/2 cup) 17

If you fill up on foods you like on the upper part of the list and enjoy those on the lower section moderately you’ll be in a much better position than if you loaded up on the high carb dishes.

Round 3 OK, maybe you overindulged anyway and lost the second round on points. You still haven’t lost the match because it’s decided by average blood glucose levels, not temporary spikes.

You can still win by knocking it down and it’s not all that hard to do. Moderate exercise drops the blood glucose level naturally without requiring medication. Going for a brisk walk will work. You know you’re doing it effectively if you can talk but not sing, so going with others can be fun. If this isn’t feasible, any type of exercise – anything that makes your skeleton move – will help.

You can enjoy a great meal and come out a winner! I plan to.

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