As the holiday season hits its peak, delectable temptations can cause any wellness journey to take a turn for the worst. The sugary temptations coupled with elevated stress and less sleep can quickly derail all of that hard work put in throughout the year. Fortunately for you, this guide breaks down the fundamentals to support blood sugar balance and weight amidst the chaos of the holiday season. BONUS*** you have a free recipe guide below too! Learn about our tried and true nutrition musts, lifestyle hacks, and the best winter supplements to support you all season long.
1) Make protein a top priority - out of the three macronutrients: carbs, fats, and protein, studies show that protein is the most filling (1). Protein reduces your level of the hunger hormone ghrelin - a hormone that triggers hunger, and it boosts the levels of peptide YY - a hormone that makes you feel full. (2).
If your goal is to feel full and preserve or build muscle mass, consider replacing some of your carbs and fats with protein. This can be as simple as reducing the starch in your meal (think rice or pasta) while increasing the serving of meat or fish.
2) Don't deprive yourself. If you keep your hunger in check, it's easier to have an appropriate serving of something sweet. I have a fabulous recipe guide, 21 Gluten Free Holiday Dessert Recipes that will allow you to indulge without disrupting your gut health or blood sugar levels.
A supplement that I find helpful for sugar cravings is the amino acid L-glutamine. It will stop those sugar cravings in their tracks. I recommend to my clients supplementing with 500mg 3-4 times per day. Always check with your healthcare provider first.
Struggle with stress?
Stress can drive up cortisol which leads to increased blood sugar -> weight gain. Stressors never go away, but how you perceive them can.
I recommend that you take a load off wherever you can - physically or emotionally. Some considerations:
1) Set boundaries this holiday season. You don't have to say "yes" to every gathering. If socializing doesn't fill your cup, choose something else that does.
2) Make walking a top priority. Walking is the one exercise that has been proven to lower cortisol levels. It can be a brisk 10 minute one three times/day, or binge watch your favorite show while walking on the treadmill after a long day at work.
3) Cut back on imbibing. Tis' the season for cocktails, but alcohol will do your gut and cortisol levels no favors. Instead, check out some fun mocktails - I love this brand Apothekary.
It's important to do the work and reduce the stressors in your life. A supportive supplelemnt that helps to abate cortisol levels is the herb, ashwagandha. This herb has been shown to help manage cortisol and the body’s response to stress with continued use. I love the Designs for Health Triganda that you can order here.
Are you on the blood sugar rollercoaster?
This is a hard one to get off of without the proper tools.
1) Add More Fiber: With its many health benefits for the gut and digestion, fiber intake has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity. Including foods with a high fiber content in all meals can help to reduce how high blood sugar spikes. Soluble fiber, which is found in foods like oats, beans and many berries, is the most effective.
2) Don't Skimp on Protein
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient; it helps you feel fuller for longer through a variety of mechanisms. Protein slows the movement of food through the GI tract—and slower stomach emptying means prolonged feelings of fullness. Protein impacts the hunger + satiety hormones: ghrelin and leptin. It helps reduce ghrelin levels (the hormone that signals that it’s time to eat) and may increase leptin sensitivity (the hormone that signals that satiety). Protein is also low in calories (4kcal/gram) yet it's very energy intensive for the body to burn. This is one macro I focus on with my clients for autoimmune diseases, weight loss, hormone balance and more. Trust me when I say that you don't want to skimp on this!
3) Stay Hydrated
When it comes to managing blood sugar AND taming cravings, let’s not forget about the importance of fresh, filtered water. It helps you to stay hydrated, keeps your digestion moving, your cells healthy, and is vital for intercellular communication. Not to mention that water has been labelled as “the biggest catalyst for weight loss.”
4) Be mindful of caffeine.
Caffeine, ie in the form of coffee, can work in a similar way to a sugary snack in that caffeine intake increases the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol floods the body, the pancreas is triggered to produce insulin which quickly brings your blood sugar down, triggering snack cravings. In studies, caffeine has been shown to increase insulin levels and reduce insulin sensitivity, making that afternoon coffee, even without the accompanying sweet treat, ill advised if you are watching your insulin.
My Favorite Supplement To Help Support Healthy Blood Glucose Levels:
Berberine: This supplement derived from a group of berries is emerging as a metabolic disease and weight loss superstar. It is being researched for its action on several main drivers of chronic disease:
Lowering blood sugar and bad cholesterol (LDL) as effectively as commonly prescribed medications.
Reducing blood fats (triglycerides) and blood pressure.
Reducing insulin resistance and inflammation.
Balancing metabolic hormones and the microbiome.
Supporting a healthy metabolism by stimulating a major metabolic regulator (AMPK)
Promoting weight loss, lowering BMI and waist size
Check with your health practitioner before taking Berberine as it can cause low blood sugar, particularly in people on insulin lowering medications. If you would like to order, my favorite high quality brand is here.
If you are struggling with cravings, fatigue, hormone imbalances, or weight gain, it's time to dig deeper and understand what may be driving these signs and symptoms. We offer a free Discovery Call to see if our services line up with your goals, click here to schedule. Or call us at 920-358-0353.
In good health,
Kristie + Rebecca