This piece has been medically reviewed by Rich Marlar, MD, Medical Advisor to Aeroflow Diabetes.
Everyone loves holiday dishes, but you may not realize what certain dishes do to your blood sugar. Use this post this holiday season to understand how each item on your table changes your blood sugar levels.
How Blood Sugar Works
The food you eat changes your blood sugar levels. This is especially important to know if you have diabetes.
When you eat food, the carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugar) that enters you bloodstream. Insulin then moves the sugar into your cells, and your body uses those sugars for energy. If they don’t need to be used, they are stored for later. If you have too much sugar in your system, your blood sugar levels will rise.
When you have diabetes, you either don’t have enough insulin to move the sugars into your cells or your body doesn’t use the insulin correctly.
Your blood sugar may rise when you:
- Eat foods with more carbohydrates than recommended.
- Are inactive.
- Experience stress.
- Have hormone changes.
Let’s break down each ingredient in food that may affect your blood sugar.
Saturated fats and sodium do not really affect your blood sugar, but of course are things that need to be limited.
High sodium intake can raise blood pressure (and hypertension is quite common in those with diabetes) and saturated fats can raise cholesterol (which raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, also very common in people with diabetes).
Carbs are one of the main ingredients found in food. There are 3 types of carbs, including sugars, starches, and fiber. Your body breaks down carbs into glucose which is either used for energy or stored for later use. It’s recommended that you get no more than 45%-65% of your daily calories from carbs.
Sugars are actually a type of carbohydrates. If most of the carbs are from sugar (per the nutrition label), these are considered higher glycemic index foods.
Holiday Foods to Avoid
This main dish contains a high amount of saturated fat and a high amount of sodium which can raise blood pressure.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potatoes are great on their own, but most of the time at holiday parties, you’ll see something like sweet potato casserole. It’s best to avoid this dish because it has lots of sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.
This side dish usually comes mixed with some form of high-fat dairy, like milk, buttermilk, or butter. The sodium levels and carbs may make your blood sugar or blood pressure spike.
While there aren’t any saturated fats in cranberry sauce, it is extremely high in carbohydrates and sugar which can both certainly raise blood sugar.
Many holiday desserts are going to be high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and pumpkin pie is high in all three.
Baked beans- especially canned baked beans- have lots of added sugars and salt- almost 1,000mg of sodium per cup!
White grains contain simple sugars which means they are broken down quickly by your body causing a spike in you blood glucose.
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is high in sodium, and pastas in general are high in carbohydrates.
Try these alternatives at holiday parties to keep your blood pressure and blood sugar low.
- Low-starch veggies.
- Whole grains.
- Turkey, fish, or chicken.
Monitoring Blood Sugar Easily With CGMs Through Insurance
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may need to frequently monitor your blood sugar levels, especially during the holidays when you are surrounded by delicious foods that could wreak havoc on your blood sugar!
One of the most innovative and easiest ways to do this is with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). And, the best part is, you can save money around the holidays by getting your CGM through your Medicare plan! That’s right- you don’t have to spend your cash on the CGMs at convenience stores which can cost hundreds of dollars!
Aeroflow Diabetes offers CGMS through insurance. We currently have:
- FreeStyle Libre Systems.
- Dexcom Systems.
Insurance paperwork can be confusing and frustrating, so let us take the stress out of navigating your coverage!
We do all the paperwork for you, all you need to do is take 5 minutes to fill out our Eligibility Form. We don’t share your information with anyone, and you’ll hear back from us right after we get a prescription for a CGM from your healthcare provider. Then, we’ll ship your CGM supplies right to your door for free.
Find out if you qualify in time for your next holiday party so you’ll have your CGM by your side to help determine if you can, in fact, eat that extra piece of pie!
American Heart Association. (2021, November 1). Saturated Fat. Www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats
Sugar in Moderation for a Healthy Diet | Sugar.org. (n.d.). Www.sugar.org. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from https://www.sugar.org/diet/diet-sugar-in-moderation/
MedlinePlus. (2022, January 17). Carbohydrates. Medlineplus.gov; National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/carbohydrates.html
Information provided on the Aeroflow Diabetes website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or care from a healthcare professional. Aeroflow recommends consulting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing medical issues relating to diabetes care.