Treasured family recipes for holiday sweet treats typically call for lots of sugar—the classic white stuff that triggers spikes and crashes in blood sugar and energy. Must you abstain or take only a guilty bite? Maybe not, if you plan ahead.
Sticking with unprocessed, whole foods on regular work days during the holiday season can dramatically reduce overall sugar load and make you more resilient for special celebrations. About 74 percent of added sugars in the American diet come from highly processed, packaged foods and sugary beverages. In addition, the right supplements can help prevent wild blood-sugar fluctuations.
In a study of 70 healthy American adults who consumed a very-high-sugar drink on an empty stomach (the worst-case scenario), chromium and L-arabinose reduced upswings in blood sugar by 18–31 percent. L-arabinose works right away, if taken with or just before eating sugar, by blocking sucrase, the enzyme that breaks down regular sugar (but it doesn’t block high fructose corn syrup). Chromium tempers blood-sugar roller coasters, but needs to be taken on a regular basis as it doesn’t work instantly. Daily dosages in the study, published in Nutrition Journal, were 200 mcg of chromium and 1,000 mg of L-arabinose.
Other nutrients that stabilize blood sugar include bitter melon, alpha-lipoic acid, fenugreek, and banaba leaf extract. Blood-sugar formulas contain various combinations of these ingredients. Taking a supplement daily, starting in November, can help protect against sugar disturbances during the holiday season.
Chromium doesn’t act instantly, so take it on a regular basis to curb blood-sugar swings.