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Whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes or just suffer from the occasional “hangry,” the holidays can wreak havoc on your blood sugar. This means worsening weight gain, sickly skin, and an inflammatory exacerbation of whatever chronic disease you might be fostering. With months of indulging, imbibing, and dealing with family and finances, it’s no wonder many people need to start over in the new year.

Luckily, you don’t have to be like many people. With these tips to manage your blood sugar, you can beat the bloat and float through the holiday season with your health intact.

The cortisol connection

It’s no secret the holidays are stressful. Whether it’s mental (Christmas credit card bill), emotional (monster mother-in-law) , or physical stress, cortisol levels spike. Elevated cortisol causes blood sugar levels to rise. Mix the high blood sugar with even mild insulin resistance (also related to high cortisol) and you’ve unleashed an inflammatory storm in your bloodstream. So what can you do?

Spend even 5 minutes each morning meditating and your ability to adapt to stress and handle the holidays will improve exponentially. An app like Headspace makes meditation as easy as magic. Your capacity for holiday happiness will also increase!

Food without the fight

The most obvious way to keep blood sugar at bay is through eating less sugar and sweeteners of all sorts. If you choose to indulge, pound some protein and fiber to mitigate how fast the sugar hits the bloodstream. Don’t go to parties hungry, and choose smaller portions of those sweets.

Liquor is quicker

Want to really throw off your blood sugar? Keep the drinks flowing. The empty calories and sugar in alcohol are only 1 reason not to imbibe.

While alcohol initially lowers blood sugar, it also increases insulin secretion both in occasional and regular drinkers. Elevated insulin can lead to insulin resistance meaning extra pounds and a predisposition to diabetes.

Exercise

One of the best ways to balance blood sugar is and always will be exercise. Sticking to your regular routine is idea, but even a 20 minute walk can improve insulin sensitivity. And as little as a 90 second sprint has been shown to shift metabolism favorably. Be sure you’re warmed up before going full out on a spring though. Too cold to pound the pavement where you are? Jumping jacks and dancing could work too.

You don’t need to suffer the fate of most Americans this holiday season. You CAN enjoy your holidays and keep your body twinkling like the star on top of your tree. Keep your blood sugar at bay with these tips and you’ll be shining all year long!