This is the time of year when insulin levels can sky rocket, throwing your blood sugar levels all out of whack, causing you to store the food you eat as fat. Your focus should be on eating balanced meals while consuming low glycemic foods if you want to avoid the typical 5-7 pound weight gain that accompanies all of the yuletide cheer.
There is something to celebrate other than the upcoming holidays…there are a number of food tips that will help you to lower the glycemic index of your meals or snacks and help stabilize blood sugar levels as well as simple food swaps that will help you keep your weight in check this holiday season.
- Add a high fiber choice to breakfast. Choose steel cut oats instead of quick cooking or instant oats. They are higher in fiber and lower on the glycemic index. Research shows that adding a high fiber choice to breakfast helps to cut hunger and cravings over the rest of the day. Make a batch on the weekend and warm it up in the morning for a quick breakfast choice. A portion size is ½ cup cooked. Check out my recipe below for slow cooker apple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal – super easy, make a big batch for the week and just reheat daily.
- Avoid having a fruit by itself. Pair your serving of fruit with 1 tablespoon of raw nut butter or an ounce of cheese. When you add a protein or a fat with your fruit it helps to keep the glycemic index of the fruit down.
- If you drink alcohol then skip the starches. Pass on the rice, potatoes, bread and desserts. The alcohol counts as your carb for that meal since it digests as a carbohydrate.
- Choose a sprouted grain bread. My recommendation is the Canadian company Silver Hills Bakery (my personal favourite is Mack’s Flax) or Ezekiel from Food For Life. You will find these breads in the freezer section at your local grocery or health food store. It’s best to avoid white and whole wheat 80% of the time. If you can’t find these 2 brands then Stonemill is also a good choice. You want to look for breads that 15-18 grams of carbohydrates or less per slice.
- Steer clear of fruit flavored yoghurts. The yoghurt isle is an overwhelming space. Stick to the basics. Low fat, plain yoghurt or low fat Greek yoghurt which is much higher in protein. If you need it flavored, add your own berries and vanilla extract. Most flavoured yoghurts are sweetened with either fructose or aspartame and both should be avoided.
- Be picky with cold cereals. If you must consume a cold cereal for breakfast choose Kashi Go Lean, which is higher in protein, or Fiber One, which has 14 grams of fiber per serving. The secret to avoiding the insulin spike that comes along with most breakfast cereals is to add a hard-boiled egg or some nuts to slow down the carbohydrate metabolism.
- Choose raw or lightly steamed vegetables over fully cooked. This tip depends on whether you can tolerate and digest raw vegetables. Raw or lightly steamed maintains the fiber and water content.
- Choose raspberries for dessert. Skip the banana or orange. Raspberries have 8 grams of fiber per cup and berries in general are lower on the glycemic index.
- Cook pasta and rice al dente. When you overcook your pasta, rice and potatoes it raises the glycemic index. Keep the starches firm to avoid the blood sugar spike.
- Add protein to your cake. This tip might sound odd but adding a small amount of protein slows down the carbohydrate metabolism and helps to avoid the blood sugar spike that generally comes along with eating cake.
- Keep your daily calories in check. Although these tips help to control blood sugar and insulin spikes, tracker your food choices will ensure that you take in the appropriate amount of calories to avoid packing on the pounds.
Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Servings: 10 (1/2 cup) servings
2 apples, peeled, cored & cut into ½ inch pieces
1 ½ cups skim, 1 or 2% milk (or unsweetened almond milk – original or vanilla)
1 ½ cups water
1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
2 tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
1 ½ tbsp butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground flaxseed (or chia seed)
¼ tsp sea salt
Optional toppings: chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk
Grease the inside of a slow cooker. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover and cook on low for approx. 7 hours (slow cooker times can vary). Spoon oatmeal into bowls, add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.
To reheat single servings. Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in a pan on the stove, add 1/3 cup milk or unsweetened almond milk. Cook over low – medium heat until heated through. Stir and enjoy!
If you are unsure whether you are making quality food choices that keep your blood sugar levels in check use this link http://bit.ly/1ym5cA8 to download a 5-day food tracker. Fill it out for 4 days during the week and 1 day on the weekend then call me at 519-415-2266 to schedule a consultation so I can help you achieve your health and weight loss goals this holiday season.