How can I manage my diabetes and still enjoy the holidays?

family-around-thanksgiving-dinner-table

If you have diabetes, you know the holidays can be a challenge. There is an abundance of carbohydrate, fat and calorie-rich foods. But Allison Peckumn, DO, an endocrinology and diabetes specialist on staff at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, has some tips to help you get through the festivities and keep your blood sugar levels normal.

Plan ahead

  • Before going to a party, decide how much you will eat and how you might deal with others who pressure you to eat more.
  • You may need to have a snack or adjust the timing of your medication if you will be eating outside your regular meal schedule.
  • Be sure to check your blood sugar according to your physician's recommendations.
  • If you are cooking some of those carbohydrate and calorie-rich foods, try modifying your recipes with things like sugar substitutes to make them healthier, but just as tasty.

Choose Wisely

  • Watch your portion sizes.
  • Consider limiting yourself to one or two carbohydrate dishes and try keeping your carbohydrate intake similar to your normal eating habits. For example, you might pass up the rolls so you can enjoy sweet potatoes.
  • Have a couple bites of several dishes if you simply cannot choose only one or two items, but keep in mind that you don’t have to eat everything.
  • Turkey is low in fat, high in protein and doesn’t contain carbohydrates. A serving is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Avoid frying the turkey as that adds extra fat.
  • Drink in moderation since alcohol and many holiday beverages pack a lot of calories, but be sure to eat before drinking to prevent low blood sugar levels. Women should not consume more than one alcoholic beverage per day and men should not have more than two.

Moments of weakness are normal during the holidays

Dr. Peckumn notes that we all have moments of weakness and overindulgence during the holidays. Cut back on your eating the rest of the day, get some exercise and get back on track the next day.

The holidays are about spending time with friends and family, not just about food. Try adding new traditions that don’t involve eating such as going for walks, playing games or volunteering.

With a little planning, perseverance and physical activity you can enjoy a healthy holiday season.

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