Managing Diabetes During the Holidays

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According to the CDC, 30 million Americans are currently suffering from some form of diabetes. Many, however, are unaware of what diabetes actually is, and how hard it can be to manage the condition during the holiday season.

Diabetes is a disorder of the human metabolism, or the way our bodies use digested food for growth and energy. There are in fact three main types: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Only about five percent of all people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes, meaning most of those who are diagnosed will have either type 2 diabetes due to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, or gestational diabetes that can develop during pregnancy.

And despite how hard it is to manage this condition on a regular basis; during the holiday season when cookies, cakes and indulgent dishes beckon at every turn, it can be even more of a challenge to stick to your meal plan and keep your blood sugar levels steady. This article serves to help those with all types of diabetes manage their diet and keep their blood sugar in check during all of the family gatherings and holiday festivities.

Plan Ahead

Before attending any event or gathering, have a strict plan in place for what you will eat. Select low calorie foods such as those on the vegetable platter instead of fattening dips and appetizers. 
You can also plan ahead by looking at a restaurant’s menu online beforehand to plan what meal you will select. ahead of time. And for house parties, bring a healthy dish to share so there is an option for you just in case.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is important for our overall health and well-being, whether you have diabetes or not. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that drinking more water is associated with eating fewer calories, as well as less sugar, salt and cholesterol. Choosing water may be helpful to limit other sugar-sweetened drinks that may be tempting such as soda or juices.

Slow Down

Most people don’t realize that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to catch up with your stomach to  let you know that you are “full.” When you consume meals slowly, it has been shown that you will eat significantly fewer calories. To help slow down your eating – try to chew slowly, place your utensil down or take a sip of water between bites. And most importantly, don’t feel that you must finish your plate of food. Take smaller portions to be less tempted to eat more.

Don’t Forget to Move

Most holiday traditions include eating and staying inside. Consider adding a more physical activity into your holiday traditions. Perhaps go on a family walk after your meal or plan a tag football game for the afternoon before family dinner. Exercise is vitally important for all diabetics and should be done regularly to avoid any complications. Even walking on the treadmill for half an hour each day can help keep your blood pumping and your body active.

Manage Your Medication

Making sure you are taking to the appropriate dosage of insulin in a timely, scheduled manner is very important during the holiday season. If you are taking additional diabetes medication, a regimen is necessary to ensure you stay on track, especially with carb and calorie-heavy meals. SGLT2 inhibitors such as Jardiance and Invokana are very common for type 2 diabetics. Make sure family members who are taking these types of medications are healthy and are not experiencing very serious side-effects. Reports of gangrene and other infections have been reported by those who use Invokana specifically. Help family and friends who are suffering from diabetes by making sure they take all medications properly.

Get Back on Track

Lastly, if a food setback happens, don’t get discouraged. Many of us will overindulge despite our best efforts, but instead of feeling guilt, acknowledge your feelings and focus on getting back on track. Despite the tempting treats around every corner this holiday season, it is possible to enjoy the holidays and maintain your blood sugar.

As November is designated as National Diabetes Awareness Month, take the time to learn about diabetes and how it can affect your loved ones. It is also important to know the signs of prediabetes and help those who may be at risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes due to their lack of exercise, poor diet or even a family history of diabetes. Make it a priority to have healthy options for any family member who has a diabetic disorder and don’t be afraid to check-in on them regularly during family gatherings this holiday season. Keeping on track is hard, especially during winter months when physical activity can be scarce. Manage your blood sugar to the best of your abilities and avoid the fatty and salty treats that can lead to serious complications with your health. Enjoy the holidays and make healthy choices this winter.

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