Bellingham, Wash. – ‘Tis the season for celebrations that include family, friends and — of course — lots and lots of food. While we should all pay attention to what and how much we put on our plates and in our mouths, this is especially important for the 30 million Americans who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious disease that can often be managed through physical activity, diet and the appropriate use of insulin and other medications to control blood sugar levels. People with diabetes are at increased risk of serious health complications including premature death, vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and amputation of toes, feet or legs.
The possibility of these kinds of complications underscore the need to stick to a meal plan, even during the holidays.
“It can be challenging to stay on track and maintain a healthy diet during the season when there are lots of sweet and savory temptations at home, at work and at parties and other holiday events,” said Megan Whitsell, RD, CDE, program coordinator of the Nutrition and Diabetes Clinic at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center. “But there is no reason that people who have diabetes can’t still enjoy their favorite treats. Don’t deprive yourself; just don’t go overboard when it comes to calories, carbohydrates and sugars.”
Need a little help putting together a game plan? Check out these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will help reduce the urge to splurge.
- Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady.
- If you have a sweet treat, cut back on other carbs during the meal. Make sure to eat foods high in protein and fiber, and those that include healthy fats.
- Don’t skip meals to save up for a feast. It will be harder to keep your blood sugar in control, and you’ll be really hungry and more likely to overeat.
- Don’t deny yourself the foods you enjoy. Savor a small serving.
- Being active can help make up for eating more than usual and reduce stress during what can be a demanding time of year. Go for a run, take a walk or participate in a group exercise class.
Here’s another great tip: If you’re invited to a party, offer to bring a tray of colorful veggies or a healthy home-made dish to share. Need some culinary inspiration? Try this recipe from the American Diabetes Association to get you started:
Pear-walnut crumble: https://www.peacehealth.org/healthy-you/recipe-pear-walnut-crumble
“The holidays are a such a special time to reconnect with family and friends,” said Whitsell. “Coming together to enjoy the food — in moderation — is certainly a big part of it, but plan ahead so that creating lasting memories becomes the real focus.”
PeaceHealth offers support through its diabetes education program, which is recognized by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Group classes meet one day a week for four consecutive weeks, and a new class series starts every month. Participants meet with a dietician/certified diabetes educator individually upon completion of the class series. Find out more by calling 360-752-5601.