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It’s that time of year again! The holidays will be here before we know it - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Although the holiday season is a wonderful time for families and friends to come together, all of those great holiday foods and treats can be a challenge to navigate for those with diabetes.
Even though the holidays are a time of celebration, they tend to impose on our daily routines. We eat at different times, we try new foods, sometimes there is travel involved and - of course - the increased stress! If you are someone who is living with diabetes, all of those abrupt changes will require you to do more planning ahead of time. Here are some ideas to help you plan for the holiday season ahead:
Keep it simple: Plan your menu around a few foods rather than trying to incorporate a large selection of food into meals. Be sure to offer one or two low-calorie vegetable dishes to balance the more traditional holiday dishes which tend to be richer, creamier and often higher in sugar and calories.
Try using recipes lower in fat and calories: Many recipes taste just as good when you use only half the amount of butter, oil or cream that is recommended. Some alternatives to those over-buttered recipes include steaming veggies instead of soaking them in butter and salt, or using low-fat sour cream instead of the full fat kind. Try searching online for healthier versions of your favorite foods.
Remember your blood sugar: If you ate that delicious piece of pie you will have to adjust your carb intake so you can eat less of the starchy foods, get more exercise and increase your insulin dose per your doctor’s recommendations.
Bring a dish: Before going to dinner at your friend or relative’s home, offer to bring your own favorite food prepared just the way you like it. If you’re going to a party, eat a healthy snack before you go, so that you can choose special foods that are a treat from the buffet. Just remember that you don’t have to sample everything. Spending some time away from the food area to socialize can sometimes help the temptation.
It’s ok to say NO: Everyone indulges during the holidays and it’s only a matter of time before one of your friends or family is urging you to eat that one last piece of pie. Remember: you DON’T have to take that last piece - leave it for someone else or let one of the kids have it instead!
Focus on friends and family - not just the food: Try to plan some activities other than just eating with family and friends. Maintain your exercise program and ask others to join you on a nice crisp air walk after a meal to help everything digest and get your metabolism moving.
Everyone needs support, especially if you’re living with diabetes during the holidays. Plan each get together with your family ahead of time so you can make the necessary adjustments to your diabetes routine and the holidays can not only be meaningful but healthy as well.