The holiday season is here, and as friends and families gather to celebrate
with delicious treats and holiday dishes, it’s a time that, unfortunately,
often leads to overeating and weight gain. And people with diabetes have
additional dietary guidelines to follow. So, how can you keep your health
in check, but still enjoy your favorite festive fare?
“There aren’t really any specific foods for diabetics to avoid,” says
James Yoon, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at
St. Jude Heritage Medical Group in Fullerton. “It’s more about maintaining a healthy balance
of starchy foods, fruit and vegetables and meals low in fat, salt, and
Here are a few tips to help party goers keep sugar levels in check over
Plan time for exercise. No matter the type of diabetes, or whether you have diabetes at all, adding
just 10-15 minutes of brisk walking twice a day to your winter routine
is a great way to offset excess food intake, prevent weight gain, and
relieve holiday stress.
Don’t skip meals. It’s tempting to skip out on a meal knowing that the big holiday
feast is coming, but missing meals could cause you to be more likely to
overindulge. Make sure to start your day with a healthy breakfast and,
if your festive meal is planned for the evening, a balanced lunch.
Keep healthy snacks with you. Meal timing doesn’t always go according to plan, so come armed with
snacks in hand. Raw fruits and vegetables or a handful of nuts are a great
way to quell those cravings while also ensuring you don’t fill up
too much before the meal.
Survey the buffet before filling your plate. Start with small portions of your favorite foods and come back for seconds
rather than putting too much on your plate at once. Also, try to ensure
your protein and starch portions make up only half of your plate, with
a selection of fruits and vegetables filling up the rest.
Keep checking your sugar levels. “Don’t worry if you notice mild fluctuations in your readings,”
Dr. Yoon advises. “It’s common for glucose levels to increase
slightly during the holiday season due to reduced activity, overeating
or a change in routine. But do aim to avoid consistently high readings
to ensure you don’t compromise your long-term health.”
Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you gain a pound or two, returning to a normal eating routine and daily
exercise will help you get back to a healthy balance. Dr. Yoon says, “Remember
that consistent management of your health works better than going to extremes
with your diet and lifestyle.”
Manage what you drink. Avoid high-calorie soft drinks, punch or fruit juices. These drinks tend
to be high in sugar and often contain more calories than food, so go for
sugar-free or diet drinks instead.
Remember not to drink alcohol on an empty stomach, as this can send your blood glucose level plummeting.
How can hosts help?
Reduce sugar by substituting it in recipes with unsweetened apple sauce. Dr. Yoon notes
that yogurt is also a great alternative for butter or oil in cakes, reducing
the overall fat and calorie value of those sumptuous holiday treats. Supply
wines lower in alcohol content as they tend to have fewer calories.
Balance meals by providing raw fruits and vegetables as snacks and as a part of the main
meal, alleviating those peckish moments and ensuring a more balanced spread.
Small plates mean small portions, so while it’s tempting to bring out those oversized china plates,
remember that the larger the plate, the larger the food portion. Smaller
plates will help you and your guests reduce the chance of overeating.
Single portion sized desserts are also a great way to moderate consumption.
Put unused food away to reduce snacking and the potential for eating for eating’s sake.
Plan physical activities such as outdoor lawn games, dancing or walks around the neighborhood. They’re
easy to plan, fun to do, and help to burn excess calories, encouraging
everyone to stay healthy during this typically overindulgent period.
Have you got any nifty holiday health tips that you’d like to share?
Leave a comment below.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.