Celebrating summer with diabetes

Summer activities often include food. Planning ahead, adjusting your menu and portion sizes and staying active are key to staying healthy with diabetes.

It can be difficult to be health conscious during the summer. Summer is associated with festivities and food, whether it’s celebrating a holiday, attending a graduation party, wedding reception or taking part in family barbeques and picnics. The American Diabetes Association provides tips and guidelines to help diabetics enjoy the food associated with get-togethers and holidays, while still staying healthy.

Planning ahead is one of the most important things you can do if you have diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you look at your schedule and plan accordingly. Think about how you can adjust your menu to lower the amount of fat, sugar and carbohydrates that are in your favorite foods, taking into consideration portion sizes. If it looks like you will be going to a lot of parties and/or events where food will be served, you may want to consult with your health care provider to look at whether or not adjustments to your medication or insulin need to be made.

The American Diabetes Association also provides these seven tips:

  1. Focus on friends and family instead of food. Instead of putting a high emphasis on what kind of food to serve or eat, focus on enjoying and catching up with loved ones.
  2. It’s a party, but don’t overdo it. Remember to eat slowly and enjoy the foods that are served this time of year. Keep track of your carbohydrates and control your portions.
  3. Eat before you eat. Avoid skipping meals and snacks in order to “save” your calories and carbs for a party or event that occurs later in the day. Starving yourself will not only make you more likely to overeat, it could affect your blood glucose levels.
  4. Bring what you like. Instead of worrying about what will be served, bring your favorite low-calorie, low-fat dish that is diabetes-friendly.
  5. Drink in moderation. Remember that alcoholic drinks are high in calories. If you decide to drink, eat something beforehand to help prevent low blood glucose levels.
  6. Stay active. Don’t forget to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Even though the holidays can be busy, take time to visit the gym, ride your bike or go for a walk.
  7. If you overindulge, get back on track. Don’t get discouraged if you eat more carbs or food than you intended to. Work towards increasing your activity level, monitor your blood glucose levels and be mindful of your eating habits during the day.

The American Diabetes Association website also has information on meal planning, recipes and fitness ideas. In addition, Michigan State University Extension offers local nutrition and diabetes education in community settings. Contact your local MSU Extension office for a class near you.

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