Diabetics can enjoy foods associated with the holidays and still stay healthy

Simple tips for diabetics to prepare for and manage holiday meals.

Eating healthy can be very difficult this time of year since the holiday season is often centered around food and drinks. It can be especially challenging if you have diabetes. Luckily, Michigan State University Extension can provide resources to help those with diabetes enjoy foods associated with the holidays while still staying healthy.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the most important thing you can do is plan ahead. Look at your schedule during the holiday season and plan accordingly. Watch your portion sizes and adjust your menu to lower the amount of fat, sugar and carbohydrates that are in your favorite foods. If you think you’ll be attending a lot of parties and/or events where food will be served, you may want to consider consulting with your health care provider to look at whether or not adjustments can be made for your medication and/or insulin.

The American Diabetes Association also provides these holiday tips (most of which can apply to everyone – even those who do not have diabetes):

  • 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 your loved ones.
  • 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.
  • Eat before you eat. Avoid skipping meals and snacks in order “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.
  • Bring what you like. Instead of worrying about what will be served, bring your favorite low-calorie, low-fat dish that is diabetes-friendly.
  • Drink in moderation. Alcohol tends to cause a drop in blood glucose levels. If you decide to drink, eat something beforehand.
  • 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.
  • If you overindulge, get back on track. Don’t get discouraged if you eat more carbs or food than you intend to. Work towards increasing your activity level, monitor your blood glucose levels and be more mindful of your eating habits during the day.

For more information about food and fitness, check the American Diabetes Association website at http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/.

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