The holidays are a time of cheer, togetherness, and, very often, excessive amounts of food. While the latter can be challenging health-wise for many people, that’s especially the case when you have diabetes. If you’re one of the over 34 million people in the United States who live with this chronic disease, careful management can help prevent serious complications while enhancing your overall health.
At Central Clinic in Spring Hill, Florida, Dr. Poonam Malhotra offers comprehensive diabetes care, including diagnosis and treatment. Take a few minutes to learn ways to keep your diabetes in-check through the holiday season.
Eat a meal or snack every few hours
Going too long without eating can offset most anyone’s blood sugar levels. When you’re prone to such imbalances because of diabetes, eating regularly is especially important. Aim to eat a balanced meal or snack every few hours.
While it might seem smart to skip a meal before a holiday feast, doing so can make way for major blood sugar problems and fuel overeating at the event. As a general rule of thumb, you could aim to eat breakfast within 90 minutes of waking up in the morning, and a meal every 4-5 hours after that. In between meals, eat a snack if you feel sluggish or hungry.
Understand what “balanced” means
When it comes to meals and snacks, “balanced” typically means that you’re getting a good mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Aiming for such balance through the holidays can help keep your blood sugar levels and appetite in a good place.
It also means you can have a special cookie or candy, as long as you pair it with a food that has a mild impact on your blood sugar. You could have milk or yogurt with your cookie, for example, or save a serving of candy for after a salad topped with grilled fish or tofu.
Plan ahead to keep blood sugar in check
One easy mistake to make over the holidays is not planning ahead. Establishing a plan for your upcoming meals and snacks and eating at fairly scheduled times helps you avoid major blood sugar changes. Planning ahead can also guard against impulse eating of whatever’s nearby.
You should also plan ahead by bringing your blood sugar monitor and medication along on trips and outings. In addition, consider bringing a shareable dish you can safely enjoy to make sure you have a healthy option.
It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive a signal from your stomach that you’re satisfied, and yet many people consume an entire meal in less time. To prevent overeating, slow down. Set your fork or spoon down between bites and take time to really notice the flavors and textures of the food. Dining away from the television and from plates versus packages can also help prevent mindless overeating.
Keep alcohol and sugary drinks to a minimum
When you have diabetes, alcohol can cause your blood sugar to spike or drop, while contributing high amounts of calories. And those calories aren’t likely to be very satiating, especially if you consume them on their own. Sugary drinks also tend to be calorie-rich and nutrient-poor, making them easy to overconsume.
If there’s an alcoholic or sugary drink you love, have a small portion with a protein- or fiber-rich meal. Otherwise, save your carbohydrates and calories for more satiating fare. As a healthier alternative, having plain sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice.
Additional ways to manage diabetes through the holidays include:
- Exercising regularly
- Managing stress
- Prioritizing sufficient sleep
- Seeking support from loved ones and professionals
- Staying in touch with your treatment team
To learn more about taking care of your diabetes needs throughout the holiday season or get the support you need, call Central Clinic or request an appointment through our website.