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Managing diabetes during the holidays

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The holidays are typically filled with parties, celebrations and family gatherings. But the spotlight on food and eating during the holiday season can be challenging, especially for families dealing with diabetes.

November is American Diabetes Month, and Thanksgiving can be a time of great anxiety for people with diabetes because it is so focused on food. This year, plan in advance to take the guesswork and stress out of Thanksgiving, so you can fully enjoy the day and keep your diabetes management on track. Check out the following tips to help you have a healthier Thanksgiving holiday.

Many families eat holiday meals at odd times of the day. For some, the Thanksgiving meal may not happen until mid-afternoon. Plan in advance and make adjustments if the meal doesn’t line up with your regular meal schedule. If you take insulin injections or a pill that lowers blood glucose, a snack may be needed at your normal meal time to prevent a low blood glucose reaction. Check with your health care team.

Don’t skip meals or snacks earlier in the day to “save” calories and carbohydrates for the feast later on. Skipping meals makes it harder to keep your blood glucose in control.

One reason people have problems managing diabetes and weight during the holidays is a lack of physical activity. Start a new tradition this year that involves getting more physical activity and doing things that don’t involve food. It is never too late to be physically active. Find others who are trying to be active and work together to reach your goals. Aim for 30 minutes on most days.

Instead of spending time getting worried about what will be on the menu, offer to bring your favorite diabetes-friendly dish. It could be a low-sugar or low-fat version of a traditional recipe.

This year, try picking out your favorite foods or dishes and pass on the other options. If stuffing is your favorite, then pass on the rolls. Have sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes instead of putting both on your plate. If you want to sample more than just your favorites, make your portions smaller. Remember not to pile up your plate on the first round. Eat slowly, enjoy the meal and resist going back for seconds.

The most important thing about managing diabetes during the holiday season is to plan ahead. And one last and very important suggestion is to visit with your health care team ahead of time if you need to make adjustments in your medication or insulin because of the timing of holiday meals or travel.

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