Managing Diabetes During the Holidays

November is Diabetes Awareness month and an important time to talk about healthier food choices. During this holiday season, you can manage your diabetes while enjoying your family, friends and festivities.

What is Diabetes?

At its very basic, diabetes is a chronic disease where your body’s blood glucose is too high. When blood sugar increases, your pancreas releases insulin to manage the excess sugar. For those living with diabetes, their body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t use the insulin as well as it should. For more information on the types of diabetes, check out our blog here.

How can I manage my diabetes during the holidays?

We all celebrate the holiday season in different ways, but it is likely that we all celebrate with food! To enjoy this time without overextending yourself, try to follow some of these tips:

  • Avoid or limit alcohol. If you have a drink, enjoy it with food to help balance blood sugar levels.
  • Consider carbs. If you want to have dessert, be careful with how many carbs you eat before the sweets such as bread, stuffing, and potatoes.
  • Don’t skip meals. Also, try to eat at the same times every day.
  • And don’t skip your favorites! ’Tis the season for family recipes and seasonal favorites. Have a slice of pumpkin pie or glass of eggnog and savor it! As long as you are mindful about the other food choices you’ve made throughout the day.
  • Keep exercising.Walks, stretching, and simple workouts approved by your doctor can help manage stress as well as your mood.
  • Prioritize sleep. The holidays can be both enjoyable and exhausting. When the body doesn’t rest properly, it has a harder time managing blood sugar.

Simple Swaps to Manage Blood Sugar

Just because you’re living with diabetes, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy delicious, rich foods! However, you do need to be deliberate with your food choices. For those moments where you may want a healthier option, try one of the healthier swaps below.

Swap:

Chips and Dip for Veggies and Hummus

You’ll get at least one serving of vegetables and some protein from the hummus. Protein aids in regulating your blood sugar.

Mashed Potatoes for Mashed Cauliflower

You’ll get another serving of low-carb vegetables—just be sure to watch added butter or cream.

Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes for Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and beta-carotene and are sweet enough without added sugar.

Green Bean Casserole for Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Rich in fiber, Brussels sprouts are a better option than the creamy, salty, deep-fried onion casserole.

Fried Turkey for Roasted Turkey

Deep-fried turkeys are trending, but they’re very heavy in fat. Keep your proteins as lean and clean as possible and opt for lean poultry or healthy fat filled fish such as salmon.

Pecan Pie for Pumpkin Pie

Still sweet and filled with festive spices, pumpkin pie has less sugar, less fat and more vitamins from the pumpkin puree.

One in three Americans do not know that they have diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that may have been present at birth, developed during adulthood or during pregnancy. It should be carefully monitored and managed as it could lead to injury or further illness if mismanaged.
If you think you may have diabetes or need help in managing your diabetes diagnosis, DFD is here to help. Reach out to your primary healthcare provider to discuss your options.

Nutrition: 101

Nutrition—what does it actually mean? Yes, nutrition is the biological process of providing your body with proper foods for growth and function, but it’s also more than that. Nutrition is about making informed decisions to better your physical, mental and emotional health. Let’s discuss some manageable ways to focus on nutrition for you and your family.

 

Healthy Eating

While there are many different resources out there, the USDA recommends that your meals consist of:

  • half vegetables and whole fruits
  • one quarter whole grains
  • one quarter protein
  • some healthy fats (such as nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oils)

Food choices will be different for everyone and dependent on food access, affordability, traditions and cultures, and food preferences (including vegetarianism, veganism, etc.).

With this new way of approaching food, your main focuses will be to eat more nutritious foods, trying a variety of nutritious foods and being careful not to restrict certain foods or go on fad diets.

When you start to eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, you’ll start to see that:

  • your digestive system works more efficiently
  • you feel less hungry between meals (preventing junk food snacking)
  • your energy increases

As your body grows accustomed to new and nutritious foods, you’ll see that you start eating less refined carbohydrates and refined sugars which contribute to poor diet, weight gain, and illnesses.

Try this: Include at least one new nutrient-dense food into every meal.

 

Physical Activity

Keeping your body active lowers your risk of many illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression. When you eat and drink, you’re taking in calories that your body uses for normal functioning. However, Americans tend to eat larger portions than needed—and usually more refined carbohydrates and sugars—leaving an excess of calories just waiting to be burned!

Remember, you can’t exercise your way from a bad diet. This means that if you’re looking to lose weight, exercise alone will not work. The harmony of eating healthier foods and moving your body will help you maintain a healthy weight. Try to keep the following in mind:

  • Walking helps your body to digest its food
  • Muscles need carbohydrates and protein for energy and muscle repair
  • The more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn

When adopting healthier lifestyle habits, it’s also important to learn to listen to your body. For instance, if you’re recovering from the flu, your body needs rest and fluids more than it needs intense exercise.

Try this: Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine. This could mean taking the stairs, parking at the far end of parking lots, and walking around your office building during lunch—any movement is better than no movement.

 

Emotional Health

Emotional health is another important aspect of your nutrition. Emotions can greatly affect food and exercise choices. There are many different reasons for this including stress, family celebrations and obligations, and “emotional eating.”

A quick note on emotional eating: everyone has experienced eating while bored, stressed or otherwise emotional. If you have trouble controlling emotional eating, please speak with your health care provider right away.

Eating healthy meals and snacks will help fuel your body appropriately making exercise easier and better for your body. Exercise can:

  • increase your overall energy and boosts your mood
  • help you sleep better at night
  • reduce stress, anxiety, depression symptoms
  • increase self-esteem and confidence

Consider your emotions when you crave “junk food,” or when you don’t feel like exercising. Is there something going on in your life? Will you feel better after exercise, a healthy meal, or rest?

Try this: Keep a record or journal of how exercise and healthy foods make you feel. This information can serve as motivation if you need a boost.

 

Adopting a nutritious lifestyle will be different for everyone. Take it one step at a time, be patient with yourself, and enlist the help of a friend for extra accountability. If you need support and guidance to get started, speak with your primary care provider.