By Nicole Anderson, Registered Dietitian
It’s getting to be that time of year again – the time for holiday parties, socializing with family and friends, and lots of eating and drinking. It is easy for anyone to feel out of control with their diet when they’re constantly surrounded by tasty food and treats. However, if you have diabetes, the holiday season can pose major challenges to keeping your health in check.
All too often, you might find yourself overeating and not moving enough. This can lead to higher blood glucose levels and possible weight gain. You may feel that checking your blood sugar during this time is pointless because you’ve already eaten too much and know your blood glucose is going to be too high. Regardless, make a goal to check your blood glucose at least once per day. Before you know it, your blood glucose could go far above your goal and cause short- and long-term consequences.
It can be more difficult during this time of year to keep your blood sugar under control, but you can make a conscious choice to not overdo it and still enjoy yourself. The key is to go into this holiday season with your eyes open. Make deliberate choices instead of merely letting the season carry you away.
It’s Smart to Be Picky
During the holidays, many of us eat some foods simply because they are there. You can still make a choice not to eat them. There are usually more than enough food options. You don’t have to eat everything that is served. Treat yourself to foods that are special for the holidays and skip the excess calories from ordinary, year-round foods like potato chips. To keep overall carbohydrates limited at meals, think of what you can give up at dinner time –such as mashed potatoes and the dinner roll — to have your favorite slice of pie. At buffets, it always helps to survey the line before putting any food on your plate. This way, only your real favorites wind up in front of you and you won’t find yourself absentmindedly picking on whatever is left on your plate. You can stay in control and still feel a part of the festivities. Also, be sure to balance out your plate by combining carbohydrates with protein and non-starchy vegetables. Follow the individualized recommendations provided by your Registered Dietitian for how much you should limit carbohydrates at meal times.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Try to eat at regular times throughout the day leading up to a party or holiday event to avoid feeling famished when you arrive. We tend to overeat when we haven’t eaten all day. It’s harder to make good choices once we get too hungry. As with any other day, it is vital to keep the amount of carbohydrates that you eat consistent and limited at each meal. Never skip a meal or eliminate carbohydrates from your meals during the day to falsely justify splurging later that night. This can send your blood glucose skyrocketing and promote holiday weight gain.
Enjoy Holiday Spirits Safely
It’s easy to go overboard on calories while toasting in the season. Not only does alcohol provide excess calories itself, but we also tend to lose focus on our food choices after drinking. This year, set a goal to pace yourself on the cocktails and choose to have water or a diet beverage in between alcoholic drinks. When you do have a cocktail, you can decrease the calorie content tremendously by choosing calorie-free mixers, such as seltzer or diet soda instead of tonic or juices. Light beer and dry white wine tend to be lower calorie choices, as well. Make sure to not consume alcohol on an empty stomach. Of course, the best way to save all the cocktail calories is to make yourself the designated driver for the party and skip the alcohol altogether. You’ll feel better the next day as well.
Take Advantage of Extra Activity
It is more important than ever to keep up your exercise routine this holiday season. Don’t let the cold weather be an excuse to skip your workout. Now is a great time to change it up. This not only helps break through weight-loss plateaus, but also provides some inclement weather alternatives from your usual routine, especially if you usually exercise outside. Exercising in the comfort of your own home with fitness DVDs, computer downloads, video games such as “Wii Fit” ™ or workout equipment can help you fight the temptation to hibernate this winter.
In addition, use the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and errands to add additional calorie-burning activities. Instead of fighting for the closest parking spot at the mall, avoid the frustration altogether by parking far from the entrance. Once you’ve finished your shopping and returns, don’t head home right away: use the mall to get in extra walking. The more you move during the holidays, the more energy you’ll have to get through the stress and enjoy them.
This year, make a promise to yourself to not get carried away during the holidays. Put yourself in control; you will find yourself feeling festive and fit into the New Year.
+Do you need help managing Type 2 diabetes? Learn how to use proper nutrition, medication and exercise through the diabetes education program at Bon Secours In Motion.