This is the season of holidaying for family, festivities and traditions in US. For many, those traditions include food — lots of food — over many weeks of celebration. Even at other places, it is a tough job for diabetes patients to keep a check on their diabetes during festivities. In the season diabetics need to keep restraint and strike a balance between intake and exercise.
People living with diabetes cannot afford to trade in clean eating for all the sugary and fatty goodness of the season. The key to diabetes management is controlling one’s insulin resistance. The experts, therefore, offer the following tips for controlling the progression of Type 2 diabetes during the holidays.
1. Burn Those Calories
According to most studies on the subject, the average American gains one to two pounds during the holiday season. People with diabetes can avoid the extra pounds with regular exercise (minimum 30 minutes per day, 5 times per week), which directly impacts insulin resistance —the key precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Exercise is especially critical during this time of larger-than-usual meals. Plan activities like walks, hikes, bicycle rides, and dances with family and friends. The extra calorie burning can really help control weight and lower insulin levels, as well as lead to some wonderful times together.
2. Eat (Something Good for You) Before Going to Parties
Make most of the holiday eating with whole foods, that is, foods that look as if they actually came out of the ground. About an hour before a holiday dinner or party, eat some fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains, or starchy vegetables like potatoes or yams. They’re naturally packed with nutrients, and their high fibre-to-calorie ratio is very beneficial in curbing hunger, which curbs weight gain. Being partially full from a nutritious snack before the party will aid in the willpower to say, “no, no, no,” to tempting bad foods. In other words: do not go out with an empty stomach.
3. Be a Good Guest
Call the host and say, “I’d love to bring something. What are you planning on serving?” If one of the dishes is particularly unhealthy (or tempting), offer to bring another version based on whole foods.
4. Don’t Drink Your Calories
Steer clear of sugary and/or fatty beverages, whether alcoholic or not. Either could cause blood sugar to spike or fall to unsafe levels.
5. Want Something Sweet… Eat Fruit (Just not By Itself)
Fibre helps stabilize blood sugar. Fruit, like vegetables, is full of fibre and water and has the lowest calorie density, assisting in fast weight loss. Fruit is also a great source of vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy sugar, which is why diabetics should not eat fruit by itself. So, when hitting the holiday buffet, skip the sugary desserts and instead opt for fruit… but be sure to combine it with non-starchy veggies or salad.
Another great way for people with diabetes to eat fruit is paired with oatmeal. The fibre from oatmeal will allow sugar to get absorbed at a slower pace, avoiding sugar spikes.
“The holidays are a great time to get together, make memories, and feast with loved ones. The mistake many people with diabetes make is overindulging with the least healthy options instead of being choosier and more mindful at the table. Those fatty, sugary snacks can be life-threatening,” notes Dr Andrea Sosa-Melo, M.D., endocrinologist and diabetes expert, physician and educator at the Pritikin Longevity Center. “Delicious, healthy recipes should always replace unhealthy snacks and meals, especially for those living with diabetes. A healthy eating and moderate exercise plan like the one offered at Pritikin is the most effective way to avoid and control diabetes the whole year around.”