Navigating the holidays with diabetes

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Amid a season of sweets and special foods, it sometimes can be challenging for diabetics to maintain their dietary discipline. But eating certain foods in moderation can help people with diabetes enjoy the flavors of the holidays without compromising their health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, while another 86 million adults have prediabetes. One in four people with diabetes do not know they have the disease.

Managing diabetes is more than just avoiding candy and cookies. Foods with a lot of fat or those that are high in carbohydrates also can be problematic. Such foods may not be so easy to avoid come the holiday season, but the following are a few tips to help men and women with diabetes maintain their health through the holidays.

• Anticipate foods. Certain foods are staples of the holiday season. If you anticipate potentially problematic foods, then you can develop a plan to avoid them or eat them in moderation in advance of arriving at a family gathering or holiday party.

• Eat a healthy snack. Prior to going to a holiday party, eat something that will satisfy your hunger to avoid overeating once you are there.

• Ask about foods. Don’t be shy to ask the host or hostess about what will be served. This will help you develop a strategy that will fit with your meal plan.

• Limit alcohol consumption. Only drink in moderation and eat something beforehand to prevent low blood glucose levels later. Avoid drinks with high calorie mixers or ones packed with extra sugar.

• Bring a dish. Make something that is diabetic-friendly and bring it to the party. Chances are someone else attending the party is diabetic and will appreciate having a healthy choice as well.

• Opt for fruit. Choose fruit over sweets at the dessert table. If you bring a baked good, consider recipes with reduced sugar or ones that use a sugar substitute.

• Control your portions. Fill up your dish with healthy foods, leaving only a small spot for something indulgent.

• Test diligently. Now is the time to monitor your blood-sugar levels like a hawk. Monitor your levels more closely so you can see how holiday foods are affecting your levels and so you know if you need to make any adjustments.

• Rebound quickly. Experts advise that if you go overboard on a particular day, get back on your feet the next. Exercise, revisit meal plans and cut portion sizes.

Diabetics cannot stop monitoring their diets just because the holidays have arrived. With planning and diligence, it’s possible to enjoy the foods and flavors of the holidays without compromising your health.

— Metro Creative

Diabetics can learn how to enjoy their favorite holiday foods without compromising their overall health.