Halloween has come and gone. But between now and the New Year, there are plenty of holidays and events that will pose a challenge for people trying to manage their diabetes. Even for the most disciplined dieter, making it through the holiday season without gaining a few pounds would have to be considered a Christmas miracle.
“It can be stressful working in more activities, spending more money and managing your blood-glucose levels with the increased availability of carbs and calories – especially if you have diabetes,” said Linda Hoffsis, a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist, and diabetes educator at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Regional Diabetes Center. “With some planning ahead, you can gain less weight, if any, have less stress, manage your blood glucose and have more fun!”
To help people with diabetes have an enjoyable holiday season, Hoffsis has assembled a list of ten tips that, if followed, will make the final months of 2016 enjoyable and healthy.
1. Get adequate sleep. “Things will seem less stressful, you may be less hungry, and it will be easier to control your blood glucose if you get enough quality and quantity of sleep,” Hoffsis said.
2. Try some healthy and tasty recipes. Boredom is the enemy whenever it comes to staying on a disciplined dietary regiment. To keep things fresh, Hoffsis recommends trying new recipes and using seasoning that adds flavor without adding calories or sugar.
3. Don’t go hungry to a party or the mall. “You probably know from experience that if you go to the mall or holiday parties hungry, you tend to eat too much of the wrong thing,” Hoffsis said. “Prevent this by having a healthy snack before you go.”
Hoffsis recommends packing a healthy option to snack on if the pull of temptation starts feeling too irresistible. It’s also important to avoid going more than five hours waking hours without eating, she said.
4. Be festive with less calories and carbs. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Hanukkah. New Year’s.
Junk food. Junk food. Junk food. Junk food.
The temptation will be ever-present. Hoffsis recommends going ahead and indulging, as long as it’s in moderation. And when it comes to getting festive at home, it’s a good idea to get the focus off the food. Instead of doing a lot of baking and candy making, Hoffsis recommends making holiday-themed crafts, walking the neighborhood to see the decorations and other non-food activities.
5. Eat three meals per day using the plate method. The plate method means loading up half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like salad, green beans, peppers, cucumbers and broccoli. A quarter of the plate should be filled with lean protein like poultry, eggs or fish, and the remainder should go to a health carbohydrate like brown rice or whole-grain bread.
“Use this plate method, whether you are at home, at parties or at a restaurant,” Hoffsis said. “For example, if you go to a party buffet, look over your priorities; if there are fatty or sugary foods you could take or leave, leave them.”
6. Have fun moving more. Get active. Hoffsis recommends making family play dates outside joining group fitness classes.
7. Plan ahead. Plan healthy meals. Plan physical activities. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
“Plan ahead for when you will exercise,” Hoffsis advised. “Put it on your calendar. Consider going on a walk or to a class with a friend or family member. Have an indoor backup plan for inclement weather.”
8. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed.
9. Prioritize and downsize to avoid stress. The holidays are packed with things to do, but stress is an enemy for people managing diabetes. Hoffsis suggests considering shopping online instead of going to the mall, reducing the emphasis on gift giving, and even using your time and money for charitable causes.
10. Adjust your attitude. “Don’t waste your energy on things you can’t control,” Hoffsis said. “We always have a choise to alter, avoid, or accept what is going on with family, friends, work, holiday parties and so on. Think of what you are grateful for and savor the season!”
For more information, make an appointment with a diabetes educator at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Regional Diabetes Center.