The holidays are all about fun, family and food. Many holiday traditions revolve primarily around what you eat. For the 122 million diabetics in America who are trying to balance their blood sugar, the holidays are a stressful time, and require planning ahead to prioritize their health.
Follow these tips for surviving the holidays with diabetes.
- Think of foods in terms of the ratio of carbohydrates to protein, fat and fiber.
Different foods affect blood sugar differently depending on their nutritional makeup. Diabetics should pay attention to the numbers of carbs, protein, sugar, fat and fiber in whatever they choose to eat. Carbs and sugar tend to raise your blood sugar quickly, while protein and fat raise your blood sugar more slowly. Foods with fiber, like vegetables, may also have carbs, but the presence of fiber slows the blood sugar rise.
So, foods with more fiber, protein and fat are better for controlling blood sugar than carbs and sugars. That means 50 percent of your plate should consist primarily of non-starchy vegetables, like salad, green beans, broccoli or carrots. Divide the other half between lean protein (like fish, turkey, chicken or beans) and a grain or starch (potatoes, brown rice or pasta).
- When dessert temptation is hard to resist, try making a small sample plate.
It can truly be an uphill battle to deny yourself a serving of the pie sitting on the table in front of you. That is fine – you deserve to have a small sweet treat occasionally. However, the pitfall comes when you grab an entire slice of pie. Instead, try taking a small sample the size of your thumb. Just tasting or having one bite of a sweet treat will satisfy that craving and prevent a blood sugar disaster. That will keep the portion size limited.
Here’s a little secret: Sometimes, what you’re really craving isn’t actually the pie or pudding, but the texture and the experience of eating it. Look for lower-sugar, lower-carb alternatives to these dishes that have the same texture as the dish. For example, instead of pudding, try Greek yogurt with berries and honey.
- Watch out for secretly sugar-packed foods.
Some foods may not seem like they would contain carbs or sugar – but they do. For example, soft drinks, juices, sports drinks and many alcoholic beverages contain added sugars, which can spike blood sugar. If you’d like something fizzy or sweet but don’t want the sugar, try sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice, or add berries or lemon to your water.
- Don’t abandon your non-dietary healthy habits during the holidays.
If you usually exercise every day, keep doing it! Exercise has great benefits on your mental health and the way you feel in general. And, don’t forget to tell people when you need a break to be alone.
Get enough sleep. This is something people often forget during the holidays because of all the cultural and social obligations – but it’s SO important to be well rested.
Continue to monitor your blood sugar and record it regularly, and take your medications.
For more information about diabetes, other conditions and health tips, visit QualChoice.com.
All information courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Article courtesy of QualChoice.