ADA Strategies Help Diabetics Stay Healthy During Holiday Season

Doris Allen RN CDE (199 x 288)Doris Allen, RN, CDE, lead diabetes educator for the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, based in University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton, offers tips to help diabetics and prediabetics maintain good health during the holidays.

“This time of year, there are temptations just about everywhere you go – cookies at the office holiday celebration, eggnog at the neighbor’s tree-trimming party, and leftovers from family entertaining,” Allen says. “Planning ahead is important, especially for people with diabetes, and the American Diabetes Association [ADA] offers excellent strategies for enjoying holiday festivities without over-indulging.”

According to Allen, recommended ADA strategies to remain healthy during the holidays include:

• Focus on friends and family instead of food. Remember, the holidays are a time to slow down and catch up with your loved ones. Play games, volunteer, or spend time outdoors enjoying the winter weather together.

• Eat before you eat. Don’t skip meals or snacks earlier in the day to “save” calories and carbs for the large holiday feast later on. If you skip meals, it will be harder to keep your blood glucose in control. Also, if you arrive somewhere hungry, you will be more likely to overeat.

• Don’t overdo it. Eat slowly, and really enjoy the foods that you may only have once a year. If the meal will be served near your usual meal time, try to eat the same amount of carbohydrate that you normally would for a meal. If you plan to have a portion of dessert, cut back on another carbohydrate food during the main course. Make sure your portions are reasonable and resist going back for second helpings.

• Stay active. One reason for difficulty in managing diabetes and weight during the holidays is lack of physical activity. Sure, the holidays are busy, but plan time into each day for exercise and don’t break your routine.

• Drink in moderation. If you drink alcohol, remember to eat something beforehand to prevent low blood glucose levels later. Whether it’s a glass of eggnog or red wine, holiday drinks can add a significant amount of calories to your holiday intake. Limit alcohol to no more than one drink for women and two drinks for men.

• If you overindulge, get back on track. If you consume more carbs or calories than you planned for, don’t think you have failed; stop eating for the duration of the event and focus on spending the rest of your time with the people around you. The next day, include extra exercise, monitor your blood glucose levels, and get back on track with your usual eating habits.

In photo: Doris Allen, RN, CDE, lead educator for the UM Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology says holiday season is an especially tough time to maintain a healthy diet. Current studies suggest that approximately one out of nine residents in the Mid-Shore region is diabetic, so the Allen and fellow diabetes educators are reaching out to offer education on diabetes self-management.