The holidays can be a tough time for those trying to manage their diabetes. With there being no shortage of rich, sugary and salty foods readily available, it’s important to be aware of the food and drink decisions that you’re making.
Here are 5 tips to help you keep your diabetes under control while you enjoy the festive spirit of the season.
- Lighten up holiday recipes
You'll want to reduce the sugar and other carbohydrates, like white flour, white rice and other processed grains, in your meal.
It's also important to monitor your fat intake to a degree. In baking recipes that call for oil, try using only healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, such as canola or olive oil.
- Let the plate be your guide when making choices
Keep an eye on the amount of food you eat, because eating too much can affect your blood sugar levels.
An easy strategy for portion control is to think of your plate being cut into four sections – lean protein should take up one quarter of your plate, carbohydrates should occupy another quarter of your plate (or less), and green vegetables should take up the remaining half your plate. Just make sure not to cook those veggies in oil or butter, or drown them in heavy dressings, dips or sauces.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes, five times a week
Don't take a holiday break from physical activity. A regular exercise program can improve blood sugars, decrease the risk of heart disease, and help you lose weight — even at a time when most Americans gain.
You don't have to do 30 minutes at a time, either. If you find yourself crunched for time during the holiday season, try doing two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute stints.
However, talk to your health care provider before you start a new exercise program or modify your existing one. He or she may want to do a few tests first.
If you have complications related to your diabetes, like neuropathy or retinopathy, there are certain types of exercise that you should avoid. Tell your doctor what kind of exercise you want to do so adjustments can be made to your medicine schedule or meal plan.
And remember, it's important to check your sugars prior to vigorous exercise.
- Manage stress as best you can.
The holidays can be an extremely stressful time for many of us. But stress, both physical and mental, can send your blood sugar levels out of whack.
Consider a stress management workshop to help you learn better coping methods, or try a relaxing activity such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises.
These tips aren't just for diabetics, they're good advice for anyone who's trying to lead a healthier lifestyle and prevent serious health problems, including diabetes, down the road. It's important to start taking steps now to keep yourself and your family healthy for life.