Dear Doc | How can I enjoy Christmas and keep my healthy diet
Q Dear Doc, I was diagnosed with diabetes this year and I am taking my medications and have been doing well so far. This will, however, be my first Christmas since I have been diagnosed and I am concerned about how I will survive. No lies, I love my food, and it has been very rough since I had to change my diet, but it's Christmas! I want to eat all the nice things, too! Will enjoying all the nice food during the holiday be really such a bad thing? And if it is, how can I enjoy and still stay on track.
I appreciate any tips you can give.
A I laughed a little when I read this because I empathise most with my diabetic patients around the Christmas and holiday season. I, too, love my food, so I feel your pain. The food of the holiday season is one of the many things that people look forward to. Just because you have diabetes, doesn't mean you have to miss out on all the deliciousness that the holiday has to offer.
It can be easy to get carried away, but having and maintaining a meal plan is important to controlling blood glucose levels. Managing your diabetes during the holidays is simply continuing the same meal-management plan that you use during the other days of the year, with a bit more flexibility.
You may also want to mention to family members ahead of time that you are on a strict plan for the meal so that they won't add to the temptation and offer anything that is not on your plan.
Maintain your usual schedule
Even on your days away from work, get up, eat, take your medications, and exercise about the same time as you usually do.
Check your blood sugar frequently
Check your blood sugar more frequently during the holidays, especially if you have adjusted your insulin doses. Make allowances for the changes in your work and exercise schedules as well as your eating opportunities.
Budget your sweets and treats
To keep your blood sugars from skyrocketing, include sweets and treats as part of your carbohydrate allowances. Choose the meat and side vegetables and salad at dinner, making your carbohydrate for dinner instead be your favourite dessert, such as your mothers famous Christmas cake.
Watch your alcohol intake
Similar to the sweet treats, if you want to indulge in alcoholic beverages, be sure to include these in your meal plan as well. Alcoholic drinks are typically more high in calories and can cause your blood glucose levels to rise and fall. Be sure to plan out your beverages as well and stick to the plan.
Recommendations for alcohol for those with diabetes are no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men. (One drink equals four ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, one ounce of distilled spirits).
Avoid snacking between meals
Despite our best efforts, holiday meals are never usually ready on time. Because of this, it can lead to an increase in hunger which can result in overeating, or can also increase your temptation to snack between meals. If you overeat, trying to fix it by skipping a meal afterwards may cause you to overeat when you have your next meal or snack. A great addition to your meal plan is to account for possible food delays. By consuming protein pre-meal, you can help to ward off any ravenous hunger while waiting for dinner.
Drink Water Before Your Meal
Another trick to avoid overeating is drinking a full glass of water before you start to eat. By doing this, you can reduce the amount of food you consume. The water will make you feel full early and help to reduce your appetite.
Don't Forget the Vegetables
Ensure your plate is filled with a good portion of non-starchy vegetables. Vegetables help you to get the healthy carbs you need while making you feel fuller longer. A quick tip is to fill at least two-thirds of your plate with non-starchy vegetables. This will leave less room for any temptations or even seconds.
Bring Your Own Dishes
If you are going to a friend or family members house take something that you made that can help cut down your calories and carbohydrates. This will ensure that you can guarantee at least one healthy mean option, and they will surely love the additional help with the holiday cooking.
Out of Sight Out of Mind
When the meal is finished, it's best to pack away the leftovers. This can help to keep temptations out of sight and keep you from going for more of the good stuff.
Be party smart
We covered the family events but we cannot forget the Christmas parties.
At the party, have the vegetable-based appetisers first, then the meat or cheese appetisers. Place your appetisers on a napkin instead of a plate to help reducing the likelihood of overfilling the plate.
Another tip would be not to stand near the buffet table or food at a party. Also keep hydrated; drink water or club soda, and keep a calorie-free drink in your hand to keep sipping.
It can be very tempting to slow down your activity levels during the holiday season, especially with time off from work and all the parties, but it is very important to still remain as active as you were before.
If 40 minutes a day at once isn't possible, try breaking your exercise up into 10-15 minute segments, two or three times a day.
Take a walk after you finish your meal.
Use the extra time off from work to squeeze in extra activity.
After all the above tips, the important thing to remember is that no one is perfect.
No matter how hard you try to stay on our plans or manage your blood glucose levels, sometimes not everything goes as planned and that is alright. The following day will be another chance. It's vital to ensure you don't beat yourself up about any mishaps that might happen or if things do not go as planned.
Put the focus on family and friends and not on food. Enjoy what you do eat. Savor each bite! Most importantly, remember to include time for exercise, meals and relaxation. The holidays will only be great if you're in good health to enjoy them.