The holidays are tough for anyone who tries to eat a healthy diet, but it’s an especially difficult time for families living with diabetes. Tempting holiday treats show up at work, at school, and at home, as well as at parties. We also seem to eat out much more often at this time of year. But if you plan ahead, it’s possible to stick to your eating plan during holiday gatherings with family and friends.
How many Idahoans are dealing with diabetes?
7.6 percent of adults in Idaho had a diagnosis of diabetes in 2014, which is actually down from 2013, when 8.4 percent had received a diabetes diagnosis. So that’s great news! But it’s still the 6th overall leading cause of death in our state.
So if you’re going to a holiday party, are there some strategies you can use beforehand to stay on track?
These tips work well for everyone who is watching what they eat, including people who do not have diabetes. Before a party, plan ahead by checking with the host to see what food will be served. Eat a healthy snack before you go so you don’t overeat while you’re there. You can also make a nutritious dish to take so you know there will be at least one that will be relatively healthy. And throughout the holiday season, drink plenty of water and stick to your daily exercise plan. Even though you’re busy with holiday festivities and preparations, you should aim for about 2.5 hours of physical activity a week.
The focus of so many holiday gatherings is on the food. How can you shift the focus?
Rather than heading straight to the cookie table, focus on your family and friends. Plan some games and take walks together. When it’s time to eat, choose the dishes you love and can’t get any other time of year, but take smaller portions. You can also choose vegetables and lean meats and side dishes that aren’t loaded with heavy sauces, lots of butter, or salt. For dessert, go for the fruit. And after you fix your plate, move to another room away from the food, if you can, so it’s a little more difficult to go back for seconds.
What about alcohol?
Moderation is important when you’re talking about alcoholic drinks. If you have a beer or a glass of wine, drink it with your meal or have a snack so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach. If you are diabetic, it’s important that you check your glucose levels before having that drink to make sure they’re not too low. For the sake of family harmony as well as keeping your glucose levels in check, it’s probably best to keep it to one drink for women and two for men.
I hate to be the diet police during the holidays, because it is a time for splurging a little bit. But if you do feel like you really went overboard, don’t let it knock you permanently off track. Get right back to healthy eating with your next snack or meal.
(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of the segment from Dec. 20. Join us next week, when we’ll be discussing realistic resolutions.)
- Holiday Healthy Eating Guide from the American Heart Association
- Idaho Diabetes Program: diabetes.idaho.gov
- Find a diabetes educator at a Diabetes Self-Management Program: http://www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Health/DiseasesConditions/DiabetesHomePage/GetHelpManagingDiabetes/tabid/2867/Default.aspx
- American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/