The holidays are approaching, and with them come buffets, sweets and food-laden tables. You can think of that as temptation or realize that you have the power to make good-for-you choices, whether you’re managing diabetes or aiming for healthy eating in general. The American Diabetes Association has simple recommendations for enjoying delicious foods and good nutrition during the holidays and beyond.
As part of American Diabetes Month, the Association is focusing on eating well. It is a theme that makes any holiday gathering manageable and sets a great new foundation for the new year ahead.
Here are some tips:
* Enjoy the party, but don’t overdo it. Eat slowly and really enjoy a few of the foods that are special to you this time of year. If you’re counting carbohydrates and calories as part of your diabetes management plan, think about devoting your carbs to what you like best—and skipping the rest. For example, if you want dessert, cut back on foods such as dinner rolls or stuffing and “spend” your calories and carbs on a small serving of pie. Remember, moderation is key—so stick to small portions and skip seconds.
* Bring your favorites. Offer to bring your favorite healthy dish to share. If you’re counting carbs, check your recipe’s nutrition facts so you know how many grams are in one serving as well as the proper serving size. At some gatherings, it’s best not to mention a dish is “healthy” and let the flavor speak for itself; or perhaps the folks at your gathering may appreciate a card that notes the nutrition facts.
* Drink in moderation. Alcohol can add significant calories to your holiday intake—and, if you use insulin or sulfonylureas, complicate keeping blood glucose levels in the safe range. Keep your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink if you’re a woman and two drinks if you’re a man. Avoid high-calorie mixed drinks that include sugary soda or juice. Opt for sugar-free mixers instead. For insulin and sulfonylurea users, it’s important to check blood glucose levels during and up to 24 hours after drinking alcohol and to treat any lows.
* Stay active. Think of physical activities during the holidays as a chance to spend quality time with friends and loved ones. Use your extra time away from work or school to exercise—or to participate in a local holiday walk or run. Start a game of pick-up football with family in the yard or take a walk after eating.
* If you overindulge, get back on track. If you eat more than you planned for, don’t think you’ve failed. Focus on enjoying the company of those around you. Then, the next day, get back on track by gifting yourself with healthy eating, regular exercise and monitoring blood glucose levels as directed, if that’s part of your diabetes care routine.
* Focus on what matters. The holidays are a time to slow down and catch up with your loved ones, so remember to focus on your friends and family, not the food. Play games together, volunteer or spend time outdoors. Great memories don’t have to be made only at the dinner table.
Apply the tips above for healthy, happy holidays and a great start to new year ahead.