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Extension Agent: Diabetes through the holidays

By By Erika Bochat
Nov. 5, 2013 at 5:05 a.m.

Erika Bochat

Do you ever find yourself dreading the holidays? For all of us, it can be the time of year we usually end up gaining weight, and for those with diabetes, our blood sugar (glucose) levels can get out of control.

This year, let's enjoy the holidays and keep control over our glucose levels. Make up your mind that you have a choice about what you can eat. You are in control, and you don't need to be pressured by everyone around you. When you plan ahead, you can decide what you are going to do.

Do you want to keep your numbers in control, or are you going to let loose a bit? Remember, it is possible to follow a lower-carbohydrate meal plan during the holidays if you are stuck with the old standards. Choosing lower-carbohydrate foods you are familiar with - the ones you know keep your glucose levels in control - means you'll usually find plenty of holiday-season protein sources in turkey, ham, seafood and low-fat, low-sodium deli meats and cheeses.

As for vegetables, many people prepare veggie trays, salads and nonstarchy vegetables such as greens to serve. Of course, you'll have too many carb choices to choose from. The key to success is portion control and meal planning with carbohydrate choices that count.

There are helpful hints that we can be mindful of as we begin this holiday season of party going, entertaining and activities.

Don't arrive hungry. Restricting your food intake during the holidays can backfire on you. Have a snack before you go to your party, like yogurt and fruit or a plate of raw vegetables and low-fat cheese - something that will stick to your ribs a bit better than walking into a party hungry and wanting to eat everything in sight.

Avoid mindless eating.

Scoops of nuts, chips and cookies are hard to avoid if you're standing right next to them. Try selecting more single-serving foods rather than eating by the handful.

Don't drink on an empty stomach. Having diabetes means you should think about your alcohol consumption all year long and not just around the holidays. Too much alcohol will disrupt your blood sugar control. It's best to drink alcohol with food; it will slow the effects of the alcohol.

Burn those calories. Exercise is critical all year long and can be especially helpful during the holiday season. Exercise is also a great stress reliever, and it helps you burn off those extra calories you might have consumed. Keep decorating your house, park your car further away from the store entrance or take an extra lap around the mall to enjoy all the decorations in the windows. Just keep moving.

Adopting good eating habits and exercising regularly will put everyone on the road to staying healthy in any season.

You can learn more about living with diabetes through the holidays at the Crossroads Diabetes Expo from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Victoria College Student Center.

There will be health screenings, educational sessions and information booths as well as a luncheon with motivational speaker Nate Lytle and a wrap-up question-and-answer session with a panel of experts.

To register for a lunch count, please contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 361-575-4581 by noon Wednesday. Cost at the door is only $5 - see you there.

References:

Diabetes Interview, "Lower-Carb Diets and the Holidays, Think Before You Eat" November 2003, Issue 136, Volume 11, page 34 - 35.

diabetes.org/health/nutrition/jan012002.jsp

Erika Bochat is a Victoria County extension agent - Family and Consumer Sciences.

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