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Diabetes And The Holidays: Tips To Control Stress And Blood Sugar

Source: University of Virginia’s Diabetes Community Network

Celebrations around the holidays tempt all party-goers to disregard healthy habits, but calorie-laden festivities pose a special challenge for the millions of Americans living with diabetes. Usually managed by diet, exercise and medication, diabetes can get out of control when portion sizes grow and careful food selection is abandoned.

With the focus on food, increased stress and time pressures that take away from exercise, people with diabetes may feel they are negotiating land mines throughout the holiday season, said Dr. Eugene Barrett, an endocrinologist and director of University of Virginia Diabetes Center. But people with diabetes should already be following a program developed in conjunction with their health care provider. If this is the case, and their blood sugar is under control, there can be room for small indulgences during the holidays, but moderation is the key.

When Berma Stahl was diagnosed with diabetes a year and a half ago, she thought she would never be able to enjoy the holidays again. She loved all the traditional holiday foods and assumed many of those would be off limits. Rather than feeling helpless, Stahl, a 50-year old Charlottesville native, decided she would learn as much as she could about staying healthy and managing diabetes.

“I decided I was going to control my diabetes and not the other way around.” she explained. 

The Diabetes Community Network recommends the following tips for staying healthy during the holidays:

  • Plan each day and each meal before it begins.Avoid large amounts of concentrated carbohydrates.
  • Fill your plate with turkey and vegetables taking a limited quantity of mashed potatoes, rolls and dessert.
  • Reduce the amount eaten at other meals that day, but do not skip a meal in anticipation of eating large quantities at the holiday meal.
  • Be aware of the amount of alcohol you are consuming as too much can alter blood sugar levels.
  • Continue to follow a regular exercise program.
  • If there isn’t an hour to spare, try 10- or 15- brisk walks at intervals throughout the day.
  • If are going to a friend or relative’s house for the holidays, offer to bring a low-carb dessert.
  • Make time to rest and relax. Being tired promotes anxiety and frayed nerves.
  • Don’t take a break from healthy habits like taking medication on time and remembering your vitamins.
  • To limit stress, set realistic expectations about the holidays, and don’t let one slip- up lead to complete neglect of your regular program.