Sat | Jan 28, 2023

Holiday eating tips for diabetics

Published:Wednesday | November 30, 2022 | 12:06 AMKeisha Hill - Senior Gleaner Writer

Managing diabetes is difficult all year round, but it can be especially hard during the holidays. When you are travelling, hosting family and being surrounded by a variety of sweet treats and other snacks, it can be difficult to stay on track and keep your blood sugar under control.

Consultant physician and specialist in diabetes and endocrinology Dr Karen Phillips says persons should try eating as close to their normal mealtimes as possible to keep their blood sugar levels stable. If a family meal is being served later than usual, it is a good idea to grab a snack at the regular mealtime and eat a bit less during the group meal.

“Taking your medication with you is also very important. Over the season persons tend to go out a lot, especially for dinner, and do not take their medication. So be mindful of this, especially if you are visiting out of town, and may not return home directly afterwards,” Dr Phillips said.

According to Dr Phillips, half of your plate should consist of vegetables, as they provide vitamins, minerals and fibre that help manage your blood sugar. “If you are hosting a holiday meal, you may want to consider providing extra vegetable, low- or no-carbohydrate dishes for your guests, especially if you know someone attending has diabetes,” she said. Persons may also be tempted to skip a meal to save up for a larger group meal later on, but it can backfire by making it harder to manage blood sugar levels and potentially causing one to overeat due to hunger. “Portion size is also important. You have to maintain the recommended guidance. This advice not only goes for diabetics, but for persons generally who are trying to be healthy. Also, try eating from a breakfast plate if you eat out, as this will eliminate the possibility of overeating,” Dr Phillips said.

MINDLESS EATING

“You should enjoy the holidays and the seasonal foods they bring. Instead of overly limiting what you eat, be aware of your portion sizes and balance things out with larger servings of vegetables,” she added.

As you eat more and consume foods that are higher in carbohydrates, it is important to check your blood sugar more often than usual. This will allow you to stay on top of concerning changes and make modifications as needed.

“Big meals can leave you feeling sluggish, but physical activity is very important for helping you stabilise your blood sugar and offsetting the effects of larger meals,” she said.

“Exercise can be fun and beneficial for the whole family, too. You can ask those around you to join walks after a big meal, or if you are pressed for time, you can take several smaller walks throughout the day,” Dr Phillips added.

Going out more and staying out later often means cutting back on sleep. Sleep loss can make it harder to manage your blood sugar, and when you are sleep-deprived, you will tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food. Aim for sevento eight hours per night to guard against mindless eating.

Most of all, remember what the season is about - celebrating and connecting with the people you care about. When you focus more on the fun, it’s easier to focus less on the food.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com