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Doctors offer holiday eating advice for diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Holiday eating doesn't mean you should ditch your diabetes meal planning.

Planning ahead for the holidays can help people living with diabetes stay safe and healthy. Doctors at Harris Health System say it's important to have a plan when it comes to holiday eating. The good news is the plan is simple. Holiday eating doesn't mean you have to forego your favorite foods.

Instead, it's all about portion control, meal planning and getting plenty of exercise. Even though you have to take special care, you can still enjoy a variety of foods at the holiday table.

Talar L. Glover, MS, RN, director, Diabetes Service Line and Patient Education, Harris Health System said in a press release, "There’s nothing that you need to avoid eating. A small serving of pecan pie is fine, but don’t overdo it. If you’re going to have pecan pie, then you can’t have cranberries and cornbread dressing and gravy and mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.” But none of us should eat everything we see. It's all about making choices.

Don't skip meals

Glover also warns that it's important to eat throughout the day. If you have diabetes don't skip a meal and then eat a big lunch or dinner. Check the menu and plan your eating accordingly.

Sleepiness is a sign of elevated blood sugars, but most people blame tryptophan in turkey. Sugar spikes happen to all of us when we overeat, especially carbohydrates and fatty foods. The remedy is to get up and take a walk after eating to keep blood sugars in the normal range. Fasting blood sugars should be between 70 and 99.

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Take your diabetes meds as directed

Dr. Ashok Balasubramanyam, chief, Endocrinology, Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital says it's not wise to double up your diabetes medications to compensate for holiday eating. The side effects of taking too much medication are dangerous and require monitoring. Only people who know how to adjust their insulin doses based on blood sugar readings should even consider taking extra diabetes medication.

If you experience blurred vision, weight loss, excessive thirst, hunger or frequent urination, get checked for diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 183 million people globally are unaware they have the disease.

It's important for diabetics to keep blood sugar levels under control year round. Hyperglycemia (high sugar levels) can lead to heart disease, vision problems including blindness, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney failure and amputations.

Balasubramanyam says the rules for meal planning if you have diabetes are straight forward: “Eat right, exercise, take your medicines and check your blood sugar. But following this every day, all the time, is hard. Everyone knows the rules, but the practice is difficult because you have to do it year-round for every meal, including holidays.” With a little planning, you can stay in practice, even when food temptations are at their peak.

Harris Health System
November 16, 2012

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