The Diabetes Toolkit: Survive the Holidays and Stay Healthy
The holiday season is filled with celebrations, parties, scrumptious foods and, of course, good old holiday stress. For people with diabetes, this time of year can easily spell trouble for your blood sugar. However, having diabetes should not stop you during the holidays. Armed with the right information, you can make decisions and take actions to prevent complications and stay healthy this festive season and beyond.
The tips below will help you stay healthy and on track.
- Replace Sugar with Healthy Sweeteners: To help keep your sugar intake low, look for prepared foods, baked goods and drinks that use natural non-sugar sweeteners that don’t promote blood sugar imbalances. These include stevia, xylitol, monk fruit and ‘Just Like Sugar.’ This will have a noticeable effect upon your overall health and weight.
- Avoid Artificial Sweeteners: Zero calorie sweeteners in sodas and candies, and those pink, yellow and blue packets, as well as other artificial sweeteners, actually promote cravings, hunger, and insulin resistant weight gain.
- Drink Water! Water is key to resisting decadent foods during the holidays (and any other time). When your body doesn’t have enough water, it responds with cravings – especially for sugar and carbohydrates. The lack of water also triggers feelings of hunger. Try to drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces each day. This means that if you weigh 120 lbs., you should drink 60 ounces of water.
- Spice It Up! Use cinnamon, ginger or turmeric wherever you can. These spices effectively balance blood sugar and reduce low-level inflammation – which are key to optimal health and weight loss. You can cook with them, use cinnamon in your coffee, tea or smoothies, or take in supplement form.
- Dial Down Stress: Anticipate challenges during the holiday season. Yes, you heard that right. Plan and prepare for what might occur. Planning and preparation is the magic holiday elixir to less stress and balanced blood sugar levels. Do not expect perfection from yourself or others, as this can lead to disappointment. If stress, anxiety or insomnia rears its ugly head (no matter where you are), use the 4-7-8 technique below to stop the stress response in its tracks:
- Breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds; hold your breath for 7 seconds; exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat 6 times or as often as needed.
- Exercise: Moving your body in any way that you enjoy (walking, dancing, tennis, Zumba, etc.) will help balance blood sugar, promote lean muscle mass, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce stress, improve mood, and much more.
Other tips to keep you on track this holiday season:
- Take the focus off of food.
- Ensure your blood sugar is balanced by eating a lean protein at every meal. Protein signals the brain via special hormones you’ve had enough to eat.
- Ensure you have a healthy fat at every meal – healthy fat also keeps you feeling full.
- Prepare prior to the party or event. 30 minutes before leaving for an event where food is going to be served, eat a lean protein and a healthy fat, such as turkey deli meat wrapped around a quarter of an avocado. The two work together and are powerful in preventing holiday food fallout. Never skip a meal or arrive hungry.
- Diffuse a situation with humor. If Grandma is pushing you to eat more of her stuffing and turkey, you can say “If I have another bite I’ll be more stuffed than the delicious turkey you prepared.” Or just say exactly why you can’t eat too much or certain foods. It works as long as you stick to your guns.
- Bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering.
Keep in mind that services to help you manage your diabetes through the holidays and beyond are available for you at your local MinuteClinic:
- Diabetes Monitoring: http://bit.ly/1fPfpPK
- Diabetes Screening: http://bit.ly/1So8Kh9
- Clinic Locator Link: http://bit.ly/1qKsSao
Remember that people with diabetes are at a higher risk for complications from the flu. Stop by the MinuteClinic to ensure you are protected this winter by getting your flu shot so you can enjoy the holidays in good health and stress free!
Lastly, if you are looking for heart healthy recipes, great for the whole family, check out MinuteClinic’s #FoodieFriday recipes each week.
Taking care of you this holiday season means that you can take better care of those around you.
A Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!
Lori Shemek, Ph.D. is a leading fat cell researcher and recognized authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health. Dr. Shemek is the author of ‘How To Fight FATflammation!’ and the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn!’ She is a leading health and weight loss expert.
Dr. Lori Shemek, a health expert for the ABC TV show Good Morning Texas, has been featured on CNN and Fox News, and in Dr. Oz’s Good Life Magazine, Health, Shape, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, and The Huffington Post and numerous others.