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Diabetes Health Center

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Sweet Holiday Tips for Diabetics

With care and moderation, people with diabetes can indulge, too

Sensible Revelry

Once you're at a holiday meal or party, overeating is pretty easy to do, especially since the rest of the guests are often overindulging. However, Magee and Barrett tell WebMD that you shouldn't let yourself lose control.

  • Beware what Barrett calls "unconscious eating," the tendency we all have to absent-mindedly take a cookie or a piece of candy from a dish as we pass by. A little here and there can add up quickly.
  • Say "no" to seconds, and pay attention to the details. "Remember, you can control how much gravy someone's putting on your plate, or whether you're getting turkey skin or not," says Magee.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. In addition to raising your blood sugar, Barrett says that alcohol can interact with diabetes medications.
  • Test yourself. "If ever there is a time to be religious about taking your blood sugars," says Magee, "it's during the holidays." Because you may be eating more and eating foods that you don't normally have, it's especially important to keep track of your levels.
  • For a lot of people during the holidays, lounging in front of a football game on TV is about as close as they get to physical fitness. That's not good for anyone, and it's especially bad for diabetics. Magee suggests making exercise social during the holidays. "Grab a favorite sibling or a friend and go out for a walk," she says. "It's a great way to catch up."
  • Mistakes happen, and you may wind up eating in a way that you shouldn't. But don't let one instance of overeating cause you to give up and indulge in a lost weekend of excess. If you've fallen off the wagon, Barrett says, you've just got to pick yourself up quickly and get back to your plan.

Sticking to the Plan

Staying in control may be difficult and exhausting during the holidays, especially when no one else is. Holidays are trying times for many, and the extra hassle of having to always be so careful about what you eat may get you down, or make you feel cut off from others. However, using some of the tips above will help you enjoy the holidays along with everyone else.

In addition, it's worth remembering that the consequences of going off your meal plan are often not only long-term, but immediate. "When diabetics are off their program," says Magee, "whether their blood sugar is up or down, they know it. They feel sick."

So even though planning ahead may sometimes be a chore, having a healthy holiday is the best way to assure a festive one.

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