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Diabetes Doesn't Have to Put a Damper on the Holidays

WebMD Health News

Dec. 20, 1999 (Atlanta) -- A holiday that highlights visions of dancing sugarplums is not exactly ideal for a diabetic. But when everybody else is feasting on the season's excess, it's hard not to climb on board. Whether a diabetic is worried about waistline, sugar intake, or both, making some resolutionsbefore New Year's may be all it takes to keep the holidays healthy and fun.

Diabetes is a disorder that affects about 16 million people in the United States. There are two types, type 1 and type 2. The first is what's generally known as insulin-dependent, meaning the patient must self-regulate the amount of insulin in the body, generally by injecting it. Insulin is a hormone that the body uses to break down sugar, or glucose. Type 2 diabetics produce insulin, but not enough to properly convert food into energy. Both types of diabetes can be dangerous.

A key to enjoying the holidays, according to many experts, is not a matter so much of what is eaten, but how much; in other words, moderation, not denial. If there is a certain food a diabetic craves, go ahead -- indulge, live a little. But that person should stay aware of his or her glucose level and regulate it as necessary.

And remember, food is not always the 'be-all and end-all' of the holidays. Johns Hopkins Diabetes Center nutritionist Gloria Elfert, MS, RD/LD, tells WebMD, "The whole thing is to enjoy the holiday, but don't go to great excess. No one expects perfection. And people can look for other ways of enjoying [the holidays], and not always with food."

Elfert says holiday or not, a diabetic should stick to their schedule. "[They] can't expect perfection during the holidays, they're going to be off a little bit, but if they test their blood sugars, they're going to be a little more aware. If they're going to take something they know is high in sugar, just take small amounts, so they don't overdue it. Keep to a routine as far as timing of ... meals and ... medication are concerned; the routine is important," she tells WebMD.

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