Release Date: 12/7/2011
Diabetes needn't make you dread the holidays
Dr. Donna Wagstaff, a family practitioner with a special interest in women's health, is a member of St. Anthony's Physician Organization.
First there’s the Halloween candy, then the Thanksgiving feast; then there’s the entire month of December, simply labeled “the holidays,” when every celebration seems to center around food. Rich food. Sugary food. Chocolate food. Cookies and candies and cupcakes – Oh My!
The annual holiday eat-a-thon is tough enough to get through without packing on a few extra pounds. But, if you have diabetes, it’s a real challenge and a more serious risk.
Diabetes hinders the way the body uses food for energy – either the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin or the body can’t use it effectively. Since a meal plan for diabetes is carefully structured, careless snacking or missed meals can be potentially dangerous.
So, here’s the plan – don’t skip meals and only indulge in careful snacking. Sound boring? Limiting? It doesn’t have to be. To satisfy your holiday cravings, try using traditional recipes that have been modified to be low in sugar and fat. The American Diabetes Association offers a variety of such recipes and meal plans on their Web site, www.diabetes.org.
Here are some more tips to help those with diabetes maintain good control of blood sugar levels during the holidays and all year long:
- Plan ahead. Try sugar-free recipes throughout the year. Incorporate a few low-fat, low-calorie items into each holiday meal you prepare. If you are a guest, offer to bring a dish that works with your meal plan – others will enjoy the healthy option.
- Don’t come hungry. Don’t skip meals – this is especially harmful if you take medication or insulin to control your diabetes.
- Look over the buffet table before filling your plate. Decide on one or two “must haves,” or just serve yourself a “taste” of the different foods; fill the rest of your plate with low-calorie vegetables. Be mindful of the portion sizes – small servings of most foods usually can be worked into a diabetic meal plan.
- Be careful of party snacks and hor d’oeuvres. Small amounts of nuts, dips and cheese can quickly furnish high-fat calories. Use fresh vegetables as appetizers.
- Choose non-alcoholic, sugar-free beverages.
- Focus on the event and the people instead of the food.
- Don’t let the holidays take priority over exercise, which is a key to maintaining blood sugar control. Round up friends and relatives for a brisk post-meal walk.
- Take your medications on time.
St. Anthony’s Medical Center’s Outpatient Diabetes and Nutrition Services Department can serve as your support system and your informational resource, helping in all areas of nutrition and diabetes self-care. Individual and one-on-one appointments and group classes are available. Call 314-525-4508 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Don’t let the fact that you have diabetes take the “party” out of your holiday season. With just a dash of pre-planning and a dollop of common sense, you can enjoy festive eating with good nutrition throughout the holidays.
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
Working as trusted partners, the physicians and employees of St. Anthony's Health System will deliver care distinguished by its demonstrated quality and personalized service. We will be visibly engaged in improving the health and well being of the communities we serve in South County and beyond. We will stand together, proud to set the standard for independent community health systems.