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5 Things to Consider During the Festive Season if You Have Diabetes

Living with diabetes can be a daily struggle. Making wise decisions about what to eat, and what not to eat can be tiring. Kajsa Ernestam, in-house dietitian at global health app, Lifesum comments, “A lot of the things that we consume have an effect on both our health and our blood sugar level, so it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet, especially if you are living with a health condition, such as type one or type 2 diabetes. In addition to eating healthily, regular physical activity is vital. But it can be difficult to stay on track all year round, especially during the holidays when indulgent food and drink is aplenty.

Scroll down for five tips that will help you manage your diabetes over the holiday season and keep your sugar levels under control!

Portion Control

It’s always tempting to overeat during the holiday season, especially when all of our favorite dishes are lined up in front of us. However, to reduce the chance of overeating, commit yourself to a food plan. Decide in advance how much you want to eat and stick to it. 

If you are attending an event with a buffet, for example, then opt to use a smaller plate so that your plate still feels full, but you are consuming less. Always limit yourself to one serving, too.

Don’t skip breakfast.

With all the food consumed during the festive season, breakfast may not be the first thing on your mind, but it is important that you fuel up with something healthy at the beginning of the day. 

Try to start your day with a serving of oatmeal or low-fat yogurt with some blueberries and almonds. It is important that you get your metabolism going to break the evening fast, and to prepare for the large meal that will no doubt ensue. By not skipping breakfast, you may not be as tempted to overeat when the meal finally comes around.

Balance your meal

Picking the right foods to eat when you have diabetes can help keep your blood sugar stable, and while no foods are off limit when you are diabetic, some are better than others. This season, try to ensure that you are opting for non-starchy vegetables along with lean proteins and healthy fat sources as often as possible.

Some of the best vegetables to choose from include brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, and cauliflower. Turkey is okay, but consider swapping the butter-basted turkey with skin on for a skinless turkey leg, and why not enjoy a vegetarian stuffing filled with cranberries, orange, and roasted chestnuts, instead of one made of sausage meat?

Foods served around the holidays can also be high in fats. Fat makes the stomach process food much slower than usual, in turn leading to a late rise in blood sugar. This is   a positive thing when fats are consumed in fair amounts, so make sure to combine nutrient-rich carbohydrates and lean protein on the plate, and not over-consume unhealthy saturated fats.

Finally, while it is not advised, if you decide to indulge in an alcoholic beverages or fizzy drinks, be aware of how it can affect your body and how to best manage this. Alcoholic beverages and fizzy drinks are nutritionally low and high in calories, and can make it harder for you to monitor your diabetes. If you decide to opt for a fizzy drink, then choose sugar-free or low sugar options and, in either case, make sure that you stay hydrated by continuing to drink a lot of water throughout the night.

Monitor your blood sugar levels.

Holiday meals often mean that you are eating for an extended period of time. By controlling your portion size, and by ensuring that the meal is well-balanced, your blood sugar can be better kept under control.

Also, if you self-test, then commit to testing your blood glucose levels more often to be aware of variations. Be prepared to make the necessary adjustments as you move through the holiday season. If you notice that your blood sugar is not where you want it to be, then take the time to reflect on what you ate, and learn what works, and does not work, for you.

Be active.

Make sure that you motivate yourself to move around throughout the day and still meet the 10,000 recommended daily steps. Physical activity increases insulin sensitivity and non-dependent insulin uptake of glucose in the cells. This means that less insulin is required and, by being active after a meal, you can help the body’s process of absorbing the energy (sugar) into the cells — an important part of the non-medical treatment of type 2 diabetes. Moving around also helps with digestion and will keep you energized, so why not encourage your family and friends to join you for a walk, to breathe in some brisk fresh air? Maybe use it as an excuse to get away from the relatives for a couple of minutes!

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours

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