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5 tips for managing diabetes during the holidays


5 tips for managing diabetes during the holidays

Keeping your blood sugar under control throughout the year can be challenging if you have diabetes, but it can be even more difficult during the holiday season when sweet treats and carb-heavy meals are within easy reach.
The temptation to indulge during holiday dinners and cocktail parties could wreak havoc on your blood sugar, but with a little planning and mindful strategies, you can partake in the fun without compromising your diabetes management plan.
“It’s hard because carbs are quite prevalent in the winter months,” says internal medicine physician Dr. Michael Remines, who offers care at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Pawleys Island. “Too many carbs can affect blood sugars. The key is to stick to a routine and make healthy choices.”
To help manage your diabetes during the holiday season, try these helpful tips:

1. Stick to your routine

Eat as close to your normal mealtimes as possible to help keep blood sugar levels steady. You might not have control over what’s served and when it’s served, but you can have a healthy snack such as nuts or a piece of fruit on hand to bridge the gaps. Then, when the meal is served, choose wisely.
“Avoid skipping meals or grazing, which can cause you to overeat or load up on unhealthy carbs,” Dr. Remines says.

Make wise choices

Eat from a smaller plate or use a divided plate to help control portions. Choose non-starchy vegetables such as green beans, carrots or cabbage for half of the plate. Fill one-quarter of the plate with a lean protein such as chicken or turkey and the other quarter with a healthy carb such as fruit, pumpkin or sweet potato.

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Eat slower, starting with the protein and vegetables, which can help you feel full faster. That way, you’ll be less inclined to go for additional helpings or eat the carbs that aren’t as good for you.
Avoid alcohol or limit your intake. If you do choose to imbibe, do so with food and choose alcoholic drinks with fewer carbohydrates. A better option is drinking water, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and limit overeating. To make water more palatable, try drinking soda water with lemon or lime.

3. Don’t deprive yourself - but make concessions

You don’t have to miss out on your favorite desserts such as pumpkin pie or grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, which you might only get this time of year. Just opt for a smaller portion and account for it in your meal plan going forward. If you have a sweet treat, you may need to avoid eating other carbs such as potatoes or bread.
“You do have to live a little,” Dr. Remines says. “If you can count carbs, then just eat less or avoid another carb if you choose to eat a sweet treat.”

4. Stay active

Exercise is important to help manage blood sugar and reduce stress. After a hearty meal, instead of curling up on the sofa to watch a football game, go for a walk around the block or otherwise get your blood moving.

5. Get enough sleep

The hustle of the holiday season and late-night festivities can impact sleep quality. Sleep deprivation can lend itself to mindless eating and poor food choices. Aim for eight hours of sleep to make it easier to manage blood sugar.
Ultimately, managing diabetes during the holiday season is about planning and making the right decisions, Dr. Remines says.
“A lot of it is common sense,” Dr. Remines says. “We all know what to do, and that’s the hardest part. If you stick to a routine and make mindful choices, you can enjoy the holidays without compromising your health.”

Tidelands Health internal medicine physician Dr. Michael Remines, who is accepting new patients, offers care at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Pawleys Island.

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