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Holiday Health: Diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. With that, we'd like to spotlight how this most joyous time of year can impact certain health conditions. Not to be a Debbie Downer or anything, but to tell you how to make the most of what you eat during this holiday season. There are a few things to think about during the holidays that will impact your blood sugars- whether or not you're eating out, the size of your meal, and what types of food are in your meal.

Eating out: If you're eating out, you can use the following information to guide your menu choices. Don't forget to think about the drinks! Opt for flavored waters, unsweetened tea (you can sweeten yourself), or diet sodas. If these options aren't paletable, just limit the number of sweet drinks you have Of course, avoid fried foods. Opt for baked, steamed or blackened. Grilled can be a little tricky. Sometimes it means pan grilled and others it will actually mean grilled on a grid over dry heat. Pan grilled is usually going to involve some type of fat such as butter or cooking oil- which we want to limit in a heart healthy diabetic diet.You can always ask at the dining establishment to see which type of grilled items they serve. When choosing pastas, tomato based sauces will have a lower fat content than a cream based one. If your meal comes with a salad, don't be shy about digging in with your salad. Eating more salad will make it so that you eat less of the main dish- doggy bag anyone? Speaking of salads, if that's the route you take, don't undo your good deed by overdoing it with added meats or dressing. Portion size is so important to blood sugar control. You can ask the kitchen to box up half of your meal before it comes out, ask for lunch portions, or split it in half when it gets to the table. For more tips on making healthy choices while eating out, click here.

Portion control: You may not know it, but the size of your meal definitely impacts your blood sugars. The larger your meal is, the higher your blood sugar rises.And on the flip side of that, how far it falls. One of the goals of diabetic blood sugar control is to avoid big sugar spikes and dips and to keep the blood sugar as steady as possible. How is this achieved? By eating smaller more frequent meals, also known as grazing. When you hear the words "portion control" do you have nightmares of scales and weighing out portions? That's not what we're talking about here. The first method is just to eat less. Cut your meal in half and save half for later, or split the meal with someone else- this can help your pockets too! The next is to try to estimate the sizes of your portions by using guides such as your hands or objects like baseballs and golf balls. A hand comparison portion size planner can be found here and object comparison is here. Another way to control your portions is to eat slower. If we chew our food more completely, it will take us longer to eat, which gives our brain time to receive the message that we are full- before we have over eaten and packed ourselves to the gills. What better excuse to get a little taste of your favorite thanksgiving dishes as they come out of the oven?! With that being said, you have do be mindful of what you're eating as well, which leads me to the next part of the discussion.

What's on your plate: I'll start here again with your drinks. As a diabetic, it is important to monitor the amount of sugar your meal contains and the general guideline is to keep that at about 45 grams of sugar (or carbs/carbohydrates) per meal. Twenty ounces of soda can contain 60 grams of sugar. Think about that. That's an entire meal's worth of carbs in one drink. So now whatever sugar you're consuming is extra. So please, whatever you do, be mindful of the sugar that you're drinking. Next thing to know is that there are certain "free foods" that we can have that have little effect on our blood sugar. Free foods are those foods with fewer than 20 calories and 5 grams of sugar per serving. Some of these foods include cucumber, spinach, broccoli, cooked green beans, cream cheese, strawberries, eggs, etc. For more information on "free foods", click here. Also remember that sugar also comes in the form of things such as bread, pasta and potatoes. Sweet potato being a better choice than a white potato, whole grain breads and pastas are better choices than white- the fiber helps keep blood sugar steady, Keep in mind if you're preparing holiday foods, to make healthy substitutions where you can: if you like to cook your greens with meat, opt for smoked meat versus cured, and poultry meat like turkey instead of pork. Substitute applesauce for oil when baking. Use healthy oils such as olive and coconut to prepare foods. So while you are grazing on the big day, remember to balance out your plate with some of those free foods along with sugary dishes. Of course you want to sit down with your family, so make one of your grazing passes during the big sit down.

How RNovations can help: RNovations Health is here to help. We provide community health seminars about managing conditions such as diabetes. There we assist people with learning the basics of their disease, medications, and treatments as well as how to make better choices one step at a time. We can help you with medication and nutrition review and counseling, that you can use to manage your health not only during the holidays, but every day thereafter. We also assist with health system navigation so that if you do need services, you are using the most effective mix of services. Give us a call at 804.386.4663 if you want to see how we can be of assistance to you or your group/community. You can also send us an email via the contact us page. We're here for you!

*The information contained above is for educational purposes only. Consult with your physician before making any changes to your treatment regimen. Links provided above do not constitute and endorsement of any organization, rather that the information on the linked page has been verified.

#holiday #holidaydiabetes #diabetes

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