Merry Christmas from Your Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Staff
Christmas comes only once a year, and it's a joyful time as we celebrate the true meaning of this special holiday. For people with diabetes it can be like one long and crazy ride on a rickety sleigh ride. There's feast after feast, platters of sweet treats everywhere you look, and annual indulgences like eggnog, pumpkin pie, and other rich foods. According to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American gains about .8 lb. between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
DLife (www.diabeteslife.com) has put together five of the most frequently asked questions, so hang on and maybe the answers can help you as you cope with the temptations.
Use artificial sweeteners such as Splenda or any other non-nutritive sugar substitute to reduce your carb intake. Certain non-nutritive sweeteners lose their sweetness when heated, so check the food label to make sure it can be used in baking. Substitute only 1/2 cup of sugar with artificial sweeteners in baked products.
• Choose what you put on your plate. Don’t let anyone “plate” your meal for you.
• Never let yourself get too hungry.
• Fill up on vegetables of all different colors.
• Practice portion control. Chances are some of the offerings are not foods that you eat on a daily basis. Make sure you eat small portions of high carb foods.
• Bring your own low carb dessert to share with holiday guests. Start your own tradition for everyone to enjoy.
• Drink water. Add a slice of lemon, lime, or cucumber to dress up your water goblet.
• Eat mindfully, not mindlessly. If you realize you are “satisfied” after your main meal, perhaps you can skip dessert.
• Decide what you really want. Do you need to have a full serving of everything offered?
• Try not to eat when you’re talking. Wait until the conversation is finished.
• Remember to exercise! Consider participating in a holiday race with friends or family.
Although it's never a good idea to "drink your calories," beverages are perhaps the easiest of holiday fare to adapt for a diabetes lifestyle. With the enormous selection of diet and sugar-free soft drinks, the sky's the limit in terms of flavors and combinations for low carb and calorie-controlled drinks. As for eggnog, you can use a full-fat cream and a sugar substitute to reduce the carbs, just keep those portions small.
• Use it as an opportunity to start an enlightened discussion on diabetes management. Of course, you don't need to explain your choices, but educating others is often a great way to avoid the same problem in the future.
• Decide what you can control, and what you can't. While you might not be able to control what other people say, you can control how you react.
• Change the topic. Focus on the social gathering of family and friends, and bring up the true meaning of the holiday.
• Continue to check your blood sugar and take your medication as needed. If your blood sugar goes out of your target range (and you're not feeling your best), you might not be able to filter your comments.
• Keep your diabetes supplies close by. Bring your glucose meter with you to all of your celebrations, so that you can check your blood sugar regularly (especially if you're eating a little differently than usual). Perhaps you need
to use an insulated bag for your supplies, especially if you're planning to stay out for a while.
• Even though high carb foods might be available, make sure you keep fast acting carbs (such as glucose tablets) with you in case of low blood sugars.
• Try to eat as close to your usual schedule as possible.
• Before the holiday begins, discuss how to adjust your insulin or other medications if necessary with your doctor or certified diabetes educator.
This year, try something new by starting a "non-food" tradition like playing football on the front lawn, singing Christmas carols, or telling holiday stories from the past. Food doesn't have to the main focus of every moment of the
holiday season. Try to keep food in perspective and remember to stay active and test your blood sugar!
Have a blessed Christmas and a great start to a new year!
"Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white'." -- Bing Crosby
Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.
Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Agent
1200-B W. Houston
P.O. Box 518
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 - phone
903-439-4909 - fax