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Tips for Diabetes Prevention this Holiday Season

Staying Healthy when Temptation is Everywhere!

Michelle Huntley RD, LD, CDE 

Making healthy choices can be difficult anytime of the year, but, particularly over the holidays.  Whether it’s a tray of goodies brought in by someone in the office, or simply being bombarded with the holiday “treats” while shopping at any grocery store – temptation is everywhere!

Carbohydrates and fat play the biggest role in blood sugar control.  But remember carbs and healthy fats are not our enemies!

  • Nearly half of our calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in rice, pasta, whole grains, beans, peas, corn, potatoes, fruit, and low-fat milks and yogurts.
  • Healthy fats (including nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil) can also be part of a well-rounded diet (just keep portions in mind).
  • Foods that are high in saturated fat, should be eaten in moderation.  Foods high in saturated fats include fatty meats, poultry with the skin on, and dairy fats such as butter, ice cream and cheese.

Here are some tips for how to better balance your holiday plates:

  1. Make ½ your plate non-starchy vegetables (e.g. string beans, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, summer squash).
  2. Include lean protein and some carbohydrate at your meals (for example a piece of fish and some fruit; or chicken breast and sweet potato)

Other secrets to avoiding temptation during the holidays are:

  1. Plan to bring your own snacks to work– that way there may be less temptation for the lunchroom treats.
  2. If you choose to have something sweet, occasionally, have it with your meal and consider that your carbohydrate (include lean protein and non-starchy vegetables).
  3. Avoid skipping meals.
  4. Choose foods higher in fiber to help control blood sugar levels, as they may not spike the blood sugars as much as those refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice or fruit juices.  Healthier choices include beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and oatmeal.

Avoiding pitfalls at the grocery store:

  1. Create a shopping list and stick to it.
  2. Shop after a meal or a snack, rather than with an empty stomach (which can increase the risk of adding “extras” to the cart).
  3. Start with the produce section of the store and shop the perimeter, only going down aisles for specific items.

Exercise is your friend:

Diet and exercise play a major role in improving blood sugar control, and making positive changes may mean you need less medication and stay healthier.

  1.  Exercise is one of the best cures for holiday stress.
  2. Start slowly and increase as tolerated and medically-allowed.
  3. Break activity into smaller workouts so that you don't feel like you have to make such a big commitment.  Even 5-10 minutes before or after a meal may help with blood sugar control.

And don't forget to ask for help.

You can meet with a Registered Dietitian (RD) for specific recommendations on calories, carbohydrate and other nutrition needs.
Resources:
American Diabetes Association
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Fun and Festive Holiday Recipe: Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato Skewers

Ingredients:

1 container of grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese sticks (sliced into small disks) or mini fresh mozzarella balls, fresh basil leaves, toothpicks.

Instructions:

Add 1 tomato, 1 piece of basil and 1 piece of cheese to a toothpick.
Place on a platter, serve and enjoy!

The health educators at the Learning Resource Center are happy to help. They provide trusted & reliable health information and connect people to local resources in the community. Connect with a health educator today! Be well, be well informed.

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