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Holiday Eating and Type 2 Diabetes

Strategies for Healthy Holiday Eating


Updated November 22, 2007

Holiday Eating and Type 2 Diabetes

Photo courtesy of Stockbyte/Getty Images

The Challenge:

The holidays are here, and with their arrival comes a virtual onslaught of sugary-, high-calorie temptation. Thanksgiving Day can feel like the start of a horse race. The starter pistol fires, and off we go, racing through an obstacle course of side dishes, gravies, sauces, pies, cookies, and candy.

Rounding the bend into Christmas, it can feel like the very air is filled with sugar. Everywhere we turn, someone is holding a tray of fresh-baked treats, and asking us, "Want one? Take two, they're small."

How can you keep your blood glucose levels out of the stratosphere and stay on your eating plan?

Pick and Choose When You Indulge:

Think about all the holiday foods that may be coming your way via work, friends, family and parties. If you can prepare for days when temptations will running be high, you can consciously choose not to indulge on the days when nothing special is going on. Save your calories for the celebrations. Write down your "splurge days" on a calendar. If you have too many "splurge days," you might want to indulge at only one event a week, and make healthy choices the rest of the time.

Beware of Free-Roaming Calories:

The free mini-chocolate bars that some department stores hand out. The random box of candy canes that sits by the coffee pot at work. The free samples at the grocery store. These are calories that don't need to be eaten. Walk right by.

Dodge the Guilt:

Someone who spent all night making intricate gingerbread cut-outs from an heirloom family recipe is not going to take no for an answer when they offer you one. And refusal can seem like an insult. And you may feel bad about that, so you eat the cookie. What to do?

Compliment the cookies and the cookie baker, and remark about the attention to detail, the craftsmanship, the artistic vision, the dedication and love that must have gone into each and every cookie. Then, take one. And walk away. Wrap it in a napkin and give it to the first person you see.

Watch Out for That Extra Helping of Family Guilt:

Family guilt is a phenomenon all it's own. It is the guilt with the potential to haunt you long past the holidays, because your family knows where you live. You can try to say, "No, thank you," but that's usually not successful. You can also try to say, "Make mine a small piece," but that never works either.

Diversion is a good tactic to follow here. Offer to help pass the goody around. Serve everyone else, but forget to serve yourself. Go pour a cup of coffee. By the time you return, everybody else will be finished and the treat will be a fading culinary memory on everybody's lips but yours. Or, postpone the inevitable. Remark about how full you are right now, and might you have your helping later? In the fun and festivity of the family gathering, no one will ever notice that you never came back for that helping.

Be the Master of Your Mouth

When all is said and done, nothing can go into our mouths unless we put it there. We really do have control. We don't have to eat everything that's handed to us. Make a deal with yourself. Set rules to follow. Manage the flow of Christmas cookies by planning to have one cookie every night after dinner for dessert. Realize that the holiday season only consists of two or three actual days. Indulge only on those days, and continue with your good weight loss goals and strategies all of the days in between.

Focus on the Fun, Not the Food:

The holidays aren't just about food. They're about friends and family, too. Use the season to spend time catching up with loved ones, enjoying things like community events, caroling, sledding, and shopping. Bring the focus away from eating and celebrate the people in your life at this time of year.

Bring Your Own Goodies:

Going to a party? Invited to a holiday get-together? Offer to bring something for the table. Make a vegetable or fruit platter, or a low calorie treat. At least there will be one thing there that won't lead you astray.

Step up the Exercise:

It will help burn off those accidental encounters with goodies that sometimes happen to the best of dieters. Exercise will also get you moving, keep you focused on your goals, and give you a welcome break from being surrounded by treats. Exercise is also a great way to lower blood glucose levels. Exercise can be your secret weapon.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize:

Remind yourself daily why you want to be a healthy weight. Check your blood sugar more often to make sure you're staying in your target range. Enjoy the holidays without regret. With strategy, foresight and a plan of action, you'll come through the season in good health for the coming year.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Type 2 Diabetes
  4. Managing Your Diabetes
  5. Holiday Eating and Type 2 Diabetes - Diabetes Management Through the Holidays

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