It is easy for people with diabetes to overindulge during the holiday season. The wrong foods and super-sized portions might have caused you to gain weight or go off your usual diet. It’s time to pull in the reigns and get it right for the coming year with a few basic nutrition tips.
- Hunger and deprivation are never the answers. Cheer up because there are plenty of healthy and tasty foods you can eat. Exercise can be fun rather than a dreaded routine. A new approach is the best way to achieve your goals and effectively self-manage diabetes. Small lifestyle changes can bring about big results over time. Eat a balanced diet that is high in nutrients, carbs that are counted, low in fat and moderate in calories. Exercise by moving everyday to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
- Losing just 5-10 percent of your current body weight can help you lower blood sugar and feel better. Even losing 3 percent of your body weight makes a difference. For someone who weighs 200 pounds, shedding 20 pounds is a major accomplishment. Losing just 6 pounds is an excellent jump start toward improved well-being.
- Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not the enemy if you choose the right ones. Avoid highly refined carbohydrates such as white pasta, rice, potatoes and bread as well as the empty calories in soda and candy. Try yummy high fiber options such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole grain bread and sweet potatoes.
- Review the glycemic index to help you choose the best foods. High GI foods include the refined white carbohydrates mentioned above as well as packaged snacks and cakes. You can eat as much of “free” foods as you want such as non-starchy vegetables. Don’t include fruits that are canned, dried, packed in syrup or made into juice. You can also nibble on high protein foods or foods with fiber such as lean meats, nuts, whole grains, beans and seafood.
- Change the way you think about dessert. Instead of feasting on sweet cakes and candy, try delicious alternatives. Yogurt, nuts and peanut butter are great ways to top off of a healthy meal so you don’t feel left out of dessert. If you want to indulge occasionally, have one cookie or a single bite instead of four.
- Treat yourself to healthy alternatives to avoid cravings. If you miss soda, sip sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime. Skip milk chocolate and have a small square of dark chocolate instead. Curb your cravings for ice cream by eating frozen bananas or Greek yogurt. Have a serving of fruit for dessert instead of high calorie puddings. Drink alcohol in moderation, which means one drink daily for women and two for men. Only drink with food and monitor your blood glucose when you have alcohol.
- Strictly limit trans- fats and saturated fats such as hydrogenated oils, whole milk dairy products, red meat and eggs. Opt for healthy fats such as canola oil, olive oil, flax seeds, avocado, olives, tuna and salmon. Use salt sparingly or not at all. Use spices to flavor foods.
- Maintain a food diary to keep track of what you eat and when you eat it. Make necessary changes and eat at regular times to help regulate blood sugar levels. Eat up to 6 small meals per day rather than 2 oversize portions.
- Use portion control plates to eat the right amounts of food. Divide a 9-inch plate in half and fill half of it with non-starch vegetables such as a green salad or broccoli. Fill a quarter of the plate with whole grains or starches such as brown rice or sweet potatoes. On the remaining quarter, have a lean protein selection such as fish or chicken. A portion of three ounces of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards or half your palm. One ounce of cheese would be like four dice. A cup of vegetables is about the size of a light bulb.
- Include exercise in your daily routine. You don’t have to join the gym or participate in grueling routines. Keep it simple and fun. Take a half hour walk, play ball with your dog or kids or pop in your favorite dance DVD.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of deprivation or disappointment. There are a variety of delicious dips and hors d’oeurves to feast on without compromising your health. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, these half dozen treats can keep you happily satisfied at parties and gatherings.