Holiday Help for People with Diabetes

With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's coming up in the next few months, it’s important to think ahead about how you’ll handle holiday meals. And it’s especially important for people with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range by eating a wide variety of nutritious and delicious foods — including lean protein from various sources, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and good fats (from foods like olive oil, nuts, and seeds, which are staples of the South Beach Diet lifestyle. In addition, the following healthy tips will help you stay on track this season:

  1. Prepare a dish for the party. Adhering to the healthy eating principles of the South Beach Diet whenever possible is the best way to avoid blood sugar spikes. If you think a holiday gathering you’re attending won’t include South Beach Diet–friendly fare, ask if you can bring your own festive, seasonal dish for everyone to enjoy. Our The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook has plenty of great ideas.


  2. Drink in moderation. To slow the absorption of alcohol, make sure to drink with a meal, and be sure not to exceed the American Diabetes Association’s recommendations for alcohol intake, which are the same as our South Beach Diet guidelines: One drink a day for women and two a day for men once you’re on Phase 2. Your best bet is to stick with a glass or two of red or white wine or the occasional light beer and avoid sugary cocktails. And be sure to use sugar-free mixers, like club soda, seltzer, or diet soda.


  3. Take care with medications and alcohol. Alcohol and diabetes can be a dangerous mix if you aren’t careful. Drinking on an empty stomach directly after administering insulin or shortly after taking glucose-lowering medications can lead to hypoglycemia (low-blood sugar), a condition that can cause confusion, dizziness, or even loss of consciousness. (These can also be symptoms of drinking too much.)


  4. Stress less. For some, the frenzy of the holidays causes major stress. And stress, while harmful for healthy people, is particularly detrimental for those with diabetes. Hormones released in response to stress may inhibit the body’s ability to produce insulin, which, in turn, causes blood sugar levels to soar. Manage your anxiety by carving out time for a relaxing activity — something as simple as flipping through a magazine, listening to music, or taking a walk may be enough — and be sure to prioritize your “to do” list so you don't take on too much at once.


  5. Get regular exercise. The time constraints of the holidays can make squeezing in a workout a challenge. Still, getting consistent exercise — a minimum of 20 minutes of cardio (ideally an interval workout) or core-strengthening exercises most days of the week — is especially important if you have diabetes. If you're really pressed for time, make several short bouts of activity during the day your goal.


  6. Monitor your condition. Making healthy eating decisions is important for weight loss and maintenance, but if you have diabetes, it’s essential to monitor your blood sugar to stay healthy. This is especially important before and after a big holiday meal.

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Jennifer K.

Jennifer K. Lost 110 lbs with The South Beach Diet!

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