Diabetes Diet

Holiday Eating that Respects Diabetes

The huge amounts of food on our tables during these holidays and the stress that often goes with these big family meals don’t have to destroy our diabetes management. Even when we eat too much, we have a way to make up for it and at the same time relieve the stress of these gatherings.

Not overeating in the first place would, of course, be better. But just like nobody has a perfect body, none of us has perfect discipline. And we have no better time than the holidays for making exceptions.

Don’t ever tell me that you cheat on your diet. If you ever cheat, it’s when you take something from someone else or from all of us that you don’t have a right to have. On the other hand, when we make an exception to what we know is good management of our diabetes, we do it for our immediate gratification at the expense of our long-term benefit. W all do this sometimes: we would have to be a saint or enlightened to manage our impulses perfectly all the time.

Any overeating exceptions that we make, particularly when we eat more carbohydrate-rich foods than usual, will raise our blood sugar levels. At that point we might react by kicking ourselves. That might help a bit, because each kick will stir up our metabolism. But a less painful way would be to use one of the sure-fire ways that we know will immediately bring our blood sugar levels back down.

People with diabetes can use one and only one diabetes medication to immediately counteract the effects of too much food: insulin. If you use insulin, you know that you can “cover” the excess food you eat with a shot of fast-acting insulin. I’m no fan of using insulin in that way, because more insulin makes us more hungry and can lead to a vicious cycle of overeating. So it’s harder on our bodies than not going high in the first place, but in an emergency it does work.

Much better is just a few minutes of brisk walking around the block. At a holiday meal this is an exceptionally good idea because the walk will give us a break from the noise and stress of a large gathering. Just be sure to have a small flashlight at hand, because the neighborhood might be dark.

The best time to go for a walk is right after dinner, so our blood sugar won’t have the opportunity to stay high for a long time. Actually, when the other people at the table are stuffing themselves with desserts, you could take a quiet, stress-busting walk.

Our chances of getting a dessert that won’t make our blood sugar go sky-high are slim. Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or any sort of cake are sure to wreak havoc with our numbers. The only dessert that I would ask for is either a cheese platter or a bowl of fruit, especially blueberries and cream. Of course we can bring one of these deserts to the occasion and then right afterwards go for our walk.

Respecting your diabetes in this way can actually be an inspiration for others at the table. In a large family you are quite likely not to be the only one who has diabetes. Our genes have a lot to do with our getting diabetes in the first place and you share some of these genes with other members of your family. In addition, some of your relatives at the holiday table are almost sure to have pre-diabetes. You can be a role model.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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