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Diabetes Diet - 12 Tips for a Healthy Holiday

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12 Tips for a Healthy Holiday

By Nina Nazor

Holiday gatherings revolve around family, friends and traditional holiday food. But you don't need to stay out of the game to stay healthy. Enjoy those delicious holiday meals, but learn to make smart choices to avoid unwanted pounds, high glucose readings, high blood pressure or a raise in your cholesterol levels.

Follow these 12 tips to make this one a healthy and happy holiday season.

  1. Plan ahead. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any other chronic disease, you should talk with your doctor about what to do if you don't feel well. For example, should you adjust your medications? Do more exercise? Avoid exercise? Remember that it is better to be safe than sorry, and it is better to visit the doctor at his or her office than visiting the emergency room of the nearest hospital.
  2. Know your numbers. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, check your numbers often, even more often than you normally do. Monitoring gives you an invaluable feedback that will influence the choices you make. For example, if you go out to eat knowing that you have high blood glucose, you would be more likely to choose your meal wisely. You will always be empowered by the information you get to make smart choices. The same goes for the scale. If you find out that you gained 3 pounds, you will be more careful with your diet and exercise.
  3. Keep up the exercise. Continue your regular exercise program over the holidays and, if possible, do more. Try working out early in the morning and stay as active as possible during the day. Exercise will help you control blood glucose levels, blood pressure, raise your good cholesterol, burn calories and reduce your stress levels. Also, plan non-eating events. Take your friends or family shopping, skating or dancing. You'll have fun in a healthy way.
  4. Keep it small. Eat small portions of food and use a small plate. Try to serve in your plate no more that what could fit in your hand, preferably vegetables and lean protein like meat, chicken, turkey or fish. Try to eat more fish and skinless poultry instead of red meat and remember to drink your 8 glasses of water a day. Also try to stay away from alcohol because it increases your appetite.
  5. Eat slowly. Savor each bite, enjoying the taste of the food. Remember that it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to detect that you are satisfying your hunger, so you will eat less if you do it slowly.
  6. Watch out for sodium. Avoid adding too much salt to your cooking. Use aromatic herbs, garlic and onion and stay away from the salt shaker at the table. Also, cut down on foods containing a lot of sodium such as canned soups, lunch meats and other processed foods.
  7. Provide for yourself. Offer to bring your favorite healthy low carb dishes to holiday parties. Your host might appreciate it, and you'll have a healthy option handy. If you are home, try to prepare and freeze several quick, healthy meals or have some healthy frozen meals available.
  8. Stay away from the buffet table. Sit as far as possible from the food and avoid seconds. Always fill half of your plate with fresh veggies and go for the leanest meats. If you can't help having dessert, try a small portion of your favorite dish or opt for fresh fruit.
  9. Avoid fast and unhealthy food. Nowadays, most fast food joints have healthy meals. If you are in a rush away from home, choose to go for the salad with grilled chicken and low calorie dressings instead of the fried foods, and always carry a low carb bar for an emergency meal replacement (if you have diabetes remember to carry some glucose source for a low sugar episode too).
  10. Don't go to a party on an empty stomach. Before attending any event, eat a snack or light meal. Foods high in protein, like chicken or cottage cheese, as well as a spoonful of nuts like pecans, peanuts or almonds, will help you satisfy your appetite and you will eat less later on. If you are the host, fill your table with flavorful vegetable dishes and prepare low-fat and low-carb versions of your favorite family holiday foods.
  11. Get rid of edible gifts. Most of us get chocolates, candy and other delicacies loaded with carbs and fat. The best advice I can give you is to share them. Bring them to parties or give them away to your friends.
  12. Take care of your kids. Don't let them eat whatever they want during this time. Cut down on sodas and candy and promote fun activities to keep them active.

Happy holidays!

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