Holiday Tips for Those Living with Diabetes
What is Diabetes?
Really generally Diabetes refers to a disease state where the body has a disconnect in converting food to fuel. Type 1 Diabetes is when the body cannot produce insulin, which leads to the body being unable to bring food into cells in order to be broken down into energy. Type 2 Diabetes is when the cells struggle to open to allow food in, so that food can be broken down into energy.
November 14th is World Diabetes Day.
This day commemorates the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, one of the discoverers of insulin (along with Charles Best). The World Diabetes Day campaign seeks to keep Diabetes in the global eye and bring attention and resources to confronting this global health concern. In honor of World Diabetes Day and thinking ahead to the upcoming holidays, here are five tips* for those living with diabetes to enjoy the holidays.
Don’t skip meals – Skipping meals can lead to being physically more hungry than you anticipated and eating more than perhaps you wanted or intended to. Eating regular meals not only allows you to be more in connection with your hunger and fullness cues but also supports a more regular blood glucose (also known as blood sugar) level.
Balance what you’re eating – Often times there’s a fear around eating carbohydrates when living with Diabetes. You can eat carbohydrates with Diabetes, I promise. Something to consider is that if you pair carbohydrate-rich foods with protein, fat, or a produce item, it can slow the rate at which the carbohydrate breaks down into glucose. This in turn can blunt the insulin response to that food.
Eat foods you enjoy – Sugar-free desserts or desserts made with sugar substitutes can be a great alternative for those living with Diabetes. At the same time if you REALLY want a piece of regular pie, have it! Start off with a smaller piece and see how you feel, or see my above recommendation about pairing it with something that will slow down the rate of digestion.
Be present – Distractions can disconnect you from hunger and fullness cues, but also from enjoyment cues. If you’re distracted while eating a piece of cake you may be halfway through it before you realize you’re satisfied or, that maybe you don’t even really like the cake and would prefer something else.
You don’t have to “earn” your food – Using exercise to “earn” your food or to “make up” for what you had to eat creates a transactional relationship that has the potential to lead to disordered eating. As a human, you have the right to eat foods you enjoy and eat them in the amount that feels good. Think about it this way, if you were told you can get a day off IF you work an extra six hours…are you really getting a day off? Would you enjoy it the same way as if you took the day off simply because you needed or wanted it? Give yourself the flexibility to enjoy holiday foods and then engage in movement that feels good to you….separate from each other.
*Individual situations may vary, please consult with your medical team as to if adjustments may need to be made for you specifically. This is general nutrition advice and not Medical Nutrition Therapy.