The holidays can be difficult for anyone with a chronic illness. A holiday like Christmas, associated with large meals and sweet treats, can be especially hard for diabetics. A few considerations can make your Christmas celebration diabetic-friendly and enjoyable for everyone.
Meals and Snacks
Holidays tend to be a time when everyone eats with abandon, but there is no reason our meals and snacks can't be more healthy for all of us. Include lower fat and reduced-sugar options in your meal plans. Avoid heavy starch dishes, like all-bread stuffing. Have fewer desserts on the menu. Add more vegetables and fruits to meals. Plan healthy snacks, like raw vegetables and dip, roasted nuts or air-popped popcorn. Whole fruits also make excellent snacks. Keep alcoholic beverages at a minimum and never offer alcohol without food. Offer food and snacks on a regular schedule to keep blood sugar stable.
Sugar-free sweets, like sugar-free chocolates and candies, are usually sweetened with sugar alcohols. While these can be a nice treat, excessive consumption can cause painful gas and have a laxative effect. Avoid eating too many of these treats.
Avoid over-scheduling. Allow time for rest and regular exercise, which important for everyone, and especially diabetics, during the holiday season.
The best gift is carefully chosen for the individual who will receive it. There are a few special considerations you should make when choosing a gift for a diabetic. Food gifts should be reduced sugar or sugar-free; nuts, seeds, meats and cheeses are good choices. Diabetic feet require special care: choose white, non-binding socks, and do not give a pedicure gift certificate.
Diabetic skin is sensitive; choose skin products that are gentle and moisturizing, and clothing that is comfortable and non-binding. Avoid heated products, such as heating pads and electric blankets; diabetics with poor circulation can be burned by these products. Some diabetics may enjoy gifts specifically relating to their condition, such as a subscription to a diabetic lifestyle magazine or diabetic cookbook, while others may prefer gifts that focus on other aspects of their lives, such as their favorite interests and hobbies.
For the Diabetic
Monitor your blood sugar closely and do not skip doses of your medication. Eat regularly and avoid allowing your blood sugar to become too low. Control your portion sizes, especially where starches and sweets are concerned. Include some protein with every meal or snack to help keep your blood sugar stable.
Do not drink excessive alcohol, and do not drink at all on an empty stomach. If you will be attending a party, snack before you go in case your food choices at the party are limited. Keep healthy food and glucose supplements with you at all times. Get plenty of rest and exercise. If you are traveling, take regular breaks to stretch and move around.
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