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Practical Tips for Diabetics on Managing Your Diet This Christmas

Christmas and festival celebrations offer many opportunities to splurge and overeat pack on those extra pounds and have out of control blood glucose levels. It can also be a stressful and busy time creating motivation to break your diet. We asked Maunelva Taylor-Benjamin, Nutrition Officer in the Ministry of Health and a member of the Montserrat Diabetes Association so share some strategies to stay on track this Christmas.

The nutritionist noted that during this season people tend to eat at different times as they may be attending more functions or visiting with people who may not know your specific dietary needs. The added temptation of cakes, puddings, and more sweets than we usually see all year can be an added challenge to eat the right foods.

You can eat foods you love but consume smaller portions.

While it is important to enjoy the season, those living with diabetes know that managing this disease can be a challenge at the best of times, so it becomes even more critical that you eat well and manage your diabetes through the holidays.

Taylor-Benjamin suggests the following:

  • If you limit the number of calories you consume each day, you can add your favourite holiday foods. Practice portion control and remember small portions are less likely to upset blood sugar levels.
  • Eat a healthy snack before going out to avoid overindulging. Examples include a fresh fruit, a bowl of whole grain cereal or a handful of nuts.
  • Plan for including your holiday favourites (sorrel, fruit cake) and skip those foods you can do without. Eat smaller servings of these special treats that you must have.
  • Limit alcohol which adds calories but no nutritional value to your meal plan. Alternate between alcoholic and non- alcoholic beverages and water. Bear in mind – do not drink on an empty stomach and do not drink alcohol with soda, ginger ale or juice.
  • Put sauces, dressing and gravies on the side. They add flavour but also add calories and fat. For stuffing, use nuts and fruits instead of giblets and other meats.
  • Try taking small bites and eat slowly. Try to enjoy your food and the people around you.
  • A healthy holiday meal should have two thirds or more of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and beans, one third meats and other animal source foods, and one third carbohydrates or starches preferable those high in fibre.

“Remember diabetes control needs a complete package of diet, exercise and medication. Stick to your meal plan and talk to your health care providers to form a strategy for facing holiday meals and temptations.”