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October 1, 2013 > Holidays are Filled with Tempting Treats that Can Spike Blood Sugar

Holidays are Filled with Tempting Treats that Can Spike Blood Sugar

Washington Hospital Seminar Offers Tips for Seasonal Success

The holidays can be a difficult time for people with diabetes. The next three months will be filled with food minefields. Soon it will seem like candy, baked goods, and other high-carb foods are everywhere for the taking. But just like the rest of the year, people with diabetes have to be diligent about keeping their blood sugar levels under control despite the temptations.
ÒFor so many people, the holidays are all about eating,Ó said Anna Mazzei, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital. ÒFood is everywhere, and that can be a problem for people with diabetes. But if you have diabetes, there are some steps you can take that will increase your chances of surviving the holidays without putting your health at risk.Ó
Mazzei will offer tips for keeping your diabetes under control when she presents ÒSeasonal Success for Diabetes Meal PlanningÓ on Thursday, October 3, from 7 to 8 p.m. The seminar is part of Washington HospitalÕs free monthly Diabetes Matters education series and will be held at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West), in Fremont.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or is not able to use it properly. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugars and starchy foods into energy. When this process doesnÕt work properly, glucose (sugar) in the blood can get too high and lead to complications.
What You Eat Matters
ÒEveryone with diabetes knows that what you eat impacts blood sugar levels,Ó she said. ÒThatÕs why proper meal planning and portion control are so important.Ó
Mazzei said itÕs important to plan the meals and snacks you eat all year long. But with so many temptations during the holidays, it becomes much more critical.
ÒDonÕt use the holidays as an excuse to overeat,Ó she added. ÒSet up your home and work environments so they support your efforts. DonÕt keep tempting treats around, and have healthy snacks on hand so you have an alternative to the high-carb, high calorie foods that are available during the holidays.Ó
One way to avoid overeating at parties and other holiday gatherings is to eat something before you head out. If you arrive hungry, you are more likely to overeat, she said.
ÒDonÕt hang out around the buffet table,Ó Mazzei added. ÒItÕs also a very bad idea to skip meals so can overdo it later. That will wreak havoc on blood sugar.Ó
She recommended checking blood sugar levels more often during the holidays, particularly if you are eating foods you donÕt normally eat. That way you can monitor how the extra eating is affecting your diabetes and determine what you can and canÕt get away with.
If you do plan to indulge, step up your physical activity to help keep blood sugar under control, she added. Find ways to incorporate physical activity into your holiday plans.
Focus on What is Important
Another important theme of MazzeiÕs talk is the need to focus on what is important during the holidays, whether itÕs a particular food that is a special treat or managing expectations to keep stress levels down.
ÒThe holidays can be a stressful time, which often leads to overindulging in food and alcohol.Ó she said. ÒEvaluate what you want to accomplish during the holidays and be reasonable about what is really possible. Manage expectations. You canÕt do it all.Ó
When making food choices during the holidays, only eat the special treats that are important to you. DonÕt eat food you could get any other time of the year.
ÒDonÕt eat it just because itÕs there,Ó Mazzei added. ÒSpend your carbs wisely. Stick to the special holiday foods you really enjoy.Ó
She will also talk about recipe modifications that can help you avoid overindulging. For example, you can reduce the amount of sugar in some recipes by using dried fruit or other sweeteners. Substituting low-fat dairy products can help cut calories and fat from many recipes.
ÒThe holidays should not undo all your good efforts during the rest of the year,Ó she said. ÒYou can enjoy the holidays and still not overdo it. Eat a few treats you enjoy, but be selective. Stay focused on spending quality time with family and friends. Take a hike together or go ice-skating rather than just sitting around eating all the time.Ó
To learn more about Diabetes Matters and other diabetes programs at Washington Hospital, visit
Seasonal Success for Diabetes Meal Planning ? TCV October 1, 2013 ? Caitlin Kerk ? 408.972.5781 ? Page 1

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