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Safe holiday season practices for diabetics

Cookies and milk are staples of the holiday season. However, for a diabetic, they may be something that needs to be eaten in moderation.

This time of year visions of sugarplums may be dancing in one's head, as are cakes, cookies and pies. The average person may gain a few pounds around the holidays from eating too many rich and sugary foods. But someone with diabetes could be risking their health by overdoing it.

During the holidays people are exposed to more food, more sweets, more alcohol, and more stress. People with diabetes, who have to watch portion sizes and what they are consuming, may find that the holidays are even more stressful thanks to diet restrictions.

Many diabetics have reported that the holidays can be especially challenging because of the abundance of temptation, be it food or alcohol, coupled with the stress of shopping and socializing.

Diabetics don't have to take chances with their health come the holidays, nor do they have to miss out on the enjoyment of the season. Here are some suggestions for enjoying a safe and sound holiday season.

•Keep track of carbohydrates. Sugar plays a role in diabetes, but carbohydrates can really affect blood-sugar levels when digested. Limit carbohydrates as much as possible. And remember, just because something is sugar-free doesn't mean it is carb-free.

•Plan ahead. Ask the host or hostess what will be served so that decisions can be made about what will be eaten. If there aren't many healthy options, consider bringing something from home.

•Let someone know you're diabetic. The symptoms of being intoxicated and low-blood sugar can be similar, so diabetics should make holiday hosts aware of their condition.

•Take a walk. After a meal, individuals should take a walk about an hour later. That's when blood sugar tends to be the highest and exercise can help to lower blood-sugar levels.

•Watch alcohol consumption. It's not just food that can affect a person's blood-sugar levels, alcoholic beverages can affect it, too. Diabetics should monitor their sugar levels before and after eating and drinking to ensure they are on track.

•Eat before you arrive. Arriving at a party famished can cause a person to overdo it -- something that can be detrimental to diabetics. Eat a little snack before heading to the party to staunch hunger pangs.

•Move away from the food. After having the meal, steer clear of the food table and simply talk with friends and family. Make socializing less about eating and more about catching up.

•Don't deprive yourself. Enjoy the foods that are eaten in moderation. If eating is overdone a bit, get back on track the next day.




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