Healthy Holiday Tips

Enjoy the season by eating smarter, not less

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

The holiday season is upon us and with that comes busy days filled with hectic schedules, shopping, and holiday parties featuring many traditional calorie-packed foods and delicious desserts. The holidays can be a challenging time for a person with diabetes trying to control blood glucose levels and avoid weight gain. But, you can survive the holidays this year while still remaining healthy by eating smart and following a few tips.

  • Experiment with your favorite holiday recipe by decreasing calories and using sugar substitutes. For example, if a recipe calls for cream cheese you can substitute light cream cheese while still obtaining a good- tasting product. There are also a couple sugar substitutes for baking, Equal™ Sugar Lite and Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking, that can be substituted cup for cup for sugar. These products are heat stable and are specifically designed to replace sugar in baking so you can dramatically decrease the carbohydrates and sugar in a recipe, while still having great flavor.
  • Don't go to a party starving. When planning on going to a party in the evening, some people attempt to starve themselves during the day, but this can lead to overindulging due to extreme hunger and high-blood sugar levels. Although eating lighter during the day may be helpful, have a healthy snack, such as fruit or nuts, a couple of hours before the party so you aren't starving.
  • Don't forget to exercise. Although the holiday season is very busy for most people, it is very important to continue with physical activity to help control blood sugar levels and burn those extra calories. A pedometer can be a useful tool to wear during this time. A pedometer is a small device that clips on to your pants and tracks how many steps you take per day. 10,000 steps per day has been found to assist with weight loss. Those long shopping days can help increase your steps, just remember to eat smart too.
  • Treat yourself to your favorite foods in moderation. If your grandmother's sweet potato pie is your favorite dessert of the year, treat yourself to a serving and remember to count your carbs for that portion size. But, size up a meal beforehand and figure out which foods you like the most and which foods you'd rather not waste calories and carbs on eating. For example, bread with butter is something you can eat anytime of year, so if you can skip that at the Thanksgiving meal you'll be eating smarter. Remember that green salad and veggies can be great fillers without adding too many carbs or calories. Just watch the butter, cheese, and regular salad dressings that can sometimes accompany those foods.
  • As always, enjoy some seasonal healthy foods. Sweet potatoes and cranberries are plentiful this time of year and they are packed with great nutrition. Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins A and C and they can be baked, mashed, grilled, or roasted. Roasting sweet potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness. Cranberries contain vitamin C, antioxidants, and only about 15 grams carbohydrate per one cup.

NEXT: A healthier take on a holiday classic

Last Modified Date: November 20, 2014

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by Brenda Bell
Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...
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