In Which We Formulate a Plan
Resisting the siren call of holiday foods.
By Kathryn Foss
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
December 2009 — Hi, I'm Kathryn, and I'm a stuffing addict. I'm also a chocolate pecan pie addict, and an addict to any other of the myriad dishes served on 90 percent of American tables around this time. I have a love-hate relationship with the last 6 weeks of any given year, the 6 weeks vaguely referred to as ‘the holidays.'
Luckily for me, the issues center around food rather than dysfunctional family, so at least there's that blessing. It seems as though all of the holiday foods that I love are heavy on the carbohydrate side, which is challenging for a diabetic who sticks to a low carb diet to help control her blood sugar. It presents quite the conundrum. What's a stuffing-loving girl to do?
I could follow my pattern over the last few years and just say ‘screw it,' and eat what I want and pretend that my after-meal exhaustion is because of the chemicals in the turkey (‘trip' something or other) and other holiday foods rather than the result of skyrocketing blood sugar. But now I have a little 5-month-old mini-me who seems to watch my every move, quite literally--every time I look at her, I catch her staring at me. (It's cute and creepy at the same time.) I feel more of a responsibility to be healthy. I'm pushing 40 and after having my daughter, the whole invincible attitude I had seems to have disappeared. I've stopped telling myself that I'm just a genetic diabetic and that losing 20 pounds wouldn't make a difference in my condition. The fact is, how do I know it won't make a difference if I don't at least actually lose the 20 pounds and find out?
It seems as though the edible delicacies of the last 6 weeks of the year can foil even the best intentions. It's a time where we use family gatherings and togetherness as an excuse to indulge in holiday foods that we wouldn't any other time. We get brainwashed by the holidays. The bright shiny lights, parades on TV, buying Christmas trees and 40-pound genetically modified turkeys. And finally we get brainwashed by the holiday foods, which are really just sugar poisoning from the pies, cakes, cookies, candies and stuffing...the glorious stuffing.
For me, the holidays are the time of year where I can easily gain back any weight I have lost over the previous 6 months. It usually takes me at least another 3 months to get back into my pre-holiday routines and lifestyle. This year, with my little 5-month-old stalker watching me intently, I have to ask myself, ‘is it worth it?' Is it worth the potential risks to my health? These are not small risks either. The older I get and the more cheats I allow, the greater the risk of stroke, blindness, and amputation. Yeah, it is extreme. But it's also possible. Diabetes really is a stealthy and silent killer. It's easy to not take it too seriously because the early symptoms don't seem so severe. Being thirsty and peeing a lot never killed or maimed anybody.
So, I approach this holiday season and these holiday foods with a different attitude. More importantly, I am approaching with a plan. Am I going to be a perfect angel and stick to my strict low carb diet? No. But neither am I going to go the whole ‘insecure teenager in Daytona on spring break' route and totally binge and be filled with shame and self-loathing afterwards while struggling to breathe in my too-tight jeans. As with most things that people find pleasurable in life, moderation must be key. Is that my brilliant plan? Moderation?? Yeah, I know it's a bit loosey-goosey, but at the end of the day, it's all I've got. I have to exercise (wait for it…) self control. Self control! The cornerstone of successful people's lives everywhere! This is my year, I can just feel it! But since I just ate one of my daughter's christening cupcakes, I'll revise it: This is my year! ...Starting now.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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Holidays are tricky, no? Between managing diabetes among massive amounts of junk food, managing stress to manage bloodsugar among (sometimes) massive amounts of family squabbling, shopping stress and the like, and trying to get enough sleep and exercise in the cold winter months - it's a lot to handle. So I've got a two tier plan to keep bloodsugars at bay this year. Tier one - diet and exercise. Typically, at this time of year I do what I call the nutrition and gym...