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Keep Your Blood Sugar Under Control During the Holidays

October 29, 2010

Washington Hospital Diabetes Class Offers Tips for Staying on Track

If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to keep your blood sugar under control. But that can be tough during the holidays with all the parties and tempting treats.

"We’re moving into a difficult time of year for many people with diabetes," said Lorie Roffelsen, a registered dietitian at Washington Hospital. "A lot of holiday celebrations are centered around food and eating."

She will present "Diabetes and the Holidays: How to Stay on Track," part of Washington Hospital’s free Diabetes Matters education series. The class is scheduled for Thursday, November 4, from 7 to 8 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. You can register online at www.whhs.com or call (510) 745-6556 for more information.

Roffelsen will offer tips for enjoying the holidays without derailing your health, including planning ahead, bringing your own food to holiday gatherings, controlling portion sizes, and staying active.

Plan Ahead

Planning what you eat is one of the most important tips, according to Roffelsen. That way you can compensate for indulging in some foods you enjoy during the holidays.

"If you are going to a party Saturday night, you know you will eat more than usual, so eat less during the day," she said. "Save your carbohydrates for the party by omitting some carbs from other meals that day."

Roffelsen said it’s also important to plan ahead what you will eat and drink at holiday parties or gatherings.

"People who have a plan in their minds tend to stick with it," she said. "They eat less and make better choices than if they go without any thought given to what they will eat."

Bring Your own Food

Another way to avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates, fat and calories is to bring your own food, Roffelsen said.

"That way you know there will be something you can eat that won’t push you over the edge," she said. "It also helps to eat a healthy snack before you leave home so you won’t be so hungry. Have a salad before you go."

Roffelsen suggested taking a vegetable platter with hummus or bean dip to holiday gatherings. She will also provide some tasty recipes for dishes you can take.

"There are ways to lighten up some traditional holiday recipes," she said.

Control Portion Sizes

You can still indulge in some of the special holiday foods you enjoy if you keep portion sizes small, according to Roffelsen.

"The holidays only come around once a year, so if there is something special you really like to eat, you can find a way to fit it in," she said. "Maybe that means you just have a couple bites of pumpkin pie or stuffing."

Roffelsen will have some food samples on hand to demonstrate appropriate portion sizes so participants can see what that looks like.

Stay Active

"Exercise helps to keep blood sugar under control," Roffelsen said. "The holiday season is such a busy time, sometimes exercise is the part of your routine you put on hold. But that’s when you need it the most."

She said adults should try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Walking, bicycling, dancing, and swimming are all great ways to stay active.

"It doesn’t need to be a continuous 30 minutes," she added. "You can break it up."

To work some activity into the holidays, Roffelsen suggested parking your car far from the entrance of the mall when you do your holiday shopping, using the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator, and getting friends and family to take a walk together after a holiday meal.

Diabetes Health Fair Coming in November

Learn more tips for staying on track during the holidays by attending the Diabetes Matters class on November 4. To find out about other diabetes programs, visit www.whhs.com/diabetes. The Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center is staging its annual Diabetes Health Fair on Saturday, November 20 from 8 a.m. to Noon. Visit www.whhs.com for more details and read the TCV in the coming weeks about the upcoming event.

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